Guedalla, Philip–#AtoZ Challenge “G”

Welcome to “G” in the A to Z Challenge 2017. The 1st Duke of Wellington is my theme for this year’s Challenge. 

I was originally going to write about the Duke and George IV, but not being a huge fan of George IV, I decided to look for another “G” related to the Duke. I could have asked my historian and author friends to help, but staying true to the challenge of creating my own blog posts, I did some searching and decided to write about Philip Guedalla. This gentleman was a British historian and author. Guedalla wrote a book about Wellington titled The Duke and the book was published in 1931 by World Books in London. The book was also published in the U.S., but the title was changed to Wellington.

Written about 80 years after the death of Wellington, Guedella had access to much related to the Duke and his life. Guedella accessed Apsley House papers and portraits, various letters and correspondence of the Duke, maps, personal papers of persons close to or related to Wellington, and even a model of Waterloo from the Royal United Service Museum. The Duke by Guedalla can be downloaded from the internet (for free) and I intend to read the biography soon. I think that Guedalla’s preface was eloquent and so his research and thoughts on Wellington will be a must read.

From the preface:

How many English streets, squares, monuments, and licensed premises bear the name of Wellington? His title has become one of the common-places of urban, and even Imperial, topography. He has his thoroughfares and schools and clubs and institutions; obelisks and open spaces still take their names from him, though he has vanished from the bookmaker’s. Yet his memory, in spite of all these verbal honorifics, seems a trifle faded. He cast so large a shadow once. All Europe was his province, and no public act was quite complete until the Duke approved. There was no other Duke; how could there be?

But he survives to later memory as little more than the instrument of a single victory and the gruff her of a dozen anecdotes: and one is left reflecting on the contraction of that vast achievement to so meagre a residue.

Guedalla ended the preface as follows:

The writing of this book, though it is founded upon much earlier reading and travel, was begun in 1928; and since that date it has extinguished all other interests (and almost all other occupations) for me. I feel bound to thank all who have borne with me during that time—and one dear person in particular.

–Philip Guedalla by Howard Coster, half-plate film negative, 1944

London born and Oxford educated, Guedalla was a parliamentary candidate many times and never won. He married a banker’s daughter and he and his wife did not have children. Guedella later served in the Royal Air Force and died in 1944 at only 55 years old after contracting an illness while in service. He had 30-plus books published, besides his book on Wellington.

Previous A to Z Challenge 2017 posts:

Apsley House



Douro, Marquess of

Eton College

Fraser, Hugh

  6 comments for “Guedalla, Philip–#AtoZ Challenge “G”

  1. April 8, 2017 at 8:56 AM

    Interesting! I’ve never heard of Guedella. Thanks for sharing!

    • April 8, 2017 at 10:48 AM

      I had not either, Aj. Why I enjoy the A to Z!

  2. hilarymb
    April 9, 2017 at 4:46 AM

    Hi Denise – I’m glad you chose Guedalla … way more interesting than George lV whom we know a fair amount about … the words they chose and the preciseness of their sentences, phrases and articles always teaches us a lesson on how to construct without verboseness … I’ll stop now! I see he was a barrister and a ‘wanna-be’ politician … fascinating G – great for choosing him! Cheers Hilary

    • April 9, 2017 at 10:31 AM

      Thanks so much, Hilary! Learning about people like Guedalla is why I like participating in the Challenge! Cheers and Happy Sunday, Denise

  3. May 8, 2017 at 11:37 AM

    Denise, I’m glad you stuck to your own thoughts on this. You did a great job! That preface is so interesting. I am reminded of reading about Sam Houston for the first time in Profiles In Courage; A man so “big and important,” and yet Houston died poor and basically alone.

    • May 8, 2017 at 2:08 PM

      Thanks, Zulu. I just couldn’t stomach George IV, better known as “Prinny.” I loved that intro and had to share.

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