Marian Davis served as a literary assistant to Ellen G. White for 25 years, from 1879 until her death in 1904. She accompanied Mrs. White in her travels in America, in Europe, and Australia. W. K. Kellogg, the cereal maker, was married to Marian's sister, Ella. In the early 1880s Marian helped to prepare for publication Testimonies for the Church, volumes 1-4. After she joined Ellen White in Europe in 1886, she assisted in the preparation of The Great Controversy (1888 edition). She also assisted with Patriarchs and Prophets.
During her years in Australia, Marian was the one who worked most closely with Ellen White on The Desire of Ages. Ellen White did not simply sit down and write the manuscript for The Desire of Ages as one would normally write a book. Rather, Marian assisted by selecting and compiling material on the life of Christ that Ellen White had previously written in letters, manuscripts, articles, and books. Mrs. White filled in gaps and expanded the narrative with further details as needed. Describing Marian's work, Ellen White wrote: "She does her work in this way: She takes my articles which are published in the papers, and pastes them in blank books. She also has a copy of all the letters I write. In preparing a chapter for a book, Marian remembers that I have written something on that special point, which may make the matter more forcible. She begins to search for this, and if when she finds it, she sees that it will make the chapter more clear, she adds it. The books are not Marian's productions, but my own, gathered from all my writings."--Letter 61a, 1900 (EGW Biography, vol. 4, p. 381).
After finishing her editorial work on The Desire of Ages in 1898, Marian turned to Christ's Object Lessons. In that year alone, Ellen White wrote more than 30 manuscripts on the topic of Christ's parables, providing a rich source from which Marian Davis worked. Ellen White dedicated all of the royalties from this book to help pay the debts on denominational educational institutions.
Near the end of 1901, Marian Davis helped compile material for Testimonies for the Church, volume 7. Much of what Ellen White had written regarding the developing sanitarium work in America was included in this volume.
When Ellen White traveled east in the spring of 1904, she left Marian behind to continue the work of preparing for publication her latest manuscript, entitled The Ministry of Healing. To her great disappointment, Marian was unable to finish this work, having to lay it aside after contracting tuberculosis. She died on October 25, 1904.
Though Ellen White had many literary assistants throughout her life, none
seemed more highly valued to her than Marian Davis.