Reginald Harvey Griffith, English professor, son of Richard Henry and Mary Ann (Coleman) Griffith, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, on February 3, 1873. He went to Greenville Military Institute, then to Furman University, where he received an M.A. degree in 1892. He also attended Johns Hopkins University. He taught English at Furman University in 1898–99. In 1902 he became an instructor in English at the University of Texas, where he stayed the remainder of his academic career. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1905. Furman University honored him with a Litt.D. degree in 1925. At the University of Texas he became curator of the Wrenn Library in 1918, full professor in 1919, and professor emeritus in 1952. He directed the first University of Texas dissertation in the Department of English.
Griffith was author and coeditor of several literary studies; he was particularly known for his two-volume Alexander Pope: A Bibliography (1922, 1927), which established him as one of the world's foremost authorities on this eighteenth-century poet. He also wrote Sir Percival of Galles: A Study of the Sources of the Legend (1911) and edited, with Howard Mumford Jones, A Descriptive Catalogue of an Exhibition of Manuscripts and First Editions of Lord Byron (1924). Known as the "godfather" of the rare books collections, Griffith influenced the university to buy the Wrenn and Aitken collections; with the addition of the Miriam Lutcher Stark Library in 1926, the University of Texas was established as a major center for research in eighteenth-century literature.
He initiated and directed the Shakespeare Tercentenary Festival at the university; in 1933 he instituted the Texas Conference of College Teachers of English and became its first president. He was appointed chairman of a committee to investigate the establishment of a university press; in 1950, when the University of Texas Press was established, he headed the committee that chose the first director; he was also the first chairman of the Faculty Advisory Board for the university press.
Griffith married Alice Mary Matlock on August 3, 1906; they had three children. He died on December 10, 1957, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.