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Sir Arnold Lunn: A Centennial Exhibition
This exhibition commemorates the centennial of the birth of Sir Arnold Lunn, noted British author, controversialist, and Catholic apologist. He is also remembered as the father of modern skiing: in 1922 he set the first slalom and fought to have it included as an event in the 1936 Winter Olympics.
The exhibit features original materials drawn from the Lunn archives, which were recently acquired by the University. The archives, some 30 feet of papers, consist of manuscripts, diaries, books and extensive correspondence with family and friends, including: Hillaire Belloc, William F. Buckley Jr., Brevoort Coolidge, Hugh Kingsmill, Ronald Knox, Evelyn Waugh, H. G. Wells, Geoffrey Winthrop Young, and Alfonso de Orleans Y Borbon, Infante of Spain.
Harrow and Oxford
In 1897 the Lunn family moved to Harrow town and Arnold was sent to Orley Farm School in preparation for Harrow. This issue of the school paper contains one of AL’s earliest published articles, “A Swiss Accident,” which describes a fatal climb at Chamonix. A few months earlier in December Arnold first put on skis at Chamonix on the slopes behind the Hotel Savoy.
In 1902 Lunn entered Harrow and was assigned to a house called “The Knoll.” In Chapter Two of this first volume of autobiography Lunn describes the Harrow of his youth, where athletic talent determined precedence in school life. Despite his lack of athletic ability AL eventually became head of a house. As he wrote, the intellectual was not necessarily a useless member of school society.
Arnold’s father took an active interest in his education. Here he writes about AL’s success in mathematics, and “I am equally thankful that you had the courage to stand out against the system of dishonesty and fraud. My boys are all of them a great joy to me.” Arnold’s younger brother, Hugh, was also at Harrow.
AL kept diaries and journals throughout his long life. The passage displayed here shows a typical Sunday’s routine at Harrow. Lunn later used such diaries for reference when writing The Harrovians, his first and best-selling novel about school life on “The Hill.”
Although Lunn left in 1907 to go up to Balliol College, Oxford, he never forgot his experiences at Harrow. These he forged into an autobiographical novel, The Harrovians, which was first published in 1913. Rev. Lionel Ford, Harrow’s headmaster since 1910 and a reformer, in this letter attempts to dissuade Lunn from doing “anything that was calculated to damage Harrow.”
A classmate of Lunn’s at Harrow asks about the true identities of the characters in the novel, and provides AL with a list of possibilities. Alas, Lunn’s answer does not survive in his archives. The Harrovians is considered a classic of the English schoolboy novel and created a great sensation when first published. It attacked, among other things, the compulsory games system.
The first volume of this famous two-volume work on Oxford is opened to the passage on Balliol College, which Lunn entered in October 1907. He wrote: “The status of a Harrovian is (or was) mainly determined by brawn, of a Balliol undergraduate by brain.”
This book was a gift to the library in 1983 from Mrs. John Moors Cabot.
A page from AL’s diary for Lent term 1908. He mentions speaking at the Oxford Union Society and Ronald Knox nominating him for the Union’s Library Committee. Lunn would later be elected Secretary of the Union. He also describes the founding of the Alpine Ski Club.
Warren, the Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, responds to an invitation to celebrate the 18th year of Publication of “Isis.” In 1909 Lunn had been appointed editor of this noted Oxford literary journal. His brother Hugh succeeded him in the position.
Another club founded by Lunn was the Oxford University Mountaineering Club. In 1912 he edited a selection of essays on the subject by various club members, including Julian Huxley. In this letter, Belloc, the noted writer, comments on the volume and also on roof climbing. Lunn would keep in practice for the Alps by scrambles up and down Oxford spires.
Sir Henry complains to the Master of Balliol about Arnold being sent down for failing in the rudiments of Holy Scripture. AL would later write of Oxford: “Oxford was the first English institution which I loved, and still love without qualification, and without reservation.”
