Guy Davenport letters

Biographical and Historical Notes

Short-story writer Guy Davenport was born November 23, 1927, in Anderson, South Carolina. Davenport was educated at Duke University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in 1948. As a Rhodes scholar, he attended Merton College, Oxford, earning a Bachelor of Literature in 1950. In 1961 Davenport received his Doctor of Philosophy from Harvard University. His doctoral dissertation was published as Cities on Hills: A Study of I-XXX of Ezra Pound's Cantos (1983).

From 1951 until his retirement in 1991, Davenport taught English at several universities, including Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri (1952-1955); Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania; and the University of Kentucky in Lexington (1963-1991). He also lectured at the University of Toronto (1984) and Washington and Lee University (1985).

In addition to being a respected short-fiction writer, Guy Davenport is also a poet, essayist, literary critic, illustrator, and noted translator. His volume of translations, 7 Greeks (1995), was awarded both PEN and Academy of American Poets prizes.

His published work includes short-fiction, such as 12 Stories (1997) and The Cardiff Team (1966); poetry, collected in his Flowers and Leaves (1966) and Thasos and Ohio (1985); and collections of essays, including The Geography of the Imagination (1981) and Every Force Evolves a Form (1987).

Davenport's work as an illustrator has appeared in Arion and Paideuma. He also created the cover art and illustrations for his collection of stories, Apples and Pears and Other Stories (1984). In 1996 a collection of Davenport's artwork, 50 Drawings, was published.

Guy Davenport died in Lexington, Kentucky, on January 4, 2005.


Meanor, Patrick (ed.) American Short-Story Writers Since World War II. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 130. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1993. pp. 89-103.

Straub, Deborah A. (ed.) Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series, Volume 23. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1988. pp. 112-115.

Scope and Contents

The Guy Davenport Letters is a small collection of the correspondence between Guy Davenport and an admirer and collector of his books, Matthew Weseley. The letters accompanied a gift of books that were donated by Weseley to the University of Delaware Library.

The seven original letters were written by Guy Davenport to Matthew Weseley. Davenport's brief correspondence with Weseley began in 1993, in response to Weseley's fan letter. In his first letter to Weseley, Davenport agreed to sign copies of his short stories for Weseley and expressed appreciation for Weseley's praise of his writing.

The other six Davenport letters were written in 1996, five to Weseley and one addressed to Weseley's ninth-grade English class. In the three-page letter to the students, Davenport began by commenting generally about his short story "Belinda's World Tour" and continued by addressing each of the thirteen students, answering their specific queries about the story, his writing, or other writers. In his other letters, Davenport mentioned other fan mail, commented on the images on his stationery, noted that 7 Greeks had received several literary prizes, and agreed to continue autographing books for Weseley.