ROBERTSON DAVIES Biography - Writers


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Born in Thamesville, Ontario on August 28, 1913, Davies entered Queen’s         
University, in Kingston, Ontario as a non-degree student because he could not     
pass the mathematics exam required to gain university admission. He studied at   
Upper Canada College from 1926 to 1932 moved on to Queens until 1935 and finally 
received a Bachelor of Literature in 1938 from Balliol College, at Oxford         
University in England.                                                           
After graduating from Oxford, Davies played some minor roles with the Old Vic     
Repertory Company in London. In 1940 he returned to Canada with his new wife, to 
a new job as literary editor of Saturday Night, Canada’s leading journal of     
opinion at the time. Two years later he took over as editor of the Peterborough   
Examiner, one of the newspapers owned by his father, Senator William Rupert       
Davies. Davies remained the paper’s editor from 1940 through 1955, after which 
he became the publisher until 1965.                                               
Under the pseudonym Samuel Marchbanks, Davies wrote a column for the Examiner     
and later collected these works in three books: The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks,   
published in 1947, The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks published in 1949 and     
Samuel Marchbank’s Almanack published in 1967.                                 
In 1960 Davies joined Trinity College and he became master of Massey College in   
Aside from writing and teaching Davies also founded the Dominion Drama Festival   
and played an important role during the 1950s, in the making of the Stratford     
Festival, serving on the Board of Governors. Davies wrote plays himself; in fact 
his one act play Eros at Breakfast won the 1948 Dominion Drama Festival Award     
for the best Canadian play. However Davies earned his greatest praise from his   
His first three novels later became known as the Salterton Trilogy. The second   
of these novels, Leaven of Malice, published in 1954, won the Stephen Leacock     
Medal for humour.                                                                 
Davies second great trilogy, The Deptford Trilogy, drew on Jungian psychology.   
The series began in 1970 with the popular novel Fifth Business, continued in     
1972 with The Manticore, which won the Governor General’s Award for fiction and 
ended in 1975 with World of Wonders.                                             
As his academic career was ending Davies wrote two novels, The Rebel Angels in   
1981 and What’s Bred in the Bone in 1985, which poked fun at academic life. He 
continued to write well into retirement, The Lyre of Orpheus appeared in 1988,   
Murther and Walking Spirits in 1991 and The Cunning Man in 1994. Finally, The     
Merry Heart, a collection of speeches, reminiscences, parodies, book reviews and 
essays was published after his death on December 2, 1995.                         
His many honors include, a Companion of the Order of Canada, an Honorary         
Fellowship of Balliol and honorary degrees from Oxford, Trinity College, Dublin   
and the University of Wales as well as twenty-three other Canadian and American