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Arthur Godley Baron Kilbracken letters

Identifier: H-Mss-1066

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The letters in this collection span 1898-1899 and are written to his just married daughter Helen, detailing his life as under-secretary. The collection contains nearly 400 pages of Godley’s light-hearted thoughts about family and government matters, about his travels (he was especially fond of visiting churches and reveals keen knowledge of architecture), his reading, the cause of women's rights (Helen was a supporter of women's rights), dinners and other occasions with imporant people. He also writes of other matters, including religious bills before Parliament, bicycling, the perils of foreign travel, and the memorial windows to Jane Austen newly installed at Westminster Cathedral. Among the people mentioned in the letters are the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Curzon, Rudyard Kipling and the dukes of York and Cambridge. The majority of the collection consists of complete letters, with a few undated partial letters, two photographs of Helen at the age of three and an autograph letter signed by William Gladstone's wife, Catherine, to Walter Charles James referring to the installation of James's son-in-law, Godley, as Gladstone's private secretary.


  • 1875-1899 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1898 - 1899


Language of materials

Languages represented in the collection: English.


This collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Special Collections.

Biographical Information

Arthur Godley, Baron Kilbracken (1847-1932) had an illustrious career as a civil servant and was acquainted with many well-known figures of his time. A decorated Oxford scholar, he served as assistant private secretary to Prime Minister William Gladstone from 1872 to 1874, and as principal secretary to Gladstone from 1880 to 1882. In 1883 he was appointed Under-Secretary of State of India, a post he retained until his retirement in 1909, though he himself never visited the country. Working well within British politics, Godley did not, however, advance the interests of the Indian National Congress during his time in the India Office. In his later years, he was made Baron Kilbracken of Killegar, served as chairman of the board for Rugby School, and was a trustee at the British Museum. Godley married his wife Sarah in 1871, and together they had two sons and three daughters.


1 box


This collection contains the letters of Arthur Godley, Baron Kilbracken to his adult daughter Helen from the years of 1898-1899, along with two photographs of Helen from 1875. An additional autograph letter signed by Catherine Gladstone (wife of Prime Minister William Gladstone) to Walter Charles James is also included. The letters were written during Godley's time as Under-Secretary of State in India and provide an intimate picture of the private, upper-class world of the time, while also encompassing the larger political and social scene in late 1890s Britain. Topics include family and government matters, travels, societal events, and notable figures.

Physical location

Please consult repository.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition

Purchase, 2015.


No additions to the collection are anticipated.

Related Material

Godley is a graduate of Oxford University. Funds to support the William W. Clary Oxford collection at Honnold/Mudd Special Collections were used to purchase the Godley correspondence; and as such the Godley collection is considered part of the Oxford collection at Honnold/Mudd.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Hannah Blythe, Claremont Graduate University in Fall 2015. The collection has been arranaged to the item level, chronologically by date on letter. Two folders appear at the front of the collection containing collection information and photographs. Remaining folders contain a single letter. Undated letters appear at end of collection followed by the Catherine Gladstone letter.
Guide to the Arthur Godley Baron Kilbracken Letters
Hannah Blythe, Claremont Graduate University, Fall 2015.
© 2015
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Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the 01 - Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library Repository

800 North Dartmouth Ave
Claremont CA 91711 United States