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  Linguistics, Languages, and LiteraturesAmerican LiteratureCanadian Literature
Robertson William DaviesRobertson William Davies

playwright, essayist, novelist

Robertson William Davies was born at Thamesville, Ontario, on August 28, 1913, the third son of Senator William Rupert Davies. He attended Upper Canada College from 1926 to 1932 and went on to Queen's College as a special student not working towards a degree (1932-1935). He received his Bachelor's Degree in Literature from Balliol College of Oxford University in 1938.

Davies' bachelor's thesis, Shakespeare's Boy Actors, appeared in 1939, and he spent 1940 pursuing an acting career and doing literary work for the director of the Old Vic Repertory Company in London.

Returning to Canada in 1940, Davies became literary editor of Saturday Night. In 1942, he became editor of the Peterborough Examiner; he became publisher of the Examiner in 1955, and remained in that position until 1965. In 1960, he joined the faculty at Trinity College of the University of Toronto, where he taught literature for the next 21 years. In 1961, he was awarded the Lorne Pierce Medal for his literary achievements. He became master of Massey College of the University of Toronto in 1963, and was made an RSC fellow in 1967. During the 1950's, he played a major role in launching the Stratford Festival, serving on the board of governors and co-publishing three books about the Festival's early years (1953-1955).

Davies was the first Canadian to become an Honorary Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He received an Honorary Doctorate in Literature from Oxford, and was a Companion to the Order of Canada.

Davies died on December 2, 1995.

Notable Works

Shakespeare for Young Players (1947) a "textbook" on the theory of acting
The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks (1947) a collection of humorous essays published under the pseudonym Samuel Marchbanks
Eros at Breakfast (1948) a one-act play which won the 1948 Dominion Drama Festival Award for best Canadian play
Eros at Breakfast and Other Plays (1949)
Fortune, My Foe (1949)
The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks (1949) a collection of humorous essays published under the pseudonym Samuel Marchbanks
At My Heart's Core (1950) a three-act play based on the Strickland sisters
Tempest-Tost (1951) first part of the Salterton trilogy
Leaven of Malice (1954) second part of the Salterton trilogy; won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour
A Mixture of Frailties (1958) third part of the Salterton trilogy
A Voice from the Attic (1961) a collection of essays on literature
Samuel Marchbanks' Almanack (1967) a collection of humorous essays published under the pseudonym Samuel Marchbanks
Fifth Business (1970) a novel for which he drew on Jungian psychology
The Manticore (1972) sequel to Fifth Business; won the Goveror General's Award for Fiction
World of Wonders (1975) second sequel to Fifth Business
The Rebel Angels (1981) a novel satirizing academic life
The Mirror of Nature (1983) an examination of 19th-century melodrama
What's Bred in the Bone (1985) novel
The Lyre of Orpheus (1988) novel
Murther and Walking Spirits (1991) novel
The Cunning Man (1994) novel

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This page was last updated on 02/12/2015.

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