Title: W. Graham Robertson Papers
Robertson, W. Graham
Extent: 17 boxes
The Huntington Library
San Marino, California 91108
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[Identification of item], W. Graham Robertson Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Graham Robertson (1866-1948) was a wealthy English gentleman, well-known in art and theatrical circles of the 1880's and 90's
as a rising artist. A bachelor, he lived with his mother till her death in 1907, and thenceforth as a country gentleman. His
great charm, his quiet humor, and his ready sympathy with the actors, artists and collectors he admired, gave him numerous
friendships. Among his correspondents were artists such as Burne-Jones and Whistler, playwrights such as Pinero, James Barrie
and Terence Rattigan, actors and actresses such as Ellen Terry and Sarah Bernhardt in the old days, the Lunts and Laurence
Oliviers later on, and collectors such as Mrs. (White) Emerson of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although he painted and wrote
surprisingly little after 1914, he maintained extensive correspondence with numerous literary or stage personalities during
his long retirement, and many of them made the journey to Sandhills, his Surrey home, for the pleasure of a few hours of talk
and companionship with him. As a collector he was best-known for the number and quality of his Blake water-colors, many of
which he gave to the Tate Gallery on the outbreak of World War II in 1939, and the rest were widely dispersed to public and
private collections after his death in 1948. He had no relatives or heirs; to his long-time friend and executor, Kerrison
Preston, fell the task of distributing his books, pictures and estate among various charitable causes. Among these was set
up the William Blake Trust, founded with Graham Robertson money, to publish the now well-known Trianon Press facsimiles of
Blake's illuminated books.
Graham Robertson's reminiscences,
Time Was 1931 (American title:
Life was worth living) give a very good idea of his charm and his many friendships. See also
Letters from Graham Robertson, edited by Kerrison Preston, 1953, with a biographical introduction;
The Blake Collection of Graham Robertson, 1952, edited by Kerrison Preston.
The main collection is fully catalogued, with cards in the alphabetical and collection parts of the Manuscripts Catalogue;
Addenda I and II have correspondence catalogued in groups rather than individually, with cards for each correspondent.