Richard Harding Davis, the son of two writers, was born in Philadelphia in 1864. After an education at the Episcopal Academy and Johns Hopkins University, he became a journalist. His first job was as a reporter for the Philadelphia Press. In 1888 he moved to the New York Sun and by the age of 26 he was the managing editor of Harper's Weekly.
Davis covered the Spanish War, the Spanish-American War in Cuba, the Greco-Turkish War and the Boer War. As well as articles he wrote several books about his travels, including Rulers of the Mediterranean (1894), About Paris (1895) and Three Gringos in Venezuela and Central America (1896).
By the outbreak of the First World War, Davis was the most experienced and respected war correspondent in America. He was also the best rewarded with the Wheeler syndicate paying him $32,000 a year to report the war in Europe. Captured by the German Army in Belgium in 1914, he was threatened with execution as a British spy as his passport had been issued in London and not Washington. Eventually Davis was able to convince the Germans he was an American reporter and he was released.
Harding remained in Europe until 1915, but was unhappy with the restrictions imposed on him by the Allied authorities. Before returning to America he was quoted as saying he was not staying "to write sidelights". Richard Harding Davis died in 1916.