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John R. Theobald Collection

Identifier: MS-0359

Scope and Contents

The John R. Theobald Collection documents Theobald's writings. The collection dates from the 1920s to 1989 with many materials undated. Most of Theobald's papers are included in the Professional and Personal series. The Laurence McGilvery series comprises additional materials later donated by Laurence McGilvery, a San Diego bookseller who was involved in the production of Theobald's anthology of translations of French poetry, The Lost Wine.

The Professional series documents Theobald's numerous radio addresses, poetry translations, and publications from 1926-1989, with some undated materials. Included in this series is the script for Theobald's Nine Ultimate Questions radio address; scripts for various other radio talks given in San Diego; recordings on cassette tape of Theobald's lectures on English Romantic poets; gallery proofs, introduction, and publicity for his book The Lost Wine: Seven Centuries of French Into English Lyrical Poetry; manuscripts for some of his other works; poems in German translated into English by Theobald; and original poems. Also included in this series is Theobald's reminiscence of his correspondence with Ezra Pound. There is no filing order.

The Personal series includes Theobald's memoirs, correspondence, poems (published and unpublished), essays, his thesis from Union Seminary on Benedetto Croce, and his PhD thesis on D.H. Lawrence. This series also includes a group photo of Theobald's class at Mansfield College in 1922. The series dates from the 1920s to 1990, with some undated materials. There is no filing order.

The Laurence McGilvery series consists of the files of San Diego bookseller Laurence McGilvery, who with his wife and business partner Geraldine assisted Theobald with typesetting and technical matters for The Lost Wine in the early stages of its production. McGilvery's files include correspondence between McGilvery, Theobald and several publishers; drafts of The Lost Wine; and publicity material.


  • Creation: 1920-1989


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Biographical Note

John R. Theobald was born September 5, 1903 in India where his parents were doing missionary work. He was sent to England at age 6 for schooling. He later attended Oxford University, graduating in 1925 with honors in English. He was also the recipient of the England Fellowship to Union Seminary in New York where he received a degree in theology in 1929. Dr. Theobald earned his doctorate in 1943 at the University of Iowa. He taught at Queens University in Canada, Amherst, Trinity College, Grinnell College, and San Diego State University. He also worked as a research associate in the Division of War Research at the University of California, San Diego.

Dr. Theobald came to San Diego State University in 1946 as an associate professor in the English department. He later became a full professor and retired in 1969 as professor emeritus. While at San Diego State University, Dr. Theobald gave numerous recitals and addresses on National Public Radio. He wrote a series of radio talks called The Nine Ultimate Questions that covered subjects from man to God and beauty and peace. He also did a fourteen part series on poetry and poets called The Spoken Word.

Dr. Theobald was also a respected author. His works include: The Earthquake and Other Poems, An Oxford Odyssey, A Second Light, Planetsong, and Introducing Poetry. His translations of French poetry were published in Midi-Noon, A Work by Leconte De Lisle, The Lost Wine: Seven Centuries of Lyric French Poetry Into English Lyrical Poetry.

Dr. Theobald died in December of 1989.


3.17 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

I. Personal Files
II. Professional Files
III. Laurence McGilvery Files

Accruals and Additions

9999-112, 2016-030, 2017-039

John R. Theobald Collection
Jennifer Hollander
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US