Michael Davidson was born into an upper-middle-class family in Guernsey in 1897. He was educated at Lancing.
Davidson joined the army in 1914. After being wounded in 1916, he became a newspaper reporter and a supporter of the Communist Party. He translated a number of anti-Nazi books. When he lived in Berlin in early to mid-1930s, he wrote newspaper articles about the full implications of Hitler's ideology, which he had seen up-close, but British newspapers were not interested in publishing the articles. After being harassed by the SA for being British, a communist, and a homosexual, Davidson fled Germany. He spent the rest of his life serving as a foreign correspondent for The Observer, The News Chronicle, The New York Times and other newspapers.
At age 26, Davidson met W. H. Auden, then 16, and they began a "poetic relationship". Davidson mentored Auden and helped him getting published.
Davidson was open with his love for adolescent boys. His 1962 autobiography "The World, the Flesh and Myself" begins: "This is the life-history of a lover of boys." His follow-up memoir "Some Boys" (1970) focused entirely on the boys he had met around the world, while working as a foreign correspondent.