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Vivian Robson, scholar

Vivian Erwood Robson was born on May 26, 1890, at 12:04 pm, Birmingham, England. He died on December 31, 1942. He held a Bachelor of Science degree, as you will find the initials B.Sc. after his name in his books. Further details of his life are sketchy, and this despite a staggering stellium in Gemini in his 10th. (Go set up the chart & marvel.)

At the Astrologer's Memorial web page, it says he was the British curator of Geology and Paleontology in the British Museum. (I expect this will have been removed by the time you read this.) This is incorrect. I contacted the British Museum, the big place on Great Russell Street, and was directed to their sister institution, the Natural History Museum, in South Ken. Which is where paleontology would be found anyway. No one there had ever heard of him. There were no records of any kind.

The archivist at the British Museum was of help, however. He found Vivian Robson's application for a ticket to the British Museum Reading Room, dated 1917. He explains:

Another institution that was previously a part of the British Museum in Bloomsbury is the British Library, which became a separate institution in the 1970s and continued to occupy the Reading Room until it moved to separate premises in 1998. We have a selection of records related to the Reading Room and applications for readers tickets during the time of the British Museum Library (as it was known until 1973). Amongst these I have found an application for a ticket from Mr Robson! He was first admitted as a reader on 5 May 1917. Tickets were issued normally for 3 or 6 months and had to be applied for again if the reader wished to continue. I can see he was readmitted on 24 August 1927 and 26 June 1931.
Which you can see here. His ticket, front and back (note the change of address on the back), along with his brief letter of application, signed. The archivist continued,
Depending on what further information the Natural History Museum may provide you with, I think it may be the case that instead of being employed directly by the British Museum, Vivian Erwood Robson instead used the Reading Room and resources of the British Museum Library to carry out his own personal research. When dealing with enquiries about individuals thought to have worked at the Museum (particularly family history enquiries) I have occasionally found that information handed down over generations has become confused, like a game of Chinese Whispers, and although they were in some way connected to the Museum, it is not quite in the way expected.
Robson's application, a brief note, reads,
1 Ruvigny Garden

Dear Sir,
Being temporarily employed by the Admiralty, I am anxious to avail myself of the opportunity of consulting certain scientific books in the British Museum Library.

I should therefore esteem it a great favour if you could see your way to granting me a Reader's Ticket, or inform me what steps I should take to obtain one.

Thanking you in anticipation
I am, dear sir
yours faithfully
V.E. Robson (B.Sc F.G.S)

The Director
British Museum

Vivian Robson was a few days shy of his 27th birthday when he sent this note (outside the US, dates are written as Day/Month/Year), which the British Museum received the next day.

The British Museum archivist's further research turned up another of Mr. Robson's signatures.

In his application of 1917, Robson says he was working for the Admiralty and living in Putney. The Admiralty, today known as the Ripley Building, is situated next to the famous Admiralty Arch and is rather near the Prime Minister's office at 10 Downing Street. From Putney, it's a long tube ride, especially as, in London, they have never had express tubes (as they do in New York). This would indicate that Mr. Robson was poor.

By the time his Student's Text-Book of Astrology is published (1922), he is 32, married, and living in Hammersmith: 48, Flanders Mansions, Bedford Park, London W.4. It's a move up in the world, it's a better locale, but it's still far from the center of London.

By 1927, his address is in Wembley (19 Bridgewater Road, Alperton), in that fragment of the world that is still termed Middlesex. At this time he is co-editor of the late Alan Leo's Modern Astrology. Bessie Leo is his editing partner.

The Preface to his Beginner's Guide, published in 1931, gives his address merely as "London". There is no mention of wife or friends.

The Preface to Electional Astrology, published in 1937, gives no location, nor makes any mention of anyone. I am wondering about the effect of Pluto in Gemini in the 10th house, that his experiences in the public might not have been the most pleasant. In both the Student's Text-Book, and Astrology and Sex he declares Geminis to be cruel. He is the only person, so far as I know, to have that opinion. Which, Gemini rising myself, I agree with. Geminis are unconsciously cruel, horribly cruel, a mindless, emotionless cruelty which cannot be endured. But is Robson also talking about cruelty inflicted upon the native, as well? Turn, and turn about?

Vivian Robson's final book, from 1941, Astrology and Sex is dedicated to his friends, "Harry and Ella Elliott-Ball, under whose roof this book was written". This was at No. 2 Castletown Road, in Fulham, west London.

Vivian Robson gets a brief mention in Margaret Hone's Modern Text-Book of Astrology: Born England. Practised and taught astrology. Wrote excellent and concise text-books. (pg. 296) Which sounds like she knew less about the man than I do. Even though he was her contemporary.

