John Davidson (poet)

John Davidson (April 11, 1857March 23, 1909), Scottish poet and playwright, best known for his ballads.

He was born at Barrhead, East Renfrewshire as the son of a Dissenting minister and entered the chemical department of a sugar refinery in Greenock in his 13th year, returning after one year to school as a pupil teacher.He studied at the University of Edinburgh. He was afterwards engaged in teaching at various places, and having taken to literature went in 1889 to London.

He achieved a reputation as a writer of poems and plays of marked individuality and vivid realism. His poems include "In a Music Hall" (1891), "Fleet Street Eclogues" (1893), "Baptist Lake" (1894), "New Ballads" (1896), "The Last Ballad" (1898), "The Triumph of Mammon" (1907), and among his plays are "Bruce" (1886), "" (1888), "Godfrida" (1898). He also wrote novels. From 1901 he wrote pessimistic blank verse "Testaments". He was given a Civil List pension in 1906.

Davidson disappeared on March 27, 1909, under circumstances which left little doubt that under the influence of mental depression he had drowned himself at Penzance. Among his papers was found the manuscript of a new work, "Fleet Street Poems", with a letter containing the words, "This will be my last book." His body was discovered a few months later.

Davidson's poetry was a key early influence on important Modernist poets, in particular TS Eliot and Wallace Stevens. Davidon's poem "In the Isle of Dogs", for example, is a clear intertext of later poems such as Eliot's "The Wasteland" and Stevens' "The Idea of Order at Key West".


* "Diabolus Amans" (1885), verse drama
* "Fleet Street Eclogues" (1893)
* Contributor to "The Yellow Book"
* "Ballads and Songs" (1894),
* "A Full and True Account of the Wonderful Mission of Earl Lavender" (1895)
* "Fleet Street Eclogues (Second Series)" (1896)
* "New Ballads" (1897)
* "The Last Ballad" (1899).


* "John Davidson, First of the Moderns; A Literary Biography" (1995) by John Sloan
* "Karl E. Beckson, London in the 1890s: A Cultural History" (1992)

External links

* [,John-poet.html John Davidson] profile at Internet Accuracy Project

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