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W. Graham Robertson Papers: Finding Aid
mssWR 1-707  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: W. Graham Robertson Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1875-1948
    Collection Number: mssWR 1-707
    Creator: Robertson, W. Graham (Walford Graham), 1866-1948.
    Extent: 1,606 pieces in 17 boxes and 1 envelope.
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection consists of correspondence both to and from English painter and writer W. Graham Robertson (1866-1948), including letters from literary and theatrical persons and fan mail regarding his published reminiscences, Time was (1931). There are approximately 800 letters from Robertson to Kerrison Preston and also 15 notebooks and sketchbooks of Robertson's.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. W. Graham Robertson Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of Kerrison Preston, 1971 and Jean Preston, 1977.

    Biographical Note

    Walford Graham Robertson (1866-1948) was a wealthy English painter, writer, and collector of William Blake watercolors.
    Robertson was well known in art and theatrical circles of the 1880s and 1890s as a rising artist. A bachelor, he lived with his mother till her death in 1907, and thenceforth as a country gentleman. He developed numerous friendships with actors, artists, and collectors. Among his correspondents were artists such as Burne-Jones and Whistler, playwrights such as Pinero, James Barrie and Terence Rattigan, actors and actresses such as Ellen Terry and Sarah Bernhardt in the old days, the Lunts and Laurence Oliviers later on, and collectors such as Mrs. (White) Emerson of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although he painted and wrote little after 1914, he maintained extensive correspondence with numerous literary or stage personalities during his long retirement, and many of them made the journey to Sandhills, his Surrey home. As a collector he was best known for the number and quality of his Blake watercolors, many of which he gave to the Tate Gallery on the outbreak of World War II in 1939; the rest were widely dispersed to public and private collections after his death in 1948. He had no relatives or heirs; to his long-time friend and executor, Kerrison Preston, fell the task of distributing his books, pictures and estate among various charitable causes. Among these was set up the William Blake Trust, founded with Graham Robertson money, to publish the now well-known Trianon Press facsimiles of Blake's illuminated books.


    Graham Robertson's reminiscences, Time Was 1931 (American title: Life was worth living) describe his many friendships
    Letters from Graham Robertson, edited by Kerrison Preston, 1953, with a biographical introduction; The Blake Collection of Graham Robertson, 1952, edited by Kerrison Preston.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of correspondence both to and from W. Graham Robertson, including letters from literary and theatrical persons and fan mail regarding his published reminiscences, Time was (1931). There are approximately 800 letters from Robertson to Kerrison Preston and also 15 notebooks and sketchbooks of Robertson's.
    Correspondents include: James Agate, Henry Ainley, William Allingham, Helen Paterson Allingham, Helen Rossetti Angeli, Elizabeth Arnim, Marie Bancroft, Squire Bancroft, J.M. Barrie, H.N. Bate, Julies Bastien-Lepage, Clifford Bax, Sir Max Beerbohm, Sarah Bernhardt, R.D. Blackmore, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Bourchier, Edward Hugessen Knatchbull-Hugessen (Baron Brabourne), James Bridie, Gordon Bottomley, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, William Frederick Cody ("Buffalo Bill"), Noel Coward, Edith Craig, Edward Gordon Craig, Walter Crane, E.M. Delafield, Alan Dent, Charles Dickens, Jr., Alix Egerton, Nellie Farren, Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson, Loie Fuller, Sir Edward German, Philip Gibbs, Sir John Gielgud, W.S. Gilbert, Ronald Gorell Barnes (3rd Baron Gorell), Harley Granville-Barker, Weedon Grossmith, Paul Hellew, Robert Smythe Hichens, Violet Hunt, Sir Henry Irving, Rufus Daniel Isaacs (Marquess of Reading), Henry James, Geoffrey Keynes, W.M. Letts, Georgette Leblanc, Vivien Leigh, Belloc Lowndes, Desmond MacCarthy, Denis George Mackail, Norman McKinnel, Maurice Maeterlinck, Arthur Melville, Mortimer Menpes, Alice Christina Thompson Meyell, Robert Montesquiou-Fézensac, Albert Joseph Moore, Jane Burden Moore, May Morris, and Montrose Jonas Moses. Additional correspondents include: A. Edward Newton, Julia Neilson, Frederic Norton, Laurence Olivier, Will Owen, Bernard Partridge, Walter Pater, Hesketh Pearson, William Lyon Phelps, Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, Sir Nigel Playfair, Sir Edward John Poynter, Sir Hugh Edward Poynter, Terence Rattigan, Sir Michael Redgrave, Ada Rehan, Athelstan Riley, Sir William Rothenstein, Sir John Rothenstein, Arthur William Row, Archibald Geoge Blomefield Russell, Frederick Sandys, John Singer Sargent, Emily Sargent, Athene Seyler, Robert Harborough Sherard, Robert E. Sherwood, Louis Shipman, M.H. Spielmann, Alfred Sutro, Arthur Symons, Una Taylor, William Terriss, Dame Ellen Terry, Fred Terry, Kate Terry, Ruthven Todd, Herbert Trench, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, H.M. Walbrook, Theodore Watts-Dunton, James McNeill Whistler, Maude Valerie White, Oscar Wilde, George Charles Williamson, Alexander Woolcott, and William Butler Yeats.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Robertson, W. Graham (Walford Graham), 1866-1948.
    Actors -- Great Britain -- Correspondence.
    Art -- Collectors and collecting -- Great Britain -- Correspondence.
    Artists -- Great Britain -- Correspondence.
    Artists -- United States -- Correspondence.
    Authors, English -- 19th century -- Correspondence.
    Authors, English -- 20th century -- Correspondence.


