Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook

Biography of Lucretia Maria Davidson

Lucretia Maria Davidson was born on September 27, 1808 in Plattsburgh, New York to Dr. Oliver, a physician, and Margaret Davidson (nee Miller), an author. The Davidsons were plagued by chronic illness; Margaret spent most of Lucretia’s lifetime ill. A brief biography of Davidson survives in Poetical Remains of the Late Lucretia Maria Davidson (1841), a book of Davidson’s poems that were collected posthumously by her mother. Within it, Margaret describes Davidson’s frail health due to a bout of typhus fever at eighteen months old. Her proclivity for illness continued until her death.

Her inclination towards writing was discovered due to Margaret’s inability to find a sheet of paper; Davidson admitted to using it. When asked what for, as Davidson was never taught to write, the girl burst into tears and refrained from explaining. Still, paper continued to vanish, and Davidson was often seen with ink and pens. Her secret was kept until she was six-years-old, when her manuscripts were accidentally uncovered. They are described to have been Roman letters in various positions (horizontally, vertically, etc.) but did not form words alone. Margaret showed her husband, and the two determined their daughter was creating “poetical explanations” for the images she had drawn.

Davidson learned of their findings. She confronted her mother, in tears, and confessed to burning her “little books.” The Davidsons adored intellect and learning, so they promptly taught their daughter to read and write between the ages six and seven. Upon learning to read and write, Davidson wrote incessantly, even during moments of ill health. She was greatly supported by her family to pursue writing, as her parents encouraged their children to pursue intellectual studies like themselves. Davidson is said to have been enamored by Shakespeare and often alluded to him and his writing in her own poems. Her mother also mentions that Davidson had to be secluded when writing, for the ‘spell’ would be broken and she could not continue writing.

Lucretia Maria Davidson died on August 27, 1825, at the age of sixteen, to consumption (known today as tuberculosis). There are speculations that anorexia nervosa played a role in the poet’s passing. When Davidson passed, Margaret dedicated herself to collecting her late daughter’s works so they might be seen by the public. Davidson wrote prolifically in her short life; her mother was able to compile 278 poems and publish them in Amir Khan, and Other Poems (1829) and in Poetical Remains of the Late Lucretia Maria Davidson (1841).


Davidson, Margaret. Biography. Poetical Remains of the late Lucretia Maria Davidson, collected and arranged by her mother: With a biography, by Miss Sedgewick. New York, 1852.