Poet, translator, novelist, and man of letters, John Davidson spent the first part of his life as a teacher in Greenock, Glasgow, Perth, Crieff, and other places.
In 1884 he married Margaret Macarthur, who bore him two sons.
In 1899 he moved to London and earned a living by journalism. His second and third volumes of verse, Fleet Street Eclogues (1893), proved popular, established his reputation, and earned the respect of T. S. Eliot, who wrote a preface to a selection of Davidson's poems in 1961 edited by Maurice Lindsay.
Little after these books, whether poetry, novels, or translations, did well, and Davidson moved depended on his friends for support
until getting a Civil List pension in 1906 and moving to Penzance a year later.
The last half of his literary career was devoted to unsuccessful philosophical poems and tragedies promoting a new world order. Depressed and ill, Davidson committed suicide March 23, 1909, but his body was only found on the seashore months later. He was buried at sea on September 21, 1909.