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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

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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

Collection Inventory

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Box 1 Folder 1-49
Box 2 Folder 50-93
M-W; unidentified.
Box 3 Folder 94-144

Letters to Morley Roberts concerning his attempt at war service during World War I , circa 1915.
Box 3 Folder 145

Charlton, Edward, Sir, 1865-1937
Kennedy, William Robert, Sir, 1838-1916
Pott [or Potts?], Arthur
Wood, Evelyn, 1838-1919
Unidentified correspondent in War Office

Documents related to Morley Robert's Civil List Pension.
Box 3 Folder 146

1. Testimonials from 24 signatories of "memorial," in support of a Civil List Pension for Morley Roberts, n.d. [before 1922]
2. Letter from Anthony Bevir (Private Secretary to the Prime Minister), regarding application of Morley Roberts for a supplemental pension, 1941

Biographical material. Includes: financial diary, circa 188.
Box 3 Folder 147

Handwritten and typed biographical notes about Morley Roberts by one of his sisters; catalogs and clippings from his art exhibitions; program (bibliography) and clippings related to Authors' Club event in his honor on 7 October 1935; and obituaries and other clippings

Photographs of Morley Roberts in later life , undated. 2 items.
Box 3 Folder 148
Physical Description

2 items

Memorabilia related to Naomi Hamlyn . 3 items.
Box 3 Folder 149

Includes narrative by Storm Jameson about Naomi's death (typed and handwritten); handwritten draft of eulogy by Morley Roberts, 11 November 1941; undated photograph of Naomi (signed by E. O. Hoppé)

Physical Description

3 items

Clippings concerning Morley Roberts's scientific work, 1934-1935. 13 items.
Box 3 Folder 150

Includes letters to the editor by Roberts, and letters or articles by the following authors: Sir Arthur Keith, G. W. Nicholson, W. Langdon-Brown, W. Sampson Handley, Arthur F. Hurst, Sir Bruce Bruce-Porter, A. H. B. Kirkman, Charles M. Beadnell, W. Blair Bell.

Physical Description

13 items

Clippings of notices and reviews of Morley Roberts's books , 1940-1965. 4 items.
Box 3 Folder 151

Clippings of notices and reviews of Morley Roberts's books

Physical Description

4 items

Items removed from Morley Roberts's personal copy of W. H. Hudson. A Portrait (see box 8).
Box 3 Folder 152

Includes draft manuscript pages of A Hind in Richmond Park, in hand of Hudson; Morley Roberts's drafts of the book's dedicatory poem (handwritten draft, October 1922; carbon typescript, n.d.); electrocardiogram of Hudson; photographs of Hudson's homes on St. Luke's Road and on North Parade, Penzance, and related to commemoration of him in Buenos Aires; clippings about Hudson (dated 1922-1936), including Spanish-language clippings from Buenos Aires; mementos (wood tile, dried leaves) related to Hudson's home in Quilmes (sent by Fernando Pozzo); reproduction of portrait medallion of Hudson by Theodore Spicer-Simson; and photograph of Morley Roberts (dated 1936).
Note: For other items removed from the book, see the correspondence files of R. B. Cunninghame Graham, Huberto R. Hudson, Fernando Pozzo, and Frederick William Price.

Scrapbook of Morley Roberts, circa 1891-1894.
Box 4 Folder unknown container

Includes a pencil drawing by Roberts, and diverse items related to his travels (Europe, Australia, North America, South Africa), such as receipts or bills (hotels, restaurants, post office, railroad), tickets, and items and fragments of correspondence (notes and letters, often on hotel stationery; addressed envelopes; telegrams).

Loose items found with the above scrapbook (similar types of items), circa 1895-1938.
Box 4 Folder 153-154

Hearts of Women, autograph manuscript, first draft, dated 20 October 1918 - 17 January 1919 . 136 Leaves.
Box 5 Folder unknown container

Written on the verso of used pages bearing drafts or manuscript versions of other writings (including poems and scientific writing), handwritten, typed, or as clippings.

Physical Description

136 Leaves

"The Mask and the Last Night [?]." Typescript with handwritten emendations, accompanied by handwritten note to Storm Jameson with return address of Morley Roberts. , 1941-1942. 307 Leaves.
Box 6 Folder unknown container

Unpublished book about Naomi Hamlyn begun after her death (9 November 1941). Lacks title page; first page bears only the title "This Book," as Roberts also refers to it in correspondence to Jameson in 1942 (in an earlier letter he makes reference to "Naomi's Other People"). Handwritten annotation by Jameson on last page.

Physical Description

307 Leaves

"A Farewell to Letters." Typescript with handwritten emendations. In paper cover. , undated. 189 Leaves.
Box 7 Folder unknown container

Pencilled note by Roberts on title page: "Alternative title: The Round Table. Should be glad of suggestions. MR." Unpublished sketches of writers who were Roberts's contemporaries. Table of contents (f. ii): I. Introductory; II. Meredith and James; III. John Galsworthy; IV. John Davidson; V. Cunninghame Graham; VI. John Barlas; VII. Stevenson and Doyle; VIII. Hudson; IX. Gilbert Murray; X. George Gissing.

