Robertson Davies

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Born August 28, 1913. Died on December 2, 1995 at the age of 82.

Robertson Davies was a true Canadian -- born in a small Ontario town to immigrant parents, and proud of his Welsh background, he also helped defined the modern Canadian personality.

Growing up, Davies was surrounded by language. His father was a newspaper man, and both his parents were voracious readers. He, in turn, read everything he could.

While Davies spent his first twenty-three working years at various newspapers in small town Ontario, his first passion was for the theatre, which is where he met and married his wife, Brenda. He was a playwright and director for many years, in England and Canada.

Davies later became the Master of Massey College at the University of Toronto (1961-1981).

His greatest novel is probably Fifth Business (1970), a curious book which draws heavily on Davies's love of myth and knowledge of small-town mores. The narrator, like Davies, is of immigrant Canadian background, with a father who runs the town paper. In a book full of singular characters, the central character is a simple, mentally defective woman named Mary Dempster, who may or may not be a saint.

Plays, novels, and other published writing:

  • Tempest Toss'd
  • The Cornish trilogy:
    • The Rebel Angels
    • What's Bred in the Bone
    • The Lyre of Orpheus
  • The papers of Samuel Marchbanks
  • Murther and Walking Spirits