Richard Harding Davis was a popular writer of fiction and drama, and a journalist who covered the Spanish-American War, the Second Boer War, and the First World War. Davis was a managing editor of "Harper's Weekly" at the time of the Second Boer War in South Africa. As an American, he was able to cover the war first-hand from both the British and Boer perspectives. Davis also worked as a reporter for the New York "Herald," The "Times," and "Scribner's Magazine," and was considered the model for illustrator Charles Dana Gibson's "Gibson Man."
"Once Upon a Time" is a collection of eight of Davis's short stories, drawn from his experiences abroad as a correspondent. "A Question of Latitude" deals with European cruelty and misrule in the Congo. "The Spy" visits the South America of dictators, revolutions, and corrupt financial schemers from the U.S. Also included are "The Messengers," "A Wasted Day," "A Charmed Life," "The Amateur," "The Make-Believe Man," and "Peace Maneuvers."