David Riley Russell, poet, was born in Fairfield, Texas, on December 4, 1902, the son of John Lawson and Mary Sarah "Mollie" (Riley) Russell. He received a B.A. degree from Southern Methodist University in 1926 and joined the staff of that institution as assistant professor in the speech and theater department. He received an M.A. degree in drama from Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1931. He wrote four books of poetry, one of which, Sing With Me Now (1945), won the 1945 Texas Institute of Letters prize for poetry. His poems appeared in such papers and magazines as the New York Times and the Southwest Review as well as in local, regional, and national anthologies. He was poet laureate of Texas from 1945 to 1947. He also wrote plays that were produced at Southern Methodist University and in Dallas theaters. He was a member of several professional organizations, including the Poetry Society of Texas, of which he was president from 1941 to 1951, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Texas Folklore Society. In 1941 Russell edited the Poetry Society's Yearbook. He married Mrs. Agnes Scaling McNeny on March 30, 1956. They had two children. Russell was a member of the Highland Park Methodist Church and the Brookhollow Golf Club. He was a board member the director of plays at Dallas Little Theatre. The Mr. and Mrs. David Russell Poetry Prize in a creative writing contest was given annually at Southern Methodist University. Russell died on March 20, 1964, and was buried at Hillcrest Mausoleum, Dallas.
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Robert P. Tristram Coffin et al., David Russell, A Singing Poet: Critical Notes and Reviews (Dallas: Kaleidograph Press, 1946). Dallas Morning News, March 21, 1964. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Margaret Royalty Edwards,
“Russell, David Riley,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 27, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
June 1, 1995
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