H. L. Davis

Last updated
Harold Lenoir Davis
H. L. Davis Oregon author.gif
BornOctober 18, 1894
Douglas County, Oregon, U.S.
DiedOctober 31, 1960(1960-10-31) (aged 66)
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Notable works Honey in the Horn
Notable awards Pulitzer Prize
Guggenheim Fellowship

Harold Lenoir Davis (October 18, 1894October 31, 1960), also known as H. L. Davis, was an American novelist and poet. A native of Oregon, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Honey in the Horn , the only Pulitzer given to a native Oregonian. Later living in California and Texas, he also wrote short stories for magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post .

A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other genres of both fiction and non-fiction. Some novelists are professional novelists, thus make a living writing novels and other fiction, while others aspire to support themselves in this way or write as an avocation. Most novelists struggle to get their debut novel published, but once published they often continue to be published, although very few become literary celebrities, thus gaining prestige or a considerable income from their work.

Poet person who writes and publishes poetry

A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience.

Oregon State of the United States of America

Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region on the West Coast of the United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of its eastern boundary with Idaho. The parallel 42° north delineates the southern boundary with California and Nevada. Oregon is one of only four states of the continental United States to have a coastline on the Pacific Ocean.

Contents

Early life

Davis was born in Nonpareil, Douglas County, Oregon, in the Umpqua River Valley, and lived in Roseburg in his early years. [1] His father was a teacher and the family moved frequently as he took up different teaching positions. They moved to Antelope, Oregon in 1906, and two years later they were in The Dalles, where his father was now a principal. [1] In 1912 Davis graduated from high school there. He held various short-term jobs, with the county, with Pacific Power and Light, and in a local bank. He also worked as a railroad timekeeper and with a survey party near Mount Adams.

Nonpareil is an unincorporated historic community in Douglas County, Oregon, United States. It is about 8 miles (13 km) east of Sutherlin, near Calapooya Creek. The population of the area was about 202 in 2000. Nonpareil was the birthplace of novelist H. L. Davis.

Douglas County, Oregon County in the United States

Douglas County is a county in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 census, the population was 107,667. The county seat is Roseburg. It is named after Stephen A. Douglas, an American politician who supported Oregon statehood.

Umpqua River river in the United States of America

The Umpqua River on the Pacific coast of Oregon in the United States is approximately 111 miles (179 km) long. One of the principal rivers of the Oregon Coast and known for bass and shad, the river drains an expansive network of valleys in the mountains west of the Cascade Range and south of the Willamette Valley, from which it is separated by the Calapooya Mountains. From its source northeast of Roseburg, the Umpqua flows northwest through the Oregon Coast Range and empties into the Pacific at Winchester Bay. The river and its tributaries flow entirely within Douglas County, which encompasses most of the watershed of the river from the Cascades to the coast. The "Hundred Valleys of the Umpqua" form the heart of the timber industry of southern Oregon, generally centered on Roseburg.

Writing career

His first poems were published in April 1919 in Poetry , edited by Harriet Monroe. These were eleven poems published together under the title Primapara. Later that year they won the magazine's Levinson Prize, worth $200. Davis also received a letter of praise from poet Carl Sandburg. Davis continued to publish poems in the magazine throughout the 1920s, and also sold some poems to H. L. Mencken's The American Mercury . Mencken encouraged him to begin writing prose.

Harriet Monroe American poet and editor

Harriet Monroe was an American editor, scholar, literary critic, poet, and patron of the arts. She is best known as the founding publisher and long-time editor of Poetry magazine, first published in 1912. As a supporter of the poets Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, H. D., T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, Max Michelson and others, Monroe played an important role in the development of modern poetry. Her correspondence with early twentieth century poets provides a wealth of information on their thoughts and motives.

Carl Sandburg American writer and editor

Carl August Sandburg was an American poet, writer, and editor. He won three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. During his lifetime, Sandburg was widely regarded as "a major figure in contemporary literature", especially for volumes of his collected verse, including Chicago Poems (1916), Cornhuskers (1918), and Smoke and Steel (1920). He enjoyed "unrivaled appeal as a poet in his day, perhaps because the breadth of his experiences connected him with so many strands of American life", and at his death in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson observed that "Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America."

H. L. Mencken American journalist and writer

Henry Louis Mencken was an American journalist, essayist, satirist, cultural critic and scholar of American English. He commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians and contemporary movements. His satirical reporting on the Scopes trial, which he dubbed the "Monkey Trial", also gained him attention.

