Letters Additional of Anthony Eden

Scope and Content

Artificial collection of letters and other papers of and relating to (Robert) Anthony Eden (1897-1977), 1st Earl of Avon, statesman and to the Eden family.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Anthony Eden was born at Windlestone Hall near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, one of five children of Sir William Eden and Sybil Frances (daughter of Sir William Grey). He was educated at Eton and then joined the King's Royal Rifle Corps in 1915. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1917 and in 1918 became the youngest brigadier-major in the British Army. After the war he went up to Christ Church, Oxford, graduating with first class honours in oriental languages in 1922.

Eden stood as Conservative candidate in the general election of November 1922 for the seat of Spennymoor, County Durham where he was unsuccessful. However, in 1923, he was adopted for the safe constituency of Warwick and Leamington which he won at the next election and he served this constituency until his retirement in 1957. His lifelong political connection with foreign affairs began in 1926 as parliamentary private secretary to Sir Austen Chamberlain and in 1935, he became the youngest Foreign Secretary since the 18th century. His political career seemed at risk when he resigned from the government in February 1938 because of his disagreement with Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy. However, he was recalled to office at the outbreak of war, briefly as Dominions Secretary and then as Foreign Secretary, under Winston Churchill, until the Conservative defeat in 1945. He served for the third time as Foreign Secretary between 1951 and 1955 and cultivated Britain's vital relations with the United States and western Europe. In April 1955, on Churchill's retirement, Eden succeeded as Prime Minister but within less than two years, he had retired due to ill-health and his career was overshadowed by the Suez crisis.

Eden became Lord Avon in 1961. He held a number of honorary degrees and other offices including Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, 1945-73 and President of the Royal Shakespeare Company, 1958-66. He was married twice and had two sons by his first wife, Simon (killed in Burma in 1945) and Nicholas (died in 1985).

Reference: Finding aid for the Letters Additional of Anthony Eden Collection (GB 150 AELAdd)


This collection is catalogued at item or file level and the individual documents are numbered in a single numerical sequence which reflects the order in which they were acquired. The items in this collection are mounted in fascicules.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

This collection has been acquired from various sources.

Other Finding Aids

Please see full catalogue for further details.

Alternative Form Available

Some of the items in this collection are photocopies. If the whereabouts of the original are available, these details are given in the relevant part of the catalogue.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. 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.

Related Material

The Special Collections Department holds several related collections: Avon Papers (Personal and political papers of Anthony Eden and Eden family papers) [GB 150 AP]; Private office papers of Anthony Eden as Foreign Secretary, 1938-1945 and 1951-1955; Copies of papers of Sir Pierson Dixon which relate to his position as private secretary and close friend and adviser to Anthony Eden [GB 150 MS20].


The officially commissioned biography by Robert Rhodes James was published in 1986 under the title Anthony Eden .