Texas Originals

Writer Mollie Evelyn Moore Davis

Mollie Evelyn Moore Davis was one of the most important Texas writers of the 19th century.

 

MOLLIE EVELYN MOORE DAVIS
(April 12, 1844–January 1, 1909)

 

Born in 1844, Mollie Evelyn Moore Davis was one of the most important Texas writers of the nineteenth century.

Davis’s family moved to Texas from Alabama when she was eleven. Just five years later, The Tyler Reporter published one of her poems.

The Wire Cutters

In the 1870s, Davis began writing for national audiences about postbellum Texas and Louisiana. Her short fiction appeared in such magazines as Harper’s and The Atlantic. She also wrote children’s stories, plays, and novels.

While Davis’s Louisiana tales enjoyed great popularity, critics praise her Texas fiction for its vivid and detailed depiction of life in the state. 

Her 1896 novel Under the Man-Fig portrays events along the Texas Gulf Coast during and after the Civil War. Four years later, Davis published The Wire-Cutters, a novel set during the Texas fence cutting wars of the 1880s, when ranchers began restricting access to large sections of the previously open range. The Wire-Cutters is now recognized as one of the first “westerns” in American literary history.

Davis lived principally in New Orleans from 1879 to her death in 1909. But she maintained a lifelong fascination with her former home state. Texas history, she once wrote, “is a story of knightly romance which calls the poet, even as, in earlier days, the Land of Tehas called across its borders the dreamers of dreams.”

 

For More Information about Mollie Evelyn Moore Davis

The Mollie Evelyn Moore Davis Papers are held at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas in Austin. The collection includes papers relating to her literary career as well as her social and family life. Texas Women’s University also has a vertical file on Mollie Moore Davis.

The Mary Evelyn Moore Davis Scrapbook (Davis’s first name at birth) is located at Stephen F. Austin State University’s East Texas Research Center and contains numerous newspaper articles written by Davis about her life in New Orleans.

Davis published under the name M. E. M. Davis. The University of Pennsylvania’s library has gathered links to online versions of a number of her works, including Under the Man-Fig and her 1897 history of Texas titled Under Six Flags.

M.E.M. Davis is buried alongside her husband Thomas E. Davis in the Metairie Cemetery, located in New Orleans, Louisiana.

 

Selected Bibliography

Anderson, John Q. “Notes on Mollie Moore Davis.” Louisiana Studies. 1 (1962).

Davis, M. E. M. Under the Man-Fig. 1895. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1980.

Davis, M. E. M. The Wire Cutters. 1899. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997.

“Davis, Mollie Evelyn Moore.” In vol. 1 of Notable American Women, 1607–1950. Edited by Edward T. James, Janet Wilson James, and Paul S. Boyer. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971.

“Davis, Mollie Moore (1844–1909).” In vol. 1 of Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages. Edited by Anne Commire and Deborah Klezmer. Detroit: Yorkin Publications, 2007. 

Davis, Thadious M. “Davis, Mollie Moore. “In vol. 1 of American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present. Ed. Taryn Benbow-Pfalzgraf. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000.

Graham, Don B. “Literature.” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed April 12, 2015.

Grider, Sylvia and Lou Rodenberger. “Women and Literature.” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed April 12, 2015.

Grider, Sylvia and Lou Rodenberger, eds. Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997.

Wilkinson, C. W. “Davis, Mollie Evelyn Moore.” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed April 12, 2015. 

Wilkinson, C. W. The Broadening Stream: The Life and Literary Career of Mollie E. Moore Davis. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Illinois, 1947.

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