Morley Roberts papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
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Overview and metadata sections
Born in London on 29 December 1857, Morley Charles Roberts was the eldest son of William Henry Roberts (ca. 1831-1908), superintending inspector of income tax, and Catherine, née Pullen (b. ca. 1830). Roberts attended the Bedford Free Grammar School and Owens College, Manchester, after which he traveled to Australia, the first of many journeys spanning continental Europe, North and Central America, South Africa, and the Pacific Islands. His writing career began with The Western Avernus (1887), which relates his American adventures and remains the best-known of his eighty or so volumes–novels, short stories, verse, plays, essays, travel narratives, and semi-scientific, semi-sociological studies. On 16 May 1896 he married Alice Bruce Hamlyn, née Selous (ca. 1852-1911), a stockbroker's widowed daughter with three children. After her death, Roberts was cared for by Alice's daughter, Naomi Hamlyn, who died in 1941.
Roberts was an outdoorsman as well as a raconteur. His sociability earned him the friendship of many writers at the Authors' Club. Among the many themes of his colorful and fast-paced narratives are bohemian and seafaring life, politics–-his imperialist leanings are in evidence in The Colossus (1899) and A Son of Empire (1899)–-and degeneration, which he came to explore in its biological aspects. He is well remembered as a friend and biographer of George Gissing, the hero of Roberts' roman-à-clef, The Private Life of Henry Maitland (1912), and W. H. Hudson: A Portrait (1924).
Morley Roberts died of haemopericardium rupture at his home, 5 Manor Mansions, Belsize Park Gardens, London, on 8 June 1942, and was cremated at Golders Green.
Note: The biograpical sketch derives from Peter Osbourne's entry for Morley Roberts in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (OUP, 2004).
Gift of Margaret Storm Jameson, 1961; additional gift of Hannah Gluck, 1978
For a complete listing of correspondents, do the following title search in Franklin: Morley Roberts Papers.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Violet Lutz
- Finding Aid Date