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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 yearsEdit

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 popularization 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 lifeEdit

He married, firstly, Irena 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.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Montagu Sherard Dawes Butler
Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
W. V. D. Hodge
Preceded by
Charles E. Raven
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
Lionel Ernest Howard Whitby