Robertson Davies (1913–1995) was born and raised in Ontario, and was educated at a variety of schools, including Upper Canada College, Queen’s University, and Balliol College, Oxford. He had three successive careers: as an actor with the Old Vic Company in England; as publisher of the Peterborough Examiner; and as university professor and first Master of Massey College at the University of Toronto, from which he retired in 1981 with the title of Master Emeritus.He was one of Canada’s most distinguished men of letters, with several volumes of plays and collections of essays, speeches, and belles lettres to his credit. As a novelist, he gained worldwide fame for his three trilogies: The Salterton Trilogy, The Deptford Trilogy, and The Cornish Trilogy, and for later novels Murther and Walking Spirits and The Cunning Man.His career was marked by many honors: He was the first Canadian to be made an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he was a Companion of the Order of Canada, and he received honorary degrees from twenty-six American, Canadian, and British universities.
With his signature wit, Davies concludes the Salterton stories with this third book in The Salterton Trilogy.Louisa Bridgetower, the imposing Salterton matron, has died. The substantial income from her estate is to be used to send an unmarried young woman to Europe to pursue an education in the arts. Mrs. Bridgetower’s executors end up selecting Monica Gall, an almost entirely unschooled singer whose sole experience comes from performing with the Heart and Hope Gospel Quartet, a rough outfit sponsored by a small fundamentalist group. Monica soon finds herself in England, a pupil of some of Britain’s most remarkable teachers and composers, and she gradually blossoms from a Canadian rube to a cosmopolitan soprano with a unique—and tragicomic—career.
All three books in Robertson Davies’s darkly witty Cornish Trilogy collected in one volume. The destinies of this remarkable cast of characters come together in The Rebel Angels, What’s Bred in the Bone, and The Lyre of Orpheus.The Rebel Angels. Set in motion by the death of eccentric art patron and collector Francis Cornish, a goodhearted priest and scholar, a professor with a passion for the darker side of medieval psychology, a defrocked monk, and a rich young businessman who inherits some troublesome paintings are all helplessly beguiled by the same coed.What’s Bred in the Bone. This worthy follow-up goes back to Cornish’s humble beginnings in a spellbinding tale of artistic triumph and heroic deceit. It is a tale told in stylish, elegant prose, endowed with lavish portions of Davies’ wit and wisdom.The Lyre of Orpheus. The Cornish Foundation is thriving under the directorship of Arthur Cornish when Arthur and his beguiling wife decide to undertake a project worthy of Francis Cornish. Hulda Schnakenburg is commissioned to complete E.T.A. Hoffmann’s unfinished opera Arthur of Britain, or The Magnanimous Cuckold; and the scholarly priest Simon Darcourt finds himself charged with writing the libretto.
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