North American Scholar

WEBSTER, Thomas Bertram Lonsdale

  • Image
  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1905-07-03
  • Born City: London
  • Born State/Country: England
  • Parents: Sir Thomas Lonsdale, KCB, Clerk of the House of Commons, and Ethel Dalton W.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1974-05-31
  • Death City: Palo Alto
  • Death State/Country: CA
  • Married: Amy Marjorie Dale, 1944
  • Education:

    Charterhouse, 1918-23; Ireland Scholar, 1924; A.B. Christ Church, Oxford, 1927, tutor, 1927-31; study in Leipzig, 1927-8; Derby Scholar, 1928, Cromer Prize, 1929; D.Litt., Dublin, 1958; Manchester, 1965.

  • Professional Experience:

    Hulme Professor of Greek, Manchester U., 1931-48; prof. Greek, University College, London, 1948-68; vis. prof. class., Stanford, 1966; prof. classics, 1967-70; prof. Ancient Literature, Royal Academy of Arts and Hon. R.A, 1955; FSA, 1934; Pres., Hellenic Society, 1950; Classical Association, 1959; chairman, Gilbert Murray Trust, 1959; corresp. mem., German Archaeological Inst., 1935; ord. mem., 1954; me., Vetenskapsoc. i Lund, 1949; Norwegian Acad. Science and Letters, 1958; Royal Soc. Arts and ASciences, Gothenburg, 1958; for. me., Royal Danish Acad. Sciences and Letters; corr. mem., Austrian Acad. Sciences, 1967; Royal Soc. of Humane Letters, Lund, 1970.

  • Publications:

