Theobald is an Old English male forename, little used nowadays. It can be seen as a surname, one which gave the name to Theobalds Road in London (WC1). It is currently pronounced as it is written, THEE-er (or oh)-bawled', IPA: /ˈθiː ə (or əʊ) ˌbɔːld/. An older, more traditional pronunciation was 'TIB-'ld' (IPA: /ˈtɪ bəld/), which gave rise to the pet-name 'Tibby', as used in E.M.Forster's novel Howards End (1910).
The spelling of this name in French was Thibault or Thibaut. This explains the older pronunciation, and can be seen clearly in the name of the character Tybalt in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. One of the earliest editors of Shakespeare used it as a surname: Lewis Theobald (1688-1744), who published his 7 volume The Works of Shakespeare in 1733. (it has been reprinted in facsimile by the AMS Press: New York 1968).
- Lewis Theobald was rendered famous by Alexander Pope, who portrayed him in The Dunciad as 'King of Dunces', principally, it seems, as revenge for an attack in 1726 by the latter on the former's edition of Shakespeare: Shakespeare Restored, or a Specimen of the many Errors as well Committed as Unamended by Mr Pope in his late edition of this poet; designed not only to correct the said Edition, but to restore the true Reading of Shakespeare in all the Editions ever published.