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Dorothy James Roberts Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Roberts

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, journals, and unpublished manuscripts of Dorothy James Roberts, 1932-1990.

Includes extensive correspondence between Roberts and Bob Clarkson, Richard and John Contiguglia, Elizabeth Paschal, and Joe Tucker on the art of writing. Additionally includes a number of reader letters on the publication of A Man of Malice Landing in 1943. Collection also includes a large number of unpublished manuscripts written following Roberts's relocation to Palo Alto, California during her retirement in 1964. These manuscripts, written during the last 25 years of Roberts's life, include an analysis of Shakespeare's plays, a fiction novel based on Greek mythology, and Roberts's memoirs.

There are also copyright records, as well as research notes, poetry, speeches, photographs, and a recorded radio interview.


  • Creation: 1932-1990



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Dorothy James Roberts Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Conditions Governing Audiovisual Access

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have not been digitized and are unavailable for use at this time.

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Dorothy James Roberts Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Dorothy James Roberts

American novelist of Arthurian, Irish, Icelandic, and contemporary fiction.

Dorothy James Roberts was born to West Virginia oil producer James A. Roberts and his wife, Anna Rogers Roberts, on September 5, 1903. Although raised in Ohio, Roberts attended undergraduate school at Barnard College in New York, and later graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, where she studied medieval literature. Prior to publishing her first novel, Roberts worked as a personal assistant, administrative assistant, and teacher of Anglo-Saxon literature.

Roberts began publishing in 1942, when she released More Than You Promise, a joint effort with author Kathleen Smallzried detailing the history of the Studebaker Corporation. Roberts then moved into fiction, publishing her first novel, A Man of Malice Landing, in 1943. By 1964, Roberts had produced fourteen published novels (with one, If a Body Kill a Body, under pseudonym Peter Mortimer). A number of these were based on Arthurian legends, although Roberts also wrote Irish and Icelandic historical fiction, as well as producing contemporary American fiction.

Roberts retired to Palo Alto, California, with Elizabeth Paschal in 1964. She remained active during her retirement, engaging in hobbies such as embroidery and the study of the Japanese language. While she did not publish after 1964, she continued to produce many unpublished manuscripts until her death in February 1990; these most notably include a series of analytical essays about Shakespeare's plays, a novel based on Greek mythology, and her memoirs.


7 Linear Feet (15 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Correspondence, journals, unpublished manuscripts, and publicity of Arthurian novelist Dorothy James Roberts. Papers also include speeches, unpublished poetry, reviews of published works, and photographs of Roberts and her home.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Incoming Correspondence, 1930-1990
Box 1
Series 2: Outgoing Correspondence, 1946-1987
Box 2
Series 3: Journals, 1946-1987
Boxes 3-4
Series 4: Works, etc., 1932-1989
Boxes 5-13
Series 5: Publicity and Reviews, 1943-1966
Box 14
Series 6: Audiovisual, 1958-1982
Box 15

Collection Stack Location

1 31 6-7, 1 43 12


Gift of Dorothy James Roberts, 1969-1988, Elizabeth Paschal, 1990-2003, and Robert J. Clarkson, 1996.

Processed by

Alexandra Zukas, 2010.

Inventory of the Dorothy James Roberts Papers, 1932-1990
Alexandra Zukas
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States