W. Graham Robertson Papers: Finding Aid

Processed by Jean f. Preston in February 1976; supplementary encoding and revision supplied by Xiuzhi Zhou and Diann Benti.
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
© 2000
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.

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.


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Administrative Information

Publication Rights

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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.

Box 1

Notebooks and sketchbooks (WR 1-6)


WR 1 Robertson, W. Graham. Notebook and sketchbook. [Approximately 1900]


WR 2 Robertson, W. Graham. Sketchbooks 1-3. [Approximately 1900]


WR 3 Robertson, W. Graham. Notebook I including dramatization of Thackeray's The Rose and the Ring for stage. [Approximately 1900]


WR 4 Robertson, W. Graham. Notebook II including Guildford Pageant, etc. [Approximately 1900]


WR 5 Robertson, W. Graham. Notebook III including reminiscences for Time Was. [Approximately 1900]


WR 6 Robertson, W. Graham. Notebook IV. [Approximately 1900]

Notes on Ellen Terry, etc. in an old notebook of Greek translations.
Box 2

Lists of paintings; Lady Alix Egerton: Poems; Sutro play (WR 7-11)


List of Robertson's work as an artist [3 volumes]. 1889-1904, 1904-1915, 1915-1938


Lady Alix Egerton: poems 1906-1930


Alfred Sutro: 2 plays.

Box 3

Addenda I (WR 684-688)


Consists of bundle of 5 oversize folders.

WR 684 Robertson, W. Graham. Tan sketchbook I (including Sarah Bernhardt as Cleopatra, signed and dated June 20, 1892). 1892


WR 685 Robertson, W. Graham. Tan sketchbook II (including Ellen Terry as Faire Rosamund). [Approximately 1892?]


WR 686 Robertson, W. Graham. French sketchbook (including two drawings of Sarah Bernhardt dated January 19, 1888). 1888


WR 687 Robertson, W. Graham. Black sketchbook (including watercolor of Petruchio, Paris, 1888). [1888]


WR 688 Articles about Robertson in The Magazine of Art, Cassell's Magazine, and The Studio [3 periodicals]. 1899-1908

Box 4

Correspondence: Achnides, Th. - Bernhardt, Sarah

Correspondents include:
  • Achnides, Thomas
  • Achurch, Janet
  • Agate, James Evershed
  • Ainley, Henry
  • Allen, Beatrice Ellen
  • Allingham, William
  • Allingham, Helen (Paterson)
  • Angeli, Helen (Rossetti)
  • Armstrong, Thomas
  • Armstrong, William
  • Arnim, Elizabeth
  • Ashwell, Lena
  • Atkins, Bertha
  • Bagger, Esther Dean
  • Balfour, Lady Mary Edith
  • Bancroft, Marie Effie (Wilton), Lady
  • Bancroft, Sir Squire
  • Baring, Hon. Laurice
  • Barrie, Sir James Matthew
  • Bate, Rev. Herbert
  • Bastien-Lepage, Jules
  • Bax, Clifford
  • Beerbohm, Sir Max
  • Bellerby, Rev. Alfred
  • Bernhardt, Sarah
Box 5

Correspondence: Blackmore, Richard Doddridge - Cole, Milton

Correspondents include:
  • Blackmore, Richard Doddridge
  • Blackwood, Algernon
  • Blunt, Arthur
  • Bourchier, Arthur
  • Bourchier, Violet (Vanbrugh)
  • Bridie, James, pseud, see Mavor Osborne Henry
  • Bottomley, Gordon
  • Burne-Jones, Sir Edward Coley
  • Campbell, Mrs. Patrick
  • Coates, Austin
  • Cody, William Frederick
  • Cole, Milton
Box 6

Correspondence: Colefax, Sibly - Ellis, C. F. Corbould

Correspondents include:
  • Colefax, Sibyl
  • Coward, Sir Noel Pierce
  • Craig, Edith
  • Craig, Edward Gordon
  • Crane, Walter
  • Davies, Hubert Henry
  • Davis, Fay
  • De La Pasture, Edmée Elizabeth Monica
  • Dent, Alan
  • Dickens, Charles, Jr.
  • Drew, John
  • Drinkwater, John
  • Du Maurier, Sir Gerald
  • Egerton, Lady Alix
  • Ellis, C. F. Corbould
Box 7

Correspondence: Evans, J. Roland - Hutchinson, Ursula C.

Correspondents include:
  • Evans, J. Roland
  • Farren, Nellie
  • Forbes-Robertson, Ian
  • Forbes-Robertson, Sir Johnston
  • Fuller, Loie
  • German, Sir Edward
  • Gibbs, Sir Philip Hamilton
  • Gielgud, Sir John
  • Gilbert, Sir William Schwenck
  • Gorell, Ronald Gorell Barnes, 3rd baron
  • Granville-Barker, Harley Granville
  • Granville-Barker, Lillah (McCarthy)
  • Grey, Sylvia
  • Grossmith, Weedon
  • Halsey, Jean M.
  • Hamilton, Hamish
  • Hamilton, Jean (Forbes-Robertson)
  • Helleu, Paul C. F.
  • Hichens, Robert Smythe
  • Holland, Henry Thurstan, 1st viscount Knutsford
  • Holland, Lionel Raleigh
  • Hunt, Violet
  • Hutchinson, Ursula C.
Box 8

Correspondence: Huxley, Harry - Lunt, Lynn (Fontanne) (through 1940?)

