Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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DAVIES , WILLIAM HENRY ( 1871 - 1940 ), poet and author ;

b. 3 July 1871 at Pillgwenlly , Newport, Mon. ; son of Mary Ann and Francis Boase Davies , iron-moulder . He received an elementary education and, at school, became interested in poetry. On completing his apprenticeship as a carver and gilder , he tramped in U.S.A. and Canada , but lost his foot in a train-jumping accident in March 1899 . He returned to England , determined to succeed as a poet . After many difficulties and setbacks, he published his first book, The Soul's Destroyer and Other Poems , in March 1905 . Other books followed and, by 1911 , he was an established poet and author , with eight books to his credit, and was the recipient of a Civil List pension . In 1923 he m. Helen Payne . In 1929 , for his services to literature, he was awarded the honorary degree of D.Litt. by the University of Wales . When he d., at Nailsworth, Glos. , 26 Sept. 1940 , he was the author of about fifty books. His prose works are chiefly autobiographical, written in a simple natural style, after the manner of Defoe . In poetry, he ranks as a master of the English lyric, his main themes being nature and love; and, at his best, his poems compare favourably with the finest lyrics of the English language. His chief works are: The Complete Poems of W. H. Davies , 1944 , and later, in prose, Autobiography of a Super-Tramp , Beggars , and Later Days .


  • Davies's own prose;
  • articles in The Welsh Review , 1946 , 1948 ,
  • and South Wales Argus , 21 and 22 Sept. 1938 and 11 Oct. 1946 ;
  • W. H. Davies (London, 1934) by Thomas Moult (but this contains some inaccuracies).


Lawrence William Hockey, M.A., Newport (Mon.)

Published date: 1959