Lloyd George, Frances, 1888-1972

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Lloyd George, Frances, 1888-1972

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  • Lloyd George, Frances Louise Stevenson Lloyd George, Countess, 1888-1972
  • Stevenson, Frances, 1888-1972

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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).

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n 97012425

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