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.
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: