Esmé Cecil Wingfield-Stratford

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Esmé Cecil Wingfield-Stratford (1882–1971) was an English historian, writer, mind-trainer, outdoorsman, patriot and ruralist.

Life[edit]

Esmé was born on 20 September 1882 elder son of Brigadier-General Cecil Wingfield-Stratford (a descendant of the ancient Stratford Family)[1] and his wife, Rosalind Isabel, daughter of the Revd Hon. Edward Vesey Bligh and Lady Isabel Bligh. Unhappy at Eton College (1893–1900), it was at King's College, Cambridge where he really developed, matriculating in 1900. This was followed by a research studentship at the London School of Economics. His work at the LSE on what became the first volume of his History of British Patriotism (1913) led to his election in 1907 to a fellowship at King's College, Cambridge, which he retained until 1913. In the same year he was awarded the degree of DScEcon by the University of London. In 1915 he married Barbara Elizabeth, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel H. L. Errington and the Hon. Mrs Errington. After war service in India, Wingfield-Stratford sought no further academic advancement, instead settling down (thanks to an independent income) to a very productive life as historian and author, dividing his time between his rural home at Berkhamsted and London, where he could follow his many interests in the theatre, music and the arts. He also developed a taste for foreign travel. He married Barbara Elizabeth Errington on 30 December 1915, and on 9 Nov 1916 had a daughter, Roshnara Barbara Wingfield-Stratford (who married and later divorced Richard John Wrottesley, 5th Baron Wrottesley)[2]

Work[edit]

Wingfield-Stratford's first substantial work was The History of English Patriotism (2 vols., 1913), a theme to which he several times returned. The most lasting of his books remains The History of British Civilization (2 vols., 1928) which stands comparison with the better-known one-volume histories of England by G. M. Trevelyan and Keith Feiling. Trevelyan (thanked in the preface along with Eileen Power) was one of a number of professional historians, which also included R. H. Tawney and John and Barbara Hammond, who were his neighbours in the country and provided companions for long walks during which historical issues provided the staple of conversation. Whether writing of the seventeenth or the nineteenth centuries or the Middle Ages, Wingfield-Stratford treated figures of the past as though he had known them individually. His particular approach to history treated the real-world, physical evidence of landscape and buildings as no less significant than archives and literature. When he published his last book, Beyond Empire, in 1964 he could point to about forty volumes bearing his name, including—besides histories—polemical works, fiction, and poetry. Routledge was his chief publisher.[3]

Character[edit]

"he was all of a piece, his physical build which was wonderfully large and expansive, his high ambitions and boisterous enthusiasms which were on the same gargantuan scale, even his fierce prejudices which lay scattered like rolled-up hedgehogs along the paths of his conversation." - Peter Quennell, letter to The Times, 27 Feb 1971[4]

An especially passionate country walker, outdoorsman and amateur cricketer, his unconventional dress and lilting upper-class voice made him something of an oddity. Though he embraced innovation and modernism in the arts, his great love was for the rural England and London of his youth, forever destroyed by the first world war. The political and social consequences of progress and technology were realities that made him uneasy, and he was a man of tender nostalgia for his own Merry England. In spite of the "aggressiveness of temper and the somewhat rhetorical extravagance of mind" mentioned in his obituary from The Times, he was loved and respected by all who knew him, as was his larger-than-life, eccentric personality.[5]

Death[edit]

Wingfield-Stratford died of heart failure on 20 February 1971 at his home in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire at the age of 89. He was survived by his wife and their daughter, Roshnara Barbara Wingfield-Stratford.[6]

Selected books[edit]

  • The Call of Dawn, and other poems by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1909)
  • An Appeal to the British People by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1914)
  • India, etc. by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1920)
  • The Reconstruction of Mind. An open way of mind-training by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1921)
  • Life: being a memoir of Chesney Temple by Robert V. Allenby. A novel by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1923)
  • Parent or Pedagogue, etc. by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1924)
  • The Grand Young Man by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1926)
  • Until it doth run over by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1927)
  • " The History of British Civilization" by Esmé Wingfield Stratford (2 vol 1929)
  • New Minds for Old. The art and science of mind-training by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1934)
  • The Harvest of Victory, 1918-1926 ... With 5 maps by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1935)
  • Good Talk. A study of the art of conversation by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1936)
  • King Charles and the Conspirators. With portraits by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford and Charles I (1937)
  • Churchill. The making of a hero by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford and Winston Churchill (1942)
  • Before the Lamps Went Out. Autobiographical reminiscences. With a portrait by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1945)
  • Charles, King of England, 1600-1637. With plates, including portraits by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford and Charles I (1949)
  • King Charles and King Pym, 1637-1643. With portraits by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford, John Pym and Charles I (1949)
  • This was a Man. The biography of the Honourable Edward Vesey Bligh, etc. With plates, including portraits by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford and Edward Vesey Bligh (1949)
  • King Charles the Martyr, 1643-1649. With plates, including portraits by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford and Charles I (1950)
  • Truth in Masquerade. A study of fashions in fact. With plates by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1951)
  • The Unfolding Pattern of British Life. The growth of a new world order by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1953)
  • The Lords of Cobham Hall. On the Bligh family. With plates by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford (1959)[7]

Further reading[edit]

  • E. C. Wingfield-Stratford, "Before the lamps went out" (1946)

Sources[edit]

  • Max Beloff, 'Stratford, Esmé Cecil Wingfield- (1882–1971)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 31 May 2014
  • E. C. Wingfield-Stratford, "Before the lamps went out" (1946)
  • Amazon Author page for Esmé Cecil Wingfield-Stratford

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stratford, Gerald "A History of the Stratford Family" Chapter 11. The Extinct Earldom. [1]
  2. ^ The Peerage entry for Esme Cecil Wingfield-Stratford
  3. ^ Max Beloff, 'Stratford, Esmé Cecil Wingfield- (1882–1971)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 31 May 2014
  4. ^ The Times (23 Feb 1971) · Record [King's College, Cambridge] (1971)
  5. ^ Max Beloff, 'Stratford, Esmé Cecil Wingfield- (1882–1971)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 31 May 2014
  6. ^ "The Peerage" entry for Roshnara Barbara Wingfield-Stratford
  7. ^ "Books by Esmé Cecil Wingfield Stratford". Amazon.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2020.