Esther Roberts was born in Glenwood, Durban, in a Late Victorian style mansion known as Roberts House on Frere Hill. As one of the first female anthropologists in South Africa her early research in the 1930’s into the Nazareth Shembe Church was groundbreaking. The results of her research is today housed in the Campbell Collections. She was also the author of two historical novels dealing with the time of King Shaka. She was well into her eighties when she died at Roberts House in 1980.