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I Sing of Life by Lloyd Roberts

I Sing of Life, Lloyd Roberts

Lloyd Roberts

William Harris Lloyd Roberts was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, 31 October 1884. He was the son of Mary Isabel Fenety and Charles G.D. Roberts, one of New Brunswick’s greatest poets. For most of his youth, Roberts lived in Windsor, Nova Scotia, where he was educated by private tutors and attended King’s Collegiate School. When he and his family moved back to Fredericton in 1895, he finished his education at Fredericton High School. Roberts was married three times. His first wife, Hope Bailman, gave birth to their daughter Patricia Bliss, but then died in 1912. Roberts’s second marriage in 1914 to Leila White from New York State ended in divorce shortly after it began. His final marriage was to Julia Bristow in 1943. They had two daughters together, Thaia Bliss and Mary Carman. Roberts died in Toronto on 28 June 1966.

In 1904, Roberts became the assistant editor for Outing Magazine in New York City. He then became an editorial writer for The National Encyclopedia of American Biography. In 1911, he moved back to Canada and started working as a newspaper reporter for the News in British Columbia. From 1913 to 1920, he worked for the Canadian civil service as the editor of immigration literature in Ottawa. In 1920, he retired in order to make writing his career, but he later returned to journalism and public service. From 1925 to 1939, he worked as a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor. His final position was with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for whom he acted as a liaison and public relations officer from 1939 to 1943.

Roberts’s primary literary influence was his father. He once declared: “My father was the strongest man in the world, there was no doubt about it” (The Book of Roberts 19). In 1897, Roberts began visiting his father, who was pursuing his literary career in New York; the two also spent three months travelling together through England and Europe. Roberts was also influenced by his father’s cousin, Bliss Carman, another famous literary figure from Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Roberts’s first book of published poetry, which contained thirty-two poems, was England Over Seas (1914). In 1923, he published The Book Of Roberts, a book of essays that focuses on the Roberts family. In the next few decades, he published two more books of poetry, Along The Ottawa (1927) and I Sing of Life (1937), and wrote several plays, short stories, and articles.

Roberts’s literature attempts to capture his native New Brunswick and describes its landscape vividly. Though he did not achieve the success of his father, he was well received by critics across Canada. As one critic observed: “Mr. Roberts is a genuine poet because he sings with the poet’s chief inspiration, namely: ecstacy of delight in the magic and mystery of earth, and in the lust of life” (J.D. Logan, A Celebration of Writers).

Hilary Waterhouse, Winter 2008
St. Thomas University

Bibliography of Primary Sources

Roberts, Lloyd. Along the Ottawa. London and Toronto: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1927.

---. The Book of Roberts: Comprising Certain Small Incidents as Recalled by One of Them Here Set Down for the First Time. Toronto: Ryerson, 1923.

---. England Over Seas. Toronto, Ontario. E. Matthews, 1914.

---. I Sing of Life: Selected Poems of Lloyd Roberts. Toronto: Ryerson, 1937.

---. Lloyd Roberts Poems: A Collection of Newspaper Clippings. Comp. R.H. Hathaway. N.d. MS. UNB Archives & Special Collections, Fredericton.

---. Samuel Hearne. Toronto: Ryerson, 1930. Ryerson Canadian Historical Readers.

---. Tecumseh. Toronto: Ryerson, 1928. Ryerson Canadian History Readers.

---. Tribute to Sparrows. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1933.

Roberts, Lloyd, Grey Owl and Anahereo Gertie. Lloyd Roberts Collection of Grey Owl Papers . 1937-1950. MS. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto Libraries, Toronto, ON. 6 Nov. 2008. <http://www.library.utoronto.ca/fisher/collections/findaids/roberts_lloyd.pdf>.

Bibliography of Secondary Sources

Adams, John Coldwell. The Life of Sir Charles G.D Roberts. Toronto: U of T Press, 1986.

Lloyd Roberts Fonds. Archives and Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB. Ref# MG L5. 12 Nov. 2008. <http://www.lib.unb.ca/archives/finding/roberts/MGL5.html#bio/>.

Logan, J.D. “Lloyd Roberts.” Canadian Poets. Ed. John W. Garvin. Toronto: McClelland, Goodchild and Stewart, 1916. 429.

“Roberts Family Chronology.” Archives and Special Collections, Harriet Irving Library, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB. 12 Nov. 2008. <http://www.lib.unb.ca/archives/finding/roberts/chron.html>.