David Graham Phillips Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

David Graham Phillips was an important figure in early twentieth century fiction as well as the progressive and reform-minded journalism known as muckraking. Phillips was the son of David Graham Phillips, Sr., a banker, and Margaret Lee. He was born in Madison, Indiana, and grew up in comfortable circumstances. He attended Asbury College (later DePauw University) in Indiana before transferring to Princeton University, from which he graduated at age nineteen in 1887.

After graduation, Phillips moved to Cincinnati, where he worked as a reporter and feature writer for the Cincinnati Times-Star and the Commercial Gazette. In 1890 Phillips moved to New York to become a reporter for the nationally known newspaper The New York Sun. He would live in New York for the rest of his life. Phillips began to work for Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper the New York World in 1893 and continued to work for Pulitzer until 1902, when he resigned to concentrate on writing fiction.

Phillips’s newspaper work provided the background for his magazine writing, his novels, and the muckraking journalism for which he is best remembered today. Although he published his first novel, The Great God Success, in 1901, he continued to write articles for magazines, and in 1905 William Randolph Hearst persuaded him to write the book that became his most famous piece of nonfiction writing. This book is The Treason of the Senate, which first appeared as a series of articles in Hearst’s magazine Cosmopolitan. This series of articles created...

(The entire section is 647 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Bailey, James R. “David Graham Phillips.” In American Novelists, 1910-1945, edited by James J. Martine. Vol. 9 in Dictionary of Literary Biography. Detroit: Gale Group, 1981. An examination of Phillips’s career.

Filler, Louis. Voice of the Democracy: A Critical Biography of David Graham Phillips, Journalist, Novelist, Progressive. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1978. A comprehensive biography of Phillips. Filler studies his life and works as well as his literary and social context, paying particular attention to the novels and also to important themes in Phillips’s writing and how these themes relate to his biography.

Ravitz, Abe C. David Graham Phillips. New York: Twayne, 1966. A good general overview of Phillips’s life and works from Twayne’s United States Authors series.