In 1926, Davis and James Stevens privately published a small booklet, Status Rerum: A Manifesto Upon the Present Condition of Northwest Literature. Although only a few copies were printed, the booklet attracted notice because of its bluntness and invective against the local literary scene of Portland. Robinson Jeffers memorably described the pamphlet as a "rather grimly powerful wheel to break butterflies on." [2]

James Stevens was an American author and composer. Born in Albia, Iowa, he lived in Idaho from a young age, and based much of his later novel Big Jim Turner (1948) on his childhood spent in Pacific Northwest logging camps. After fighting in World War I, he came back to work in the woods and sawmills of Oregon.

Robinson Jeffers American poet

John Robinson Jeffers was an American poet, known for his work about the central California coast. Much of Jeffers' poetry was written in narrative and epic form. However, he is also known for his shorter verse and is considered an icon of the environmental movement. Influential and highly regarded in some circles, despite or because of his philosophy of "inhumanism", Jeffers believed that transcending conflict required human concerns to be de-emphasized in favor of the boundless whole. This led him to oppose U.S. participation in World War II, a stance that was controversial after the U.S. entered the war.

Together with his new wife, the former Marion Lay of The Dalles, Davis moved to Seattle in August 1928. There he increased his literary efforts. His first published prose began appearing in The American Mercury in 1929. These were picturesque but hardly complimentary sketches of The Dalles and Eastern Oregon. One of the first was entitled "A Town in Eastern Oregon", a historical sketch of The Dalles. It caused quite a controversy in the region for its irreverence.

Eastern Oregon

Eastern Oregon is the eastern part of the U.S. state of Oregon. It is not an officially recognized geographic entity; thus, the boundaries of the region vary according to context. It is sometimes understood to include only the eight easternmost counties in the state; in other contexts, it includes the entire area east of the Cascade Range. Cities in the basic 8-county definition include Baker City, Burns, Hermiston, Pendleton, John Day, La Grande, and Ontario. Umatilla County is home to the largest population base in Eastern Oregon; accounting for 74% of the region's population in 2016. Hermiston, located in Umatilla County, is the largest city in the region. Major industries include transportation/warehousing, timber, agriculture, and tourism. The main transportation corridors are I-84, U.S. Route 395, U.S. Route 97, U.S. Route 26, U.S. Route 30, and U.S. Route 20.

In 1932, Davis was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. The award allowed him to move to Jalisco, Mexico, where he lived for two years, concentrating on his writing. There he completed the novel Honey in the Horn , about southern Oregon pioneer life. It is a coming-of-age tale set in the early twentieth century. This novel received the Harper Prize for best first novel of 1935, together with a $7,500 cash award. It was well reviewed by writers such as Robert Penn Warren, although New Yorker critic Clifton Fadiman did not like it. The following spring the book won the Pulitzer Prize, and is the only Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to an Oregon born author. [1] Davis did not go to New York to receive the Pulitzer in person, saying he did not want to put himself on exhibit.

Guggenheim Fellowships are grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts". The roll of Fellows includes numerous Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer, and other prize winners.

Jalisco State of Mexico

Jalisco, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Jalisco, is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in Western Mexico and is bordered by six states which are Nayarit, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Michoacán and Colima. Jalisco is divided into 125 municipalities, and its capital city is Guadalajara. Jalisco is one of the most important states in Mexico because of its natural resources as well as its history. Many of the characteristic traits of Mexican culture, particularly outside Mexico City, are originally from Jalisco, such as mariachi, ranchera music, birria, tequila, jaripeo, etc., hence the state's motto: "Jalisco es México." Economically, it is ranked third in the country, with industries centered in the Guadalajara metropolitan area, the second largest metropolitan area in Mexico. The state is home to two significant indigenous populations, the Huichols and the Nahuas. There is also a significant foreign population, mostly retirees from the United States and Canada, living in the Lake Chapala and Puerto Vallarta areas.

<i>Honey in the Horn</i> novel by Harold L. Davis

Honey in the Horn is a 1935 debut novel by Harold L. Davis. The novel received the Harper Prize for best first novel of 1935 and won the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1936. The title of the book is from a line in a square dancing tune, and is only found in the book in the author's introductory overleaf.

The Davises bought a small ranch near Napa, California. There Davis wrote short stories as his primary source of income, publishing them in such magazines as Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post . He continued to work on novels. His second novel, Harp of a Thousand Strings, appeared in 1941. The long interval from his Pulitzer-winning first novel meant that his second did not receive the notice it would have earlier. In fact, although Davis continued to improve as a writer, none of his later efforts received the attention of Honey in the Horn.

Davis was also undergoing crises in his life. He was divorced in 1943. He also changed publishers, from Harper & Brothers to William Morrow & Company, apparently because of a long-running dispute over royalty payments.