    Letters (correspondence) -- Great Britain -- 19th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- Great Britain -- 20th century.

    Alternate Authors

    Preston, Kerrison, correspondent.
    Agate, James, 1877-1947.
    Ainley, Henry, 1879-1945.
    Allingham, William, 1824-1889.
    Allingham, Helen Paterson, 1848-1926.
    Angeli, Helen Rossetti.
    Bancroft, Marie, 1839-1921.
    Bancroft, Squire, 1841-1926.
    Barrie, J. M. (James Matthew), 1860-1937.
    Bate, H. N. (Herbert Newell), 1871-1941.
    Bastien-Lepage, Jules, 1848-1884.
    Bax, Clifford, 1886-1962.
    Beerbohm, Max, Sir, 1872-1956.
    Bernhardt, Sarah, 1844-1923.
    Blackmore, R. D. (Richard Doddridge), 1825-1900.
    Blackwood, Algernon, 1869-1951.
    Bourchier, Arthur, 1863-1927.
    Bottomley, Gordon, 1874-1948.
    Brabourne, Edward Hugessen Knatchbull-Hugessen, Baron, 1829-1893.
    Bridie, James, 1888-1951.
    Buffalo Bill, 1846-1917.
    Burne-Jones, Edward Coley, 1833-1898.
    Campbell, Patrick, Mrs., 1865-1940.
    Coward, Noel, 1899-1973.
    Craig, Edith, 1869-1947.
    Craig, Edward Gordon, 1872-1966.
    Crane, Walter, 1845-1915.
    Delafield, E. M., 1890-1943.
    Dent, Alan.
    Dickens, Charles, 1837-1896.
    Egerton, Alix, Lady.
    Farren, Nellie, 1848-1904.
    Forbes-Robertson, Johnston, Sir, 1853-1937.
    Fuller, Loie, 1862-1928.
    German, Edward, 1862-1936.
    Gibbs, Philip, 1877-1962.
    Gielgud, John, 1904-2000.
    Gilbert, W. S. (William Schwenck), 1836-1911.
    Gorell, Ronald Gorell Barnes, Baron, 1884-1963.
    Granville-Barker, Harley, 1877-1946.
    Grossmith, Weedon, 1852-1919.
    Helleu, Paul, 1859-1927.
    Hichens, Robert, 1864-1950.
    Hunt, Violet, 1862-1942.
    Irving, Henry, Sir, 1838-1905.
    James, Henry, 1843-1916.
    Keynes, Geoffrey, 1887-1982.
    Leblanc, Georgette, 1869-1941.
    Leigh, Vivien, 1913-1967.
    Letts, W. M. (Winifred M.), 1882-1972.
    Lowndes, Marie Belloc, 1868-1947.
    MacCarthy, Desmond, 1877-1952.
    Mackail, Denis, 1892-1971.
    McKinnel, Norman, 1870-1932.
    Maeterlinck, Maurice, 1862-1949.
    Melville, Arthur, 1855-1904.
    Menpes, Mortimer, 1855-1938.
    Meynell, Alice, 1847-1922.
    Montesquiou-Fézensac, Robert, comte de, 1855-1921.
    Moore, Albert Joseph, 1841-1893.
    Moore, Jane Burden.
    Morris, May, 1862-1938.
    Moses, Montrose Jonas, 1878-1934.
    Newton, A. Edward (Alfred Edward), 1864-1940.
    Neilson, Julia, 1868-
    Norton, Frederic, 1869-1946.
    Olivier, Laurence, 1907-1989.
    Owen, Will, 1869-1957.
    Partridge, Bernard, 1861-1945.
    Pater, Walter, 1839-1894.
    Pearson, Hesketh, 1887-1964.
    Phelps, William Lyon, 1865-1943.
    Pinero, Arthur Wing, 1855-1934.
    Playfair, Nigel, 1874-1934.
    Poynter, Edward John, 1836-1919.
    Poynter, Hugh E. (Hugh Edward), Sir, 1882-1968.
    Rattigan, Terence.
    Redgrave, Michael.
    Rehan, Ada, 1857-1916.
    Riley, Athelstan, 1858-1945.
    Rothenstein, William, 1872-1945.
    Rothenstein, John, 1901-1992.
    Row, Arthur William, 1878-1961.
    Russell, Archibald George Blomefield, 1879-1955.
    Sandys, Frederick, 1829-1904.
    Sargent, John Singer, 1856-1925.
    Sargent, Emily, 1857-
    Seyler, Athene.
    Sherard, Robert Harborough, 1861-1943.
    Sherwood, Robert E. (Robert Emmet), 1896-1955.
    Shipman, Louis Evan, 1869-1933.
    Spielmann, M. H. (Marion Harry), 1858-1948.
    Sutro, Alfred, 1863-1933.
    Symons, Arthur, 1865-1945.
    Taylor, Una.
    Terriss, William, -1897.
    Terry, Ellen, Dame, 1847-1928.
    Terry, Fred, 1863-1933.
    Terry, Kate, 1844-1924.
    Todd, Ruthven, 1914-1978.
    Trench, Herbert, 1865-1923.
    Tree, Herbert Beerbohm, Sir, 1852-1917.
    Von Arnim, Elizabeth, 1866-1941.
    Walbrook, H. M. (Henry Mackinnon), 1865-1941.
    Watts-Dunton, Theodore, 1832-1914.
    Whistler, James McNeill, 1834-1903.
    White, Maude Valérie, 1855-1937.
    Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900.
    Williamson, George Charles, 1858-1942.
    Woollcott, Alexander, 1887-1943.
    Yeats, W. B. (William Butler), 1865-1939.