Robertson Davies

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Davies, Robertson

Davies, Robertson (William Robertson Davies) (dāˈvĭs), 1913–95, Canadian writer and editor. After receiving a B.Litt. from Oxford (1938), he joined the Old Vic Theatre Company before returning to Canada (1940) as an editor. In 1963 he became the first master of Massey College, a graduate college of the Univ. of Toronto; he retired in 1981. During his long literary career he produced more than 30 works of fiction as well as plays, essays, and criticism. Among the most important themes explored in his densely plotted novels are the moral dimensions of life, the isolation of the human spirit, and humanity's growth from innocence to experience.

Davies's three novel trilogies deal with life in fictional Ontario villages. The Salterton Trilogy—Tempest-Tost (1951), Leaven of Malice (1954), and A Mixture of Frailties (1958)—is a satiric romance that explores Canadian life and culture. The Deptford Trilogy—Fifth Business (1970), The Manticore (1972), and World of Wonders (1975)—is a richly plotted study of three individuals' journeys to self-discovery that mingles humor, mystery, magic, grotesqueries, and the Jungian theory of archetypes. Later novels include his third trilogy, the Cornish—The Rebel Angels (1981), Bred in the Bone (1985), and The Lyre of Orpheus (1989), as well as The Cunning Man (1995).


See For Your Eye Alone: Letters, 1976–1996 (2001), ed. by J. S. Grant; biography by J. S. Grant (1978, 1994); studies by E. Buitenhuis (1972), P. A. Morley (1977), J. Mills (1984), S. Stone-Blackburn (1985), and M. Peterman (1986).

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