Bertram Rolland Davis was born in Bristol in 1897. Financial and familial situations prevented him from attending University, and after high school he began to work for the cable company established by his father, where he would stay for forty years. When not working he spent his free time as an amateur scholar with an interest in the Romantics and their links to Bristol. In particular, his interests tended towards former Poet Laureate Robert Southey and boy poet Thomas Chatterton. He corresponded with many of the leading Romantic scholars and critics of the twentieth century including Raymond D. Havens, E.H.W. Meyerstein, Maurice H. Fitzgerald, and Earl Leslie Griggs, and others. Davis also played an active role in preserving the history of Bristol and its famous residents.
To support his research, Davis purchased as many documents relating to the Romantics as he could afford. He amassed a collection of forty-five manuscript groups comprised of original documents by Southey, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and their contemporaries as well as an extensive library relating to his academic interests. His library is known as the Bertram R. Davis “Robert Southey” collection.
After Davis’ death, his personal library, manuscript groups, correspondence, and research files were acquired by the University of Waterloo.
(Bertram R. Davis / Kenneth Curry.)
(Catalogue of the Bertram R. Davis "Robert Southey" Collection / compiled by Jane Britton. -- Waterloo: University of Waterloo Library, 1990.)
Davis, Bertram R.
Bertram R. Davis collection. - [176-]-[ca. 1965].
1.81 m of textual records. - 16 photographs : b&w and col. ; 17 x 12 cm or smaller.
The collection consists of materials created and accumulated by Bertram R. Davis on the history of Bristol and the romantics. Includes correspondence between 164 correspondents, 45 manuscript groups, research notes, photographs, clippings, articles, offprints, excerpts, and other ephemera. Also included is a file of correspondence from Bertram donated by Kenneth Curry and a file of correspondence relating to portraits of Southey donated by Dr. Warren U. Ober.
Arranged in six series as follows:
1. Manuscripts Held in Trust
2. Chattertonian Manuscript
4. Articles, Offprints, etc.
5. Bertram R. Davis Research Files
6. Visual Materials.
- Title based on contents of the collection.
- Extent is measured in linear metres of shelf space as occupied by the collection.
- Acquired in 1973 from Mrs. Doris Davis. Files 75a and 75b donated in 1986 by Kenneth Curry. File 171 donated in 2012 by Dr. Warren U. Ober.
- English, some French and some Portuguese.
- Associated materials can be found in GA 49 Southey, Robert, 1774-1843.
Call number: GA 52
The library of Mr. Bertram R. Davis, a well-known scholar and collector, was purchased in 1973 from Mrs. B.R. Davis of Bristol, England.
The collection centres on Robert Southey and Bristol and gives an overview of the social, political, and literary upheaval which gave birth to the Romantic movement and shaped the rest of the nineteenth century. The collection also contains material on Spain, Portugal and Brazil, Russia and Napoleon, France and the Revolution, as well as numerous works on travel in the British Isles and elsewhere. Also present is a selection of twentieth-century works which elucidate Bertram Davis' interests, friendships, and scholarly connections.
Almost all of Robert Southey's published works are represented, and almost all of these are in the first edition. Several works were formerly owned by Robert Southey.
The book collection is complemented by The Bertram R. Davis fonds, consisting in part of 45 manuscript groups held in trust for an indefinite period, and Bertram Davis' extensive correspondence with twentieth-century scholars and critics such as R.D. Havens, E.H.W. Meyerstein, M.H. Fitzgerald, and E.L. Griggs.
The Doris Lewis Rare Book Room also holds a related manuscript item, listed under Southey, Robert, 1774-1843.
The University of Waterloo has published a catalogue of the collection: Catalogue of the Bertram R. Davis "Robert Southey" Collection compiled by Jane Britton (PR4467 .U55x 1990).
All items in this collection are located in the Doris Lewis Rare Book Room and are non-circulating.
Find it in the catalogue: enter the search term Davis, Bertram R., former owner.