Papers of W.R. Rodgers, poet

Repository: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

Identity Statement

TitlePapers of W.R. Rodgers, poet
Archive ReferenceGB 0255 PRONI/D2833
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1911-1970
Extent Mediumc 85 volumes, 135 files + 3000 documents


Creator(s): Rodgers, W R, 1909-1969, poet, radio script writer and broadcaster

  • Administrative History ↴

    William Robert (Bertie) Rodgers's career spans an amazing series of professional and cultural transformations. He was born in Belfast and grew up in Mountpottinger in the east of the city. He showed a talent for writing at school and went on to read English at Queen's University where he won a number of prizes for his literary essays. On completion of his degree, he entered Theological College and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1935. His first "call" was to Cloveneden church, Loughgall, County Armagh where he was minister for 12 years. In 1936 he married Marie Harden Waddell, a medical doctor who set up practice in the village. His wife became ill (later diagnosed as schizophrenia) and the couple left Loughgall temporarily in 1943, she to seek treatment under the pioneering Jungian analyst Dr John Layard, he to write in Oxford. Rodgers returned to Loughgall after a year but resigned from his ministry in 1946 to take up post at the BBC in London as a script writer for the newly established "Third" programme. [D. O'Brien W.R. Rodgers (Cranbury, New Jersey, 1970)] He stayed at the BBC as a full-time producer and script writer till 1953 when he went free-lance. [PRONI D2833/E/9, Rodgers to Mansfield, 4 August 1968.] Rodgers's wife died in 1953, following a period of illness after she herself had been studying psychoanalysis in Edinburgh. In the same year he married Marianne Gilliam (nee Helweg) the ex-wife of his immediate boss in the BBC, Lawrence Gilliam. They resided in England till 1966 when Rodgers secured a post as writer in residence at Pitzer College, Claremont, California and later a lecturing post at California State Polytechnic. He died in 1969 in Los Angeles and was buried at Loughgall.
  • Archival History ↴

    Deposited by Mrs L Cohen and Dr N Rodgers
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Rodgers, W R, 1909-1969, poet, radio script writer and broadcaster ↴

    W.R. ‘Bertie’ Rodgers occupies an important place in a generation of Ulster writers which included John Hewitt, Louis MacNeice, Roy McFadden, Sam Hanna Bell and Michael MacLaverty. Although Rodgers was first and probably best known as a poet, he was also a literary figure in the widest sense, being a prose essayist, a book reviewer, a radio broadcaster and script writer, a lecturer and, latterly, a teacher. His career vigorously resists confinement in any narrow context. Rather, his achievements interact across a variety of contexts in different spheres of life and letters and this is reflected in the various areas of the collection including correspondence, diaries, and papers arranged by genre and subject.

    – Extracted from a full overview of the collection in the PRONI catalogue:

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    W. R. Rodgers believed in the indivisibility of life and letters. His papers reflected this and presented some problems of categorisation because of their extent and miscellaneous nature. A compromise arrangement between a biographical, chronological approach and one which focused on the various literary genres was eventually adopted. The correspondence within the archive has been sorted into specific categories where it clearly relates to a specific subject.

    D2833/A Presbyterian Ministry
    D2833/B Section B: Poetry
    D2833/C Section C: Correspondence
    D2833/D Section D: Scripts and Prose
    D2833/E American Material
    D2833/F Diaries, notebooks and notes
    D2833/G Miscellaneous

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions The collection can be consulted in the reading room in PRONI in accordance with PRONI guidelines.
Conditions Governing ReproductionContact PRONI for guidance
Creation Dates1911-1970
Extent Mediumc 85 volumes, 135 files + 3000 documents
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids A descriptive list is available to search online at: Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Related MaterialThe University of Texas holds a collection deposited by his widow in 1969, a catalogue of which is available under D2833/E/14.

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NotePRONI Archivist
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000. National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names. Chippenham: National Council on Archives, 1997. UK Archival Thesaurus (UKAT)
Date of Descriptions41699