World War 1 and the Spanish Civil War: as reported by an Ambassador, 1863-1939

Papers of Sir Esme Howard, 1863-1939

Papers of Sir Esme Howard, 1863-1939

Esme Howard was one of the major British diplomatists of the early part of the twentieth century. Howard's abilities led him to hold from 1913 to his retirement in 1930 a series of important posts, culminating in the Washington embassy
Erik GoldsteiBoston University

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See British diplomacy in World War One, the Spanish Civil War and 1920s America.

Esme Howard was one of the greatest British diplomatists in the first half of the twentieth century. A member of the famous Howard family that had played a notable role in British history, Howard's career is significant for its breadth and impact. A colourful figure, he was an adventurous traveler, an overseas entrepreneur, a war hero, in addition to his diplomatic achievements. An intimate of major political figures and members of various royal families, with a wide network of diplomatic friends, he conducted an active correspondence. His papers provide a vivid picture of life in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain, as well as providing a rich source of material on the shaping and conduct of British foreign and imperial policy. Howard served in a series of posts of ever increasing significance. In the first part of the century he was the British Consul General on Crete, when the Great Powers placed that troubled island under a form on international guardianship, that would be the forerunner of numerous subsequent similar efforts. As such Howard was at the vortex of what was then one of the major crises in international relations. Howard served in Budapest during the 1908 Bosnian Annexation Crisis, and then in neutral Switzerland as minister in the lead up to the First World War. He spent the war years in neutral Sweden, attempting to preempt supplies from reaching Germany while ensuring that shipping lines to Allied Russia remained open. Immediately after the war he was at the Paris Peace Conference, and participated in a notable mission to a war ravaged Poland. After this he was given his first embassy, to Spain, and was there when the 1923 coup occurred that began the downward spiral in Spanish politics that would ultimately result in civil war. The capstone of his career was as Ambassador to the United States, 1924-30. On his retirement he was rewarded with a seat in the House of Lords, and continued an active correspondence until his death in 1939. Accompanied by a guide to the online version by Erik Goldstein, Professor of International Relations and History, Boston University.


World War 1 and the Spanish Civil War: as reported by an Ambassador, 1863-1939...

Containing 37,288 pages belonging to 54 documents housed in 8 volumes...

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Personal Records

Howards's diaries follow his career through South Africa, Crete, Sweden, England, Geneva, Poland, Madrid and Versailles. Howard's other interests are...

Estate Records

The primary focus of these records is upon the development of the rubber and cocoa plantation syndicate which owned plantations...

General Letters Arranged Alphabetically

Most of this correspondence is on a wide range of topics that arose during 1936; however, some recurring themes are...

General Letters Arranged by Date

General letters dated from 1867 until 1939, includes letters of congratulations to Sir Esme Howard on his elevation to the...


  • During his time as a diplomat, Howard's diaries covered his work in a range of countries. From South Africa between the first and second Boer Wars, to Crete between Greece's two wars to claim the island.
  • The 'Personal Records' also contain extracts from Howard's diary during the Versailles Conference which followed the First World War.
  • Howard's work also led him to correspond with Ramsay MacDonald, Theodore Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw and the former Irish prime Minister Liam Cosgrave, as well as many other diplomatic contacts.
  • His papers from 'the Psychological Warfare Division on opinion in Sicily' review that division's uses. These items explore whether it might be a good idea to continue some of the division's research after the war.
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