The superb photo is taken from the June, 1919 issue of Modern Astrology. The 29 year old Robson was its brand-new editor, the photo originally ran as a full page in the magazine. It was taken by A. Langdon Coburn,, one of the leading photographers of his day, who was himself heavily involved with metaphysics and to some extent, Theosophy. As Modern Astrology was strongly Theosophical at the time, Coburn was a natural choice. The photo comes to me courtesy of the tireless Philip Graves, in Sweden. All thanks to him!

For more biographical details, get A Student's Text-Book of Astrology, where we have cleverly made into The Vivian Robson Memorial Edition

Indicates a book on our Top Ten list. If you would like to find more books like it, click on the star.




Part 1: How to cast a horoscope:
1. The horoscope diagram
2. The houses of the horoscope
3. The planets
4. The signs of the zodiac
5. Relation of signs & planets
6. Aspects & orbs
7. Conversion of time
8. How to cast a horoscope
9. Calculating the aspects

Part 2: Planets, signs & houses
Introductory remarks
10. Planetary rulerships
11. Sign rulerships
12. Planets in signs
13. Planets in houses
14. Planets in aspect

Part 3: How to judge a horoscope
15. The principles of judgment
16. Life & death
17. Personal appearance
18. Character & mental qualities
19. Occupation
20. Finance
21. Health
22. Associates
23. Marriage & children
24. Relatives
25. Travel
26. Some example nativities: Earl Balfour; Rupert Brooke; Henry Ford; Rudolph Valentino; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Benito Mussolini

Part 4: How to calculate future influences:
27. How to calculate directions
28. How to judge directions
29. The effects of directions



Most introductory astrology books, such as this one, are content to teach you the ABC’s of astrology: Planets, signs, aspects, houses, pretty much in that order. You’re then congratulated that, by the time you reach the end of the book, you can look up the individual pieces and spit out canned interpretations, by rote.

Vivian Robson (1890-1942), expected better. Here is an example:

“Having found the significator of the matter concerned interpret all aspects to it as things and people affecting it. Suppose Jupiter were chief significator of money and afflicted by Saturn. We should judge that money matters would be hampered by poor conditions, depressing surroundings, ill-health, or whatever Saturn signified in that horoscope. In other words, we should give Jupiter the chief consideration as significator of the matter enquired into, and interpret the action of Saturn in its relation to Jupiter, and not vice-versa. On the other hand if Saturn were the significator we should judge that fits of generosity or extravagance would affect the finances, because Jupiter is expansive in its action, and its afflicting aspect would cause trouble and loss. This general judgment is then refined by taking into account the sign and house occupied by the aspecting planet, and the houses it rules. Thus, suppose with Saturn as significator that Jupiter threw an adverse aspect from the 5th house. Then we should judge that the extravagance would arise from too much indulgence in pleasure, or from gambling, or other matters ruled by the 5th house. This would be modified by the sign containing Jupiter. A water sign would incline more to self-indulgence, a fiery one to gambling, a sign ruled by Venus to expenditure on women, and so on, thus enabling us to enlarge on the judgement obtained from the house position alone. We should next look to see what houses Jupiter ruled. If it ruled the 3rd we should judge expense and extravagance over journeys, relatives and other third house matters, and by blending the influences, that gambling losses (5th) would come through the advice of relatives (3rd) or some other appropriate blending. . . .

“This, however, is not the only way the influences would work. . . . There is method to be used, and it is one which needs considerable practice, but it is well-worth the trouble involved, and the student will himself be amazed to find how accurately the most trifling details may be predicted.

“As a word of advice to the beginner I would say — Do not be afraid to let yourself go in this way. You will make many mistakes to start with, but it is the only way to make your Astrology of practical use. There is too great a tendency nowadays to float about in a comfortable haze of so-called esotericism. The first need of Astrology is accuracy and definition, not pseudo-religious speculation, and it is only by concentrating on the practical and scientific side that we can really make Astrology of service, and obtain for it the recognition it deserves.” (pgs. 110–113: go have a look)

It occurs to me that when Robson came to writing basic delineations, he wrote as if the delineation (of planet/sign/house/aspect) was to be used, not as an end in itself, but as part of a larger signficator-based delineation. Instead of trying to nuance detail - as Carter and many others have done - Robson instead painted a general picture. You are to take this picture, not as an end in itself (as with Carter), but instead apply it to the specific context in which you are working.

