David Lloyd George was born at Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, the son of William and Elizabeth George, on 17 January 1863. This year, therefore, marks the 150th anniversary of his birth. Although his background was by no means privileged, and he attended neither public school nor grammar school nor university, he became Prime Minister of Britain from December 1916, the height of the First World War, until November 1922. He remains to date the one and only Welshman to have served in this position.
Although the largest and most important archive of Lloyd George’s papers – those which derive largely from his years in power – are in the custody of the Parliamentary Archive at the House of Lords in London, the National Library of Wales is home to seven discrete archives of correspondence and papers relating to Lloyd George which were acquired by the Library between 1969 and 1999, mostly from various members of the Lloyd George family.
Among these, two groups of correspondence are quite outstanding – the two thousand letters from Lloyd George to his first wife Dame Margaret, and some 3,300 letters sent by him to his younger brother William George (1865-1967), a Criccieth solicitor who assiduously ran the family legal practice Lloyd George and George. Both groups of correspondence comprise a compelling amalgam of political news dextrously intermingled with personal and family gossip. They are especially full and informative during Lloyd George’s period as a backbencher from 1890 until 1905. There is also a group of about a dozen pocket diaries which Lloyd George kept as a young man before his election to parliament. Those for 1885 and 1886 are notably full and interesting. There are extensive holdings of photographs of Lloyd George and his family.
The Library also holds the extensive papers of Lloyd George’s long-serving and perceptive PPS, A. J. Sylvester (1889-1989). These include very detailed typescript diaries covering the period of Lloyd George’s so-called ‘wilderness years’ from 1931 until his death in March 1945. A small residue of the personal papers of Frances, Countess Lloyd-George of Dwyfor (1888-1972), was purchased from her family in 1999. The contents of all seven archive groups are outlined in the helpful booklet The Lloyd George Archives at the National Library of Wales and Other Repositories (2001).
It is planned to prepare an extensive exhibition of Lloyd George materials in the annexe to the Gregynog Gallery from October 2013. A NLW website relating to Lloyd George is also in active preparation.
J. Graham Jones