Guide to the Papers of George Robertson
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- George Robertson
- Papers of George Robertson
- Date Range
- Collection Number
- MS 3338
- 0.15 metres (1 box)
- Language of Materials
- National Library of Australia
Scope and Contents
A collection of letters to George Robertson, and also to Sir John Ferguson. Correspondents include A. B. Paterson, A. G. Stephens, Sir Edmund Barton, W. M. Hughes, J. P. Abbott, Henry Lawson, J. F. Archibald, David Scott Mitchell, Marie Corelli, Dame Nellie Melba and Sir Langer Owen. The Ferguson correspondence includes letters from Christopher Brennan, W. Clinton, W. D. M. Merewether, and several letters from Ferguson to his father, Rev. J. A. Ferguson. There is also a copy of Neville Cayley's Our birds (Aldenhoven Art Galleries, 1918).
Conditions Governing Access
Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn709537).
Conditions Governing Use
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of George Robertson, National Library of Australia, MS 3338, [box number and series and/or file number]'.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers of George Robertson were acquired by the Library as part of the Ferguson Collection, which was received by the Library in 1970. Sir John Ferguson was George Robertson's son-in-law.
Associated materials: Records of Angus & Robertson Ltd. are held by the State Library of New South Wales (ML MSS 314).
The order has been imposed on the collection by the Library.
Other Finding Aids
All correspondence in the collection has been name-indexed; please refer to the attached Correspondence Index (Appendix I) under the Related Documentation tab.
The bookseller and publisher George Robertson (1860-1933) was born at Halstead, Essex, England, the son of the Rev. John Robertson, and Mary, née Robertson. He was educated in Halstead and the South-western Academy, Glasgow, but left school at the age 12 to be apprenticed to James Maclehose, bookseller and publisher to the University of Glasgow.
In 1879, having completed his articles, Robertson migrated to New Zealand to join his three elder brothers, who had established a sawmill near Waimate. Seeking further employment opportunities, Robertson travelled to Sydney in 1882, where he took up his former trade with the Melbourne based bookselling firm of his namesake George Robertson. In April that year he married Elizabeth Bruce at St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney.
After four years of employment with George Robertson, during which he rose to the position of manager of the retail department, Robertson bought a half share in the bookselling business of his former colleague David Mackenzie Angus in January 1886. Angus & Robertson, as their company was known, prospered, with the partnership moving from Market Street premises to larger ones in Castlereagh Street in 1890. Angus retired in 1899 and died in 1901. Robertson continued in partnership with Frederick Wymark and Richard Thomson, who had acquired Angus's share of the business. Robertson remained a dominant force in the business over the next three decades, becoming chairman of directors when the partnership was converted into a public company in 1907.
Robertson took an active role in the publishing side of the business, which began from the mid 1890s. Among the earlier authors were Henry Lawson, A. B. Paterson, and Victor Daley.
Elizabeth Robertson died in 1908 and in 1910 Robertson married a family friend, Eva Adeline Ducat at St Stephen's Church. He died in 1933 and was survived by his widow and by three daughters and a son of his first marriage.
References: Barker, Anthony, 'Robertson, George', in Serle, Geoffrey (ed.), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 11 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1988), pp. 414-415.
The majority of the letters were written to Angus & Robertson and relate to their bookselling business Angus & Robertson Ltd. Topics discussed include payment of accounts, purchase of publications, cost of publishing, cost of microscope slide cabinets, request for publications, request to act as an agent for a collector, thanks for providing a listing of publications relating to Australia, and granting of tender for purchase of duplicates in the Public Library of NSW. Correspondents include A. B. Paterson, A. G. Stephens, Sir Edmund Barton, W. M. Hughes, J. P. Abbott, Henry Lawson, J. F. Archibald, David Scott Mitchell, Marie Corelli, Alexander Turnbull and Sir Langer Owen. The majority of correspondence dates from 1889-1916.
In addition there are some letters sent to George Robertson, and to Sir John Ferguson. The Ferguson correspondence includes letters from Christopher Brennan, W. Clinton, W. D. M. Merewether, and several letters from Ferguson to his father, Rev. J. A. Ferguson.
Items not relating to the activities of Angus & Robertson include a letter sent from Charles H.(?) Woolcott, Town Clerk to former Sydney Lord Major George Thornton in 1858 (item 3); an appeal, in the form of a lithographic print in Dame Nellie Melba's hand, to New South Wales families for donations to the Polish War Victims' Relief Fund (item 73); a lithographic print of David Scott Mitchell's bookplate (item 101); and an etched Christmas card by Gayfield Shaw titled Yangalala, Xmas, 1929 (item 107).
For further information see the Correspondence Index.