Walter Leaf

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Walter Leaf by Henry Herschel Hay Cameron, (1891).

Sir Walter Leaf (26 November 1852, Norwood, Middlesex – 8 March 1927, Torquay) was an English banker and classical scholar. He published a benchmark edition of Homer's Iliad and was a director of Westminster Bank for many years, eventually becoming its chairman. He was a co-founder and later president of the International Chamber of Commerce, and served as president of the Institute of Bankers, the Hellenic Society and the Classical Association. He married Charlotte Symonds, daughter of John Addington Symonds. He was a Cambridge Apostle.

Academic career[edit]

Walter Leaf was born at on 26 November 1852 and educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge.[1] He won a scholarship to Trinity in 1870, became senior classic in 1874 and was elected to a fellowship the following year.[2] He was concerned with uncovering the physical reality of the classical world, in contrast to the Cambridge Ritualists,[2] and was the foremost Homer scholar of his generation.[3] His edition of the Iliad was published in two volumes (1886-1888)[2] and was regarded for several decades as the best English edition of Homer's epic poem.[2] Leaf also translated works from Russian and Persian, and was fluent in several European languages, including French, Italian and German.[3] He was president of the Hellenic Society and the Classical Association.


In 1877 he entered the family textile firm, becoming in 1888 chairman of Leaf & Company Ltd. In 1892 Leaf & Co merged with Pawson & Co to become Pawsons and Leafs Limited. Walter became a director of what would become Westminster Bank in 1891, and its chairman from 1918 until his death.[3] From 1919 to 1921 he was president of the Institute of Bankers. He worked tirelessly for the International Chamber of Commerce, of which he was a co-founder in 1919 and elected president in 1925.[3]


  1. ^ "Leaf, Walter (LF869W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Homer, The Iliad". Cambridge University Press. 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d "A Byzantine Pleiad, poems translated from Greek by Walter Leaf, 1920". Royal Bank of Scotland. 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  • T.E. Gregory, The Westminster Bank through a Century, 2 vols, 1936 [with chapter on Leaf]

External links[edit]