Born on December 19, 1893, in Ardmore, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, poet and newspaperman John Peebles McClure was the son of John Alexander and Mary Elizabeth Peebles McClure. Following Mrs. McClure's death in 1896, the family moved to Pauls Valley and later resided near Marlow. The family went to Chickasha around 1901, where young John attended private school and later the public schools. His stepmother, Anne Dinsmore Davis, a voice teacher and respected poet, especially influenced his studies.
McClure entered the University of Oklahoma in 1911 and received a bachelor of arts degree in 1915. After graduating, he worked as an assistant librarian at the university. He married fellow librarian Grace Binford Smith in 1918. During World War I he served in the U.S. Army cavalry and field artillery.
In 1919 McClure and his wife moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where they operated a bookstore. He found other employment in 1921 as a copy reader for New Orleans Times-Picayune. For thirty-three years he served the paper in various capacities, including news editor, literary editor, and managing editor. He enjoyed a national reputation for his book reviews.
McClure received his greatest literary renown for his lyrical and whimsical poetry. Influenced by Elizabethan lyricists, by English and Scottish ballads, and by William Blake, he first published a poem in The Egoist in 1914. Over the years he contributed to numerous magazines, including American Mercury and Smart Set. In 1919 H. L. Mencken, co-editor of Smart Set, called McClure the "finest lyric poet" the nation had produced in fifty years. McClure also edited the Southern Magazine and helped found the Double Dealer, a New Orleans-based literary magazine that lasted only five years but nevertheless included works by Thornton Wilder, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner. McClure also published Airs and Ballads (1918), a book of his own verse, and edited a collection of drinking songs titled The Stag's Hornbook (1918). In the preface to the former, he acknowledged his appreciation of Mencken's friendship, and he dedicated the latter book to his patron. McClure died in New Orleans on February 8, 1956. He was survived by his second wife, Joyce Kavanaugh Stagg, whom he had married in 1937.
SEE ALSO: LITERATURE AND WRITERS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Frances Jean Bowen, "The New Orleans Double Dealer: 1921-May 1926, A Critical History" (Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt University, 1954). "John P. M'Clure Taken by Death," New Orleans Times-Picayune, 9 February 1956. Mary Hays Marable and Elaine Boylan, A Handbook of Oklahoma Writers (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1939).
Carolyn G. Hanneman
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