Liddell Hart Collection of Costume

Liddell Hart Plate 1

Sir Basil Liddell Hart was regarded as the foremost military critic in Britain between the Wars and was military correspondent for The Times.  He was Principal Adviser on Defence from 1935 to 1939.

During his lifetime he collected two very different libraries.  His military collection is now at King's College, University of London, and the splendid, highly personal, library of fashion is at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).

This fashion archive was collected over many years as a result of an interest he shared with his wife, with whom he was a founder member of the Costume Society.  Sir Basil was referred to by James Laver in Museum Piece as one of the principal authorities on dress in England.  Through a connection established by Charles Metcalfe, then head of the Department of Fashion and Textiles, Liverpool Polytechnic was offered Sir Basil's files of newspaper clippings and copies of his fashion essays by Lady Liddell Hart in 1977.  LJMU was later able to purchase the book collection in its entirety from Sir Basil's son, Adrian Liddell Hart.  The collection arrived at the Polytechnic in January 1978, just before the Liddell Hart Military Room was opened at King's College.

The Liddell Hart Collection is a highly individual fashion archive, containing not only works directly concerning fashion, but also on feminism, psychology of dress and the social scene and society at the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth century.  It contains some delightful books of drawings by famous illustrators such as Charles Dana Gibson, Mars and Guillaume.  There are approximately 350 books in the collection, but it also contains some scrapbook material of cartoons, poems and cuttings on modes and manners of the nineteenth century, folders of original early coloured fashion plates and many other interesting items.

The collection includes copies of Sir Basil's own writings covering several years from 1947.  There is a very good collection of ladies' periodicals, predominantly nineteenth century, which includes runs of Belle Assemblee; a rarely-found set of Modern Society; two copies of Aglaia: Journal of the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union; and Beeton's Young Englishwoman, complete with the original free paper patterns.  More information about the contents of the collection can be found in the Liddell Hart Collection List.

Some material from the collection is now accessible through LJMU Digital Collections.

Page last modified 05 November 2014.

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