World War One
Because of a severe climbing accident in 1909, AL was unfit for service in World War I. During the War allied officers who were captured could be exchanged for enemy officers on condition they remain for the remainder of the war in a neutral country, such as Switzerland. Some of these officers, British and French, were interned at Swiss hotels owned by Sir Henry Lunn, at Murren, Grindelwald and Crans. Arnold went to Switzerland to supervise the accommodations for these officers and tackle the many attendant problems. Here AL complains of the non-payment of several accounts, and the willful destruction of Palace Hotel furniture by officers.
The conditions for internment set forth in this document are similar to those which governed British prisoners of war. From the Cornelius Van H. Engert Papers.
One of AL's closest friends was this English poet and mountaineer. No one for twenty years before the War had a longer list of first ascents than Young. His leg had to be amputated above the knee after the battle of San Gabriele and here he writes Lunn about various artificial legs. After the War Young continued to climb, peak after peak.
Hornby, Lester G.
From the Jesuit Collection.
A British officer in Murren whom Lunn befriended was Joe Ackerley, who later became a well known author. He mentions to AL a play he is writing. This would appear in 1925 as The Prisoners of War, his first publication.
This humorous poem about internment life is dedicated to Mr. Woods, the dentist who attended the British officers in Murren.
Waugh writes Lunn about the influence of The Harrovians on his first novel, The Loom of Youth, also about life in a boys' school and recently published. Waugh was in a machine gun company in France at the time. Later he would be captured and placed in the same prisoner of war camp as Hugh Kingsmill Lunn, AL's brother.
Alec Waugh's copy from the trenches, with his signature, company number, and the date—27 October 1917—inscribed on the front flyleaf. It is interesting to note that the papers of Theodore Maynard are among the holdings of the Special Collections Division. Maynard, a well known writers of biographies, taught at Georgetown in the 1930s.
Writing from a prisoner of war camp at Mainz, Waugh mentions the sunny disposition of AL's brother Hugh: "I don't know what I should have done without him." Because of his position in Switzerland Lunn was able to get care packages through to Waugh and Hugh in Germany.
Informing Arnold that his brother Hugh is missing in action. They later learned he was captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp at Karlsruhe. It is there he met Alec Waugh. Hugh, who was to become a noted author in his own right, wrote under the name Hugh Kingsmill to distinguish himself from other writing members of the family, and to distance himself from his father.
One of the three friends discussed is Hugh Kingsmill. Shown is a photograph of HK as he appeared in the Karlsruhe camp.
Following the armistice Hugh returned home to England. He writes to AL about camp life: "My treatment in Germany was excellent at Karlsruhe and reasonable at Mainz, though the latter camp was certainly overcrowded and there was no silence or reading room, a serious deficiency."
Skiing and Mountaineering
Thanking Arnold for a copy of his recently published guide to Montana, Switzerland, appropriate entitled Guide to Montana. AL spent his childhood summers in Montana. This was his first book.
These recollections of skiing and climbing coincided with AL's Golden Jubilee as a skier. He dedicated the book to his good friend, Mia Woodruff (Hon. Mrs. Douglas Woodruff). Displayed below the volume is her letter of thanks.
AL, who did so much for the skiing world by his invention of the slalom in 1922, was also an avid historian of skiing. Here he receives from the Infanta Beatrice her recollections of skiing in 1892. She was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, her father being the Duke of Edinburgh, Victoria's second son. Her husband was Infante Alfonso, head of the Orleans branch of the Spanish royal family. Through her mother, a daughter of Czar Alexander II of Russia, she had Russian cousins, as mentioned in the letter. The Infante and Infanta lived away from Spain, for a number of years, in Switzerland.
In 1936 AL fought to have slalom and downhill ski racing entered as events in the Winter Olympics. Throughout his life he continued to be interested in the Olympics, and was especially concerned with the question of amateur as opposed to professional athletes. Here Avery Brundage discusses some fine points of Olympic amateurism.
