Skip navigation

Welsh History Review


Vol. 8, nos. 1-4 1976-77

The making of Lloyd George : Book review.

Previous page Rotate Left Rotate Right Next page Original Image Large Image Zoom View text PDF
Jump to page
of the documentary evidence used consists in unpublished papers-letters
and diaries-in the author's possession. But these have evidently never
been catalogued nor indexed, so that there are no references in foot-notes,
which might guide a future historian back to the original, nor is there any
description of the collection. At some points Mr. George uses documents
already deposited in the National Library of Wales, but only on one or
two occasions does he provide references to these. Thus he prints a large
slice of a long, querulous letter written by Lloyd George to his fiancee,
Margaret Owen, in 1887. Another large slice of this letter, partly over-
lapping Mr. George's, was published by Dr. Kenneth Morgan in his
Lloyd George's Family Letters, 1885-1936. There should clearly be a cross-
reference in The Making of Lloyd George to Dr. Morgan's book, with the
first chapter of which Mr. George's book provides a neat complement.
Yet there is no mention of Dr. Morgan's work in The Making of Lloyd
George, partly because there is no bibliography. Perhaps reputable pub-
lishers who enable relatives of famous men to publish transcripts from
documents in their possession should encourage them to seek a little advice
from professional historians.
But if Mr. George's book must be considered as a primary source rather
than as a work of scholarship, it does contain some passages reliably inter-
preting the history of Wales in the 1880s and 1890s. Only at one point-
when his story takes him away from Welsh affairs-does Mr. George's
general historical knowledge fail him. The central figure of the first third
of the book is William George senior, Lloyd George's father, and the
author's grandfather. The picture given of this serious, scholarly, and
almost saintly man is one of the book's most important contributions. At
the age of twenty-one William George senior went to London to attend
Battersea Teachers' Training Institute. The author notes that the principal
of the Institute was 'a Dr. Kay', but since he evidently does not realize
that he is referring to one of the most important public figures of early
Victorian England he does not include Kay, either as 'Dr. Kay' or as 'Sir
James Kay-Shuttleworth' in the index. The point would have been of little
importance were it not that William George senior himself later commented
that he was 'deeply indebted' to Kay, and that his year at Battersea was
the most important of his life. The influence of Kay on William George,
and so, indirectly, on David Lloyd George, is not without interest.
More important are the positive features of the book. There is the
moving and beautiful impression of the woods of Llanystumdwy, which,
the author says, 'cast their spell upon Lloyd George'. There is a poignant new
fact: that David Lloyd George had two elder sisters-not only Mary Ellen,
who was born in 1861 and lived until 1909, but a little girl who was born
earlier, in 1861, was never named, and died after a few weeks, or even days.
Above all, there is the convincing picture of William George junior, Lloyd
George's brother and the author's father, as a kind, long-suffering, and
intelligent man, somewhat ruthlessly exploited by David. At least it is
comforting to reflect that William George junior lived to be 101.
Previous page Rotate Left Rotate Right Next page Original Image Large Image Zoom View text PDF
Jump to page

This text was generated automatically from the scanned page and has not been checked. Typical character accuracy is in excess of 99%, but this leaves one error per 100 characters.

The National Library of Wales has created and published this digital version of the journal under a licence granted by the publisher. The material it contains may be used for all purposes while respecting the moral rights of the creators.