Donald Davidson Early Poems Collection
Scope and Content Note
Mrs. Smith was first married to Stanley Johnson, one of the Fugitive poets, and she herself wrote poetry.
These poems were never published in the Fugitive or in any other collection. They were written just as Davidson was joining members of what was to be the Nashville Fugitive poet group in discussions of poetry, philosophy, literature, and political ideas, and so are an important addition to an understanding of his early work. File 13 of this collection contains the photocopies of these poems.
Also included with these papers is a photocopy of the holograph poem “To Rupert Brook” by Ridley Wills, another of the Fugitive poets, with 2 accompanying letters with background information dated October 19, 1971 and September 9, 1978.
- Davidson, Donald (Person)
Language of Materials
Will Ella Tatom Johnson Smith is the donor for this collection. She was born December 11, 1890 in Union City, Tennessee, the daughter of Kate Kirkmon Tatom and Colonel William Clinton Tatom, co-owner and publisher of the Ohioan Democrat. She was a contemporary of Donald Davidson, and was married to Stanley Johnson, one of the Fugitive poets, and these may be the reasons these poems came to be in her possession.
She was a librarian at Vanderbilt University from 1922 to 1931. In 1923 she married James Mapheus Smith, and they lived in Kansas and Washington, D.C. over the course of the next four decades. They retired to Nashville in 1966. J. Mapheus Smith died on January 5, 1968, and as a memorial to him Will Ella made a gift to Vanderbilt University to have the identification plaques made for the trees on campus. After her husband’s death Will Ella devoted herself to gardening, genealogy, and writing articles for the local papers. She died on April 15, 1986.
Also attached to this collection is a letter from Mrs. Smith about a holograph poem by Ridley Wills ( 1897 - 1957) another of the Fugitive poets and older cousin of Fugitive poet Jesse Wills, who endowed the Fugitive and Agrarian Collection in Vanderbilt University Special Collections. A photocopy of this Ridley Wills’ poem “ To Rupert Brook” is included along with photocopies of the 11 Davidson poems. The original of Wills’ poem is in the last folder of Box 3 of the Fugitive/Agrarian Collection.
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- Finding Aid for the Donald Davidson Collection
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States