At AL's request the Infanta Beatrice in 1935 approached her cousin, the Duke of Kent, about his sponsorship of ski races in Switzerland, to help boost the prestige of British ski racing. These are today the celebrated Duke and Duchess of Kent Races. Here Edward, the present Duke of Kent, discusses the races named after his father.
Dr. Amstutz, who often climbed and skied with AL, writes of one of Lunn's greatest achievements: the editing of 52 consecutive volumes of the British Ski Year Book. "Taken as a set [it] is the most important ski publication that has ever been published by anybody . . ."
AL's journal of his climbs in Switzerland which he began writing in 1899. This volume lists climbs into the 1920s.
AL spent Easter of 1909 with Lindsay, a classmate, at Hexham. It was there he first met Mabel Northcote who was to become his wife. In August o the same year another important event occurred. He and Lindsay went climbing in Wales, and while descending Cyfrwy alone, Lunn fell some 100 feet. His right leg was crushed, but was saved thanks to the skill of a visiting London surgeon. It would, however, always be two inches shorter than the other. In this letter Lindsay describes the accident to a friend: "Today I didn't feel up to a climb and was walking up Cader Idris whilst he descended this ridge. Near the base of the rocks a large piece of rock broke away with him and he fell sheer almost 100 feet. Mercifully he stopped on the edge of quite a narrow ledge, where we found him."
Coolidge, an American, left the United States at age 14 never to return. He lived much of his life at Grindelwald and died there in 1926. Lunn considered him the greatest of Alpine scholars and also a pioneer of winter mountaineering. In this letter he tells AL about the early days of Alpine climbing.
In this classic work Lunn examines the achievements of the various phases of Swiss and British mountaineering history.
One of AL's close Swiss friends talking about another, Otto Furrer, and their climb together of the Matterhorn. As they reached one of the ridges, Furrer exclaimed: "There, on the other side, in the eternity, it must be very beautiful." The next year he was killed descending another ridge.
Written to help celebrate the centenary of the Swiss Alpine Club, but is not a history of the club nor of Swiss mountaineering. Rather, as AL says in the introduction, the book is a study of the influence of mountains on man. It is dedicated to Karl Weber of the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research.
Religion and Controversy
First appearing in 1924, this book was the beginning of AL's published work on religion. It is a spirited attack on several English Roman Catholic converts: Cardinals Newman and Manning, G. K. Chesterton, George Tyrell, and Ronald Knox.
AL's father, Sir Henry Lunn, was a man of great religious beliefs and at one time a Methodist minister. His admiration for John Wesley's hard work and energy was absorbed by Arnold as evidenced in this biography. The book had great success in America where it was published by a well known American preacher, Dr. Cadman.
By 1932 AL decided to engage in a number of pre-arranged controversies. The first was with Msg. Ronald Knox whom he had attacked in Roman Converts. This joint work, first published in1932, led to Lunn's conversion to Roman Catholicism. As he later wrote: "As the correspondence proceeded I was beginning to feel unsettled."
Msg. Knox writes about their recently published Difficulties and offers to search for his old engagement books if AL is "in despair about tracing the date" of his conversion. Lunn was in the process of writing about his conversion to Catholicism which would appear in Now I See.
AL's classic spiritual autobiography, with a presentation inscription from Lunn to Gertrude Jane Codd (Mrs. Leo Codd).
The next controversy was with Professor Joad, noted as a writer on politics, an agnostic, and a professor of philosophy. He was perhaps most famous in England as a member of the first Brains Trust.
Thanking Lunn for a copy of Now I See and mentioning, "I am going to do your book for the 'Spectator'; but I had the hell of a job to persuade them to let it be done at all. They don't want either (a) to give publicity to the case for Catholicism, or (b) (for some reason of their own) to give any publicity to you. I am going to do the book, provided that I write a fairly colorless review."
