Collection LIDDELL HART - LIDDELL HART, Capt Sir Basil Henry (1895-1970)

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Key Information

Reference code



LIDDELL HART, Capt Sir Basil Henry (1895-1970)


  • 1870-1976 (Creation)

Level of description



10.57 cubic metres or 537 boxes and 720 volumes of papers

Scope and content

Capt Sir Basil Liddell Hart's papers reflect his position as the foremost military theorist in Britain between World Wars One and Two, as an influential military correspondent and as a prolific author of books on military theory and history. As such he sustained throughout his life an extensive correspondence with a wide variety of prominent individuals, including those in the armed forces, politicians, playwrights, journalists, military historians, embassy officials and clergymen.The collection includes Liddell Hart's files containing correspondence with several thousand individuals, as well as with government departments and military establishments, and clubs and political parties; his own military writings, including diary notes, memoranda, books, articles, letters to the press and texts of lectures; and an extensive collection of reference material, mainly comprising newspaper cuttings and pamphlets, covering a wide range of topics including military history, politics and society. The collection includes a small quantity of correspondence with Lady Liddell Hart, particularly after 1970.Correspondence with individuals, 1916-1970, with related papers, 1/1-780; general correspondence, 1904-1976, including with Embassy staff, Israeli military personnel, and researchers, 2/1-3241; correspondence with British and overseas publishers, military and non-military journals, news agencies, literary and legal advisers, 1919-1970, 3/1-196; correspondence with official institutions, 1927-1970, including government departments, military establishments and museums, with correspondence relating to official histories of World Wars One and Two, 4/1-39; correspondence with political parties, clubs and organisations, 1922-1970, 5/1-35; letters to newspapers and journals, 1927-1968, 6/1927/1-6/1968/2; writings relating to military matters, 1910-1925, including diaries and notebooks, 7/1910/1-7/1925/13; papers relating to early life and career, 1895-1925, including service in World War One, 8/1-355; manuscripts, typescripts, proofs and reviews of books written or edited by Liddell Hart, with related papers, 1925-1970, 9/1-32, which includes notes on talks with T E Lawrence, 9/13, papers relating to German generals of World War Two, 9/24, and correspondence and papers relating to tanks, 9/28; published articles, including book reviews, with related papers, 1925-1969, 10/1925/1-10/1969/19 plus miscellaneous and supplementary papers; unpublished papers, 1925-1970, including appointment diaries, records of conversations and papers on military matters, and papers relating to Leslie Hore-Belisha, 1937-1957, 11/1925/1-11/1970/1 plus undated memoranda; notes for lectures, speeches, broadcasts and interviews, 1926-1969, with related correspondence, 12/1926/1-12/1969/4 plus miscellaneous papers; papers including presscuttings and copy letters relating to life and career, 1925-1970, 13/1-112; non-military material, including papers relating to religion, philosophy, sport, aviation, science, psychology and fashion, 1913-1969, 14/1-93; reference material, including original and published papers and proofs of publications, relating to military history, politics and society, 15/1-7, 16; military manuals and pamphlets, 1870-1961, 15/8.

See below for those individuals who passed their own private papers to Liddell Hart.

The following individuals passed their own private collections of papers to Liddell Hart: Brig George Fothergill Ellenberger (1895-[1974]), 15/9; Maj Henry Ellis D Harris (1913-1983), 15/10; Maj Gen Sir Percy Cleghorn Stanley Hobart (1885-1957), 15/11; Maj Gen George Mackintosh Lindsay (1880-1956), 15/12; Col Karol Lubinski (1890-[1972]), 15/13; Col Roderick ('Rory') Macleod (1891-1984), 15/14; Reginald William Winchester (Chester) Wilmot (1911-1954), 15/15.

