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Princeton University Library Collection of John Davidson Materials

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Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Davidson, John

John Davidson was a late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Scottish poet hailed for his provincial, melancholy body of work. Born in Barrhead, Renfrewshire, Scotland in 1857, Davidson had a conflicted young adulthood, dabbling in different areas. During his teaching years, he made contact with different literary groups, and in 1890 he moved to London with his wife and two sons to pursue a career as a writer.

Davidson achieved moderate success with In a Music Hall (1891), Fleet Street Eclogues (1893). He is also known for being the first to translate the works of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche into English. However, during his final years, not one of his twelve published original plays was produced and few of his plays or novels received any critical acclaim. Davidson suffered greatly from his lack of acceptance. His health deteriorated as he battled with asthma and bronchitis, and perhaps cancer at the end. He suffered from depression and in 1909 his body was discovered in the sea with a wound to the skull. Although it appeared to be a suicide, he was considered "found dead" and later buried at sea.

Although Davidson has been remembered primarily as a minor poet of the 1890s, his poetry and talent for capturing the urban experience was an important contribution to more modern verse. He is associated with the Rhymer's Club, and considered a part of Yeats's "Tragic Generation"; his poetry attracted the attention and admiration of such major modern writers as T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf.

Contains over 350 letters by Davidson, most of which are addressed to Grant Richards, his friend and publisher. There are nine autograph manuscripts in the collection, including The Testament of John Davidson (London, G. Richards, 1908) and Fleet Street and Other Poems (London: G. Richards, 1909). Also included is a folder of reports prepared by Davidson for Grant Richards, in which the author gives his assessment of materials under consideration for publication. There are a substantial number of letters written by Mrs. Davidson to Richards concerning her husband's disappearance and subsequent suicide in 1909. Other items include galley proofs with Davidson's holograph corrections, documents, and clippings pertaining to his literary career.

Most of the collection purchased from Sotheby and Maggs. Letter from Davidson to Harry Furniss is a gift of Robert J. Barry Jr. Manuscript of translation of "Memoires du Marechal Duc de Richelieu" is a gift of J. Harlin O'Connell. The collection was formed as a result of a departmental practice of combining into one collection manuscript material of various accessions pertaining to a particular author.

Finding aid updated by Chloe Pfendler in 2018.

No appraisal information is available.

Publisher
Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Author
Chloe Pfendler
Finding Aid Date
2002
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Collection Inventory

Scope and Contents

Consists of bound volumes for Drawings by Mat Beerbohm and S. N. Sime, The Testament of John Davidson, and The Yorkshire Morris-Dancers.

Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by title.

Physical Description

1 box

Drawings by Mat Beerbohm and S. N. Sime, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

The Testament of John Davidson: original manuscript, dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

The Yorkshire Morris-Dancers: by John Davidson, AMs, 1895. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Scope and Contents

Consists of correspondence with individuals such as Sir John Martin Harvey and Grant Richards.

Arrangement

Not arranged according to any arrangement scheme.

Physical Description

1 box

Miscellaneous correspondence, dates not examined. 2 folders.
Physical Description

2 folders

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Letters to Sir John Martin Harvey, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Grant Richards, Davidson family, and others re: John Davidson's disappearance and death, 1909. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content

Scope and Contents

Consists of writings such as "Fleet Street and Other Poems" and "Brockenhurst Station," as well as others.

Arrangement

Not arranged according to any arrangement scheme.

Physical Description

1 box

Miscellaneous manuscripts, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous compositions, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Fleet Street and Other Poems: AMs, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Fleet Street Ecloque: page proof, autograph corrections, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

"Brockenhurst Station": verse, AMsS, 4pp, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

3 AMss, 1909. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

The Augustine Books of Modern Poetry: by John Davidson, volume, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous poems, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

For the Crown: [adapt. by John Davidson], dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Scope and Contents

Consists primarily of checks to John Davidson and John Davidson's will.

Arrangement

Not arranged according to any arrangement scheme.

Physical Description

1 box

Checks of Grant Richards to John Davidson: 1900 and 1902, 1900. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Broadside re: Davidson's disappearance, 1909 April 1. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

John Davidson's will, 1908 August 14. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous documents, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Scope and Contents

Consists primarily of miscellaneous material related to the collection.

Arrangement

Arranged by genre of material.

Physical Description

1 box

Not identified, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous material concerning the collection, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Portraits, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Scope and Contents

Consists of correspondence, clippings, and documents relating to the publishing of Davidson's works.

Arrangement

Not arranged according to any arrangement scheme.

Physical Description

2 boxes

[does not exist], dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

John Davidson Mss: Reader's reports, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Correspondence of John Davidson with the Richards, 1894-1909. 3 folders.
Physical Description

3 folders

Letters relating to publishing of Davidson's works, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Documents relating to the publishing of Davidson's works (14 pieces), dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Clippings (in envelopes and folders), dates not examined. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Scope and Contents

Consists primarily of newspaper clippings.

Arrangement

Arranged by genre of material.

Physical Description

1 box

Press-cuttings of articles by John Davidson, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Letters to Mimi (Davidson's sister-in-law) and others by Davidson, 1879-1894. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Newspaper clippings, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Fleet Street EcloguesOriginal Autograph Manuscript, dates not examined. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Print, Suggest