An examination of various aspects of the Catholic Church. Dedicated to Phyllis Holt-Needham, who after the death of Lady Mabel became AL's second wife.
This controversy was with a noted medieval historian at Cambridge, particularly well known for his anti-Catholic bias.
In a published letter to the "Catholic Herald" of November 10th, 1943, Rev. John C. Heenan (later Cardinal Heenan) suggested that Coulton and Lunn debate the question of the Catholic Church being anti-social. In this letter, written from Toronto where he was a guest lecturer (1940-44), Coulton spoils for a fight and asks about the rules of engagement.
In his autobiography AL records that he regarded his appointment as editor of "Isis," in 1909, as the first step in his literary career. The success in 1913 of The Harrovians, his first novel, placed him squarely on the literary map. Here the noted politician, Sir Charles Trevelyan, who also attended Harrow, congratulates Lunn on the work.
Another admirer of The Harrovians was Sir John Betjeman, the late Poet Laureate, who writes that "It must be the pioneer of realistic school stories & it is packed with memorable scenes."
Towards the end of World War I AL came up with the idea of publishing in book form short stories by various young writers. In 1922, 1924, 1925 and 1926 he brought out editions of the Georgian Stories. Here the well known publisher Arthur Waugh discusses a potential contribution by his son, Alec, who at the time is in a German prisoner of war camp.
In the 1922 volume Lunn included a story by Katherine Mansfield. Among other writers he published were Aldous Huxley, E. M. Delafield, and his own brother, Hugh Kingsmill.
Though Belloc never published a book of controversy with Lunn, his letters to Arnold make fascinating reading. Through marriage AL was also related to Belloc. Belloc's niece, Elizabeth Lowndes, married the third Earl of Iddesleigh, Mabel Lunn's brother.
From the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors Archives at Georgetown. This collection also contains considerable manuscript material which Lunn had sent to Sister Mary Joseph of Webster College, the organizer of the Gallery Archives.
A volume of essays, some literary, dedicated to his close American friend, George Brinton Cooper. The two men first met during the Second World War in London where Cooper was stationed as the American Vice-Consul.
Here AL tells George Cooper about his forthcoming book, And Yet So New, which Lunn is dedicated to him.
Gift of George Brinton Cooper, 1988.
Thanking AL for the loan of Antonia White's Frost in May, and discussing Lunn's controversy with C. E. M. Joad.
Together with a letter by Auberon Waugh concerning the publication of his father's diaries.
Lunn had been impressed by her novel, Frost in May, about life in a convent school. White writes that she "tried not to be biased against Catholicism" and that her "father was a Catholic . . . a convert, and made great sacrifices to become one."
Politics and Science
Lunn was passionately opposed to Hitler and lectured extensively in America on behalf of England in the days before Pearl Harbor. He was also opposed to the rise of Communism, which he saw as a worldwide attack on his own faith and Christian civilization. During the Spanish civil war he supported the Nationalists, as shown in this book.
Lunn dedicated Spanish Tragedy to the three sons of his friend, The Infante Alfonso, who were fighting in the Spanish civil war. One of them, Alonso, had already been killed. In this letter The Infante writes: ". . . when God ordains I should meet Alonso I can tell him I did my best for my country & for a cause which knows no frontiers."
The Infante had married Princess Beatrice, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. He was the head of the Orleans branch of the Spanish royal family, and a grandson of the Duke of Montpensier, who was the central personality in the international crisis of the Spanish Marriages.
AL writes to Mabel Lunn from Spain about the fighting and conditions during the civil war.
Lunn's examination of Communism which he says cannot be "fought solely with political or with economic weapons, for Communism is the expression of a false philosophy."
AL tells Rev. Martin D'Arcy, S. J. about his recent visit to Spain, and the conversations he had with the Duke of Alba concerning General Franco.
The Infante describes the current political situation in Spain. A dedicated monarchist, he accompanied his cousin, King Alfonso XIII, into exile when the revolution broke out in 1931. Financially ruined by the revolution, the Infante went to England and worked for the Ford Motor Company, returning to Spain only at the end of the 1930s.
