Doreen Roberts Archive

Scope and Content

This archive consists of material compiled by the artist, illustrator andteacher Doreen Roberts (1922 - ).

The archive consists, primarily, of material related to projects of bookand journal illustration and jacket design undertaken by Doreen Roberts (ROB/2).This material includes: developmental sketches; finished artwork; mock-upsof book jacket designs; proofs; photographic slides of finished work.

The archive also contains some examples of Doreen Roberts’ photography(ROB/6) and textile designs (ROB/7).

Research potential

The Doreen Roberts archive has research potential principally in thefield of the development of children’s book design and illustration in theUK during the later half of the twentieth century.

It may also have value for those studying textile design and photographyduring this period.

Administrative / Biographical History

Doreen Roberts was born in Walthamstow, London, in 1922. Although she hasrecalled developing an early interest in drawing her family could not affordto send her for the formal training that might have allowed her to pursuethat interest professionally. Instead she began work as a civil servant inthe Registrar General’s Office.

In 1942 she joined the Women's Land Army. Whilst serving in the W.L.A.she was given the opportunity to attend evening classes at Southwest EssexTechnical College. From 1945 until 1947 she attended the college as a fulltime student gaining a Ministry of Education Certificate in Art and Craft.From 1947 to 1950 she studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, UniversityCollege, London, where she received a University of London Diploma in FineArt. This was followed by a short period working as a freelance textile designerand illustrator which included a commission to design and execute a muralfor Aldenham School, Hertfordshire.

In 1951 Doreen Roberts returned to full-time education at the Universityof London Institute of Education were she was awarded an Art Teacher's Diploma.In 1952 she was appointed as the Head of the Art Department at John HowardGirls' Secondary Grammar School, London, a post she held until 1968 when shebegan to teach art and to lecture in art education on a part time basis whilstalso working as an illustrator of children's books.

In 1977 she returned to full-time teaching as a lecturer in Art and Designat All Saints Teacher Training College, London. When the College merged withMiddlesex Polytechnic she became lecturer and then senior lecturer there.She retired from teaching in 1984 and returned to illustration and writingand also pursued her interest in textile and jewellery design and photographyand film.

Doreen Roberts has illustrated and/or written over 40 books for such publishersas Oxford University Press, Harper Collins Publishers, Constable Books andMethuen Children's Books. Her work has been exhibited widely and in 1967 herillustrations for The Story of Saul the King,London, Constable Young Books, 1966, were commended in the Kate GreenawayMedal for the best illustrations for a children's book published that year.

Doreen Roberts has been elected as an Associate of the Royal PhotographicSociety and as a member of the Society of Authors.


The order of the archive remains largely reflective of the form in which it was transferred to the repository by its creator.

The series are arranged as follows:

  • ROB/1 Biographical material
  • ROB/2 Book and Journal projects
  • ROB/3 Correspondence
  • ROB/4 Exhibitions
  • ROB/5 Photographs
  • ROB/6 Shell Film Unit
  • ROB/7 Textile design

Access Information

Access is by appointment only. Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections at the Sir Kenneth Green Library are open from 10.00am - 4.00pm, Monday - Friday. Please contact: The Special Collections Archivist, Manchester Metropolitan University, Sir Kenneth Green Library, All Saints, Manchester, M15 6BH; tel: +44 (0)161 - 247 6159; e-mail:

Acquisition Information

The archive was acquired, from Doreen Roberts, by Manchester Metropolitan University in 2003.

Other Finding Aids

Full catalogue available in the reading room, Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright remains with Doreen Roberts.

Correspondence copyright rests with the author. Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents. All items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Special Collections Archivist.

Custodial History

The archive remained in the possession of its creator until it was acquired by Manchester Metropolitan University in 2003.

Related Material

The Manchester Metropolitan University Library holds a very full collection of books illustrated by Doreen Roberts in its Book Design and Children's Collections.