Later life

Over the next ten years, he published three more novels and a collection of earlier short stories. His fourth novel, Winds of Morning, was well received and became a Book of the Month Club selection. In 1953 he remarried, to Elizabeth Martin del Campo. As a result of arteriosclerosis, his left leg was amputated. He suffered chronic pain, but continued to write. In 1960 he died of a heart attack in San Antonio, Texas. [1]

Evaluation

Although often considered a regional novelist, Davis rejected that evaluation. He undoubtedly used regional themes, but contended that he did so in the service of the universal. Influences on his work can be found in a wide range of American and European literature. His prose is considered wry, ironic, and cryptic. His stories are realistic, without the romantic stereotypes expected of "western" fiction. The landscape is a major component of his novels.

Works

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 Baker, Jeff (December 2, 2009). "Rediscovering H.L. Davis". The Oregonian. Retrieved December 4, 2009.
  2. Quoted in H.L. Davis, Collected Essays and Short Stories (Moscow, Idaho: University of Idaho Press, n.d.), p. 330

Related Research Articles

John Updike American novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic

John Hoyer Updike was an American novelist, poet, short-story writer, art critic, and literary critic. One of only three writers to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once, Updike published more than twenty novels, more than a dozen short-story collections, as well as poetry, art and literary criticism and children's books during his career.

William Faulkner American writer

William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American writer and Nobel Prize laureate from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner wrote novels, short stories, screenplays, poetry, essays, and a play. He is primarily known for his novels and short stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, based on Lafayette County, Mississippi, where he spent most of his life.

Bernard Malamud American author

Bernard Malamud was an American novelist and short story writer. Along with Saul Bellow, Joseph Heller, and Philip Roth, he was one of the best known American Jewish authors of the 20th century. His baseball novel, The Natural, was adapted into a 1984 film starring Robert Redford. His 1966 novel The Fixer, about antisemitism in the Russian Empire, won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Karl Shapiro Poet, essayist

Karl Jay Shapiro was an American poet. He was appointed the fifth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1946.

Katherine Anne Porter American journalist, essayist, short story writer, novelist, and political activist

Katherine Anne Porter was an American journalist, essayist, short story writer, novelist, and political activist. Her 1962 novel Ship of Fools was the best-selling novel in America that year, but her short stories received much more critical acclaim. She is known for her penetrating insight; her work deals with dark themes such as betrayal, death and the origin of human evil.

Donna Tartt is an American writer, the author of the novels The Secret History (1992), The Little Friend (2002), and The Goldfinch (2013). Tartt won the WH Smith Literary Award for The Little Friend in 2003 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Goldfinch in 2014. She was included in Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People" list, compiled in 2014.

Charles Simic Serbian-American poet

Charles Simic is a Serbian-American poet and former co-poetry editor of the Paris Review. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1990 for The World Doesn't End, and was a finalist of the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for Selected Poems, 1963-1983 and in 1987 for Unending Blues. He was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007.

Anthony Doerr American writer

Anthony Doerr is an American author of novels and short stories. He gained widespread recognition for his 2014 novel All the Light We Cannot See, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Denis Johnson American writer (novel, drama, poetry, essay)

Denis Hale Johnson was an American writer best known for his short story collection Jesus' Son (1992) and his novel Tree of Smoke (2007), which won the National Book Award for Fiction. He also wrote plays, poetry, journalism, and non-fiction.

Louis Aston Marantz Simpson was an American poet born in Jamaica. He won the 1964 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his work At the End of the Open Road.

Oscar Hijuelos American novelist

Oscar Jerome Hijuelos was an American novelist of Cuban descent. During a year-long convalescence from a childhood illness spent in a Connecticut hospital he lost his knowledge of Spanish, his parents' native language. He was educated in New York City, and wrote short stories and advertising copy.

Peter Balakian American writer

Peter Balakian is an Armenian American poet, writer and academic, the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of Humanities at Colgate University. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2016.

Julia Peterkin was an American author from South Carolina. In 1929 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Novel/Literature, for her novel Scarlet Sister Mary. She wrote several novels about the plantation South, especially the Gullah people of the Low Country. She was one of the few white authors who wrote about the African-American experience.

The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1936

Gerald White Johnson was a journalist, editor, essayist, historian, biographer, and novelist. Over his nearly 75-year career he was known for being "one of the most eloquent spokespersons for America's adversary culture". He wrote mystery novels under the pen name of Charles North.

Adam Johnson (writer) Novelist, short story writer

Adam Johnson is an American novelist and short story writer. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2012 novel, The Orphan Master's Son, and the National Book Award for his 2015 story collection Fortune Smiles. He is also a professor of English at Stanford University with a focus on creative writing.

Daniel Whitehead Hicky was an American poet and one of the most widely published poets in America during his prime.

Alice Mattison is an American novelist and short story writer.

The Harper Novel Prize was an award presented by Harper Brothers, an American publishing company located in New York City, New York.