Science was another field of interest to Lunn. Here the well known physicist, Sir Oliver Lodge, famous for his work on the wireless, discusses his views on psychic phenomena. Lunn's questions of Lodge were preparatory to AL's controversy with J. B. S. Haldane.
Lunn's book with Haldane, a noted geneticist, was his only published volume of scientific controversy.
The Lunn archives include numerous scrapbooks compiled by AL, often containing news clippings about his works. The volume exhibited is open to reviews of Science and the Supernatural.
Huxley had been with Lunn at Balliol. Here he mentions his first publication, his piece on roof climbing in the Oxford Mountaineering Essays. Lunn suggests they write a controversial book about the conflict between Humanism and Catholicism. The eminent zoologist and philosopher declines, saying he is ". . . too old (& too busy with my own memoirs) to do any extra writing."
A follow-up to Lunn's The Flight from Reason which appeared in 1930, considered by some to be AL's most important book. He explores in both books the field of rationalism and science.
Family and Childhood
Sir Henry Lunn (1859-1939) took a medical degree at Trinity College, Dublin, while preparing for the Methodist ministry, and upon ordination left as a missionary to India. Arnold was born there in 1888. The same year he returned to England and became active in the cause of the reunion of churches. In 1892 Sir Henry organized the Grindelwald Conference of religious leaders which for the next few years was an annual event, meeting at Grindelwald, Switzerland. It was the arranging of these conferences which led him to travel and hotel work, and in 1909 he founded the Lunn travel agency. He also acquired several Swiss hotels and started various associated organizations, such as the Hellenic Travellers' Club and Alpine Sports, Ltd. Arnold once wrote of Sir Henry: "My father had a talent for making money which was only equalled by his talent for losing it and for giving it away."
The wife of the British Prime Minister, H. H. Asquith, writes to Arnold's father, Sir Henry Lunn, about her forthcoming trip to Switzerland. Sir Henry wasa political follower of Asquith and received his knighthood in 1910 while Asquith was in office.
Peter Lunn tells his father about the death of Sir Henry Lunn and the latter's final days.
Peter was a member of the British International Ski Team (1931-37) and Captain of the 1936 British Olympic Ski Team. After serving in the army in the Second World War, he entered the British Diplomatic Service, retiring in 1972.
An illustrated poem by the young Arnold Lunn about his next younger brother, Hugh Kingsmill Lunn. The fourth verse reads: "When at school / he'll get a caning cruel." Hugh later became a well known writer under the name Hugh Kingsmill.
On the verso is a second poem about mountain climbing.
Hugh dropped the Lunn surname to distance himself from his father as well as to distinguish himself from other writing members of the Lunn family.
AL was devoted to his younger and only sister Eileen. This poem was composed in honor of her birth when he was eight. Together with a note by Eileen, written several years later, asking for money as she is "going to Norway on Thursday."
Lunn's youngest sibling was Brian Lunn, who would also be a writer.
At the top of the displayed page on the left, AL records his feelings on the first anniversary of his marriage to Mabel Lunn. They were married December 10th, 1913.
Revd. Hon. John Stafford Northcote was a son of the first Earl of Iddesleigh, a confidant of both Gladstone and Disraeli, and Lunn's father-in-law. In this letter he tries to persuade AL to come home from Switzerland and work in England during World War I.
A photograph of AL's first wife, Lady Mabel Lunn, is used as a frontispiece to this volume of autobiography. Her brother was the third Earl of Iddesleigh, who married Elizabeth Lowndes, daughter of the writer Marie Belloc-Lowndes.
Lady Mabel Lunn's last letter to AL. She writes she is looking forward "very much indeed to coming out to my beloved Mürren & being alone with you and the people of the village." She died not long after this was written.
