Sir Walford Harmood Montague Selby (1881-1965) was born in Brighton, the son of Charles Edward Montague Selby and Ellen Maria Harmood-Banner. He was educated at Charterhouse, Brighton College and Christ Church, Oxford, and in 1904 entered the Diplomatic Service as an attach. His early career was divided between postings in Berlin and The Hague and spells at the Foreign Office. In 1911 he became assistant private secretary to Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, and in 1918 spent a few months in the Grenadier Guards before being reclaimed by the Foreign Office at the armistice.
In 1919 Selby became First Secretary and Head of the Chancery at Cairo where his knowledge of Arabic helped his work with Lord Allenby, Special High Commissioner to Egypt, on the negotiations leading up to the abolition of the British Protectorate in February 1922. Selby returned to London that year and in 1924 began his long career as Principal Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary, serving Ramsay MacDonald, Sir Austen Chamberlain, Arthur Henderson, Lord Reading and Sir John Simon. In this capacity he attended the Locarno Conference in 1925.
In 1932 Selby resigned from the Principal Private Secretaryship, and declined the post of Under-Secretary of State in favour of an appointment abroad. In 1933 he became British Minister in Vienna, one of the most important observation posts in Europe at the time. Selby was a strong supporter of Austrian independence, and became popular in Vienna. Edward VIII visited Austria in September 1936, returning to Vienna for five months following his abdication, and was frequently entertained at the British Legation.
In December 1937 Selby moved to Lisbon as Ambassador, his final posting. With the outbreak of war the importance of Portugal, a neutral country, increased. Selby left Portugal and retired from the Foreign Office in December 1940.
On his return to England Selby became involved in fund-raising for Austria and Poland. In the late 1940s he emigrated to Rhodesia where he worked on his book criticizing the Foreign Office between the wars, which was published as Diplomatic Twilight in 1953. Selby died in Salisbury, Rhodesia, in 1965.
In 1912 Selby married Dorothy Orme Carter and they had three children, Vera, Ralph, who also entered the Diplomatic Service, and Derek.