Theodore Goodridge Roberts (1877-1953), 1916, in Canadian Singers and their Songs, 1919. Courtesy Internet Archive.

by George J. Dance

Theodore Goodridge Roberts
Roberts in Canadian Poets (1916)
Born George Edward Theodore Goodridge Roberts
July 7, 1877
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Died February 24, 1953 (aged 75)
Digby, Nova Scotia
Occupation novelist
Nationality Canada Canadian
Ethnicity British subject
Alma mater University of New Brunswick
Notable work(s) The Harbour Master, The Leather Bottle
Notable award(s) FRSC
Spouse(s) Frances Seymour Allen
Children 1 son (William Goodridge), 3 daughters (Dorothy Mary Gostwick, Theodora Frances Bliss, Loveday)

George Edwards Theodore Goodridge Roberts FRSC (July 7, 1877 - February 24, 1953) was a Canadian poet and novelist, the author of 34 novels and over 100 published stories and poems.[1] He was the brother of Confederation Poet Sir Charles G.D. Roberts, and the father of poet Dorothy Roberts and painter Goodridge Roberts.


Roberts was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, to Emma Wetmore Bliss and Anglican Rev. George Goodridge Roberts. His siblings Charles G.D. Roberts, William Carman Roberts and Jane Elizabeth MacDonald were all poets and prose writers.[1]

He published his earliest poem in 1899, when he was 11, in the New York Independent (where his cousin Bliss Carman was working), and his earliest prose piece (a comparison of the Battle of Waterloo and the Battle of Gettysburg) in The Century Magazine 2 years later.[1]

Roberts attended Fredericton Collegiate School, though (since school records were lost in a fire) the exact years are unknown. He later went to University of New Brunswick (UNB), but left without graduating.[1] He published poetry in UNB's University Magazine.[2]

In 1897 he moved to New York City, living with his brothers Charles and William and working at The Independent. In 1898 the magazine sent him to Cuba, as a special correspondent, to cover the Spanish-American War. While on the island he contacted malaria -- he was sent back to New York and consulted specialists, who sent him back to Fredericton "to die."[3]

An unnamed surgeon saved Roberts's life, and he was nursed back to heath by Frances Seymour Allen (whom he would subsequently marry). The next year he travelled to Newfoundland, where he helped to found and edit The Newfoundland Magazine. He published his first book of poetry (Northand Lyrics, an anthology edited by Charles G.D. Roberts and featuring his three siblings) in 1899, and his first novel, The House of Isstens, in 1900.

In 1901 Roberts sailed on a barkentine to Brazil. In 1902 he returned to Fredericton and briefly edited a second magazine, The Kit-Bag.[3]

Roberts married Frances Seymour Allen in November 1903, and they had a two-year honeymooon in Barbados where their 1st child was born.[1] They would have 4 children: William Goodridge, Dorothy Mary Gostwick, Theodora Frances Bliss and Loveday (who died as an infant).[4]

Roberts averaged three novels a year from 1908 until 1914. At that time his "many novels of adventure and romance" already enoyed a "wide popularity in English-speaking lands."[5]

Roberts enlisted in 1914 when World War I broke out — his entire family followed him to England.[3] "In the summer of 1915, he was commissioned as aide-de-camp to the 12th Battalion under the command of Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook. Roberts wrote official reports and battlefield accounts and published three works in collaboration with others."[1]

When Roberts was in Europe he left his manuscripts and papers, including work not yet published, with a Dr. Wainwright in Saint John, New Brunswick, who stored them in his basement. They were destroyed in the spring of 1919 when the Saint John River flooded.[2]

In 1929 Roberts wrote a weekly column for the Saint John Telegraph-Journal, "Under the Sun." From April through September 1930 he edited another small magazine, Acadie[3]

In 1932 he undertook his last major sea cruise, sailing through the Panama Canal to Vancouver and back. The same year he did a cross-Canada reading tour, which "culminated with festivities in Vancouver."[3]

Roberts moved to Toronto in 1935, and in 1937 briefly edited another magazine, Spotlight. In 1939 he relocated to Aylmer, Quebec, where he briefly founded another magazine, Swizzles.[3]

He returned to New Brunswick in 1941, and in 1945 moved to Digby, Nova Scotia, where he would die eight years later.[3] He is buried beside Charles G.D. Roberts and Bliss Carman in Fredericton's Forest Hill Cemetery.[1]


The Dictionary of Literary Biography says that T.G. Roberts's "poetry and fiction, staggering in sheer quantity and variety, show at their best Roberts's most enduring gifts: in his poetry a love of nature well served by a keen eye for local color and detail, a good ear for clean, clear rhythm and rhyme, and a forceful, uncluttered narrative line; and in fiction a talent for presenting his abiding perception of universal struggles between good and evil either in mythic tales of adventure or in regional stories animated by local settings, customs, and dialects."[6]

Of the poems in his 1926 collection, The Lost Shipmate, The Encyclopedia of Literature commented: "Had this volume appeared forty years earlier it might have won for Theodore a reputation equal to that of his brother Charles or of Bliss Carman. Poems such as 'The Sandbar' and 'Magic' are unmatched in Canadian poetry for a facility and clarity of image suggestive of high-realist painting."[7]

However, much of what Roberts wrote has been forgotten with time, or has not stood the tests of time and changing fashion.

The Merriest KnightEdit

The writing for which Roberts is most likely to be recognized today is The Merriest Knight, his collection of Arthurian tales. This looks like the one book by Roberts currently in print - ironically, considering that it was never published as a book during Roberts's lifetime.

