Sydney Castle Roberts

Pembroke College, Cambridge Hugh Swann Addenbrooke's Hospital
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Sir Sydney Castle Roberts (3 April 1887 – 21 July 1966) was a British author, publisher and university administrator. He was a well-known and popular figure around Cambridge throughout his life,[1] and was recognised as a publisher of skill and distinction.[2][3]

Early years

Roberts was born in Birkenhead, the son of Frank Roberts, a civil engineer. He attended Brighton College and Pembroke College, Cambridge.[4] During World War I, he served as a lieutenant in the Suffolk Regiment and was wounded in the Third Battle of Ypres.[5]


He was Secretary of Cambridge University Press from 1922 to 1948, Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge from 1948 to 1958, Vice-Chancellor of University of Cambridge from 1949 to 1951, and Chairman of the British Film Institute from 1952 to 1956. He was an author, publisher and biographer and a noted Sherlockian, being president[6] of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. According to Jon Lellenberg, Roberts is responsible for the popularisation of the Sherlockian game of criticism.[7] He was knighted in 1958.[8]

The National Portrait Gallery holds three photographic portraits of Roberts by Elliott & Fry, made in 1949.[9]

Personal life

He married, firstly, Irene Wallis (died 1932), daughter of Arnold Joseph Wallis, Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. They had two daughters and a son. After her death, in 1938, he married a second time to Marjorie Dykes, widow of Dr Meredith Blake Robson Swann. Roberts was stepfather to Hugh Swann,[10] cabinet maker to Queen Elizabeth II, and of Michael Swann, former chairman of the BBC.

He died in Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.[3]


  1. A Picture Book of British History; Cambridge University Press, 1914
  2. The Story of Doctor Johnson: being an introduction to Boswell's Life; Cambridge University Press, 1919
  3. A History of the Cambridge University Press 1521–1921; Cambridge University Press, 1921
  4. Doctor Johnson In Cambridge: Essays In Boswellian Imitation; Putnam, 1922
  5. Lord Macaulay: The Pre-eminent Victorian; Oxford University Press, 1927
  6. The charm of Cambridge; A & C Black, 1927
  7. An Eighteenth-century Gentleman and other essays; Cambridge University Press, 1930
  8. Doctor Watson: Prolegomena to the study of a biographical problem; Faber & Faber, 1931
  9. Introduction to Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 1934
  10. Pembroke College, Cambridge: a short history; Cambridge University Press, 1936
  11. Zuleika in Cambridge; Heffer & Sons, 1941
  12. Springs Of Hellas And Other Essays, with Memoir by S.C. Roberts, Cambridge University Press, 1945
  13. British Universities (Britain in Pictures); Collins, 1947
  14. The Sir Walter Scott Lectures for 1948; Oliver and Boyd, 1948
  15. Sherlock Holmes: Selected Stories: with an introduction by S C Roberts, Oxford University Press, 1951
  16. Holmes & Watson: A Miscellany (Otto Penzler's Sherlock Holmes Library); Oxford University Press, 1953
  17. Samuel Johnson; Longmans, 1954
  18. The Evolution of Cambridge Publishing; Cambridge University Press, 1956
  19. Doctor Johnson, and others; Cambridge University Press, 1958
  20. Edwardian Retrospect; UK English Association, 1963
  21. Adventures with Authors; Cambridge University Press, 1966
  22. The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Megatherium Thefts, Penguin Books 1985


  1. ^ Zuleika in Cambridge, Oleander Press; 2009.
  2. ^ Adventures with Authors, Cambridge University Press; 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Obituary: Sir S. Roberts". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 22 July 1966. p. 14.
  4. ^ Heritage Press Sandglass Companion Book: 1960–1983 by Michael C. Bussacco, p. 214, at Google Books
  5. ^ War Record of the Cambridge University Press, 1914–1919. Cambridge University Press. 1920. transcribed in "Roberts S C 2nd Lt".
  6. ^ Letter from Christopher Morley to Sydney Castle Roberts, president of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London
  7. ^ "The Ronald Knox Myth"
  8. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 1 January 1958, p. 2.
  9. ^ National Portrait Gallery.Sir Sydney Castle Roberts
  10. ^ Tim Swann, The Times, 21 July 2007.