Davidson, John

Davidson, John (1857 - 1909)


Poet, translator, novelist, and man of letters, John Davidson spent the first part of his life as a teacher in Greenock, Glasgow, Perth, Crieff, and other places. In 1884 he married Margaret Macarthur, who bore him two sons. In 1899 he moved to London and earned a living by journalism. His second and third volumes of verse, Fleet Street Eclogues (1893), proved popular, established his reputation, and earned the respect of T. S. Eliot, who wrote a preface to a selection of Davidson's poems in 1961 edited by Maurice Lindsay (PR 4525 D5A17 1961 Robarts Library). Little after these books, whether poetry, novels, or translations, did well, and Davidson moved depended on his friends for support until getting a Civil List pension in 1906 and moving to Penzance a year later. The last half of his literary career was devoted to unsuccessful philosophical poems and tragedies promoting a new world order. Depressed and ill, Davidson committed suicide March 23, 1909, but his body was only found on the seashore months later. He was buried at sea on September 21, 1909. The best modern edition of his Poems is edited by Andrew Turnbull (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1973; PR 4525 D5A17 1973B Robarts Library). The best life is John Sloan's John Davidson, First of the Moderns (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995; PR 4525 D5Z82 Robarts Library).

Given Name
Family Name
Birth Date
April 11, 1857
Death Date
March 23, 1909
Family Relations
father : Alexander Davidson
mother : Helen Davidson
wife : Margaret Davidson (from 1885)
son : Alexander Davidson
son : Menzies Davidson
  • Teacher

  • Assistant chemical analyst

Literary Period
Literary Movement
Cause of Death
Buried At
First RPO Edition