Henry Davies (journalist) - Journalism and Arts

Journalism and Arts

In 1833, Davies declined the Editorship of the Gloucester Chronicle, which was then about to be started, and originated his own weekly newspaper and social register, the Cheltenham Looker-On, publishing the first issue in May 1833. Initially, the Looker-On was a literary periodical rather than a journal of fashion and was what it professed to be "A Note Book of the Sayings and Doings of Cheltenham". He remained editor for 57 years until his death in 1890, when his son Edward Llewellyn Davies took over publication. As well as editor it is likely that he was a major contributor to the periodical’s literary output. All this time he ran a circulating library and bookshop from Montpellier.

From 1837 he produced each year the "Cheltenham Annuaire", a local directory and diary. The Gentleman's Magazine, reviewing this wrote "This is a work elevated above the class to which it would otherwise belong, by the ability and good taste manifested in its accessories… The first is by the editor Mr H Davies whose talents both as an editor and as an essayist have been honourably displayed." He also produced a number of local guides.

Davies was very fond of music and in 1835 he started the St David's Day concerts in the town and was associated with them for the rest of his life. For this, in 1870 he received a testimonial and a volume of subscribers which included many Welsh enthusiasts including Lady Llanover, Lady Charlotte Schreiber, Dowager Countess of Dunraven (Caroline, widow of the 2nd Earl of Dunraven), Sir Thomas Phillipps and Michael Hicks Beach MP. He inspired his children to perform and his daughter Mary sang and played the Welsh harp so beautifully, she was nicknamed "y Deryn" (the bird). He played a part in the founding of Cheltenham College in 1842, and was very actively involved in the Literary and Philosophic Institution at Cheltenham. He was the moving spirit behind the only visit of the British Association to Cheltenham which took place in 1856, and he acted as one of the Hon. Secretaries. He was however an implacable opponent of the establishment of a public library in the town. In 1858 he took the chair at the Llangolen Eisteddfod, regretting that he had lost his fluency in his native Welsh.

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