Corbin, John, 1870-1959

Alternative names
Birth 1870-05-02
Death 1959-08-30

Biographical notes:

John Corbin was a drama critic, Shakespearean scholar, and author; born in Chicago, Ill., May 2, 1870; graduated from Harvard, 1892; M.A., Harvard, 1893; studied at Balliol College, Oxford, 1894-95; instructor of English at Harvard, 1895-96; assistant editor of Harper's magazine, 1897-1900; drama critic for Harper's weekly, 1899-1900; member of the editorial staff of the Encyclopedia britannica, 1900-02; drama critic for the New York times, 1902-05, 1917-19, and for the New York sun, 1905-08; literary manager of the New Theatre, New York, 1908-10; secretary of the Drama Society, New York, 1913-16; editorial writer for the New York Times, 1919-26; died Aug. 30, 1959.

From the description of Collection, 1894-1956. (University of Nebraska - Lincoln). WorldCat record id: 33418604

Epithet: of Notting Hill

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000572.0x00001e

John Corbin was born in Chicago in 1870, received a B.A. in English from Harvard in 1892 and an M.A. in 1893. His graduate study focused on Shakespeare, whose life would be a subject of Corbin's future research and writing. Corbin's first published book, The Elizabethan Hamlet (Scribner's, 1895) was based on his master's thesis. Corbin worked as an editor, free-lance writer, and drama critic for many magazines and newspapers including Harper's, The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, and the Saturday Evening Post. He also served as Literary Director of the New Theatre from 1908 to 1910 and as secretary for the Drama Society in New York from 1913 to 1916. In 1925 he left the New York Times to research and write about George Washington, publishing a book, The Unknown Washington, in 1930. Thereafter he worked as a free-lance writer. John Corbin died in New York in 1959.

From the description of Papers, 1894-1956. (University of Nebraska - Lincoln). WorldCat record id: 51064507

Born in Chicago on 2 May 1870, John Corbin was the fifth child of Calvin Rich Corbin and Caroline Elizabeth Fairfield Corbin. At the age of 18, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and entered Harvard College in the fall of 1888. He graduated with a B.A. degree in English in 1892 and a M.A. in 1893. His graduate study focused on Shakespeare and dramatic literature. From 1893 to 1894, he worked as editor of Outing magazine. For one year, Corbin attended Baloil College at Oxford University where he turned his master's thesis into a publishable monograph. In the spring of 1895, Scribner's in New York published The Elizabethan Hamlet .

Corbin returned to the United States and served as an instructor at Harvard for the 1896-1897 school year. He then resigned from this position and went to work as an assistant editor of Harper's Magazine . He wrote his first dramatic criticism for Harper's Magazine and Harper's Weekly . During his time at Harper's, Corbin met Amy Foster. They married on 1 November 1899 and remained together for the next sixty years. In 1900 Corbin went to work for the Encyclopedia Britannica and began work on another book. Corbin focused on his experiences at Oxford, which appear in An American at Oxford, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1902. In addition to his work, Corbin also wrote a number of free-lance articles for The New York Times, Scribner's Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, and The Forum .

From 1902 to 1904 Corbin worked as a drama critic for The New York Times . He left the position at the New York Times in December 1904 and went to work for The New York Sun . He remained at the Sun until the summer of 1907. Corbin worked on numerous free-lance articles for The Saturday Evening Post, which Houghton Mifflin republished in book form in 1908 with the title, Which College for the Boy?. On 20 July 1908 Corbin became Literary Director of the New Theatre, a repertory theater founded by W. K. Vanderbilt, J. P. Morgan, John J. Astor, and other members of New York's high society. He resigned as director in 1910, and the New Theatre closed one year later.

Corbin went back to free-lance writing, as well as to writing and producing plays, after leaving the New Theatre. He acted as secretary for the Drama Society in New York from 1913 to 1916. In 1917 Corbin returned to the New York Times as a drama critic and remained there until 1925. After leaving the Times he devoted the next four years to studying American History. His research led to the publication of a biography of George Washington, titled The Unknown Washington, in 1930. Corbin continued as a free-lance writer for the remainder of his life. During his career he authored a total of twelve books and over one hundred articles and reviews.

John and Amy Corbin moved into a convalescent home in Briarcliff Manor, New York, in the fall of 1957. Amy Corbin passed away in the spring of 1959. John Corbin died a few months later on 30 August 1959.

From the guide to the John Corbin, Papers, 1894-1956


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Theater critics--Archives
  • Authors, American--20th century--Archives
  • Theater critics--United States--Archives


not available for this record


  • London, county of, England (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)