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Jacket 20 - George Watson - Remembering Prufrock - Hugh Sykes Davies  1909-1984Hugh Sykes Davies (1909–1984) was an English poet, novelist and communist who was one of a small group of 1930s British surrealists. He was part of the Cambridge Apostles.

Davies was born in Yorkshire to a Methodist minister, Reverend T. Sykes Davies. Hugh Sykes Davies went to Kingswood School, Bath and studied at Cambridge, where he co-edited, with William Empson, the magazine Experiment, and where he took the Jebb Studentship and the Le Bas Prize in 1931. He became University Lecturer and Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. In the 1930s he was a Communist and Surrealist, and co-created the London Surrealist Exhibition in 1936. T. S. Eliot would write of him on 13 Mar. 1936, when he put in for a post at the University of Liverpool: 'I have known him pretty well for some years, and I regard his qualifications as exceptional. He has the advantage, not too common in these days, of a sound classical foundation, and I remember an essay of his on the earliest Latin versification which impressed me very much. For the study of criticism he has, I believe, much curious and out-of-the-way learning in Renaissance criticism and philosophy, both in Latin and in Italian, and I regard this as of great importance. He has very wide curiosity and acquaintance with a variety of subjects, as well as a solid knowledge of those which he professes. He is, I believe, something of an authority on the philosophy of Vico, but of this I am not qualified to speak. He has a brilliant mind, and I think also has the temperament which makes it possible for a teacher to acquire the friendship of his pupils. I have great pleasure in supporting his application.'

He was to stand as a communist candidate in the 1940 general election, but the vote was cancelled because of World War II.

He married Fay de Courcy, daughter of G/Capt. John Arthur Gerald de Courcy and Anna Felicia Wright, in 1947. He and Fay de Courcy were divorced in 1962 and remarried in 1982. They had one daughter, Katharine Felicia Davies (born 1953).

He had a talent for friendship, and as well as Empson, he numbered T. S. Eliot, I. A. Richards, Anthony Blunt, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Salvador Dalí amongst his circle. At one stage he had Malcolm Lowry declared his ward in an attempt to stop Lowry's drinking. Davies' poems were mostly published in avant garde magazines and were not collected during his lifetime. Davies' novels include Full Fathom Five (1956) and The Papers of Andrew Melmoth (1960); other writings include Wordsworth and The Worth of Words (1986). He also wrote Petron (1935). He appears in the Canadian National Film Board's feature-length documentary "Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry" talking about Lowry and their friendship.

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