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Robertson Davies Collection

W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library  |  Hours

Robertson Davies Located on the historic campus of Queen's University in beautiful Kingston, Ontario, the W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library houses the personal library of Robertson Davies, the renowned Canadian novelist, playwright, critic, journalist and professor.

Born and raised in Ontario, Davies was educated at Upper Canada College, Queen’s University at Kingston and Balliol College, Oxford. During his time in Kingston, he cultivated his interests in journalism as an active contributor to The Journal, the Queen's University student newspaper.

Robertson Davies had three successive careers: as an actor with the Old Vic Company in England; as publisher of the Peterborough Examiner; and as a university professor and founding Master of Massey College at the University of Toronto. As a novelist, he gained worldwide fame for The Salterton Trilogy, The Deptford Trilogy, The Cornish Trilogy, Murther & Walking Spirits and The Cunning Man.

The Collection

Comprised of more than 5000 volumes, theatre prints and ephemera, this remarkable collection reflects Davies' deep interests in literature, literary criticism, art, music, theatre, theatre criticism, theatre biography and autobiography, film, drama, history and psychology. Many of the volumes are annotated with handwritten notes inserted.  Particular strengths are in 18th, 19th and 20th century theatre books and prompt copies. Many works are signed or first editions. The items will be shelved according to room order in which they were kept at Windhover, Davies’ country home in Caledon Hills.

Access to the Collection

All items can be located in the finding aid.

The Robertson Davies collection has been preserved in its entirety and made available to the public through the generosity of Hugh Anson-Cartwright in memory of Reginald Anson-Cartwright (Queen’s School of Mining, 1904), and through the support of the Chancellor Richardson Memorial Fund.
Candid Chronicles candidchroniclesleaf
Candid Chronicles by Hector Charlesworth. Handsomely bound in hand-tooled leather, this was the author's own copy. Charming note by Robertson Davies on inside leaf of Candid Chronicles by Hector Charlesworth.
folliesoftheyear austenhorrids
"Farming for Ladies," coloured etching by John Leech. Reprinted in Follies of the Year, a series of etchings from Punch Pocket Books 1844-1864. "The Horrids" - seven early works of Gothic fiction, recommended by Isabella Thorpe to Catherine Morland in Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey (1818). Once thought to be creations of Austen's imagination, their existence was confirmed in the early 20th century. Republished as a series by the Folio Society, 1968.



Last Updated: 07 April 2015