Beatrice Deloitte Davis was born on 28 January 1909 at Bendigo, Victoria. Beatrice was still studying the piano at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney when she began her university studies at Sydney University. She graduated with a BA in 1929 and began her working life as a stenographer at the French Trade Commission and then worked, first as a stenographer and then as editorial assistant, for the Medical Journal for seven years .
Beatrice freelanced for Angus & Robertson in Sydney for several years, and then in-house in 1937. When she finally left A&R in 1973, she had been working for the firm as an editor for 36 years and was A&R's first full-time general editor. She created the editorial department and, in that time, chose and trained a succession of fine editors, among them, Nan McDonald, Rosemary Dobson and Alec Bolton. As either editor or head of the editorial department, she worked with many published writers, including Thea Astley, Marjorie Barnard, Manning Clark, Alexandra Hasluck, Ruth Park, Hal Porter, Kylie Tennant, Judah Waten and Judith Wright.
Beatrice Davis then went to work for Thomas Nelson (Australia) Ltd in 1974 and a few of her A&R authors followed her to Nelson's. In 1981 Beatrice was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her service to literature. By 1986 at the age of 77, Beatrice was no longer working in-house, but continued to freelance, mostly for Mead & Beckett.
Chosen by Miles Franklin as one of the judges of the inaugural Miles Franklin Award in 1957, she nurtured, developed and promoted Australian literature, and was awarded the MBE and AM for her contribution to Australian publishing.
Beatrice Davis was nominated for honorary life membership of the Victorian Society of Editors in 1987. Beatrice died in 1992, aged 83 years, and the Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellowship was established.
This biography of Beatrice Davis is adapted, with permission, from the website of the Victorian Society of Editors.