Davis, Richard Harding (1864-1916) by Huculak, Matt

Richard Harding Davis Journalist, editor, playwright and novelist, secured lasting national prominence as a war-correspondent during the brief Spanish-American War in 1898. Born into a literary family in Philadelphia, Davis got his start in journalism as a copy-boy for the , which was then edited by his father, . He later fictionalized this experience for in in 1891. His mother, , was a well-known realist writer and a champion of America’s marginalized and oppressed groups. Richard Harding Davis Philadelphia Public Ledger Lemuel Clarke Scribner’s Magazine Gallegher and Other Stories Rebecca Harding Davis Harding Davis was known for his good-looks, his dashing charm, and infallible character, which he capitalized upon as a professional writer and correspondent. , in his history of , writes: Roger Burlingame Scribner’s Davis was not only a good reporter; he was a sort of matinee idol of the period […] he was a symbol; his character was held up to boys as an example. There had never been a whisper against his morals; his ideals were brave and pure; he seemed to be the very inventor—and certainly the most active personal promoter—of sportsmanship. (302-303) It is no surprise, then, that Harding-Davis became a close friend and champion of ; Harding-Davis was the first to write about the Rough Riders’ drive up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, and indeed, the conflict was almost his journalistic creation. Harding Davis’s reputation is colored by the “Yellow-Journalism,” practiced by ’s papers, to sway America into war against the Spanish. Davis did eventually become so disgusted by ‘s distortion of his writings in the that (Burlingame 304). Theodore Roosevelt William Randolph Hearst Hearst New York Journal to the end of his life [he] would never write for Hearst again By all accounts, Harding Davis’s career is based on conflict. He saw war as the (Burlingame 304). He covered the Greco-Turkish War in 1897 and before the print had dried on his Cuban journalism in 1898, he was in South Africa reporting on the (1899), where he befriended a fellow journalist, . Next, he traveled east in order to cover the Russo-Japanese War (1904) and in 1910 he went south for the Mexican Revolution. The apex of Harding Davis’s writing came in 1914, when he was pulled out of retirement at his home in Mount Kisco, New York, to cover the European conflict for the Wheeler syndicate ($600 a week plus expenses) and ($1000 an article). Because Harding Davis was such a close friend of , the administration of ( rival) refused to grant Davis a press pass with the British Army, so Davis set out on his own and arrived in Belgium just in time to see the Germans marching into Brussels. Davis recognized that romance and war were no longer compatible in the modern world, and his descriptions of the (Burlingame 310) moved the world and testified to his talent and legacy as a war journalist. Davis’s entries for during this time are sobering, and one can trace the progression of his moral involvement in the First World War as his view of its inhumanity became more and more apparent. By 1915, after witnessing the unjustified shelling of Rheims Cathedral by the Germans, Davis saw America’s potential involvement in the war as a moral duty. In 1915, he returned home to train with the army in New York. Weakened by this event, he died in April 1916 at the age of 51 at his home. apex of romance Boer War Winston Churchill Scribner’s Magazine Theodore Roosevelt Woodrow Wilson Roosevelt’s grim, minute efficiency of the might of the German war machine Scribner’s Magazine Over his lifetime, Davis was a contributor to , , , , , the , the , , the , , , and , and for a short while he was the editor of . Century Magazine Collier’s Weekly Everybody’s Magazine Harper’s New Monthly Magazine Metropolitan Magazine New York Evening Sun New York Times Magazine Philadelphia Record Philadelphia Press Outing Saturday Evening Post Stage Harper’s Weekly —Matt Huculak Further Reading . . University Park: The Pennsylvania UP, 1996. Burlingame, Roger Of Making Many Books: a Hundred Years of Reading, Writing, and Publishing . Compiled by . Boston: Small, Maynard and Company, 1918. Davis, Richard Harding. The Standard Index to Short Stories, 1900-1914 Francis J. Hannigan . American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936. Richard Harding Davis. Dictionary of American Biography Base Set

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