Guy Davenport

Black and white photograph of Guy Davenport

Guy Davenport. Photographed by Guy Mendes. 1975. Harvard Magazine.

(1927-2005) Davenport was born in Anderson, SC, the son of Guy Mattison Davenport and Marie Fant. He graduated from Duke (B.A., 1948) and Oxford (B.Litt., 1950).  He served with the Army Airborne Corps (1950–1952) and began his teaching career at Washington University in St. Louis (1952–1955). In 1952, while conducting research for an article, he formed a lasting acquaintance with the modernist poet Ezra Pound. Subsequently he visited the writer during his imprisonment at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the Insane. When Davenport completed his Ph.D. at Harvard (1961), Pound was the subject of his dissertation.

Davenport considered himself a teacher foremost and his writings as “an extension of the classroom.” In 1963 he started teaching at the University of Kentucky, an institution that he has been associated with ever since. 

Davenport was also a prolific writer in multiple genres and an illustrator for his own books and others. He authored more than twenty books, including two poetry collections. Davenport’s stories require close reading, appropriate for a man who proclaimed that “[a]rt is always the replacing of indifference by attention.”

An intellectual jack-of-all- trades, Davenport was a South Carolinian who became an internationally respected man of letters.