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Sir Charles God Damn

Sir Charles God Damn: The Life of Sir Charles G.D.Roberts

Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 236
  • Book Info
    Sir Charles God Damn
    Book Description:

    The story of Charles G.D. Roberts' personal life, recounted here fully and objectively for the first time, adds a vivid portrait to the gallery of Canada's literary pioneers.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5246-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Child of the Tantramar 1860–1873
    (pp. 3-10)

    Charles g.d. roberts was about forty years old when he wrote the foregoing description of a winter dawn in rural New Brunswick, but the day on which he was born, 10 January 1860, may have been ushered in by just such a morning. The kitchen smoke may have been curling from the chimney of an Anglican rectory in a country parish about ten miles north of Fredericton. In any event, it was undoubtedly a joyous day for the young parents: the energetic rector, who had just turned twenty-seven on Christmas Day, and his impulsive, high-spirited wife. Their first-born child was...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Approaching Manhood 1873–1880
    (pp. 11-24)

    Nestled in a bend of the Saint John River, Fredericton in 1873 was an undersized city of about 6,000 people. Less than ninety years earlier, it had been laid out for the occupancy of the United Empire Loyalists, whose descendants, from children to great-grandchildren, still accounted for most of the leading families. The predominant traits of their Loyalist forefathers still characterized the later generations: a strong allegiance to the British flag, a deep respect for learning, and a preoccupation with the aristocratic traditions of good breeding and gentlemanly conduct. Charles G.D. Roberts fitted naturally into that milieu, for his roots...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Choosing Careers 1881–1885
    (pp. 25-39)

    At the age of twenty-one, Charles G.D. Roberts had already been acclaimed as a young poet of great promise. In his own country, where his precociousOrioncontinued to win admiration and respect, he was being hailed as the leader of a new era in Canadian letters. It was a formidable role to thrust upon a youthful writer at the beginning of his career. Roberts was anxious to fulfil the high expectations he had raised, but he fretted that his creative efforts were being constantly hampered by his daily routine. Many years later, he told an interviewer that he ‘did...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The Kingscroft Years 1886–1895
    (pp. 40-63)

    In january 1886, when Roberts returned from Fredericton to Windsor after the Christmas holiday, his wife was pregnant with their third child. Daughter Edith was born in September, and shortly thereafter the family were reunited in ‘Kingscroft,’ a newly completed house on the edge of College Woods. Their new home was one of four modest dwellings that the college governors had decided to build for the married professors after the large faculty residence had been destroyed by fire. Because it was situated on the edge of the woods, Roberts coveted it from the beginning; and, in order to obtain it,...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The Turning Point 1895–1897
    (pp. 64-71)

    After ten impoverished years at King’s College, and many unsuccessful attempts to find a better appointment, Roberts decided to abandon the academic life, at least temporarily, to have another fling at freelancing. Having earned a small reputation in the literary world since those difficult months after he first leftThe Week, he felt that he was in a safer position to take the risk. As early as 8 January 1895, he announced to Carman: ‘I shall resign here in March (in the guise, remember, of a year’s leave without pay).’¹

    His decision had been precipitated by the uncertainty and turmoil...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Assailing Manhattan 1897–1898
    (pp. 72-85)

    It had been fifteen years since Roberts had seen New York for the first time. During his frequent visits since then, he had witnessed its growth into the eighth wonder of the world – the city of skyscrapers. ‘Where will it all end?’ people were asking as lower Broadway became dotted with taller and taller buildings. For the moment, the answer was eighteen storeys, the height of a newly completed structure at 66 Broadway. Business and commerce were gradually creeping northwards on Manhattan, although the majority of the big establishments were still located south of 23rd Street. Much of Fifth...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN The Upswing 1899–1907
    (pp. 86-105)

    The approach of 1899 saw the beginning of a modest improvement in Roberts’ finances. If he had not exactly conquered the literary world of New York, at least he was finding an increasingly profitable market for his wares, particularly his Acadian romances. So far, however, his sales in England had been negligible. Now that he could afford the trip, it seemed a shrewd business move to go over to establish personal contact with the British editors and publishers. ‘I am going to take the English market for mySister to Evangeline& my forthcomingCollected Poems,’ he announced to his old...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT European Interlude 1907–1912
    (pp. 106-118)

    It was understood by Roberts’ family that his fourth trip overseas would be just another of those brief excursions that combined work with travel. He planned to spend the winter in France, but there was no mention of a prolonged absence. In a short while, so everyone believed, he would be back in New York, where he was just a few hours away from Fredericton.