Correspondents include:
  • Huxley, Harry
  • Irving, Sir Henry
  • Isaacs, Rufus Daniel, 1st marquess of Reading
  • James, Henry
  • Jeffreys, Ellis
  • Jekyll, Lady Agnes
  • Kendall, Dame Margaret
  • Kerr, Frederick
  • Keynes, Sir Geoffrey Langdon
  • Knatchbull-Hugesson, Edward Hugesson, 1st Baron Brabourne
  • Lavery, Sir John
  • Letts, Winifred M.
  • Lewis, Kate (Terry)
  • Lowndes, Marie Adelaide (Belloc)
  • Lunt, Alfred
  • Lunt, Lynne (Fontanne)
Box 9

Correspondence: Lunt, Lynn (Fontanne) (1943-1948) - Melville, Arthur (through 1899)

Correspondents include:
  • Lunt, Lynne (Fontanne)
  • MacCarthy, Sir Desmond
  • Mackail, Denis George
  • McKinnel, Norman
  • Maeterlinck, Georgette
  • Maeterlinck, Maurice
  • Martin, Sir Alec
  • Matthay, Jessie
  • Mavor, Osborne Henry
  • Melville, Arthur
Box 10

Correspondence: Melville, Arthur (1900-1904) - Montesquiou Fezensac, Comte Robert de (through 1886 September 21)

Correspondents include:
  • Melville, Arthur
  • Menpes, Mortimer
  • Meynell, Alice Christina (Thompson)
  • Milton, Ernest
  • Milton, Naomi (Royde-Smith)
  • Millward, Jessie
  • Montesquiou Fezensac, Comte Robert de
Box 11

Correspondence: Montesquiou Fezensac, Comte Robert de (1886 September 29-1891) - Playfair, Sir Nigel

Correspondents include:
  • Montesquiou Fezensac, Comte Robert de
  • Moore, Albert Joseph
  • Morris, Jane (Burden)
  • Morris, May
  • Moses, Montrose Jonas
  • Murray, A. Hallam
  • Nasmyth, James
  • Newton, Alfred Edward
  • Neilson-Terry, Julia
  • Norton, George Frederic
  • Norton, Emily
  • Olivier, Sir Laurence
  • Olivier, Vivian (Leigh), Lady
  • Owen, Will
  • Palmer, Lady Margaret
  • Parker, Eric
  • Partridge, Sir Bernard
  • Pater, Walter Horatio
  • Pearson, Hesketh
  • Phelps, William Lyon
  • Pinero, Sir Arthur Wing
  • Playfair, Sir Nigel
Box 12

Correspondence: Pleydell-Bouverie, Douglas - Sargent, Emily

Correspondents include:
  • Pleydell-Bouverie, Douglas
  • Pleydell-Bouverie, Dorothy
  • Pollock, Sir Adrian
  • Poynter, Sir Edward John
  • Poynter, Sir Hugh
  • Preston, Ivor Kerrison
  • Pryde, James
  • Rattigan, Terence
  • Redgrave, Sir Michael
  • Rehan, Ada
  • Riley, Athelstan
  • Robertson, Marion
  • Robson, Hon. Harold
  • Robson, Iris
  • Rothenstein, Sir William
  • Rothenstein, Sir John Kewstub Maurice
  • Row, Arthur William
  • Russell, Archibald George Blomefield
  • Russell, Annette (Beauchamp) Countess Russell
  • Sandys, Frederick
Box 13

Correspondence: Sargent, John Singer - Terry, Ellen (through 1899)

Correspondents include:
  • Sargent, John Singer
  • Sargent, Emily
  • Saur, Emil
  • Seyler, Athene
  • Shannon, James Jebusa
  • Sherard, Robert Harborough
  • Sherwood, Robert Emmet
  • Shipman, Louis Evan
  • Simon, Ruth
  • Snowden, James K.
  • Spielmann, Marion Harry
  • Stahl, Rose
  • Sutro, Alfred
  • Symons, Arthur
  • Taylor, Una
  • Terriss, William
  • Terry, Edward
Box 14

Correspondence: Terry, Ellen (1900-1917 May 31)

Box 15

Correspondence: Terry, Ellen (1917 May-?) - Yeats, William Butler

Correspondents include:
  • Terry, Dame Ellen
  • Terry, Fred
  • Thompson, Dorothy
  • Todd, Ruthven
  • Trench, Herbert
  • Tree, Sir Herbert Beerbohm
  • Tree, Viola
  • Tweed, John
  • Walbrook, Henry Mackinnon
  • Watts-Dunton, Walter Theodore
  • Watts-Dunton, Clara Jane (Reich)
  • Whistler, James Abbot McNeill
  • White, Maude Valerie
  • Wilde, Oscar
  • Williamson, George Charles
  • Woollcott, Alexander
  • Yeats, William Butler
Box 16

Addenda I and II (correspondence and three photographs) (WR 689-706)

Box 17

Robertson, W. Graham. Letters to Kerrison Preston (WR 707)

Approximately 840 letters, mostly published in Letters from Graham Robertson.