by George J. Dance


William Carman Roberts (1874-1941) in 1897. Courtesy New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia.

William Carman Roberts
Born December 6, 1874
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Died November 21, 1941 (aged 66)
New London, Connecticut
Occupation managing editor
Nationality Canada Canadian
Alma mater University of New Brunswick
Spouse(s) Mary Fanton

William Carman Roberts (December 6, 1874 - November 21, 1941) was a Canadian poet who was managing editor of The Literary Digest in New York City for 30 years.


Roberts was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, to Emma Wetmore Bliss and Anglican clergyman Rev. George Goodridge Roberts. His eldest brother was Charles G.D. Roberts, sometimes called "The Father of Canadian Poetry." His siblings Jane Elizabeth MacDonald and Theodore Goodridge Roberts would also be poets and writers.[1]

He began writing poetry from an early age, and had his first published poems in the Dominion Illustrated when he was sixteen.[1]

Like his brothers and sister, William Roberts attended Fredericton Collegiate School and then the University of New Brunswick. However, he dropped out of university in 1896 due to ill health.[1]

In 1897, Roberts moved to New York City, staying at the same boarding house as his brother Charles and his cousin Bliss Carman. Charles found him a job at The Illustrated American. After just a few months, William Roberts moved to The Literary Digest. He remained at the Digest for the rest of his career, becoming managing editor, a position he held for 30 years.[1]

In 1899, he spent much of the year in England, accompanied by his brother Charles, working on an unidentified assignment for the Digest.[1]

William Roberts continued to write and publish through the late 1890s. In 1899 his poems were collected in Northland Lyrics, an anthology of poems by him and his siblings Jane and Theodore, edited by their brother Charles.[1]

In December 14, 1906, William Roberts married Mary Fanton, a journalist and editor for several magazines throughout New York (including Arts and Decoration, which she edited for 17 years, The Craftsman, and New Idea Woman's Magazine).[1]

While "Roberts was sometimes discouraged about being the least famous and accomplished of the three brothers... he did manage to maintain financial security throughout his life. In fact he supported his two brothers from time to time when they needed help. In this regard, he was integral to their success."[1]

The Literary Digest's circulation began to fall in the late 1930s. Roberts left in 1938, just before the last issue was published. In 1940 he and his wife retired to an estate in Oswegatchie, Connecticut.[1]

On November 21, 1941, Roberts was found lying on a road near his estate, where he had suffered a heart attack. He was taken to New London, Connecticut, where he died shortly after.</ref>


The New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia (NBLE) says that "Roberts' poetry focused on romance and loss. There is a pervading loneliness in his work. Though his work is rather heavy with emotion, his poems often turn toward the light at the end."[1]

Shortly after the publication of Northland Lyrics (says the NBLE), Roberts "began to focus on prose, publishing articles on the North-West Mounted Police and Wilfrid Laurier. He also wrote a few political articles for The Craftsman, which his wife Mary Fanton edited. Of significance were the articles 'Vitality Of The Monroe Doctrine' and 'Are We Becoming Civilized Too Rapidly?'."[1]




  • "Are We Becoming Civilized Too Rapidly?" The Craftsman 17.4 (1910): 355-359.
  • "Vitality Of The Monroe Doctrine." The Craftsman 25.4 (1914): 311-314.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy St. Thomas University.[1]

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 Kelsey Boone, "William Carman Roberts," New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia, Web, June 10, 2011.
  2. Northland Lyrics (1899), Internet Archive, Web, Nov. 25, 2012.

External linksEdit

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