Inside cover of The Odyssey of Homer by TE Shaw (1945),
showing the wanderings of Odysseus
I bought a book last week from a bookseller on Instagram, the first time I’ve ever done that. It was a copy of T. E. Shaw’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey. Yes, that T. E. Shaw, Lawrence of Arabia.
The book is old, beat, and tired. It’s probably a twelfth printing, depending on how you count such things, but what caught my attention was that the seller had included a photo of the previous owner’s signature, Guy Davenport, Jr., and the signature was dated 1945.
Did this copy of the book belong to Guy Davenport, a minor but very interesting science fiction writer who won a MacArthur fellowship in 1990? I bought the book and then started to research.
I’ve found nothing conclusive, but everything points in that direction. Davenport was named after his father Guy Mattison Davenport and was, in fact, a Junior. Davenport would have been 18 years old in 1945, just the right age to read the book in either his first year of college or his last in high school. He taught for 27 years at the University of Kentucky and lived in Kentucky for another 15 years until his death in 2005, so the book turned up in the correct geographical location.