Dorothy Roberts and August R. Leisner fonds


This finding aid was funded by a grant under the
Canadian Council of Archives Control of Holdings Program

Archives & Special Collections
Harriet Irving Library
University of New Brunswick
P.O. Box 7500
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H5

March 1999

Table of Contents Series:
  1. Dorothy Roberts
  2. Arthur R. Leisner

Dorothy Roberts and August R. Leisner fonds [textual record]. -- 1860-1984, predominant 1930-1984. -- 24 cm of textual records

Biographical sketch: Poet and story writer Dorothy Mary Gostwick Roberts, the daughter of Frances Seymour Allen and Theodore Goodridge Roberts, was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick on 6 July 1906. As a young girl she spent time in England, France, Ottawa, Toronto and Fredericton. Educated at the University of New Brunswick, she officially launched her literary career in 1927 with the publication of a small book of poetry, Songs for Swift Feet, under the name Gostwick Roberts. She worked briefly as a reporter for the Fredericton Daily Mail before enrolling at Connecticut State College, where she met August R. Leisner. They married in 1930 and raised two children: Anne and John.

Born on 14 August 1895, August Joseph Leisner received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from Yale and Columbia universities respectively. By 1929 he was teaching English literature at Connecticut State College. Between 1934 and 1940 the Leisners sojourned in Toronto, as a result of cutbacks experienced at the College due to the Depression. While in Toronto, August R. Leisner completed a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto and began writing a literary criticism of Charles G. D. Roberts's work. During the Second World War, August was employed preparing army textbooks. Dorothy and August relocated to Pennsylvania in 1945, when he joined the staff of the English Department at Pennsylvania State University.

In Pennsylvania, Dorothy also immersed herself in academic life and continued her literary career. She produced a number of short stories on family themes, which were sold to Canadian and American literary magazines and periodicals. By the 1950s she was writing poetry in earnest, some of which appeared in her published works: Dazzle, 1957; In Star and Stalk, 1959; and Twice to Flame, 1961. Other volumes followed: Extended, 1967, The Self of Loss: New and Selected Poems, 1976; and In the Flight of Stars, 1991, and her poetry appeared in a number of anthologies including Made in Canada, The Arts in New Brunswick, Oxford Book of Canadian Verse and Poetry by Canadian Women (1989). She also gave poetry readings and held poetry discussions at Penn State, and often participated in the Central Pennsylvania arts festival. Dorothy Roberts Leisner died at State College, Pennsylvania on 23 April 1993, being predeceased by August R. Leisner on 23 June 1973.

Who's Who in Canadian Literature 1992-1993, 1992
Canadian Writers, 1920-1959 Second Series, 1989
The Telegraph Journal, 28 April 1993
August R. Leisner et al, "Charles G. D. Roberts: Mystical Poet", Studies in Canadian Literature, Vol. 9, No. 2, 1984

Custodial history: Arthur R. Leisner's drafts of his proposed thesis on Sir Charles G. D. Roberts were transferred by his widow Dorothy Roberts to Desmond Pacey about 1974.

Scope and content: This fonds documents the life of Dorothy Roberts, particularly with respect to her relationships with family members, most notably with her father, Theodore Goodridge (Thede) , and her brother, William Goodridge (Goody). It also reflects her work as a writer of prose and verse.

This fonds also documents the literary efforts of Arthur R. Leisner with respect to the production of a manuscript of literary criticism on the work of Charles G. D. Roberts.

This fonds consists of 2 series: 1. Dorothy Roberts and 2. Arthur R. Leisner.

It contains business and personal correspondence, 3 typescript copies of Arthur's study, a review of Dorothy's work and several miscellaneous items. A few 19th century letters between members of the Roberts family living in New Brunswick and typescript copies of poems by Theodore Goodridge Roberts (Thede) and William Goodridge Roberts are also included.

Title based on contents of the fonds

August R. Leisner's drafts of his thesis about Charles G. D. Roberts were deposited with Archives and Special Collections by Desmond Pacey in 1974 on the instruction of Dorothy Roberts

Harriet Irving Library, UNB houses the Modern Canadian Poets Sound Recording, produced by the League of Canadian Poets, which includes a taped interview with Dorothy Roberts and poetry readings by her (PS8273.M62)

Other records relating to Dorothy Roberts were deposited with Pattee Library, Pennsylvania State University

Researchers should see series 1, Dorothy Roberts, file 4 for an explanation of Arthur Leisner's change of name


Document Maintained by:
UNB Archives
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Last Update: 1999/05/14