How William Lancaster Gribbon Became Talbot Mundy, by Brian Taves

Talbot Mundy was a name chosen. Typically, especially for adventurers of the period who were not especially pleased at their actual identity, or wanted to add an aura of mystery to their name, he adopted a new name (not a pseudonym; Walter Galt was his only known pseudonym.) He and his parents were incompatible even before he first ran away from home; they were traditional bourgeois high-church Tories who supported British imperialism. On every one of those counts, young William Lancaster Gribbon was opposed to their beliefs (and grew more so with age, for instance see his views on the Middle East--he and his brother were actively on opposite sides of the Zionism vs Arab self determination issue, as first spelled out in my introduction to Jimgrim and the Devil at Ludd, and subsequently in my biography). While there was some "reconciliation" in later years--off and on correspondence with his brother--Mundy never stayed under the family roof of either his brother or sister.

By contrast, during a difficult time in the 1930s, Talbot and his wife were taken in as summer guests by cousins, the Mundys, from whom he had taken the name as a youth. They had become acquainted during his colonial years, before coming to America. The Mundys were fascinated by Oriental traditions, and intrigued by theosophy--just the opposite of his own childhood. It was no accident that young Gribbon chose the name Mundy. I tracked down these Mundy relatives, as I reveal in my biography.

Today the brother's family still considers the noncormist of the family a "notorious" for failing to live up to Gribbon and Rule-Britannia expectations. The Mundys, by contrast, while English also, honored their cousin as a writer, believing Om a classic, recognizing the philosophical teaching as well as the spellbinding narrative that continues to draw readers over a half-century after Talbot Mundy's death.

So often, back then, a person's family beginnings and ancestry governed the person they could become. For an individual, especially an adventurer in Mundy's time, a transformation was typical; it allowed a fundamental change in identity, to begin life anew, to sever ties with the past, to place mistakes behind. William Lancaster Gribbon became Talbot Mundy no less than T.E. Lawrence sought to evade publicity by taking the name Shaw. William Lancaster Gribbon found that his ability to begin anew as Talbot Mundy was part of his own belief in death and rebirth, the reincarnation of the soul, for his own new identity allowed him to come to America and become the writer whose fame has so long outlasted his own death. is a website devoted to Talbot Mundy, mystical adventure, epics, books, essays, Theosophy, British Foreign Service, India, Australia, Africa, Robert E. Howard, Dorje the Daring, thunderbolts, Gobi desert, Atlantis, Nepal, Jimgrim, King of the Khyber Rifles, Gray Mahatma, Om the Secret of Ahbor Valley, Queen Cleopatra, Lud of Lunden, Helma, Praetor's Dungeon, Tros of Samothrace, Full Moon, Purple Pirate, Caves of Terror, Rung Ho!, Black Light, Bubble Reputation, Caesar Dies, Caves of Terror, C.I.D., Cock of the North, Devil's Guard, Diamonds See in the Dark, East and West, Eye of Zeitoon, Full Moon, Gunga Sahib, Guns of the Gods, Gup-bahadur, Her Reputation, Hira Singh's Tale, Hundred Days, Woman Ayisha, I Say Sunrise, Ivory Trail, Allah's Peace, Jungle Jest, King in Check, Lion of Petra, Lost Trooper, Marriage of Meldrum Strange, Mystery of Khufu's Tomb, Nine Unknown, Old Ugly Face, Purple Pirate, Ramsden, Red Flame of Erinpura, Romances of India, Rung Ho, Seventeen Thieves of El Kalil, Soul of a Regiment, There Was a Door, Thunder Dragon Gate, Told East, Valient View, When Trails Were New, Winds of the World, Pigsticking in India, Single-handed Yachting, Phantom Battery, Blooding of the Ninth Queen's Own, For Valour, Chaplain of the Mullingars, and many other things related.