He was educated at the Southwestern Academy, Glasgow and trained as a bookseller with James Maclehose, bookseller to the University of Glasgow.
He emigrated to New Zealand as a young man, and, two years later (in 1882), he relocated to Sydney, where he found employment at the local branch of George Robertson and Company, booksellers of Melbourne. Around 1895 the publishing side of the business began to be developed and many successful volumes were launched. Among the earlier authors were Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson and Victor Daley.
Robertson could recognize quickly a promising author and was willing to take considerable risks in backing his judgment.
During the last 30 years of his life the number of volumes he published exceeded the total number brought out in the same period by all the other publishers in Australia. The Australian Encyclopaedia, published in two volumes in 1926, is one of the most important books published in Australia.
Serle, Percival (1949). "Robertson, George". Dictionary of Australian Biography.
Sydney: Angus and Robertson.