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Special Collections Authors You’ve Never Heard Of

Part VI: Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916)

April 18 is another literary anniversary! Journalist and author Richard Harding Davis was born 150 years ago today. His parents were both writers; his father was a Philadelphia newspaper editor and his mother Rebecca Harding Davis was a prolific 19th century (though today, largely forgotten), novelist. Richard Harding Davis began his writing career as a journalist, gaining recognition for scandal-filled reports on inner-city crime, executions, and the Johnstown flood of 1889. His most influential work was as a war correspondent, especially during the Spanish-American War, where he witnessed a battle from onboard a US warship, and later during davisthe Second Boer War in South Africa and the First World War. Davis also followed in his mother’s footsteps, publishing numerous novels, stage plays, and stories over a 25-year period before his death in 1916. Special Collections owns nearly 50 first editions of Davis’ fiction and nonfiction, including an inscribed copy of his first book, Stories for Boys (1891). Special Collections also owns a copy of a collection of essays by Oscar Wilde which Wilde inscribed to Davis. You can find these books by searching the library catalog for the terms “Davis, Richard Harding, inscriber” or “Davis, Richard Harding, former owner.”

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