In 1961 AL married Phyllis Holt-Needham by whom he was lovingly looked after until his death in 1974. While Georgetown's Lunn centennial exhibition was being mounted, we received the sad news that Lady Phyllis Lunn had died peacefully on March 26th at her home in Gloucestershire.
Taken in Grindelwald in the late 1940s, Sir Arnold Lunn is on the far right, with his son Peter Northcote Lunn next, and his grandson David Lunn on the far left. The Eiger and Jungfrau are in the background.
AL describes the ceremony at which he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for services to skiing and Anglo-Swiss relations: "It is curious how few people know how to bow to royalty."
In AL's estimation no skier had a finer record as a pioneer of ski mountaineering than his friend Marcel Kurz. Kurz was also the author of Alpinisme hivernal and various ski guides to the Valaisian Alps.
AL had first met Prince Chichibu, the brother of the Emperor, in 1926 in Mürren. He accompanied the Prince on his first expeditions in the High Alps and as Lunn wrote: ". . . few men have loved the mountains more passionately."
Together wit ha letter from Princess Chichibu about her late husband.
Dowding, the legendary British air chief marshal in the Battle of Britain, was also an enthusiastic skier. He mentions here his article on skiing. He also confides to AL that he "was sent for by Somebody Else [Winston Churchill] who told me that he had the right to demand that I should accept" an appointment in the Air Ministry.
Gertsch had been a great Swiss ski racer in his youth and the creator of the famous Lauberhorn race. He was also a climber of note and with Fritz Fuchs made the first ascent of the south face of the Jungfrau in 1927.
One of the greatest influences on AL's literary education was Miss Dora Jones, his father's secretary and a polymath of the first order. She informs Lunn in this letter of the importance of the Spanish school of modern novelists.
Both Mia and her husband, Douglas Woodruff, were AL's close friends. DW was the editor for many years of the well known Catholic weekly, "The Tablet." Here Lunn writes from Chicago he is feeling homesick. Together with a contemporary picture of the Woodruffs.
From the Douglas Woodruff Papers, which contain numerous Lunn letters.
"He would have made a laundry-list sound like great poetry" was T. S. Eliot's tribute to Speaight's acting skills. A well known stage actor and man of letters, Speaight, like his friend Lunn, was also a convert to Catholicism. He discusses AL's memoirs, Unkilled for So Long, in this letter.
Rev. Martin D'Arcy, S. J., the famous master of Campion Hall, Oxford, was AL's longtime friend, and often gave lectures on the Lunn travel agency's cruises. In 1935 D'Arcy first came to America and received an honorary LLD degree from Georgetown University. Here he tries to persuade AL not to step down as the President of the Latin Mass Society.
Among AL's younger literary friends was this American novelist. Displayed is a youthful "fan" letter written from Portsmouth Priory School, later described by Buckley in the prologue of Steaming to Bamboola.
In addition, AL was a close friend of William F. Buckley, Jr. whose letters are also preserved in the Lunn archives.
Lunn was particularly proud of his friendships with several women of high birth, known affectionately by his family as "Arnold's elegant ladies." Displayed are a few of their letters.
The Infanta, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, discusses the skiing progress of her sons and mentions her husband's cousin, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, and her sister, Queen Marie of Roumania. The Infanta and her husband, The Infante Alfonso, were close friends of Lunn.
Princess Victoria of Battenberg, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, married King Alphonso XIII in 1906. He left Spain in 1931, partly with the aim of avoiding civil war, but he never abdicated. Their grandson is Juan Carlos, the present King of Spain.
Contessa Bonacossa, wife of the Italian ski pioneer, Count Aldo Bonacossa, earned during the Second World War the title of "Mother of the Partisans." She was one of the leading ski mountaineers of Europe and in 1925 made the first ski ascent of the Breitlauihorn (12,018 feet).
The Princess, formerly Countess Gina von Wilczek, comes from a long line of Silesian nobility. She married in 1943 Francis Joseph II, the Prince of Liechtenstein.