To wit, you want to know about money. (We all want to know about money.) It's the example Robson gave, above. Just like Robson, you will start with your second house and its ruler, and then look and see what factors influence the ruler, for good or ill. Surprisingly, this process works best when you start with generalities (as per Robson), rather than specifics (a la Carter). This is because each individual native is different & has his own unique way of expressing his planetary energies. An arsenal of generalities will equip you to fight through the fogs of interpretation, to find the person at the center of it all, to read the chart in front of you. Explict details merely mislead & bamboozle.

Vivian Robson was a very different kind of astrologer. Study his books!

See a pdf sample here

Astrology Clasics, 184 pages.

Read the book? Want to tell the world? How many stars (1-5) would you give this book? Tell us!

A STUDENT'S TEXT-BOOK OF ASTROLOGY, Vivian Robson Memorial Edition - Vivian Robson, $25.95



Section 1: General principles and the casting of a horoscope:
1. The fundamental principles of astrology
2. The alphabet of astrology
3. Casting the horoscope

Section 2: The judgment of a horoscope:
1. General principles of judgment
2. Infant mortality & length of life
3. Personal appearance & physical peculiarities
4. Character & mind
5. Health & accidents
6. Finance
7. Occupation & position
8. Parents, relatives & the home
9. Friends & enemies, and the comparison of horoscopes
10. Love & marriage
11. Children
12. Travel
13. Death
14. Esoteric astrology
15. An example nativity

Section 3: Directions & rectification
1. Secondary directions
2. Interpretation of directions
3. Primary directions
4. Minor methods of directing
5. Rectification

A. The present use of Standard Time
B. Summer Time
C. Adoption of the New Style Calendar
D. Sensitive points
E. Correction of mean to sidereal time


The Vivian Robson Memorial:
Vivian Erwood Robson (1890-1942 Curator Turned Astrologer, by Prof. Hugh S. Torrens
Obituary, by Charles E.O. Carter
De Mortius, by George H. Bailey
Vivian Robson, An Appreciation, by Dorothy Ryan
List of columns from The Weekly Horoscope, 1937-8
Afterword, by David R. Roell

Vivian Robson's application for a Reader's Ticket at the British Museum
Vivian Robson's Death Certificate


The year before he wrote his famous book on fixed stars, Vivian Robson (1890-1942) wrote this one. In it, he put the distillation of four years intense work.

In those years, spent in the British Museum Reading Room, he had read and studied very nearly every astrology book ever written, in English and Latin. To this day, he is virtually the only man to have ever undertaken a study of this magnitude.

Vivian Robson, the son of a surgeon, was trained, starting in childhood, in geology. He was the quiet studious sort, happy to spend his time with his books. At the start of World War I we find him fresh out of Birmingham University, as a curator in Bristol. As a geologist, he was brilliant. As a curator, he wasn’t. He left Bristol after two years. He worked briefly at the Admiralty, presumably as a draftsman. Sometime in 1917, this lonely kid discovered astrology. And right from the first, he embraced it with passion and fervor.

Almost immediately he became co-editor (with Bessie Leo) of Alan Leo’s Modern Astrology Magazine. During that time, he published this book (1922, his first), and, the following year, The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology.

What makes the Student’s Text-Book unique is its unparalleled wealth of detail. Robson copies the format of earlier books, dealing with topics, rather than planets, signs and houses. His first topic, the place where astrologers have traditionally started, is infant mortality. Which is brutal, but if the child will not live, there is no point in continuing. Thus begins Robson’s altogether more demanding, more insistent level of astrology.

In subsequent chapters you will learn the astrology of Personal Appearance, Character and Mind, Health and Accidents, Finance, Occupation and Position and much more. In a nod to his employer, he includes a chapter on Esoteric Astrology, giving a comprehensive survey.

In this Memorial Edition, Prof. Hugh S. Torrens’ monograph, Vivian Erwood Robson (1890-1942 Curator Turned Astrologer, and, by David R. Roell, the publisher, an Afterword. Also in this edition, a newly prepared Index. This is the finest of all of Robson’s books, back in print at last.

The section on Travel is eye-opening. Here it is, as a teaser.

Astrology Classics, 300 pages.

Read the book? Want to tell the world? How many stars (1-5) would you give this book? Tell us!

