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Clyde Brion Davis papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 255

Scope and Contents

The Clyde Brion Davis Papers document his work as journalist and novelist in the United States and span between the dates 1854 and 1967. The records predominantly date between 1907 and 1967 (also included is a Gleason's Pictorial clipping from 1854). The Papers contain correspondence and writings as well as personal papers such as business records and memorabilia. Davis's drafts and supporting research are included in the Papers along with extensive clippings of his journalism and reviews of his creative writing. The Papers also contain Davis's financial and legal records such as taxes and royalty statements. Correspondence and printed writings documenting Martha Wirt Davis's career are also included in the Papers.


  • 1854 - 1967
  • Majority of material found within 1907 - 1962


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Clyde Brion Davis Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of David B. Davis, 1987.


The Clyde Brion Davis Papers is organized into the following four series: Correspondence, Writings, Personal Papers, and Martha Wirt Davis Papers. The Oversize material is listed at the end of the collection.


8.01 Linear Feet (23 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The Clyde Brion Davis Papers document his work as a journalist and novelist in the United States during the early twentieth century. The Papers contain correspondence and writings as well as personal papers such as business records. The Papers also include correspondence and writings documenting Martha Wirt Davis's writing career.

Clyde Brion Davis (1894-1962)

Clyde Brion Davis, American journalist and novelist, was born in Unadilla, Nebraska, to Charles Nelson and Isabel Brion Davis in 1894. A year later the Davis family moved to Missouri where Davis attended schools in Chillicothe and Kansas City. At fourteen Davis quit school and began a series of odd jobs including printer's apprentice, steam fitter's helper, chimney sweep, and electrician.

In 1916 Davis gained his first experience in journalism working with the Denver Times and Albuquerque Morning Journal. Davis acquired further experience in journalism writing for the army newspaper The Pontanezan Duckboard while serving in the United States Army Intelligence Corps (1917-1919) during World War I. Upon his return to the United States, Davis, with the exception of a few months working for the Burns Detective Agency, spent the years between 1919 and 1937 working for various newspapers, including: Denver Post (1919), Rocky Mountain News (1920-1922), San Francisco Examiner (1921), Seattle Post-Intelligencer (1930), and Buffalo Times (1931-1937).

Davis married Martha Wirt in 1926 and the following year the couple had their only child, David Brion Davis. A native of Denver, Colorado, Martha Wirt (1904?-1952) attended the University of Denver, the Denver Conservatory of Music, and the Art Students League in New York.

Davis wrote a number novels and short stories before the publication of his novel The Anointed in 1937. The Book of the Month Club chose The Anointed as its selection for August 1937 and MGM adapted the novel into the movie "Adventure" (1945) starring Clark Gable and Greer Garson. Following the success of The Anointed, Davis left journalism for a career in creative writing. For the most part he focused on writing novels and short stories, other than a brief period of syndicate work in Europe for PM and Knight newspapers in 1941, two months in Hollywood as a screenwriter, and two years as an associate editor for Rinehart and Company (1943-1945). Davis was awarded a Huntington Hartford fellowship for the years 1956-1957. Over his career Davis wrote over twenty novels including The Great American Novel (1938), The Rebellion of Leo Maguire (1944), and his memoir The Age of Indiscretion (1950).

Martha Wirt Davis was also an artist and writer who published under her own name and the pseudonym Wirt Van Arsdale. She wrote a number of short stories and essays for magazines and in 1951 Doubleday published her mystery novel The Professor Knits a Shroud.

In 1946 Davis and his family moved to Salisbury, Connecticut where Davis was an active citizen (serving as Justice of the Peace between 1947 and 1957) until his death in 1962. Martha Wirt Davis died of a heart attack in 1952.

Guide to the Clyde Brion Davis Papers
Under Revision
by H. Dean
April 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
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Access Information

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