William Whittingham Lyman Jr.

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William Whittingham Lyman Jr. (January 3, 1885 – November 8, 1983), also known as Jack Lyman, was an American writer and academic, primarily in the field of Celtic studies.

Life and work[edit]

Lyman was born at Napa County, California, the son of William Whittingham Lyman and Mrs Sarah A. Nowland, and the grandson of Theodore Benedict Lyman. His father built the Lyman winery, now known as the El Molino winery.[1] In 1905, while an undergraduate at University of California, Berkeley, he was convinced by Charles Mills Gayley to achieve an academic major in English literature. Upon completion of his Master's degree, Gayley arranged for him to receive a university fellowship to travel to the University of Oxford to study Celtic languages with Sir John Rhys. After a year at Oxford, Lyman spent two years at Harvard University studying the Irish language. He returned to the University of California, Berkeley to take up a post as Instructor in Celtic (then a tenure-track position) within the English department in 1911-1912. In the same year, Celtic appears on the list of approved majors in the College of Letters and Science and in the following year Lyman is named also as "Graduate Adviser" in Celtic.[2] There he remained until 1922, whereupon he moved to Southern California and taught English at Los Angeles City College until his retirement.[3] After retirement he and his family moved back to the family home near the Bale Grist Mill north of St. Helena.

Commenting on his long life, Ruth Witt-Diamant declared him to be the "oldest living poet".

He was a poet of some renown, as mentioned by Josephine Miles: "In a legendary time in the Greek Theater in Berkeley at the end of the first world war, poets gathered around the visitor Witter Bynner with a great sense of inventiveness and praise. Names I have heard from that time were Genevieve Taggard, Hidegarde Flanner, Eda Lou Walton, David Greenhood, Jack Lyman."[4]

On January 1, 1921, he married the poet Helen Hoyt.[5]


As editor[edit]

  • (With Dudley Chadwick Gordon and Vernon Rupert King). Today's Literature: An Omnibus of Short Stories, Novelettes, Poems, Plays, Profiles, and Essays. New York: American Book Company. 1935. ISBN 0-8486-6628-3

As author[edit]

  • Figs from California. Berkeley: Lederer, Street and Zeus. 1922. 
  • California Wild Flowers in Verse and Picture. Los Angeles: Lymanhouse. 1939. 
  • Poems In Three Moods. Los Angeles: College Press. 1948. 
  • The Lyman Family (Gleanings). Napa County Historical Society. 1980. 

Unpublished memoirs[edit]

His typescript memoirs are held at the University of California, Berkeley, Bancroft Library and contain comments on many of his faculty colleagues as well as the circumstances of his departure from the university.


  1. ^ "W. W. Lyman". Napa County Biographies, as held on CAGenweb.com. Archived from the original on March 25, 2005. Retrieved April 13, 2005. 
  2. ^ "Celtic Studies At Berkeley (Feb. 17, 2005)". Celtic Studies Program, University of California, Berkeley, last updated by Elizabeth LaVarge-Baptista. Retrieved April 13, 2005. 
  3. ^ Karman, James, ed. (2011). The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers. Stanford University Press. 
  4. ^ From preface to Taggard, Genevieve (1980). To The Natural World. Ahsahta Press. ISBN 0-916272-13-3. 
  5. ^ Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 18:4 (July 1921), p. 209.