ASTROLOGY & SEX - Vivian Robson, $19.95


1. Introduction
2. The sex of the astrological factors
3. The sex of the native
4. The sex outlook of the signs
5. The houses & marriage
6. The seventh house
7. The influence of planets in the seventh house
8. Sexual abnormalities
9. Homosexuality
10. Sadism;
11. Masochism & other abnormalities
12. Marriage
13. Irregular & illegal unions
14. Marriage or celebacy
15. Determining the date of marriage
16. The marriage partner
17. How to read details
18. How to compare horoscopes
19. The effect of aspects between horoscopes
20. Mundane comparison;
21. Directional comparison
22. The Hindu method of comparison
23. Choosing the wedding day
24. The consummation of marriage
25. Classified rules & aphorisms

Appendix: For the beginner


Comment: From 1941. Even better than Sargent's How to Handle Your Human Relations, this is the finest book ever written on astrology & relationships. Robson goes far beyond the usual "his planets vs: her planets". Here is a treasury of practical advice, culled from many sources. In addition to the above, topics include: How to forecast when someone will marry (different rules for men & women), how your chart indicates your marriage partner, how to use derivative houses, house to house comparison, progressions & chart comparison, sexual abnormalities (which quotes a lengthy passage from Ptolemy), and 266 classified rules & aphorisms from various sources. That's a lot in 250 pages. Sometimes known as, Astrology Guide to Your Sex Life. Click here for a PDF extract.

Astrology Classics, paper.

ELECTIONAL ASTROLOGY - Vivian Robson, $19.95


1. Introduction
2. General Principles
3. The Moon in Electional Astrology
4. The Lunar Mansions & Aspects
5. Planetary Hours
6. Personal Elections
7. Domestic Elections
8. Commerce & Finance
9. Business & Occupation
10. Friendship & Favor
11. Medical Elections
12. Marriage & Children
13. Houses & Property
14. Journeys & Messages
15. Games & Sports
16. Wars, Fights & Lawsuits
17. Agriculture & Gardening
18. Animals
19. Prisoners & Criminals
20. Public Affairs


Comment: Ever wished you had picked a better time to start that new project? Let Electional Astrology help. In this book are the classic rules for choosing the best times to start all manner of things, from the trivial (bathing, cutting hair), to the important (marriage, starting a business) and pretty much everything in-between: travel, joining the army, planting & sowing & much more. Includes a complete discussion of lunar mansions & planetary hours, timing factors often overlooked. This remains the best modern book ever written on elections. It has long been a classic.

Much of this book was taken from a careful reading of William Ramesey's Astrology Restored of 1653. Which, despite 20 years of astrological revival, remains out of print: The original is in an antique typescript, the available photocopies and microfiche are badly stained and worn, the result is virtually unreadable. There is currently a retyped version in England but as of 2011 it has not been made available for publishing. I would publish in an instant if it ever came my way.

Click here for a pdf extract.

Astrology Classics, paper.


1. The fixed stars in astronomy
2. The influence of the constellations
3. The lunar mansions
4. The fixed stars in natal astrology
5. The influence of fixed stars, nebulae & clusters
6. The fixed stars in mundane astrology
7. Stars & constellations in medieval magic
8. The fixed stars in astro-meteorology

Appendix: Mathematical formulae.


Comment: In Astrology, stars are known as "fixed" to distinguish them from planets, which were once known as wandering stars. This is mute testimony to the great antiquity of astrological star-study. This book is the distillation of practically everything published on fixed stars since the Middle Ages, the gist of some 200 books. Among the many authors cited are Ptolemy, Wilson, Simmonite, Pearce, Bullinger, Alvidas & R.H. Allen. The heart of the book is a comprehensive treatment of fixed stars in natal astrology, their value, their effect when combined with angles & planets. Convenient tables & a comprehensive index make this volume easy to use. This book includes some 110 named stars, as well as 48 ancient constellations & 60 modern ones. Arabic, Hindu & Chinese lunar mansions are discussed, as well as fixed stars in mundane astrology, stars & constellations in medieval magic & fixed stars in astrometeorology. The classic book on fixed stars. Of the few books available on fixed stars, this is by far the best. It's also the one some of the others cribbed from & to which everyone since refers. So get the original. Click for a PDF excerpt.

264 pages. Astrology Classics, paper.

THE RADIX SYSTEM - Vivian Robson, $13.00


1. Introduction
2. The directional chart
3. Major directions
4. Minor directions
5. An example reading
6. Cuspal directions
7. The minor directional chart
8. Parallels & mid-points
9. Converse directions
10. Some final hints
11. The effects of directions

Table of major & minor arcs


The radix system, first suggested by Sepharial in 1918, uses angles & house cusps directed by solar arcs, with secondary & minor progressions for the lights & planets. This book was not intended to be a revolutionary advance in astrological forecasting. Rather, Robson & Sepharial were attempting to supply a simpler forecasting method to primaries, which had become too complicated for novices to calculate. Nowadays even the methods taught in this book are too complicated for our poor brains. Since Robson thinks his new system is inferior to Primaries, the still more inferior transit based system we use now just might be why forecasting fell out of favor in the west.

As with all of Robson's books, this is quite excellent and will repay study.

Darr Publications, 110 pages.

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