Kenneth Roberts’ Genealogy

Characters bearing the surname of Towne or Nason serve as either the main protagonist or play a central role in most of Kenneth Roberts’ novels.  For instance, Langdon Towne was the central character in Oliver Wiswell and Steven Nason was the central character in Arundel. Roberts use of these surnames exhibit not only his attention to historical detail, but his desire to link his works to his New England ancestors.

Some time ago, a Kenneth Roberts fan mailed me some information he received when he attended a presentation by Jack Bales at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. Among the material sent was a short genealogy of Roberts’ family.

Kenneth Lewis Roberts (1885-1957)

Parents: Frank Lewis Roberts (b. 1840) and Grace Mary Tibbetts (1840)

Grandparents: Jane Amanda Nason (b. 1800) and Ebenezer Armstrong Tibbitts (b. 1800)

Great Grandparents: Daniel Nason (b. 1785) and Lydia Towne (b. 1785)

Great-Great Grandparents: Edward Nason (1756-1847) and Sarah Merrill (b. 1758)

Great-Great-Great Grandparents: Joshua Nason (b. 1725) and Sarah Butler (b. 1728)

Interestingly, Roberts follows his family history from his mother’s side; none of the characters in Roberts’ books are based on ancestors from his father’s side. Various reasons are plausible for such an exclusion. Jack Bales in Kenneth Roberts states that little is known of Roberts’ father (and even of Roberts’ immediate family [Bales, 1]) and that he “was not at all close to his father and never mentioned him in any of his articles or books” (Bales, 2). It’s unknown why Roberts was distant from his father, but one can speculate that his father’s job as a traveling salesman played a significant role (Bales, 2).

Roberts’ relationship with his mother, on the other hand, was one that Roberts spoke of in his I Wanted to Write and in various essays (Bales, 2). The time spent with his mother’s family eventually served as the backdrop for his writings on Maine and his novels.

Though Roberts’ characters surnamed Towne or Nason are fictional, they are based upon real people in Roberts’ past and illustrate his deep appreciation for his family’s history and for his beloved state of Maine.

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Rocky Pastures: Paula Robinson Rossouw Highlighed in York County Coast Star

It’s hard to believe that the Design Show House (by the Kennebunkport Historical Society) is almost upon us!  This past month has been a whirlwind of work and school for me, and as I sit here grading, I am floored by the realization that the Show House begins this Friday!

Back at the end of May, Paula Robinson Rossouw, friend of this blog and a great resource, was interviewed by the York County Coast Star in their series on the various designers for the Design Show House at Rocky Pastures (click here for the article, “Design With an Author in Mind”).  The article highlights Paula’s inspiration for her design and some unique artifacts that will be a part of the design.

While this is a great read (the whole series has been a great read; it’ll be interesting to see photos of the finished product), Paula provided me further insight into her design concept that helps to clarify the article:

Kenneth Roberts once said of his historical novels: I wanted to give the people of Maine an honest, detailed and easily understood account of how their forebears got along.” 

Paula Robinson Rossouw wanted to do the same for Kenneth Roberts: the living room and terrace at Rocky Pastures have been designed as a tribute to the famous author’s life, interests and keen sense of humor.

To represent his love of nature and his abiding belief in the advantages of dowsing, the living room has been transformed into a garden room! Plants, trees and lichen-covered stone from the estate form the backdrop to period furnishings that echo the layout of the living room during Kenneth Roberts’s lifetime.

As a historical reference point, an oil on canvas by Parisian artist Stéphanie Lecomte depicts the room as it once was. The bookshelves hold many of Kenneth Roberts’s favorite titles, thanks to William T. Graves Memorial Library. Two books from the author’s personal collection and several magazines from the Thirties featuring his articles are just some of the many treasures on display. Most items are for sale – except for certain library books and two original photographs on loan from the Brick Store Museum.

Paula Robinson Rossouw is an international interior designer. Her private and corporate clients have included Sir Richard Branson and Virgin. She is a published author and a former columnist for the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph in London. She has contributed articles to numerous publications over the years, including a Master Class for Move or Improve magazine.*

One thing that I’ve been impressed about with Paula is her love of Kenneth Roberts and her drive to know Roberts not just as an author (though a great author he was!), but Roberts the man, for he was curmudgeonly but humorous, intensely private but a loyal friend, and so much more. With this in mind, the title of the article in the York County Coast Star is much more than a catchy title – it’s the heart of Paula’s motivation and purpose of her design.

Again, if you’re in Kennebunkport between June 23 and July 14, take time to stop by Rocky Pastures to see the Design Show House.  Also stop by the Kennebunkport Historical Society, the Brick Store Museum, and other great local establishments devoted to the history of Kennebunkport and the great state of Maine.

Kenneth Roberts’ Estate: Rocky Pastures AND a Cottage!

Interested in knowing more about Kenneth Roberts?  While there is little on the internet on him (hopefully this website remedies that to some extent), people in Maine still seek to keep Roberts’ legacy alive.  According to A Guide to Maine Museums, some (or all?) of Roberts’ estate is kept at a Kennebunk, Maine museum called the Brick Store Museum.  Oh, to be able to visit Maine for more than two days (as I did in August 2009)!  If you have a chance to visit beautiful Maine, stop by Kennebunk to visit the Brick Store Museum.

Courtesy Kennebunk Beach Realty

Speaking of Roberts’ estate, I got to wondering if his house in Kennebunk had sold.  So, I Googled his info and stumbled across a real estate site that listed “Kenneth Roberts Cottage House at Kennebunk Beach.”  It’s only listed for $840,000!  You can view some pics of this cottage here.  So, not only did Roberts live at 39 Rocky Pastures Rd in Kennebunkport, ME, he had himself a nice little cottage as well.

Speaking of Roberts’ Rocky Pastures estate, it’s still for sale for a mere $2.7 million.

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