RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 435
Date20th century
Extent28 boxes
TitleCecil Harmsworth papers
DescriptionPlease note, this collection is box-listed. Further cataloguing will take place when resources are available.

This collection contains the personal, political and literary papers of Cecil Bisshop Harmsworth. It also includes Harmsworth family papers.

Cecil Harmsworth's papers include diaries, correspondence and other papers.
The diaries [1900-1948] represent a historical record of the social and political culture in Britain in early 20th century, with a focus on 1900s to early 1920s.
They constitute a day-to-day life account of a middle-ranking politician throughout his career as a Liberal MP and junior minister, backbencher and constituency MP including details of high and low politics, constituency life, campaigning and elections, life in the Garden Suburb of Number 10 Downing Street as an adviser in Lloyd George's War Secretariat. Harmsworth campaigned amongst other things, for National Insurance policies.
They cast some light on the activity of politicians like Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Herbert Henry Asquith and David Lloyd George and cover significant events including: the Constitutional crisis in 1909; the Coalition government of Lloyd George with labour and conservatives, following the battle of the Somme in 1916; the First World War, the Paris peace talks, the Phoney War and the Second World War.
Also Liberalism and the Liberal Party in the period of Asquith and Lloyd George, including some references to the Liberal Party internal divisions [Liberal imperialists and Liberal Unionists], House of Lords reforms, and conventional political attitudes of the time towards the empire, the Boer war and the racial segregation in South Africa.
Historical events in Ireland in the diaries include 1916 Easter Rising and account of its aftermath as Harmsworth was in contact with leading Irish politicians of the time like John Redmond and John Dillon. The first World War is also extensively covered from politics to the impact of the war in daily life on the home front like blackouts, air raids, refugees and rationing. Particular attention is given to family life in all its aspects.
The diaries give some insight into the personalities of his two brothers and press proprietors Alfred C W Harmsworth [Lord Northcliffe] and Harold S Harmsworth [Lord Rothermere, who notoriously used the paper to promote Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists in the early 1930s] and their publishing media empire, including the 'Daily Mail', the 'Daily Mirror' and 'The Sunday Times'. Amongst other people mentioned in the papers are Winston Churchill, W.B. Yeats and the painter Sir William Orpen.
References to agricultural matters and post-war reconstruction; town planning, Letchworth and the Garden Cities movement can be found in diaries written after the Second World War. [Source of information about the diaries: Parliament and Politics in the Age of Asquith and Llyod George. The Diaries of Cecil Harmsworth, MP, 1909-1922, edited by Andrew Thorpe and Richard Toye, Introduction (2016) Camden Fifth Series, 50, pp. 1–25].

Also including transcripts of the diaries which were commissioned by Harmsworth himself and pocket diaries 1924-1947.
A manuscript and typescript draft of 'Prime Ministers I Have Met' and 'The Prime Minister's Secretariat' 1917, notes for a book entitled 'Immortals at First Hand'.

There is extensive personal correspondence with family, friends and colleagues [including Stephen McKenna, Henry Campbell-Bannerman and Asquith] and correspondence with the constituency of Luton on trade; press-cuttings, material relating to social events that Harmsworth attended [including programmes, invitations and dinner menus].

Papers relating to Harmsworth's time in the Parliament 1906-1910, the Belgian war relief, food rationing during the war, the League of Nations and Austria and Bulgaria Peace Bill, Foreign Office papers and other events.

Documents relating to Harmsworth's shares in Liberty Films and some estate papers.

Family papers including:
Papers and correspondence relating to Emilie Harmsworth, née Maffet, Cecil Harmsworth's wife, about VAD, the British Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance Brigade Nursing Division, family photographs, wedding papers and ephemera material about her time during the war.

Papers and correspondence relating to his son Cecil Desmond Harmsworth including a collection of poems and essays, correspondence and newspaper articles.

Correspondence is often including photographic postcards featuring British cities and other countries, and illustrated greeting cards.
Both Cecil Harmsworth's papers and the family papers include many press cuttings.
Admin HistoryCecil Bisshopp Harmsworth (1869 - 1948), was a liberal politician, businessman and the first Baron Harmsworth. Born in London, he was the fourth child of Alfred Harmsworth and Geraldine Mary Maffet. He was educated at Marylebone Grammar School before studying for a Bachelor of Arts at Trinity College at Dublin University. He completed his Masters in 1911 at the same university, and in 1938 the university presented him with an honorary LL.D (Doctor of Laws).
His political career began in 1901 when he stood as the Liberal candidate in the by-election for the North East Lanarkshire constituency, but lost to the Liberal Unionist candidate. Harmsworth became the Liberal MP for Droitwich in 1906 and held this position until 1910. He then went on to become MP for Luton between 1911 and 1922. In 1915, Harmsworth held the position of Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Home Department for a short time under H.H. Asquith. Between 1917 and 1919 Harmsworth was a member of the Prime Minister's Secretariat under David Lloyd George. He also held the office of Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs from 1919 to 1922 in the coalition government. He retired from politics in October 1922 after having represented Britain at a League of Nations Council in January that year. Harmsworth gained the title of 1st Baron Harmsworth of Egham, Surrey in February 1939 and became a frequent contributor to the House of Lords until the summer of 1945.
Harmsworth held the chair of Associated Newspapers alongside his political occupations. He was also a director of Amalgamated Press. During his time as MP for Luton he was the joint-editor of the 'New Liberal Review', a magazine expressing liberal imperialist views, which ran between 1901-1904. His brother, Alfred C W Harmsworth [Lord Northcliffe], was founder of Associated Newspapers and owner of the 'Daily Mail' and 'Daily Mirror'. Another of his brothers, Harold S Harmsworth [Lord Rothermere] took over the 'Daily Mail' after Northcliffe's death.
Harmsworth was also the preserver of Dr Johnstone's house in Gough Square, Fleet Street, which he presented to the nation in 1929.
He published 'Pleasure and Problem in South Africa' (1908), 'Immortals at First Hand' (1933) and 'A Little Fishing Book' (1942).
He married his cousin, Emilie Alberta Maffet, on 28th April 1897 in Finglas, Ireland, and they had three children; Daphne, Cecil Desmond ('Bud') and Eric. He died aged 78 at his home in London in 1948.
Access StatusOpen
Related MaterialParliament and Politics in the Age of Asquith and Lloyd George. The Diaries of Cecil Harmsworth, MP, 1909-1922, edited by Andrew Thorpe and Richard Toye, Introduction (2016) Camden Fifth Series, 50, pp. 1–25. doi: 10.1017/S0960116315000512.
Access ConditionsUsual EUL arrangements apply.
Finding_AidsBox listed, see EUL MS 435/1
Creator_NameHarmsworth; Sir; Cecil Bisshopp (1869 - 1948); 1st Baron Harmsworth; liberal politician and businessman
Harmsworth; Lady; Emilie Alberta (1873- 1942) Baroness; nee Maffet; wife of 1st Baron Harmsworth
Harmsworth; Cecil Desmond (1903-1990); 2nd Baron Harmsworth; painter, publisher, and poet
Harmsworth; Lady; Dorothy Alexander (1901- 1990); née Heinlein; wife of 2nd Baron Harmsworth
Mgt_GroupPolitical papers
Historical papers
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