LIDDELL HART, Capt Sir Basil Henry

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 press cuttings 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.

Administrative / 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.


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).

Access Information

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Acquisition Information

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.

Other Finding Aids

Summary guide entry on-line at, and detailed catalogue available in hard copy in the Centre's reading room.

Separated Material

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).

Conditions Governing Use

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, attention of the Director of Archive Services.

Related Material

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. Within Section 9 are also papers written and collated by Lt Col Philip Johnson mainly relating to the Medium D Tank.

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 Ernest Swinton (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).

Personal Names

Corporate Names