Cecil Roberts

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Edric Cecil Mornington Roberts (18 May 1892 Nottingham – 20 December 1976) was an English journalist, poet, dramatist and novelist.

Roberts grew up in Nottingham[1] and worked as a journalist on the Liverpool Post during World War I, first as literary editor and then as a war correspondent. From 1920 for five years he edited the Nottingham Journal. In 1922 he stood for Parliament for the Liberal Party.

During World War II Roberts worked for Lord Halifax, who was British Ambassador to the United States.

Despite his prolific output as a writer, and the popularity of his works during his lifetime, he is now almost wholly forgotten. His novels have been described having thin plots and cardboard characters, padded out with travel writing.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Roberts was highly ambitious. He stated that on his coming of age he drew up a list of aims for his next fifteen years. It included: fame; a solid career as a novelist; being a member of Parliament ; a country house and London pied-a-terre; and to be married with two sons and a daughter.[3] Some of these goals were certainly achieved, although not the latter. In private he was proud of claiming to having been a lover of Laurence Olivier, Ivor Novello, Baron Gottfried von Cramm, Somerset Maugham, and Prince George, Duke of Kent.[4] However, his multi-volume autobiography is studiously discreet, Roberts writing "I don't want any succès de scandale, and that he was "nauseated by the striptease school of writers".[5]

In later life his creative industry remained impressive, but he also garnered a reputation as a name dropping bore;[6][7] one writer characterising him as "an irascible old fart".[8] According to one obituary, his most notable personal characteristic was "a magnetic egocentricity. It was said of him that, fascinated always by himself and his doings, he succeeded uncannily in conveying that fascination to others, even against their will... Robert's life often appeared to resemble a 20th century grand tour, strewn with places in the sun, grand seigneurs and charming hostesses, in which he was the fastidious literary pilgrim."[9]

He donated his papers to Churchill College, Cambridge in 1975.[10]

Works[edit]

  • Twenty-Six Poems (1917)
  • Training the Airmen (1919)
  • Poems (1920)
  • Tale of Young Lovers (1922) poetic drama
  • Scissors (1923) novel
  • Sails of Sunset (1924) novel
  • The Love Rack (1925) novel
  • Little Mrs. Manington (1926) novel
  • The Diary of Russell Beresford (1927) editor
  • Sagusto (1927) novel
  • David and Diana (1928) novel
  • Goose Fair (1928)
  • Indiana Jane (1929) novel
  • Pamela's Spring Song (1929) novel (@)
  • Goose Fair (1929)
  • Havana Bound (1930) novel
  • Spears Against Us (1930) novel (@)
  • Bargain Basement (1931) novel
  • Half Way: an autobiography (1931)
  • Alfred Fripp (1932) biography
  • Pilgrim Cottage (1933) trilogy: includes The Guests Arrive and Volcano (*)
  • The Pilgrim Cottage Omnibus (*)
  • Gone Rustic (1934) (*)
  • The Guests Arrive (1934) (*)
  • Volcano (1935) (*)
  • Gone Rambling (1935) (*)
  • Gone Afield (1936) (*)
  • Gone Sunwards (1936) (*)
  • Victoria, Four-Thirty (1937) novel (@)
  • They Wanted to Live (1939) novel (@)
  • And So to Bath (1940) (*)
  • A Man Arose (1941) poem on Winston Churchill
  • Letters from Jim (1941) editor
  • One Small Candle (1942)
  • So Immortal a Flower (1944)
  • The Labyrinth (1944)
  • And So to America (1946)
  • Eight for Eternity (1947)
  • And So to Rome (1950)
  • A Terrace in the Sun (1951)
  • One Year of Life (1952) memoir
  • The Remarkable Young Man (1954)
  • Portal to Paradise: an Italian excursion (1955)
  • Love Is Like That (1957)
  • Selected Poems (1960)
  • Wide Is the Horizon (1962)
  • Grand Cruise (1963)
  • A Flight of Birds (1966)
  • The Growing Boy (1967) autobiography (i)
  • The Years of Promise autobiography (ii)
  • The Bright Twenties (1970) autobiography (iii)
  • Sunshine and Shadow (1972) autobiography (iv)
  • Pleasant Years (1974) autobiography (v)
  • Wings poem

(*)=The "Pilgrim Cottage" books (@)=The "Inside Europe" novels

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gone Rambling; p. 9
  2. ^ Harrison, Graham "Rediscovering Cecil Roberts", Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 20 April 1990; https://www.brlsi.org/events-proceedings/proceedings/17741
  3. ^ Thomas, Gilbert "A Vital Autobiography Half Way", The Spectator, 1 May 1931
  4. ^ King, Francis Henry Yesterday Came Suddenly, Constable (London), 1993, p278
  5. ^ Roberts, Cecil "The Pleasant Years", Hodder & Stougton, 1974, p350-351
  6. ^ Harrison, Graham "Rediscovering Cecil Roberts", Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 20 April 1990; https://www.brlsi.org/events-proceedings/proceedings/17741
  7. ^ King, Francis Henry Yesterday Came Suddenly, Constable (London), 1993, p278
  8. ^ Watmough, David Myself Through Others: Memoirs, Dundurn Press (Ontario) 2008, p85
  9. ^ "Novelist Cecil Roberts dies aged 84", The Daily Telegraph (London), 22 December 1976
  10. ^ The Papers of Cecil Roberts, Accessed November 12, 2014
  • Cecil Roberts (1935) Gone Rambling; p. 3