Queen's University

Robertson Davies’ personal library comes to Queen’s

Barbara Teatero, Associate University Librarian responsible for special collections. Barbara Teatero, Associate University Librarian responsible for special collections, examines one of the 6,000 books in the Robertson Davies collection.

Queen’s Library has acquired the personal library of the late Robertson Davies, the celebrated Canadian author, playwright, theatre critic and journalist.

Davies is one of Canada’s best known and most popular authors. His writings include Murther and Walking Spirits, The Lyre of Orpheus, and the award-winning Deptford Trilogy.

“Robertson Davies had a long association with Queen’s” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “In addition to the honorary degree conferred upon him in 1962, he studied here in the early 1930s and cultivated his roots in journalism as an active contributor to The Queen’s Journal. The university is delighted to provide a new home for his remarkable personal library in its entirety.”

The collection comes to Queen’s through a combined purchase and gift arrangement. Funds to secure the acquisition were provided by the Chancellor Richardson Memorial Fund, which serves to enhance scholarly research and teaching across a broad spectrum of Canadian studies at Queen’s.

“The collection reflects Davies’ deep interests in literature, literary criticism, art, music, theatre, theatre criticism, theatre biography and autobiography, film, drama, history and psychology,” says Professor Brian Osborne, Chair of the Chancellor Richardson Memorial Fund Committee.

“In addition to numerous first editions and signed copies, many of the volumes are annotated in Davies’ hand. It is truly a remarkable collection, offering fascinating insights into the mind of one of Canada’s great literary luminaries.”

The W. D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library has maintained Davies’ broad organization of the collection, and will be shelving items the same as they were at Windhover, the Davies’ country home in Caledon Hills.

“This collection is quite unlike any other authors’ library I know,” says Paul Wiens, University Librarian. “We are thrilled to be able to make it available to students and scholars, who will undoubtedly find the items in the collection tremendously fascinating.”

The W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library is open to the public. Visitors can view special collections items in the library’s reading room by request; scholars can access the full Davies collection by appointment. A public exhibition of items from the collection will take place later this year.

Additional information is available at: http://library.queensu.ca/robertsondavies. Please consult the library website for hours and additional information on the W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library.

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Last updated at 1:50 pm EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
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