Grant Robertson was born in 1869 and educated at Highgate School and Hertford College, Oxford. He was elected a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in 1893. At Oxford he became a distinguished and influential historian. He was one-time tutor to Prince Edward, Prince of Wales, and had many academic publications to his name. He also published a light work called "Voces academicae, short scenes of student life in Oxford" in 1898 and produced a series of romantic novels under the pseudonym Wymond Carey between 1902 and 1907.
In 1920 Grant Robertson became Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham University. He is credited with doing much to raise the profile of the young university, with strong support for the new medical school, the library and the Barber Institute and one of his first tasks was to set up a Joint Standing Committee on Research With regard to the library, he declared "A library is not a luxury, nor an ornamental appendage,but an absolute necessity...". The Charles Grant Robertson Scholarship at Birmingham University is awarded for research in the Department of English, and is open only to existing students of the university.
Grant Robertson was Chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom (CVCP), later Universities UK from 1929 to 1935. He was president of the Johnson Society at Lichfield from 1939 to 1944
In spite of his racy early writings, Grant Robertson was a rather aloof and prudish bachelor. He was particularly recalled as wordy, one commentator observing that he "never used a single word to express himself, if a paragraph could more gracefully define his meaning". Staff and students recalled incidents such as when his opening speech at a charity function was so long it dramatically reduced the takings, or when students we invited to tea but never had the chance to eat it. Harry Hodson recalled he was "a teacher by nature, and would lecture copiously among his contemporaries and juniors, little heeding if their attention wandered, raising the question, 'Can an interesting man be a bore?' But he was well worth listening to, for his mind was sharp, his opinions vigorous and his knowledge vast."