System of arrangement

The papers are arranged in fifteen major sections. Correspondence files (1, 2, 3, 5) are arranged alphabetically by surname of individual, name of institution, publisher or journal, except for correspondence with newspapers and journals (6) which is arranged chronologically. Section 1 contains correspondence with prominent individuals, frequently lengthy, and Section 2 contains shorter correspondence with less well-known figures. Both are arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Correspondence with government departments and military establishments (4) are arranged and listed in groups of similar institutions. Early military notes (7), papers relating to army career (8), unpublished writings, 1925-1969 (11), notes for lectures, broadcasts, speeches and interviews, 1926-1929 (12), and press cuttings, copy letters, tributes, photographs and obituaries relating to life and career, 1925-1970, (13/1-112) are arranged chronologically. Manuscripts, typescripts and proofs of books written or edited by Liddell Hart, 1925-1970, are arranged chronologically by date of publication (9) and published articles (10) are arranged chronologically by date of writing, if known, or by date of publication. Non-military papers, 1913-1969, are arranged chronologically into sections covering religion and philosophy, sport, aviation, science and psychology, fiction, and fashion (14). Reference material (15/1-5) is organised into subject areas; the obituaries and related papers (15/6/5) are arranged alphabetically by surname of individual; typescripts and proofs of books checked by Liddell Hart (15/7) are arranged alphabetically by surname of author; military manuals (15/8) are arranged in chronological order; the papers of individuals named above (15/9-15) have been grouped together, as have maps (15/16). Within Section 9 are also papers written and collated by Lt Col Philip Johnson mainly relating to the Medium D Tank.

General Information

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born in Paris in 1895; educated at St Paul's London and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; commissioned into the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 1914; served in World War One, in Ypres and the Somme, 1914-1918; selected for the Royal Tank Corps, but invalided and retired on half pay, 1924; retired from the army as Capt, 1927; military correspondent of the Daily Telegraph , 1925-1935 and The Times , 1935-1939; author 1918-1970; personal adviser to Leslie Hore-Belisha, Secretary of State for War, 1937-1938; died in 1970.

Publications: Author of the following unless otherwise stated: New methods in infantry training (University Press, Cambridge, 1918); The framework of a science of infantry tactics (Hugh Rees, London, 1921) reprinted as A science of infantry tactics simplified (W Clowes and Sons, London, 1923, 1926); Paris, or the future of war (Kegan Paul and Co, London, 1925); The lawn tennis masters unveiled (Arrowsmith, London, 1926); A greater than Napoleon - Scipio Africanus (W Blackwood and Sons, London, 1926); The remaking of modern armies (John Murray, London, 1927); Great captains unveiled (W Blackwood and Sons, London, 1927 and Cedric Chivers, Bath, 1971); Reputations (John Murray, London, 1928); Reputations - ten years after (Little, Brown and Co, Boston, 1928); The decisive wars of history (G Bell and Sons, London, 1929) reprinted as The strategy of indirect approach (Faber and Faber, London, 1941, 1946), The way to win wars (Faber and Faber, London, 1943) and Strategy - the indirect approach (Faber and Faber, London, 1954, 1967); Sherman (Dodd, Mead and Co, New York, 1929, Ernest Benn, London, 1930, Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1933 and Stevens and Sons, London, 1959); The real war 1914-1918 (Faber and Faber, London, 1930) reprinted as A history of the World War 1914-1918 (Faber and Faber, London, 1934, Cassell, London, 1970 and Pan, London, 1972); Foch (Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1931 and Penguin, London, 1937); The British way in warfare (Faber and Faber, London, 1932) reprinted as When Britain goes to war (Faber and Faber, London, 1935) and The British way in warfare (Harmondsworth, New York, 1942); The future of infantry (Faber and Faber, London, 1933); The ghost of Napoleon (Faber and Faber, London, 1933); T E Lawrence - in Arabia and after (Jonathan Cape, London, 1934, enlarged edition 1935); The war in outline 1914-1918 (Faber and Faber, London, 1936); co-author of Lawrence of Arabia (Corvinus Press, London, 1936); Europe in arms (Faber and Faber, London, 1937) Through the fog of war (Faber and Faber, London, 1938); We learn from history that we do not learn from history (University College, London, 1938); editor of The next war (Geoffrey Bles, London, 1938); editor of T E Lawrence to his biographer, Liddell Hart (Doubleday, Doran and Co, New York, 1938); The defence of Britain (Faber and Faber, London, 1939); Dynamic defence (Faber and Faber, London, 1940); The current of war (Hutchinson and Co, London ,1941); This expanding war (Faber and Faber, London, 1942); Why don't we learn from history? (G Allen and Unwin, London, 1944 and Allen and Unwin, London, 1972); Thoughts on war (Faber and Faber, London, 1944); Free man or state slave (No Conscription Council, London, 1946); Revolution in warfare (Faber and Faber, London, 1946); The other side of the hill (Cassell and Co, London, 1948, 1951 and 1973 and Hamilton and Co, 1956); Defence of the west (Cassell and Co, London, 1950); editor of the Letters of Private Wheeler (Michael Joseph, London, 1951); editor of The Rommel papers (Collins, London, 1953); T E Lawrence of Arabia and Clouds Hill (1955); editor of The Soviet Army (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1956); The tanks - the history of the Royal Tank Regiment (Cassell, London, 1959); Deterrent or defence (Stevens and Sons, London, 1960); editor of From Atlanta to the sea (Folio Society, London, 1961); Memoirs of Captain Liddell Hart (Cassell, London, 1965); co-author of Churchill (Allen Lane the Penguin Press, London, 1969); History of the Second World War (Cassell, London, 1970 and Pan Books, London, 1973); military editor of the 14th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica .

