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Robinson, Roger
Writer's File

Roger Robinson

Wellington - Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Robinson, Roger
In brief
Roger Robinson is an essayist, critic, editor and academic. He has held teaching positions at Victoria University, and is also a world-ranked runner, television commentator and announcer. Robinson is well known as an editor of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. His writing as a literary critic has appeared in significant journals and anthologies and he is an avid sports writer for magazines and book publications. In addition to his sports writing, he has held numerous visiting positions at international universities.


Robinson, Roger (1939- ) is an essayist, critic, editor and academic. He is Emeritus Professor of English at Victoria University, as well as a world-ranked runner, television commentator and announcer; he is currently a senior writer for Running Times (USA).

Roger Robinson was born in Sutton Coldfield. He attended Cambridge University, where he earned his MA and PhD. Robinson settled in New Zealand in 1968.

During Robinson’s long career at Victoria University he has served as Dean and Academic Vice-Chancellor. He continues to teach at Victoria University part-time.

For many years Robinson has divided his time between Wellington and New York City. In addition to his sports writing, he has held numerous visiting positions at New York University and the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Robinson is well known as an editor. With Nelson Wattie he edited The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature (Oxford University Press, 1998), to which he contributed over 300 articles. He has also edited Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh (ed., with introduction and notes) (Pan Classics, 1976), Poems for the Eighties (Wai-te-ata Press, 1979),Katherine Mansfield: In from the Margin (Louisianan State Univeristy Press, 1994), Writing Wellington (Victoria University Press, 1999), Julius Vogel’s Anno Domini 2000: or Woman’s Destiny (ed., with introduction) (Exisle, 2000, University of Hawaii Press, 2002), Ian Cross’s The God Boy (ed. with introduction) (Penguin Modern Classics, 2003). Robert Louis Stevenson: His Best Pacific Writings (Streamline & Bess Press, 2003) was a finalist for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004.

A prolific literary critic, Robinson’s work has appeared in Landfall, New Zealand Books, The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, The Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry (OUP, 1996), Readings in Pacific Literature (1993) and the Grolier Encyclopaedia. His literary essays include the introduction to Alistair te Ariki Campbell’s Pocket Collected Poems (Hazard Press, 1996) and an essay on Hardy for The Oxford Reader’s Companion to Hardy (OUP, 2000).

Robinson is as well known as a sports writer. His Heroes and Sparrows: a Celebration of Running (Southwester, 1986) is considered one of sport’s outstanding books. Running in Literature (Breakaway Books, 2003) is the first study of running as a literary subject. In 1990 he wrote the script for the A Hero’s Journey (Cultural Horizons, 1990), a documentary history of the marathon.

Robinson’s writing on sport has been anthologised in Lloyd JonesInto the Field of Play (Tandem,1992), Brad Patterson’s Sport, Society and Culture in New Zealand (Stout Research Centre, 2000), Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Turnbull Library Journal, New Zealand Runner and Running Times. In 2001 Robinson was the only writer on running to be listed in ‘Outstanding American Sportswriting’ in the Best American Sports Writing.

Robinson’s other books include Landscapes (Art Society Press, 1963), Victoriana (Art Society Press, 1963, revised ed. 1967) and The Story of Hong Gildong (Wai-te-ata, 1995)