    “A Rediscovered Caeretan Hydria,” JHS 48 (1928) 196-206; “The Wilshere Collection at Pusey House in Oxford,” JRS 19 (1929) 150-154; Excerpta ex antiquis scriptoribus quae ad Forum romanum spectant, with A.S. Owen (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930) REVS: Historia 1931 664 Lugli | RA 1931 XXXIII 208 Reinach | Gn 1931 505-507 Crous | | JS 1931 427 Cagnat | JRS 1931 147 Gardner; An Anthology of Greek Verse (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1935) REVS: CR 1936 197 Denniston | TLS 1936 474; “The Gap in the Pro Flacco,” CR 44 (1930) 221-224; “Attic Vase Painting During the Persian War,” G&R 1 (1931-1932) 137-142; “The Temple of Aphaia at Aegina,” JHS 52 (1931) 179-183; “Plot-Construction in Sophocles,” CR 46 (1932) 146-150; “Preparation and Motivation in Greek Tragedy,” CR 47 (1933) 117-123; M. Tulli Ciceronis Pro L. Flacco oratio (ed.) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933); An Anthology of Greek Prose, with E.S. Forster (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1933; rev. ed., 1935). REVS: CR 1934 149 Denniston | TLS 1934 13 | CR 1936 197 Denniston | TLS 1936 474; “Greek Vases in the Manchester School of Art,” Mem. & Proc. of the Manchester Liter. & Philos. Soc. 78 (1933-1934) 1-7; “The Style of Sophocles,” PCPS 157-159 (1934) 13-14; “New Antiquities in the Manchester Museum,” JHS 55 (1934) 207-209; “Character Drawing in Sophocles,” PCA (1935) 41-43; Der Niobidenmaler, Bilder griech. Vasen VIII (Leipzig: Keller, 1935). REVS: JHS 1936 88 | AC 1936 436 Philippart; “New Greek Antiquities in the Manchester Museum,” Mem. & Proc. of the Manchester Liber. & Philos. Soc. 80 (1935-1936) 37-44; An Introduction to Sophocles (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936; 2nd ed. London: Methuen, 1969). REVS: TLS 1936 560 | CR 1936 171 Earp | G&R 1936 VI 58 | Gn 1937 586-590 Schadewaldt | AJPh 1937 231-234 Van Hook | CW 1937 XXX 96 Godolphin | PhW 1938 513-529 Keseling | DLZ 1938 550-555 Lesky | CPh 1938 241-242 Harsh | CJ 1938 XXXIV 110-112 Duncan | MC 1938 1-6 Untersteiner | JHS 1938 281-282 Thomson; “Sophocles' Trachiniae,” in Greek Poetry and Life. Essays Presented to Gilbert Murray on His Seventieth Birthday, Jan. 2, 1936 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936) 164-180; “Sophocles and Ion of Chios,” Hermes (1936) 263-274; “An Ionian Plastic Vase and a Bronze Figure of a Woman in the Manchester Museum,” AntJ 17 (1936) 139-148; “Ionia in the Sixth Century B.C.,” G&R 6 (1936) 1-8;  Four Greek Vases in the Manchester Museum,  Notes from the Manchester Mus. XXXIX (Manchester, 1937). REVS: CR 1938 202 Robertson; “Four Greek Vases in the Manchester Museum,” Mem. & Proceed. Manchester Lit. & Philos. Soc. 82 (1937-8) 9-19; “Rylands Greek Papyri, No 482. Fragment of a Tragedy (Second Century),” BRL 23 (1938) 543-549; “Greek Theories of Art and Literature down to 400 B.C.,” CQ 35 (1939) 166-179; Greek Art and Literature 530-400 B.C. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1939). REVS: LEC 1939 568 Streignart | CW 1939 XXXIII 51 Agard | Parnassus oct. 1939 43 McMahon | Hermathena 1939 LIV 178-179 Wormell | G&R IX 1939 58-59 | CR 1939 172-173 Kitto | TLS 1939 406 | PhW 1940 374-379 Lippold | CPh 1941 191-192 Robinson | CJ XXXVII 1942 429-433 Robinson; “Tondo Composition in Archaic and Classical Greek Art, JHS 60 (1939) 103-123; “The Architecture of Sentences,” in Studies in French Language and Mediaeval Literature Presented to M. K. Pope (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1939) 381-392; “Chinese Painting and Archaic Greek Art,” G&R 9 (1940) 129-136;  “A Study of Greek Sentence Construction,” AJP 64 (1941) 385-415; Greek Interpretations (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1942). REVS: Hermathena LX 1942 115 Stanford | JHS 1943 134-135 Treves | CR 1944 52-54 Kitto | CPh 1944 143 Roebuck | AJP 1944 418 Schlesinger; “Forethoughts on Later Greek Comedy,” BRL 