Dear Katharine Courageous: The Letters of Sir Edward Grey to Katherine Lyttelton

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Dear Katharine Courageous:  The Letters of Sir Edward Grey to Katharine Lyttelton

Edited and introduced by Jeff Lipkes

Sir Edward Grey (1862–1933) was Britain’s longest-serving Foreign Secretary, holding office from December 1905 to December 1916. Best known today for his observation on the eve of World War I, “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we won’t see them lit again in our lifetime,” Grey had worked tirelessly to keep the lamps on, while keeping Britain and the Empire secure.  During his eventful and stressful years in office, and before and after, Grey corresponded extensively with Katharine Lyttelton (1860–1943), the wife of a high-ranking general who served as the first Chief of the General Staff. Though they were probably not lovers—readers can decide for themselves—the relationship was an intimate one, and Grey was able confide in her thoughts and feelings he concealed from Cabinet colleagues and his male friends.

The letters reveal a side to Grey that has not been fully appreciated.  He was amusing, shrewd, and humane, and a close observer of individuals as well as of nature.  His reflections still speak to us. They will resonate with everyone who loves the outdoors and solitude. Those cop­ing with an overpowering grief, with a strong distaste for their work, or with approaching blindness may find them especially poignant. But others not so afflicted may discover they have become kinder, more courageous, and more observant for having read Grey’s letters.