Davis, Richard Harding

Davis, Richard Harding,

1864–1916, American author and journalist, b. Philadelphia; son of Rebecca Harding DavisDavis, Rebecca Harding,
1831–1910, American novelist, b. Washington, Pa.; mother of Richard Harding Davis. Her early nonfiction pieces, particularly those collected under the title Life in the Iron Mills (1861), and her first novel, Margaret Howth
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. After attending Lehigh and Johns Hopkins universities, he became a reporter in Philadelphia and later was on the New York Evening Sun. His stories and articles were soon attracting attention, and with the publication of Gallegher and Other Stories (1891), a collection of tales about a newsboy-detective, his reputation as a fiction writer was established. In 1890 he became managing editor of Harper's Weekly and began making trips in its behalf to various parts of the world. As a foreign correspondent he covered all the wars of his day and published several books recording his experiences; his war dispatches were colorful and dramatic, frequently at the expense of accuracy. Besides collections of short stories, his other writings include the novels Soldiers of Fortune (1897) and The Bar Sinister (1903) and the plays The Dictator (1904) and Miss Civilization (1906).


See his Adventures and Letters (ed. by his brother, C. B. Davis, 1917); biography by A. Lubow (1992).

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Davis, Richard Harding

(1864–1916) journalist, writer; born in Philadelphia. Starting as a newspaper reporter in Philadelphia and then New York (1886–91), Harding was managing editor of Harper's Weekly from 1891 to 1893 but spent most of his later career as a freelance, traveling and writing articles, as well as fiction and drama. One of the most popular reporters of his day, he covered half a dozen conflicts, including the Spanish-American War, the Boer War, and World War I, and reported on such events as the 1889 Johnstown (Pa.) flood and Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee (1897), in a colorful style bordering on the sensational. His short story "Gallegher" (1890) brought him instant renown as a fiction writer, and he wrote many more, often focusing on a gentleman-adventurer as hero. Also popular were his novels, including Soldiers of Fortune (1897), and several plays. His work was considered somewhat superficial and is not well-known today.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.