- 1910-2018 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
11 small archival boxes and 1 large archival box; 0.128 cubic metres.
Name of creator
Frances Stevenson (1888-1972) was the long-term secretary, mistress and eventually (from October 1943) the second wife of the Liberal statesman and war time leader David Lloyd George (1863-1945). Following his acceptance of an earldom in January 1945, she became the Countess Lloyd-George of Dwyfor.
Frances Louis Stevenson was born in London in 1888 of mixed parentage. As a child, she displayed a distinct passion for the Greek and Latin classics, a preoccupation which fired her with enthusiasm to secure a scholarship to Newnham or Girton College, Oxford. She did not achieve this ambition, and proceeded from Clapham High School, armed with a London scholarship, to Royal Holloway College. Following graduation, she taught at a Wimbledon girls' boarding school, and was soon recommended as a suitable person to coach Lloyd George's youngest daughter Megan (1902-1966), who had apparently displayed some backwardness in elementary subjects.
A subtle, elusively feminine personality (who became known as 'Pussy'), Frances took up her new position in 1911, and then soon began the historic liaison with Lloyd George, then the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Rejecting an offer of marriage from a rising civil servant, she remained at Lloyd George's side during the Marconi crisis which threatened to destroy his career. Throughout the period of the first world war, Frances displayed considerable stamina which complemented Lloyd George's dynamic vitality. She became a considerable power in her own right behind the scenes at home, and accompanied Lloyd George to Italy after the Caporetto disaster.
Frances remained intensely loyal and supportive to Lloyd George throughout the rest of his life, and it was she who was responsible for organising the building of their country home called 'Bron-y-de' at Churt in Surrey, with Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) as their close neighbour. She never lost her faith in Lloyd George throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and, when war came at the end of 1939, she attempted to secure governmental office for him in Churchill's administration. In the meantime, in 1929, Frances gave birth to a daughter Jennifer who became Jennifer Longford upon her marriage. During the 1930s, too, she undertook the mammoth task of organising Lloyd George's most extensive archive of personal and political papers required for the drafting of the War Memoirs. Following Lloyd George's death, Frances in 1949 sold this collection of papers to Lord Beaverbrook. She had displayed the same efficiency in organising a filing system of newspaper clippings and quotations from political opponents to provide ammunition for Lloyd George's political speeches. During her long widowhood Frances continued to live at Churt, somewhat estranged from most members of the Lloyd George family, but involved in an array of ambitious projects, broadcasts and writings to perpetuate her late husband's name and memory.
Frances was made a CBE in 1918. In 1967 she published a somewhat guarded volume of reminiscences The Years That Are Past (London, 1967). In 1971 there appeared Lloyd George: A Diary by Frances Stevenson, edited by A. J. P. Taylor. Mr Taylor was also the editor of My Darling Pussy: The Letters of Lloyd George and Frances Stevenson, 1913-1941 (London, 1975).
Following the death of Frances, Dowager Countess Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, in 1972, the papers were inherited by her daughter Jennifer Longford, who evidently added a few items to the files of papers accumulated by her mother. Subsequently, the papers were transferred to Jennifer's daughter Ruth Longford during the 1990s while she was researching and writing the volume Frances, Countess Lloyd George: More Than a Mistress (Leominster, 1996). She added a file of her own research notes and papers to the archive.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Purchased from Sotheby's, London (acting on behalf of Ruth Longford), January 2000.; B2000/2.
Sub-fonds G: Loaned for digitisation by Ruth Nixon, March 2013, and subsequently returned to her.
Sub-fonds H: Purchased from Bloomsbury Auctions (acting on behalf of Ruth Longford), March 2017. This purchase include some of the items in sub-fonds G which had previously been loaned to the Library.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
The fonds comprises a substantial group of letters and papers, 1911-1972, acquired by Frances as private secretary to Lloyd George, including some business papers, notebooks of reminiscences and printed items. There are letters from a number of prominent politicians and public figures. There is also a small group of letters and papers, 1912-1965, concerning Lloyd George himself, papers, 1933-1946, relating to Jennifer Longford's schooldays, and a few papers relating to other members of the Stevenson family, notably Frances's sister Muriel and brother Paul. The material in sub-fonds G was loaned by Mrs Ruth Nixon of Camberwell to the National Library of Wales to be digitised in March 2013 and subsequently returned to her a few months later. Some of this material was subsequently purchased by NLW in 2017 and catalogued as sub-fonds H. The 2017 purchase includes various articles about Lloyd George, a draft memorandum partly in the hand of Lloyd George and partly in the hand of Frances Stevenson regarding the early part of the First World War, letters from Frances Stevenson to her family, including some from the Versailles Peace Conference, notes following Lloyd George's speeches and papers relating to Jennifer Longford including letters between her and Lloyd George.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
Accruals are not expected.
System of arrangement
The papers were largely arranged in files, either by Frances Stevenson, Jennifer Longford or, most probably, by Ruth Longford before they arrived at NLW. A few miscellaneous items have been incorporated in the appropriate files at NLW. They have been arranged at NLW into four groups: Frances Stevenson Papers, 1911-1985, David Lloyd George Papers, 1912-1965, Jennifer Longford Papers, 1933-1946, and miscellaneous Stevenson-Longford Family Papers, 1910-1996. The 2017 purchase has been arranged into 1 sub-fonds of 17 files, with photographs transferred to the National Collection of Welsh photographs.
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.
Conditions governing reproduction
Usual copyright laws apply.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
A hard copy of the finding aid is available at NLW and at the Parliamentary Archive, House of Lords.
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Some of the items in the papers were published in Ruth Longford, Frances, Countess Lloyd George: More Than a Mistress (Leominster, 1996), which makes very extensive use of the papers.
Title based on contents of fonds.
Virtua system control number
GEAC system control number
Subject access points
Place access points
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
This description follows NLW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2; and LCSH.
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
The following sources were used in the compilation of the catalogue: Dictionary of National Biography, 1971-1980 (London,1986), pp. 515-16; Who Was Who, 1971-1980, (London, 1981) p. 475; Frances Lloyd George, The Years That Are Past (London, 1967); A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: A Diary by Frances Stevenson (1971); idem. (ed.), My Darling Pussy: The Letters of Lloyd George and Frances Stevenson, 1913-1941 (London, 1975); Ruth Longford, Frances, Countess Lloyd George: More Than a Mistress (Leominster, 1996).
Compiled by J. Graham Jones. Edited by Rob Phillips (2018).