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Johnston, G. Burke (George Burke), 1907-1995



  • Existence: 1907 - 1995

Biographical Note

George Burke Johnston, the son of George D. and Eleanor McCorvey Johnston, was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on September 8, 1907. After graduating from the University of Alabama (BA, 1929), Johnston obtained his master's and doctoral degrees in English from Columbia University (1930 and 1943, respectively). In 1936, he married Mary Tabb Lancaster (1916-2003), the daughter of Dabney S. Lancaster; the Johnstons would have four children. Johnston served as an English instructor at Virginia Tech from 1930 until 1933, when he returned to the University of Alabama to join the English Department as a professor.

Johnston became a well known Shakespearean scholar as well as an expert on English dramatist/poet Ben Jonson, about whom he wrote his dissertation and published two books: Ben Jonson, Poet (1945) and The Poems of Ben Jonson (1955). He held fellowships at Columbia University, Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Southeastern Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Johnston's tenure at Alabama was interrupted by World War II, during which he served as a major in the U. S. Army. Following active duty, he returned to Alabama an assistant professor of English before being named assistant dean of arts and sciences. In 1950, he was named dean of applied science and business administration at Virginia Tech. He was appointed dean of science and general studies in 1961, and in 1963 became the first dean of the university's College of Arts and Sciences, a position in which he served until 1966, when he was named C. P. Miles Professor of English. He retired in 1974.

In his later years, Johnston maintained a number of personal interests. He continued to publish books on his interests, editing Poems by William Camden (1975) and writing Thomas Chalmers McCorvey: Teacher, Poet, Historian (1985), a biography of his maternal grandfather. Johnston operated a home printing press on which he published his works, issuing them under the name White Rhinoceros Press. He was a skilled artist, working in pencil, paint, clay, and wood; and was licensed as an Epicopal lay minister. George Burke Johnston died on January 1, 1995.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

G. Burke Johnston Papers,

Identifier: Ms-1983-005

This collection consists of papers--including correspondence, subject files, printed materials, and photographs--of George Burke Johnston, literary scholar and faculty member / administrator at Virginia Tech and the University of Alabama; U.S. Army officer; poet; author; artist; and printer.

Dates: 1900 - 1992

Marcus L. Oliver Correspondence

Identifier: Ms-2009-096

The collection contains business correspondence from Oliver's tenure with the Virginia Tech Alumni Association (1950-1968) and the University of the South Alumni Association. The collection also includes personal correspondence from 1947 to 2010.

Dates: 1947 - 2010; Majority of material found within 1950 - 1985

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