398,1 (1945); “Menander's Plays of Reconciliation,” BRL 24 (1945-1946) 369-391; “Restorations in Menander,” BRL 30 (1946) 115-143; Further Greek Vases in the Manchester Museum and School of Art, Memoirs & Proceed. of the Manchester Lit. & Philos. Soc. 87 (1946-1947); “Menander. Plays of Social Criticism,” BRL 30 (1947) 347-400; “Three Interpretations of Greek Vases,” Memoirs & Proceed. of the Manchester Literary & Philos. Soc. 89 (1947-1948) 1-10; “South Italian Vases and Attic Drama,” CQ 42(1948) 15-27; “Menander. Plays of Adventure and Satire,” BRL 31 (1948) 180-223; Political Interpretations in Greek Literature (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1948). REVS: JHS LXVII 1947 139-140 Gomme | Hermathena LXXII 1948 140 Parke | AJPh 1949 446-447 Lang | AC 1949 185 Josserand | CR 1949 98-99 Morrison; “The Masks of Greek Comedy,” BRL 32 (1949) 97-133; The Interplay of Greek Art and Literature: an inaugural lecture delivered at University College London on 17th January 1949  (London: Lewis, 1949). REVS: CW XLIV 1951 125 Fontenrose; Studies in Menander, Publ. Univ. of Manchester 309, Class. Ser. 7 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1950). REVS: JHS LXXII 1952 134 Charlton | SicGymn V 1952 258-260 Cataudella | G&R XXI 1952 88 | REG LXV 1952 481-492 Lapalus | Gnomon XXV 1953 40-45 Harsh | AJPh LXXIV 1953 107-109 Post | CR n.s. 4 1954 16-18 Gomme | AAHG VIII 1955 70-72 Lesky; Greek Terracottas (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1950; London & New York: Penguin, 1951). REVS: Antiquity XXVI 1952 141) | AJP LXXIV 9153 331 Robinson | REA LV 1953 422-424 Jannoray; “An Attic Marble Relief (JHS 1903 pl. 13) found in the Kerameikos,” PCA 47 (1950) 30; “Masks on Gnathia Vases,” JHS 71 (1951) 222-232; “Grave Relief of an Athenian Poet,” in Studies Presented to D. M. Robinson on His Seventieth Birthday, I: Prehistoric Greece, Egypt and the Far East, Architecture and Topography, Sculpture, Paintings and Mosaics, ed. G.E. Mylonas (St. Louis, Missouri : Washington University, 1951) 590-593; “The Prologue of Theophrastus' Characters,” PCA 48 (1951) 32;  “Addendum to Rendel Harris Papyri No. 56,” JJP 5 (1951) 237; “Two Comic Fragments,” CR n.s. 2 (1952) 57-60; “Plato and Aristotle as Critics of Greek Art,” SO 29 (1952) 8-23; “Notes on Pollux' List of Tragic Masks,” in Festschrift A. Rumpf, zum 60. Geburtstag dargebracht von Freunden und Schülern, Köln im Dez. 1950 (Krefeld: Scherpe-Verl., 1952) 141-150; “Chronological Notes on Middle Comedy,” CQ 46 (1952) 13-26; Language and Thought in Early Greece, Mem. & Proceed. Manchester Lit. & Philos. Soc. 94,3 (1952-1953); Studies in Later Greek Comedy (Manchester: Manchester University Prtess, 1953). REVS: REA LV 1953 434-436 Grimal | RFIC XXXI 1953 363-366 Rostagni | Gnomon XXVI 1954 174-177 Harsch | JHS LXXIV 1954 202 Charlton | CR n.s. 5 1955 149-151 Gomme; “Classical Association Jubilee,” G&R 22 (1953) 97; “Greek Comic Costume,” BRL 36 (1953-1954) 563-588; “Personification as a Mode of Greek Thought,” JWI 17 (1954) 10-21; “Quelques nouvelles études consacrées à la tragédie grecque,” Diogène no. 5 (1954) 108-127; “Greek Tragedy,” in Fifty Years of Classical Scholarship, ed. M. Platnauer et al. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1954) 71-95; “Fourth Century Tragedy and the Poetics,” Hermes 82 (1954) 294-308; Language and Thought in Early Greece, Mem. & Proceed. of the Manchester Lit. & Philos. Soc.  94 (1952-1953); “Pylos Aa, Ab Tablets,” BICS 1 (1954) 11-12; “Pylos E Tablets (En-Eo and Ep Series),” BICS 1 (1954) 13-14; “Additional Homeric Notes,” BICS 1 (1954) 15-16; “Some Monuments of Greek Comedy,” in Neue Beiträge zur klassischen Altertumswissenschaft. Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag von B. Schweitzer, ed. R. Lullies (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1954) 260-263; “The Costume of the Actors in Aristophanic Comedy,” CQ 49 (1955) 94-95; “Homer and the Mycenaean Tablets,” Antiquity 29 (1955) 10-14; Greek Theatre Production (London: Methuen, 1956); Art and Literature in Fourth Century Athens (London: Athlone Press, 1956); “Early and Late in Homeric Diction,” Eranos 54 (1956) 34-48; “Homer and Eastern Poetry,” Minos 4 (1956) 104-116; From Mycenae to Homer (London: Methuen, 1958; 2nd ed. 1964);The Birth of the Modern Comedy of Manners (n.p., Australian Humanities Research Council, 1959); Greek Art and Literature, 700-530 B.C. : The Beginnings of Modern Civilization
