Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Adams, William Davenport

ADAMS, WILLIAM DAVENPORT (1851–1904), journalist and compiler, born at Brixton on 25 Dec. 1851, was elder son of William Henry Davenport Adams (1828-1891) [q. v. Suppl. I] by his wife Sarah Esther Morgan. Entering Merchant Taylors' School in January 1863, he went to Edinburgh University, but ill-health precluded his securing any academic distinction. Becoming a journalist, he was appointed in 1875 leader-writer and literary and dramatic critic for the 'Glasgow Daily News,' and later he edited the evening and weekly editions. From 1878 to 1880 he was editor of the 'Greenock Advertiser'; from 1880 to 1882 acting-editor of the 'Nottingham Guardian'; from 1882 to 1885 editor of the 'Derby Mercury'; and from 1885 till his death literary editor and dramatic critic of the London 'Globe.'

Adams's main interest lay in the drama, and the leisure of twenty years was devoted to the compilation of 'A Dictionary of the Drama,' which was to be 'a guide to the plays, playwrights, players, and playhouses of the United Kingdom and America, from the earliest times to the present day.' Only the first of the two projected volumes (A-G) was completed at Adams's death at Putney on 27 July 1904. He was buried at Putney Vale cemetery. On 19 Oct. 1875 he married Caroline Estelle, daughter of John Korner, a Polish exile of noble family.

Besides the comprehensive but unfinished 'Dictionary of the Drama' (1904), Adams published: 1. 'A Dictionary of English Literature, being a comprehensive guide to English authors and their works,' 1878. 2. 'By-Ways in Book-Land,' 1888. 3. 'A Book of Burlesque,' 1891. 4. 'With Poet and Player: Essays on Literature and the Stage,' 1891.

[The Times and Globe, 28 July 1904; Theatre, 1894 (portrait); Reg. Merchant Taylors' School ; private information.]

L. M.