    His private intentions are unknown beyond the fact that he was looking for a change. He soon would be forty-eight years old, and, although he was still strong and vigorous, he felt that time was...

  13. CHAPTER NINE Mother England 1912–1925
    (pp. 119-130)

    Although the foregoing lines are taken from Theodore Roberts’ war poem ‘The Reckoning,’ they accurately express the sentiments of Charles G.D. Roberts. Probably the growing threat of war was not the main consideration that drew him back to England in 1912, but it was in his patriotic nature to rally to the side of the Mother Country. He arrived in London at the end of April, mindful perhaps of Browning’s famous wish to be in England ‘Now that April’s there.’ He, too, would celebrate the English spring one day, borrowing his title from Shakespeare: ‘The Sweet o’ the Year.’ However,...

  14. CHAPTER TEN The Homecoming 1925–1927
    (pp. 131-147)

    ‘Everyone is here!’¹ exultedSaturday Nightcolumnist W.A. Deacon in the note that he passed along the front row of the Jarvis Collegiate auditorium to Lome Pierce, editor of Ryerson Press. Being dedicated to the promotion of Canadian literature, both men were jubilant that the patrons of the arts in Toronto had turned out in full force to hear Charles G.D. Roberts. A glance at the audience was almost like taking the roll call of the most prominent people in the city’s literary, educational, and social circles. Furthermore, with every seat taken at a dollar per ticket, Roberts’ reading tour...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN National President, CAA 1927–1929
    (pp. 148-159)

    From the time of his return to Canada, Roberts had worked closely with the Canadian Authors’ Association. Many of his readings had been given under the auspices of the various branches that had sprung up across the country since the Association’s inauguration in 1921. In the summer of 1925 he had appeared at the annual convention, which was held in Winnipeg that year, ‘with the shutters of his face all down, but his eye glass ribbon on guard.’ His duties at the Muskoka Assembly prevented him from attending the convention in Vancouver the following year, but he accepted an in...

  16. CHAPTER TWELVE Honour without Profit 1930–1935
    (pp. 160-181)

    By 1930, as the canadian economy began staggering under the impact of a world-wide depression, Roberts found himself in the direst financial straits he had known since the early days of his career. Because his meagre royalties were not enough to provide even the bare necessities of life, he pushed himself doggedly to write magazine fiction again. To insure an adequate income, he needed to work at the prolific rate he had maintained during his heyday, but he no longer possessed the stamina to follow such a rigorous schedule. Furthermore, the public’s reading preferences were changing, and most of the...

  17. CHAPTER THIRTEEN The Final Years 1936–1943
    (pp. 182-202)

    Charles g.d. roberts had been a personage in Canadian literary and social circles ever since his return from England in 1925. If the magic of his name had worn off somewhat through familiarity during the ensuing decade, the added fillip of a title gave it new lustre. When the honour was conferred upon him, there was no way of knowing that his knighthood would be among the last to be created in Canada. A few weeks after the investiture, Bennett’s Conservatives suffered a crushing defeat at the polls; and the Liberal government under Mackenzie King, responding to a heightened spirit...

  18. CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Final Months 1943
    (pp. 203-211)

    The last six months of Roberts’ life, following the appearance of his biography, were a mixture of happiness and stress. After his anxiety about Pierce’s hesitation over publishing the book, he was greatly relieved to see it actually in print with nothing revealed therein that did not meet with his approval. There was very little that he needed to hide, but his Victorian sensibilities recoiled at the public exposure of linen whose freshness was even slightly open to question. Elsie Pomeroy was fully in sympathy with his feelings, and it never occurred to her that, in the long run, the...

  19. Epilogue
    (pp. 212-213)

    Roberts’ early acclaim may have been too easily won, too undiscriminating, and too excessive, but by the mid-twentieth century he was well on the way to becoming one of the most underrated writers that Canada has produced. The Canadian modernists who began emerging in the 19305 had focused upon Roberts in their repudiation of the so-called Confederation poets. After all, he was still living, still practising his art in a manner they rejected, and still able to exert considerable influence upon the course of Canadian literature. His high profile, which had always eclipsed that of Duncan Campbell Scott, his fellow...

  20. Notes
    (pp. 214-227)
  21. Index
    (pp. 228-235)
    (pp. 236-236)