Physical Description

189 Leaves

Poem "To George Gissing," autograph manuscript, 1884. 4 Leaves.
Box 8 Folder 155
Physical Description

4 Leaves

Poems to Naomi, autograph manuscripts, 1914-1916. 3 items.
Box 8 Folder 156
Physical Description

3 items3 leaves

Autobiographical sketch on scientific career, autograph manuscript, undated [after 1935]. 25 Leaves.
Box 8 Folder 157
Physical Description

25 Leaves

"Autobiography," typescript with handwritten emendations (2 versions), undated. 64 Leaves.
Box 8 Folder 158
Physical Description

64 Leaves

Outline for autobiography, typescript with one handwritten emendation, undated.
Box 8 Folder 159
"A Sussex Year-Book," carbon typescript, circa 1905. 16 Leaves.
Box 8 Folder 160
Physical Description

16 Leaves

"Reminiscences," carbon typescript with handwritten emendations, undated; and printed version from Strand Magazine, 1914 (20 + 5 leaves).
Box 8 Folder 161
"A Writer's Novitiate," carbon typescript with handwritten emendations, undated. 12 Leaves.
Box 8 Folder 162
Physical Description

12 Leaves

"The Letters of George Gissing," typescript with handwritten emendations [article published in Virginia Quarterly Review, July 1931] , circa 1931. 23 Leaves.
Box 8 Folder 163
Physical Description

23 Leaves

"Trades I Have Followed," galley proof, undated. 2 Leaves.
Box 8 Folder 164
Physical Description

2 Leaves

"Olympos," offprint from Folklore: Transactions of the Folklore Society (vol. 28, no. 2), 30 June 1917. Inscribed to Gluck, 3 March 1942. 4 Leaves.
Box 8 Folder 165
Physical Description

4 Leaves

"My First Book: 'The Western Avernus,'" clipping from The Idler, August 1893. 5 Leaves.
Box 8 Folder 166
Physical Description

5 Leaves

"George Gissing and his Critics" (letter from Gissing to Morley Roberts, 10 February 1895), clipping from The Bookman, January 1915 (1 leaf).
Box 8 Folder 167
"H. Gawen Sutton, M.D., F.R.C.P., Late Physician to the London Hospital, An Appreciation," offprint from The Medical Press and Circular, 19 and 29 August 1925 (10 leaves). Inscribed to Gluck ("To the Artist of Miller's Mead") 3 March 1942, and note to her, last page.
Box 8 Folder 168
"The Hudson Memorial. A Defence of Mr. Epstein" (letter to the editor), clipping from The Morning Post, circa 1925. 1 leaf.
Box 8 Folder 169
Physical Description

1 leaf

"The Sea in Fiction," offprint or pamphlet of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, weekly evening meeting, 18 May 1928. 8 Leaves.
Box 8 Folder 170
Physical Description

8 Leaves

"John Hunter and Evolution," offprint from The Medical Press and Circular, 29 May and 5 and 12 June 1929. . 18 Leaves.
Box 8 Folder 171

Labeled with handwritten return address of Morley Roberts.

Physical Description

18 Leaves

Land-Travel and Seafaring , 1891.
Box 9

Inscribed by Morley Roberts to Alice [Hamlyn] (last name blocked out), his later wife, 20 December 1891. Photograph of Morley Roberts pasted onto inside front cover.

W. H. Hudson. A Portrait [1924], hardcover.
Box 9

Personal copy of Morley Roberts, accompanied by memorabilia related to Hudson. The following items remain affixed inside the book: letters to Roberts from Horace Wingrave and Sir James Mackenzie, and telegram from Mrs. McDougal (Hudson's housekeeper); certified copy of marriage certificate of H.udson and Emily Wingrave; photograph (verso "Sitting room, Penzance"); check signed by Hudson.
Loose items that were removed from the book can be found in Memorabilia (folder 152); and in the correspondence folders of R. B. Cunninghame Graham, Huberto R. Hudson, and Frederick William Price.

W. H. Hudson. A Portrait [1924], paperback. .
Box 9

Inscribed by Morley Roberts with a letter to Gluck, 15 November 1941.

The Western Avernus: Toil and Travel in Further North America (London: Smith, Elder, 1887). .
Box 10

Personal copy of Roberts's wife Alice (pencil note on title page "Glo's copy"). Pressed reed sewn onto verso of table of contents (pencil note: "Brought from Lago Averno by Gissing"). Photograph of Morley pasted onto inside front cover.

The Western Avernus: Toil and Travel in Further North America (new edition, Westminster: Archibald Constable, 1896) .
Box 10
Women and Ships: Being Some Reminiscences and Comments on Life at Sea and Ashore by Geordie Armstrong, A.B., revised and edited by Morley Roberts (London: Nash & Grayson [1932]) .
Box 10

Return address of Roberts is handwritten on cover.

Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development, by Francis Galton (London: Dent, 1907, reprinted 1911; Everyman's Library).
Box 10

Inscription by Gluck on page preceding title page, indicating that the book was owned by Roberts and that the pencil annotations are his.

Print, Suggest