Shuckburgh, Sir Evelyn, Papers of

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers of Sir Evelyn Shuckburgh (1909-1994), diplomat, Head of the South American then the Western Department of the Foreign Office, Principal Private Secretary to Anthony Eden from 1951-1954 and Under-Secretary in charge of Middle East affairs at the Foreign Office from 1954-1956.

Sir Evelyn Shuckburgh kept detailed diaries from very early in his career, beginning in 1951, when he was Principal Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, and ending in 1969, when he was Ambassador to Italy. The diaries give a vivid impression of the inner workings of the Foreign Office, and later, of NATO, including descriptions of international conferences, working with politicians, and of the life of a diplomat abroad, as a junior member of staff, and as Ambassador.

Sir Evelyn worked closely with Anthony Eden for several years; the diaries offer valuable comment on Eden's character and achievements, offering an eyewitness account of events leading up to the Suez crisis in 1956 and of British Middle Eastern policy in the decades after the Second World War. Extracts from the 1951-1956 diaries relating to the Suez crisis were published in 1986 as 'Descent to Suez'. The correspondence Sir Evelyn received following the publication of this book adds further important recollections and opinions to his contemporary account. There is also interesting material on British policy in the Middle East and on Britain's relations with Europe.

The collection contains many letters from important political figures including Anthony Eden, Ernest Bevin, Alec Douglas-Home, Denis Healey, Roy Jenkins, Harold Macmillan, Jack Profumo, and Chaim Weizmann among many others.

There are typescripts and press cuttings of Sir Evelyn's essays, articles, and speeches; valedictory dispatches; certificates; and photograph albums. Papers from his early diplomatic career include letters written during the Second World War, when he was posted to Argentina and Prague and Canada.

There are various papers concerning his retirement: letters, press cuttings, and notes relating to the Red Cross (he became its President in 1970); papers about the publication of his book, 'The Memoirs of Madame Roland, a Heroine of the French Revolution'; a manuscript and notes for an unpublished memoir entitled 'Ascent to Diplomacy'; and notes about clavichords and furniture making. There are also letters of condolence sent to Lady Shuckburgh after Sir Evelyn's death.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Charles Arthur Evelyn Shuckburgh was educated at Winchester and King's College, Cambridge. He joined the diplomatic service in 1933 and spent most of World War Two as Charge d'Affaires in Argentina, following posts in Egypt and Canada. He married Nancy Brett in 1937 and they had three children: Julian, Catherine, and Robin. After the War he was posted to Prague as First Secretary before returning to London and the Foreign Office as Head of the South American and, later, the Western Department. From 1951 to 1954 he was Eden's Principal Private Secretary and closest diplomatic assistant and from 1954 to 1956 he was under-secretary in Middle East affairs at the Foreign Office, directly involved in events leading up to the Suez crisis in 1956. In June 1956, he left the diplomatic service for the post of Chief Civilian Instructor at the Imperial Defence College. Sir Evelyn later held senior posts in NATO and ended his career as Ambassador to Italy in 1966. A skilled cabinet maker, in retirement Sir Evelyn learned to make clavichords under the tuition of Tom Goff. In 1986, his 1951-1956 diaries were published as 'Descent to Suez', and his translation of 'The Memoirs of Madame Roland' was published in 1989. He died in 1994.

Information taken from the sale catalogue prepared by Bernard Quaritch Ltd (copy in the deposit file for the collection)

Arrangement

The collection has been arranged by record type into the following series: diaries; personal correspondence; working papers; books and articles; photographs; and miscellaneous.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to all registered researchers.

Part of an entry in one of the typed diaries for 1954 has been closed. This text will be opened in 2021.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Bernard Quaritch Ltd.

Other Finding Aids

Please see the full catalogue for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Director of Special Collections (email: special-collections@bham.ac.uk). Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

Bought from the Shuckburgh family by the University of Birmingham in 2004, via the dealers Bernard Quaritch Ltd.

Related Material

The Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections holds the following related collections:

Avon Papers (Personal and political papers of Anthony Eden and Eden family papers) reference AP

Private office papers of Anthony Eden as Foreign Secretary, 1938-1945 and 1951-1955 (which were transferred in 1978 by the Public Record Office, deposited under s.4 (1) of the Public Records Act 1958 [FO 954 and FO 800]. Paper catalogue available at the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections

Letters of Anthony Eden reference AELAdd

Copies of papers of Sir Pierson Dixon which relate to his position as private secretary and close friend and adviser to Anthony Eden reference MS20

Bibliography

Extracts from the 1951-1956 diaries were published as 'Descent to Suez' (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1986)