Roberts began to write Arthurian fiction in the 1920s; most of these stories, though, were published in the late 1940s and early 1950s in the fiction magazine Blue Book. Roberts planned to publish them as a collection, but died in 1953 before he could do so. In 2001 Mike Ashley, editor of the Mammoth publishing group, brought them out under his Green Knight imprint.[8]

A review for SFSite called the collection's writing "polished," "erudite," and "eminently readable," but "somewhat tame": "literature for the afternoon tea and crumpets crowd - in a word 'polite' Arthurian fiction." Still, it concluded, "if you're looking for something a bit more upbeat, some Arthuriana-lite, The Merriest Knight is just the book for you."[8]


The University of New Brunswick awarded Roberts a Doctorate of literature in 1930.[1]

He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1934.[1]




  • The House of Isstens. Boston: L.C. Page, 1900.[1]
  • Hemming the Adventurer. Boston: L.C. Page, 1904.
  • Brothers of Peril: A story of old Newfoundland. Boston: L.C. Page, 1905.
  • Captain Love: The history of a most romantic event in the life of an English gentleman during the reign of His Majesty George the First. Boston: L.C. Page, 1908.
  • A Cavalier of Virginia: A romance. Boston: L.C. Page, 1910; Chicago: M.A. Donohue, 1910.
  • Comrades of the Trails. Boston: L.C. Page, 1910.
  • A Captain of Raleigh's: A romance. Boston: L.C. Page, 1911.
  • A Soldier of Valley Forge (with Robert Neilson Stephens). Boston: L.C. Page, 1911.
  • Rayton: A backwoods mystery. Boston: L.C. Page, 1912.
  • The Toll of the Tides. Toronto: Bell & Cockburn, 1912; London: T. Werner Laurie, 1912.
  • The Harbor Master. Boston: L.C. Page, 1913; Chicago: M.A. Donohue, 1913; Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1968.
  • Love on Smoky River. London: John Long, 1913.
  • Two Shall Be Born. New York: Cassell, 1913.
  • The Wasp. Toronto: Bell & Cockburn, 1914; New York: G.W. Dillingham, 1914; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1918.
  • Blessington's Folly. London: John Long, 1914.
  • In the High Woods. London: John. Long, 1916.
  • Forest Fugitives. Toronto: McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, 1917.
  • The Islands of Adventure. London & Toronto: Hodder & Stoughton, 1918.
  • Jess of the River. New York: G.W. Dillingham, 1914; London: John Long, 1918.
  • The Exiled Lover. London: John Long, 1919.
  • Moonshine. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1920.
  • The Lure of Piper's Glen. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, 1923.
  • Musket House. Garden City, NY: Garden City, 1923.
  • Tom Akerley: His adventures in the tall timber and at Gaspard's clearing on the Indian River. Boston: L.C. Page, 1923.
  • Green Timber Thoroughbreds. Garden City, NY: Garden City, 1924.
  • The Red Pirogue: A tale of adventure in the Canadian wilds. Boston: L.C. Page, 1924.
  • Honest Fool. New York: F.A. Munsey, 1925; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1925.
  • The Golden Highlander; or, The romantic adventures of Alastair MacIver.. Boston: L.C. Page, 1929.
  • Nell Harley. Halifax, NS: Formac, 2003.

Short fictionEdit

  • Flying Plover: His stories, told him by Squat-by-the-Fire. Boston: L.C. Page, 1909.
  • The Master of the Moosehorn, and other backcountry stories. London & Toronto: Hodder & Stoughton, 1919.
  • The Merriest Knight: The collected Arthurian tales of Theodore Goodridge Roberts (edited by Mike Ashley; illustrated by Shane A. Holloway). Oakland, CA: Green Knight, 2001.


  • Patrols and Trench Raids. 1916.[1]
  • Battalion Histories. 1918.[1]
  • Thirty Canadian V.Cs 23rd April 1915 to 30th March 1918 (with Stuart Martin & Robin Richards). London: Skeffington, 1918.
  • Loyalists: A compilation of histories, biographies and genealogies of United Empire Loyalists and their descendants. Toronto: privately published, 1937.


  • The Red Feathers: A story of remarkable adventures when the world was young. Boston: L.C. Page, 1907. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart (New Canadian Library 127), 1983.
  • The Fighting Starkleys; or, The test of courage (illustrated by George Varian). Boston: L.C. Page, 1922.
  • The Stranger from Up-Along. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page, 1924.
  • The Oxbow Wizard. Garden City, NY: Garden City, 1924.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Nicola Faieta, "Theodore Goodridge Roberts," New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia,, Web, May 12, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Martin Ware, Introduction, That Far River: Selected poems of Theodore Goodridge Roberts, Canadian Poetry, UWO, Web, Mar. 12, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 "Life of Theodore Goodridge Roberts," That Far River: Selected Poems of Theodore Goodridge Roberts, (London, ON: Canadian Poetry Press, 1995), UWO, Web, May 13, 2011.
  4. "Biographical Sketch," Theodore Goodridge Roberts Fonds, Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick,, Web, May 12, 2011.
  5. John William Garvin, "Theodore Goodridge Roberts," Canadian Poets (Toronto: McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, 1916, 377,, Web, May 12, 2011.
  6. "Theodore Goodridge Roberts Biography," Dictionary of Literary Biography,, Web, May 12, 2011.
  7. Andrew Seaman, "Theodore Goodridge Roberts Biography," Encyclopedia of Literature, 8596,, Web, May 13, 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "The Merriest Knight: A review by George T. Dodds," SF Site, 2002. Web, May 12, 2011.
  9. Northland Lyrics (1899), Internet Archive, Web, Nov. 25, 2012.
  10. Search results = au:Theodore Goodridge Roberts, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Jan. 25, 2015.

External linksEdit

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