Custodial history

The library and papers of Capt Sir Basil Liddell Hart were acquired by King's College London in 1973 from Lady Liddell Hart, with the exception of material relating to fashion and rare eighteenth and nineteenth century editions of military texts.

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied from open material for research purposes only.

Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, via the Archives.

Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • German

Script of material

Language and script notes

Mainly English, but some sections contain substantial amounts of material in German (notably 9/24, concerning the German generals) and French (notably 15/8/241-257, French military manuals).

Finding aids

This collection level description and detailed catalogue.

Related materials

The following is a select list of collections of individuals with whom Liddell Hart corresponded (see 1) and for whom the Centre holds papers: Gen Sir Ronald Adam (1885-1982); FM Edmund Henry Hynman, 1st Viscount Allenby (1861-1936); Maj Gen Sir George Aston (1861-1938); Maj Gen Robert, 2nd Viscount Bridgeman (1896-1982); ACM Sir Henry Brooke-Popham (1878-1953); FM Sir John Dill (1881-1944); Brig Gen Sir James Edmonds (1861-1956); Maj Gen Sir Francis de Guingand (1900-1979); Gen Sir Ian Hamilton (1853-1947); Lt Gen Sir Thomas Hutton (1890-1981); Maj Gen Sir Frederick Maurice (1871-1951); FM Sir George Milne (1866-1948); FM Sir Archibald Montgomery-Massingbird (1871-1947); Gen Sir Richard O'Connor (1889-1981); Gen Sir Harold Pyman (1908-1971); Maj Gen Sir Edward Spears (1886-1974); Maj Gen Sir ErnestSwinton (1868-1951); Gen Sir (Augustus Francis) Andrew (Nicol) Thorne (1885-1970). The Centre also holds the papers of Liddell Hart's son, Adrian Liddell Hart (1922-1991).

Liddell Hart's papers relating to fashion are held at Liverpool John Moores University, and are described in The Liddell Hart Collection (Art and Design Library, Liverpool, 1983).

Related descriptions

Publication note

The following is a select bibliography of works about or containing substantial information on Liddell Hart: Makers of modern strategy edited by Edward Earle (Princeton University Press, 1943); The charm of politics by Richard Crossman (Hamish Hamilton, 1958); Armed forces in peacetime, Britain 1918-1940, a case study by Robin Higham (G T Foulis, London, 1962); The theory and practice of war, essays presented to Capt B H Liddell Hart on his seventieth birthday edited by Michael Howard (Cassell, London, 1965); The education of an army, British military thought 1815-1940 by Jay Luvaas (Cassell, London, 1965); The military intellectuals in Britain, 1918-1939 by Robin Higham (Rutgers University Press, 1966); 'Nuclear-Age theories of Sir Basil Liddell Hart' by Brian Bond in the Military Review (Aug 1970); In the chair, Barrington-Ward of the Times, 1927-1948 by Donald McLachlan (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1971); 'History and the indirect approach', by John Terraine and 'Further reflections on the indirect approach' by Brian Bond in the Royal United Services Institute Journal (Jun, Dec 1971); Modern warfare by Shelford Bidwell (Allen Lane, London, 1973); Liddell Hart, a study of his military thought by Brian Bond (Cassell, London, 1977); Liddell Hart, the weight of history by John Mearsheimer (Brassey's Defence, London, 1988); 'Liddell Hart and his legacy' text of lecture given by Prof Robert O'Neill on 19 May 1988 at King's College London (King's College London, 1988). See also T E Lawrence to his biographer, Liddell Hart by T E Lawrence (Faber and Faber, London, 1938) and The sword and the pen prepared by Liddell Hart and edited by Adrian Liddell Hart (Cassell, London, 1978).


Compiled Sep 1996

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Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000.


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