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At the Circulating Library

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

A Database of Victorian Fiction, 1837–1901

Author: Ellis James Davis

Author: Ellis James Davis (1850–1905)

Alternate Name(s): E.J. Davis (familiar name)

Biography: Ellis James Davis was born in 1850 in London, the fourth son of solicitor James P. Davis and his wife Eliza Davis. He was called to the bar and worked as a barrister in London. In 1874, he was sued for breach of promise by his fiancée Elizabeth Bottenhein. The trial caused a minor sensation as the "Jewish Breach of Promise Case" which was eventually settled for £1000. (Coincidently, Davis defended a breach of promise case later in his career in 1891.) Soon after, Davis turned to fiction, writing a few science fiction tales: Pyrna, A Commune (1875) about a lost world under the Arctic; Coralia: A Plaint of Futurity (1876); and Promethia (1877) about a female Frankenstein's monster (serialized in St. James's Magazine). He followed these with the triple-decker In Front to the World (1876): the poor reception and sales led Davis to sue his publishers for damages (he lost). His later two novels turn to legal subject matter. In 1887 he married Florence Louisa Rosenthal, the daughter of an Irish solicitor. She died soon after in 1890 at age 28 years old. Davis died in 1905 in London.

Author Tags:

References: Belfast News Letter (30 August 1887); British Census (1881); Freeman's Journal (22 January 1890); Glasgow Herald (20 June 1874); Times (9 February 1878; 6 February 1905)

Fiction Titles:

  1. Pyrna, A Commune: or, Under the Ice.  1 vol.  London: Bickers, 1875.
  2. In Front of the World: A Novel.  3 vol.  London: Charing Cross Publishing Co., 1876.
  3. Coralia: A Plaint of Futurity.  1 vol.  London: Samuel Tinsley, 1876.
  4. A Palace of Crystal: An Idyllic Story.  1 vol.  London: Moxon, 1877.
  5. Annie's Pantomime Dream.  1 vol.  London: Moxon, 1877.
  6. Whose Fault?: The Story of a Trial at Nisi Prius.  1 vol.  London: Digby, Long, 1892.
  7. His Little Bill of Sale.  1 vol.  London: John Long, 1898.