Godley, [John] Arthur, Baron Kilbracken
Archive of 38 Full and 10 Partial Letters to His Daughter, Helen Written 1898-1899
England: 1898-1899. Manuscript material. This is a very substantial letter archive of nearly 400 pages from Arthur Godley, Baron Kilbracken (1847-1932), the well-connected and high-ranking secretary of state for India, to his just married daughter Helen. The letters were written between February 19, 1898 - December 29, 1899, and although the time span covered is short, just two years, the letters are long, detailed, engaging, and often humorous. They give an intimate picture of the private, upper-class world of that time, but they also encompass the larger political and social scene in late 1890s Britain. Arthur Godley was a brilliant Oxford graduate who served as principal private secretary to Prime Minister William Gladstone from 1872 to 1874 - an experience which shaped his entire life - before rising in government service to become the long serving under-secretary of state for India, 1883-1909. Godley writes about family and government matters, about his travels (he was especially fond of visiting churches and reveals a keen knowledge of architecture), his reading, the cause of women’s rights (Helen was a supporter of women’s rights), dinners and other occasions with important people. He also writes of other matters, including religious bills before parliament, bicycling, the perils of foreign travel, and the memorial windows to Jane Austen newly installed at Westminster Cathedral. Among the people mentioned in the letters are the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Curzon, Rudyard Kipling, and the dukes of York and of Cambridge. Accompanied by two charming carte-de-visite of Helen at the age of three, and an autograph letter signed by Gladstone’s wife to Walter Charles James referring to the installation of James’s son-in-law, Godley, as Gladstone’s private secretary. Letters are written on stationery 4.5 x 6.5 inches in size, with most sheets having a black border. A small hole has been punched in their upper left hand corners, probably as a means of tying them together. All are in very good condition. ALS/042512. Very Good.