Talbot Mundy

From Theosophy Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Cover of The Nine Unknown

Talbot Mundy was the nom de plume of William Lancaster Gribbon (April 23, 1879 – August 5, 1940), an English novelist and short story writer. He was a friend of Katherine Tingley and joined the Point Loma community.

Early life and education

According to Emmett Greenwalt:

Mundy was born in London in 1879, educated at Rugby, and served as a government official in India and South Africa. He became fascinated by the occult in the Orient, and his curiosity drew him also to Mexico, as far south as Yucatan. He arrived in the United states about 1911 and decided to become an American citizen.[1]

Life at Point Loma

During the 1920s, Mundy purchased "the Cliffs" on the Point Loma estate. He joined Katherine Tingley's cabinet and wrote for her magazines.[2]

Ted G. Davy quoted a letter from Boris de Zirkoff about the writer:

Talbot Mundy was an old friend of mine (much older than myself, of course); we became pals in Point Loma when I arrived there. He was a royal sort of chap! ... You may know that his book Om was written in Point Loma, and some of its characters are taken from the residents there. Many of the "Lama's" sayings are Katherine Tingley's sayings and thoughts.[3]


Talbot Munday was a prolific and influential writer.


Mundy's best-known novel was King of the Khyber Rifles, which became a Hollywood film in 1953. His adventure writings were influential to many writers of science fiction and fantasy. He also wrote under the pseudonym Walter Galt. These are a few of his novels, from a more comprehensive list in Wikipedia.

  • King of the Khyber Rifles. New York, 1916.
  • The Thunder Dragon Gate.
  • Old Ugly-Face. Sequel to The Thunder Dragon Gate. A review in AbeBooks: "Old Ugly Face is the nickname of a Tibetan lama, the Ringding Gelong Lama Lopsang Pun, an ascetic with an infectious laugh, a penchant for flogging sin out of wayward monks, and the power to overcome all obstacles in his way. This is the second novel dealing with Old Ugly Face s effort to protect Tibetan religious traditions from Russian, Japanese, and Chinese intrigue just prior to World War II, a sequel to the novel The Thunder Dragon Gate."
  • Om, the Secret of Ahbor Valley. 1923.

Articles in Theosophical journals

The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists 37 articles under the name Talbot Munday.


  • Collected Works of Talbot Mundy. Hastings, East Sussex, UK: Delphi Classics. Series edited by Walter Galt. Series Part 7, 2016.
  • The Lama's Path: Talbot Mundy in "The Theosophical Path". Articles from The Theosophical Path compiled by Mark Jaqua. Grand Rapids, Ohio: Isis Books, 1995. 221 pages.

Influence of Talbot Mundy

Emmett A. Greenwalt wrote of Mundy:

Of the half-dozen novels written while he was an active member of the Hill [Lomaland], perhaps Om, the Secret of Ahbor Valley (Indianapolis, 1923), most clearly shows the theosophical influence. As James Hilton was to do after him, Mundy picked Tibet as the locale for his mystic tale. it followed the now familiar pattern of an Englishman, dissatisfied with the indoctrination of empire, who chose to sit at the feet of a wise old lama and learn of the Masters...

After the death of Katherine Tingley in 1929, Mundy drifted away from Point Loma, although he remained sympathetic with the teachings of Theosophy. His books sold well, and he continued writing and publishing almost to the day of his death in 1940, producing about thirty-five principal works in all.

It is probably too early to assess the literary importance of Talbot Mundy, but there is some basis of comparison between him and a novelist of the preceeding generation, Francis Marion Crawford. Both were world travelers; both were prolific in their output of novels; both enjoyed an international reading audience, some of Mundy's novels being translated into French and German, and his equally popular short stories into Swedish, Hindustani, and Japanese. Neither has yet been considered an author of the first rank, and time must tell whether Mundy's position will reach even that of Crawford's. Yet both served to focus the novel-reading eyes of the West upon the occult claims of the East.[4]

Additional resources


Biographies and biographical sketches

  • Ellis, Peter Berresford. The Last Adventurer - the Life of Talbot Mundy. Hampton Falls, NH: Donald M. Grant, 19xx. Order from Donald M. Grant -- Publisher, P.O. Box 187, Hampton Falls, NH 03844.
  • Grant, Donald M. Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny.
  • Greenwalt, Emmett A. California Utopia: Point Loma: 1897-1942. University of California, 1955. Revised edition: San Diego, CA: Point Loma Publications, 1978.
  • Taves, Brian. Talbot Munday, Philosopher of Adventure - a Critical Biography. 2006.



  1. Emmett A. Greenwalt, California Utopia: Point Loma: 1897-1942 2nd revised edition (San Diego, CA: Point Loma Publications, 1978), 114.
  2. Emmett A. Greenwalt, California Utopia: Point Loma: 1897-1942 2nd revised edition (San Diego, CA: Point Loma Publications, 1978), 114-115.
  3. Ted G. Davy, "Notes and Comments by the General Secretary", The Canadian Theosophist 62.2 (May-June 1981), 35.
  4. Emmett A. Greenwalt, California Utopia: Point Loma: 1897-1942 2nd revised edition (San Diego, CA: Point Loma Publications, 1978), 115.