Estavan, Lawrence (L.) 1903-1988

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ESTAVAN, Lawrence (L.) 1903-1988

PERSONAL: Born March 13, 1903, in Louisiana; died February 13, 1988, in Palo Alto, CA; son of Lawrence and Elizabeth (Angle) Estavan; married Inez Frere, November 26, 1924; children: Lawrence L. Jr., Donald. Politics: Democrat. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, swimming, traveling.

CAREER: San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA, member of editorial staff and columnist, 1924-44; publicist for Hollywood motion picture stars, c. 1930s; The Coast: A Magazine of Western Writing, San Francisco, editor, 1937-42; San Carlos Inquirer, Sebastopol Times, and Gustine Standard, editor, variously, 1944-62; Stanford University Law Library, Stanford, CA, librarian, 1962-78.


(Editor) San Francisco Theatre Research Series, Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA), Volume 1: Introduction to the Series: Stephen C. Massett, Joseph A. Rowe, 1938, Volume 2: Tom Maguire, Dr. David G. (Yankee) Robinson, M. B. Leavitt, 1938, Volume 3: The Starks, the Bakers, The Chapmans, 1938, Volume 4: Junius Brutus Booth the Elder, Junius Brutus Booth the Younger, Edwin Booth, 1938; Volume 5: Lola Montez, AdahIsaacs Menken, Mrs. Judah, 1938, Volume 6: Lotta Crabtree, John McCullough, 1938, Volumes 7-8: The History of Opera in San Francisco, 1938, Volume 9: The French Theatre in San Francisco; The German Theatre in San Francisco, 1939; Volume 10: The Italian Theatre in San Francisco, 1939, new edition, edited by Mary A. Burgess, Borgo Press (San Bernardino, CA), 1991, Volume 11: Edwin Forrest, Catherine Sinclair, 1940, Volume 12: Little Theatres in San Francisco, 1940, Volume 13: Minstrelsy, 1939, Volume 14: Ettore Rella, A History of Burlesque, 1940, Volumes 15-17: Theatre Buildings; Famous Playhouses, 1940-1942, Volume 20: James O'Neill, 1942.

(Editor) Letters of Appreciation and Newspaper Comment on Monographs, Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA), 1939.

Tales from Terence: Reflecting Roman Law and Customs, Creekside Press (Redwood City, CA), 1972.

Unto This Season: Poems and Proems, Creekside Press (Redwood City, CA), 1974.

The First Poem of Christmas; and, The Jesus People, Creekside Press (Redwood City, CA), 1976.

How Quaint the Saint, Creekside Press (Redwood City, CA), 1979.

Contributor of poems, short stories, and articles to Westward, Script, Pacific Weekly, Poetry, and other periodicals.

SIDELIGHTS: Lawrence Estavan is best remembered for his work on the San Francisco Theatre Research Series, a twenty-volume history commissioned by the federal government and published between 1938 and 1942. However, that series was not the only accomplishment of Estevan's long and varied career. He began as a journalist in the San Francisco Bay area, where he settled as a young man. During the 1920s he wrote a regular column for the San Francisco Chronicle that focused on famous guests staying in San Francisco hotels. For this series, Estavan interviewed such celebrities as British novelist H. G. Wells and film star John Barrymore. In the 1930s Estavan also worked as a publicist for Humphrey Bogart and several other motion picture stars.

In 1937 he established the literary magazine The Coast: A Magazine of Western Writing, which featured poems and stories primarily by West-Coast authors.

This magazine garnered critical attention for Estavan and led to his selection as editor of the San Francisco Theatre Research Series. With minimal funding from the Works Progress Administration and a staff of previously unemployed writers, Estavan systematically sought out the actors, divas, impresarios, and others who had worked the Bay Area theaters from the 1890s on and probed them for their memories, reminiscences, and memorabilia. Although the books were mimeographed, they include numerous photographs, as well as first-hand accounts of what it was like to work in theater in San Francisco during the preceding fifty years.

When the United States entered World War II and the government diverted funding from the Federal Writers' Project to the war effort, the San Francisco Theatre Research Series effectively ended. Estavan then went back to his first love, journalism, and successively edited three small-town papers in Northern California. He also worked as a law librarian at Stanford University and published collections of poetry and stories before his death in 1988.



AB Bookman's Weekly, December 9, 1991, p. 2301.

Choice, December, 1991, pp. 249-250.

Everton's Genealogical Helper, January-February, 1992, p. 166.



San Francisco Chronicle, February 16, 1988, p. B6.

San Mateo Times, February 16, 1988, p. D4.*

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Estavan, Lawrence (L.) 1903-1988

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