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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in three series: I. Series I: Non-Dramatic Material, 1904-1920; Series II: Constructive Course, undated; Series III: Plays, 1903-1920.
The collection includes personal papers, many of which concern Gibson's father-in-law, William Everts Benjamin; drafts and notes for both dramatic and non-dramatic works by Gibson; and texts by W.T. Price on the craft of playwriting.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Preston Gibson Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 06/--/89.
Papers Processed Marina Kastan, Pratt Institute, Class of 2012 10/--/10.
Finding aid written Marina Kastan, Pratt Institute, Class of 2012 10/--/10.
8 photographs of Gibson with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and other members of the family of Dallas Pratt Processed 02/01/87.
2010-11-12 xml document instance created by Marina Kastan
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Preston Gibson (1880-1937) was a prominent society figure and a playwright. The son of Randall L. Gibson, U.S. Senator and Representative of Louisiana, Gibson was extremely wealthy. Like his father, he attended Yale University, where he was a star athlete. During World War I, he was one of the first Americans to volunteer with the French army. From 1916 to 1918 he fought with the French Ambulance Corps and the American Ambulance Corps, and received the Croix to Guerre for bravery. Upon returning to the United States he enlisted in the Marines and broke records as a recruiting sergeant.
Gibson was married and divorced four times: first to Minna Field (niece of Marshall Field and stepdaughter of Thomas Nelson Page), then to Grace McMillan Jarvis (granddaughter of U.S. Senator James McMillan), Beatrice Benjamin Pratt (daughter of the Boston publisher William Everts Benjamin and granddaughter of Henry H. Rogers of the Standard Oil Company), and finally to Evelyn Harris Spaulding. His multiple marriages caused a certain amount of scandal. He had three sons--Henry Field Gibson, James McMillan Gibson, and Henry Spaulding Gibson--and a daughter, Marie Preston Gibson. Gibson died at the age of 57 from heart disease.
Gibson began to write plays shortly after graduating from Yale in 1900. In 1910 the Hackett Theater in New York produced his play The Turning Point. It received some positive reviews but was heavily criticized when it came to light that certain lines in the play were copied almost exactly from plays by Oscar Wilde, including A Woman of No Importance and The Ideal Husband. Gibson defended himself publicly by saying that he had written the lines and that the accusations put him in the company of writers like Shakespeare who had borrowed ideas from other works. Aside from this production, he achieved little success as a writer, though he completed at least a dozen plays. His third wife, Beatrice Pratt, is listed as a coauthor on a number of his works.
A member of the Metropolitan and Chevy Chase clubs of Washington D.C; the Yale, Lambs, Strollers, and Players clubs of New York; and others in cities in the U.S. and abroad, Gibson was much better known as a society figure than as a writer.