(Dunedin: University of Otago Press in association with Melbourne University Press, 1959); Monuments illustrating Old and Middle Comedy, (London, Institute of Classical Studies,1960); “Staging and Scenery in the Ancient Greek Theatre,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 42, 2 (March, 1960) 493-509; Monuments Illustrating New Comedy (London: University of London, Institute of Classical Studies, 1961; 2nd ed. rev. & enl., 1969); Monuments Illustrating Tragedy and Satyr Play, (London: Institute of Classical Studies, 1964; 2nd ed. with appendix, 1967);Cesnola Terracottas in The Stanford University Museum, with J.R. Davis, Stud. in Mediterr. Archaeol.  XVI (Lund: Bloms, 1964). REVS: Hermeneus XXXVII 1965 103 Hemelrijk | LEC XXXIII 1965 342 Wankenne | REG LXXVIII 1965 361-363 Mollard-Besques | AC XXXV 1966 365 Vanderivière | RPh XLI 1967 290 Masson; A. Pickard-Cambridge, Dithyramb, Tragedy and Comedy, 2nd ed., rev. by Webster (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962) REVS: P&I IV 1962 200 Garzya | LEC XXXI 1963 91 Walbrecq | Gnomon XXXV 1963 760-763 Brommer | PACA VI 1963 58-59 Ritchie | CR XIII 1963 148-149 Lucas | Mnemosyne XVI 1963 302-303 Kamerbeek | Hermathena XCVII 1963 114-116 Stanford | RBPh XLI 1963 925-926 Janssens | Athene (Chicago) XXV,2 1964 20 | REG LXXVII 1964 598-601 Roux | CPh LIX 1964 56-58 Calder III | JHS LXXXIV 1964 161-162 Dover | Sic-Gymn XVII 1964 261-263 Cataudella | RPh XXXIX 1965 306; Griechische Bühnenaltertümer (Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1963); Hellenistic Poetry and Art (London: Methuen, 1964); Chamoux Crea L. Bernabò & M. Cavalier, Meligunis-Lipára, II : La necropoli greca e romana nella Contrada Diana, with the collaboration of P. Pelagatti, with appendices by A.D. Trendall, Webster, and M.T. Currò, Pubbl. del Museo Eoliano di Lipari (Palermo: Flaccovio, 1965); The Art of Greece; The Age of Hellenism (New York: Crown Publishers, 1966); Hellenistic Art (London: Methuen, 1967); The Tragedies of Euripides (London: Methuen, 1967); A.M. Dale, Collected Papers, ed. with E.G. Turner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969) REVS: RSC XVII 1969 233-234 d'Agostino ; Gnomon XLII 1970 414-415 Snell | Euphrosyne IV 1970 307-309 de Teves Costa | Phoenix XXIV 1970 281-282 Campbell | G&R XVII 1970 225 Sewter | Hermathena CX 1970 88-89 Stanford | CR XXI 1971 407-409 Lloyd-Jones | AUMLA No. 35 1971 67-68 Kidd | REG LXXXIV 1971 188-189 Irigoin | RFIC XCIX 1971 172-177 Rossi | AJPh XCII 1971 718-721 Cole; Tradition in Greek Dramatic Lyric (Christchurch, University of Canterbury, 1969); Everyday Life in Classical Athens (London: Batsford; New York: Putnam, 1969); Sophocles Philoctetes, (ed.) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970); The Greek Chorus (London: Methuen, 1970); Illustrations of Greek Drama, with A.D. Trendall (London: Phaidon, 1971). REVS: ASNP II 1972 914 Arias | G&R XIX 1972 222 Colledge | CW LXVI 1973 430-431 Keuls | TLS LXXI 1972 797 | JHS XCIII 1973 269-270 Sparkes | ACR II 1972 265 Lazenby | Gnomon XLVII 1975 64-74 Zwierlein-Diehl; Greek Tragedy, Greece & Rome. New Surveys in the Classics no. 5 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971); Potter and Patron in Classical Athens (London, Methuen, 1972); Athenian Culture and Society (London, Batsford, 1973); An Introduction to Menander (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1974).

     

    Festschrift: Studies in Honour or T.B.L. Webster, ed. J.H. Betts, J.T. Hooker, & J.R. Green, 2 vols. (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1986-8).

    Bibliography: Studies in Honour of T.B.L. Webster, xiii-xxiii.

     

     

  • Notes:

    T.B.L. Webster (“Tom”) was educated first at Charterhouse, as were Robert Graves and Peter Green, where he was saved from at least one downside of the British public school system—games—by the lack of a left arm below the elbow, and where despite becoming Head Boy he was told he would never amount to anything in classics because he started Greek too late, age eleven. At Kings College, Oxford, where he played both tennis and squash, he studied with John Beazley, the brilliant originator of the organized study of Greek Vases; a pet goose used to nibble his shoelaces as he read his weekly essays by the fireside in Beazley’s digs, until, alas, it died from eating the London Daily Mail. He also studied at Leipzig with Richard Heinze (1867-1929) and Alfred Körte (1866-1946), a specialist in Greek comedy and Hellenistic poetry.

    At age 26 he became Hulme Professor of Greek at Manchester University. After seventeen years he moved on to the chair of Greek at University College London, where he helped build the London Institute of Classical Studies, and set up the Joint Association of Classical Teachers.

    Although his first publication was an edition of Cicero’s Pro Flacco, he delighted in saying that the chief reason to learn Latin was to read the apparatus criticus at the bottom of Greek texts. As a confirmed Hellenist, his interests included art, tragedy (especially Sophocles; n.b. his splendid Cambridge edition of Philoctetes) and new comedy, theater production, pottery, daily life in ancient Athens, and those mysterious centuries between the floruit of Mycenaean civilization and Homer.

    During WWII he served in military intelligence, reportedly at Bletchley though he would never confirm that. He was one of a number of British classicists whose war service gave them more than passing acquaintance with the latest in code-cracking techniques. After the war they supported the linguistic genius and professional architect Michael Ventris (1922-56) in his eventual decipherment of Linear B, which by the by made possible TBLW’s groundbreaking study, From Mycenae to Homer. The early death of Ventris in a car crash was a great personal loss to him.

    TBLW and his wife, the classicist A.M. Dale (1901-67), whose specialty was metrics, visited Stanford for a quarter in 1966. Following her death he accepted a permanent appointment at Stanford in 1968. This required whittling down his office library from 200 feet of shelf space to 100. His small campus apartment was decorated with a Picasso silverpoint, half a dozen sixth- and fifth-century Athenian vases, an Archaic Greek bronze horse (a wedding gift the donor had bought from a museum guard after hours at Olympia), and several tea towels featuring locomotives (he was a devoted siderodromophile and also an aficionado of Rolls Royce aircraft engines).

    As a teacher at Stanford (“My job is to be the old hunter who teaches the young hunters how it’s done.”) he was popular, learned, and encouraging rather than demanding, both in unusually large undergraduate classes and in graduate seminars. But with doctoral candidates’ theses in progress he recognized and rewarded toughness in a protégé when he found it; he was known to trade a relevant offprint he’d recently received or a helpful citation he’d come upon in return for the loan of the latest Updike or Nabokov. He also shocked some of his colleagues with the novel practice of now and then offering a class with free credits, no work being required of the registered students; he said they deserved it.

    Written communications from him often came inscribed upon greeting cards he had had printed from his own sketches of beloved San Francisco. The minutely spidery penmanship prepped ABDs for the task of deciphering their future undergraduates’ scrawled essays.

    He left a legacy of meticulously detailed scholarship in twenty-some books and, in the hearts of his students, a passion for discovering unexpected and enlightening connections between the known dots that make up our fragmentary knowledge of the ancient world. In Athens, near the Acropolis, Odhos Gouempster (Modern Greek for “Webster St.”) is the nobly transliterational stab at naming a scholar who pointed the way from discoveries of the past to our understanding of them.

  • Sources:

    John H. Betts, DBC 1039-41 (John H. Betts); E.H. Handley, PBA 120 (2003) 445-67; J. Barron, "The Vision Thing: The Founding of an Institute," BICS 43 (1999) 27-39; Charles Baty, BJACT 36 (1974) 2; Who's Who 126 (1974-5) 3449-3450.

  • Author: Robert E. Eisner