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John Douglas Woodruff - Sir Roy (Forbes) Harrod Collection

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS218

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The Harrod-Woodruff Collection comprises a series of letters from (John) Douglas Woodruff to Sir Roy (Forbes) Harrod.

The Harrod-Woodruff Collection contains 47 Autograph Letters (Signed), 4 Postcards (Signed), 1 Typed Letter (Signed), and other printed material from (John) Douglas Woodruff to Sir Roy (Forbes) Harrod, as well as 1 Autograph Letter (Signed) from Mrs. Douglas Woodruff to Lady Harrod. The letters from Douglas Woodruff to Roy Harrod span the time period of 1922-1946. The bulk of the correspondence is from 1922-1929. The earlier letters congratulate Harrod on his double first and refer to J. M. Keynes, Cambridge, and Harrod's trips to France and Germany. They also refer to the various organizations Woodruff was involved in, including the Essay Society, the Liberal Club, the Oxford Union Club, and the debating team and discuss exams, All Souls, and other aspects of university life. Woodruff also discusses in great detail his debating tour with Christopher Hollis and Malcolm MacDonald, offering his opinions on America, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere. Included in the collection is a cartoon from the Australian John Bull which presents a caricature of Hollis, MacDonald, and Woodruff on their debating tour. Woodruff also writes about his struggle to find a vocation and decide on a career, his work on The Times and The Tablet, and Harrod's work as a teacher and author. He also announces his engagement to Maria Acton in one of the letters. He frequently discusses or mentions literary, political, and popular figures of the day, including F. A. Lindemann (later Lord Cherwell), Walter Layton, Douglas Fairbanks, Upton Sinclair, Randolph Hughes, George Catlin, and H. L. Mencken. He also critiques topics such as Germany's economy, the League of Nations, academic teaching, and liberalism. He is quite frank in his various discussions with Harrod, and one set of letters is appealing honest as he apologizes to Harrod for a supposed insult, and then answers Harrod's reply to this letter. The last letter contained in the collection is a moving note from Marie Woodruff to Billa Harrod, expressing Douglas' sorrow at Roy Harrod's death before he himself died. Readers of the Harrod-Woodruff Collection are urged to consult the Douglas Woodruff Collection, also in the Special Collections Division of Georgetown University. This collection contains letters from Sir Roy Harrod to Douglas Woodruff, some of which reply to or initiate the letters contained in the Harrod-Woodruff Collection. The letters in both collections illuminate aspects of both men's lives. One of the letters in this collection, for example, illustrates Woodruff's precept for the writing and speaking he and Harrod did so often and explains his struggle to find a worthwhile vocation: "Never will I drone out the unimportant to the uninterested." [December 10, 1924] The letters in both collections show two active minds engaged in presenting the important to the interested.

Number of Boxes: 1 Extent: .5 linear feet Date Span: 1922-1978


  • 1922-1978
  • Majority of material found within 1922-1936

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

Sir Roy (Forbes) Harrod was born on February 13, 1900 to Henry Dawes Harrod and Frances Marie Desiree Harrod. His father died in 1918. However, Harrod was able to attend school through a history scholarship he won to New College, Oxford. It was here that he met his lifelong friend, Douglas Woodruff. Harrod excelled at academics and obtained a first in Literae Humaniores in 1921 and a first in Modern History in 1922. He was elected to a lectureship at Christ Church, Oxford, from 1922-24, and a Studentship (i.e. fellowship) in modern history and economics in 1924 which he held until his retirement in 1967. Before beginning his lectureship, he went to King's College, Cambridge, to study economics under the tutelage of John Maynard Keynes, whose biography (Life of John Maynard Keynes) Harrod later wrote. Harrod was active both as a don in Christ Church's affairs and as an economist who served as joint editor of the Economic Journal from 1945-61 and wrote numerous books and articles, including International Economics, The Trade Cycle: An Essay, Are These Hardships Necessary?, The Dollar, Money, and The Foundations of Inductive Logic. As a don, he was elected as Junior Censor of Christ Church from 1927-1929, Senior Censor in 1930, and served on the Bodleian Library Commission from 1930-31. He also served as Curator of the Common Room at Christ Church. He married Wilhelmine ('Billa') Creswell in 1938 and continued to be active in Christ Church affairs as well as public affairs. Harrod campaigned for Liberal Party candidates until the 1940's, when he joined the Conservative Party. He served under Lord Cherwell (formerly Professor Lindemann) in Winston Churchill's private statistical staff in the Admirality in 1940 and in the Prime Minister's office from 1940-1942. He was also an economic adviser to the International Monetary Fund from 1952-53. But his involvement in public affairs did not detract from his continuing scholarship and teaching in the realm of academia. Harrod obtained the Nuffield readership in international economics in 1952 and kept it until his retirement in 1967. In addition, he was a Nuffield Fellow from 1938-47 and 1954-58, and was knighted in 1959. He died on March 8, 1978.

(John) Douglas Woodruff was born on May 8, 1897 to Cumberland and Emily Woodruff in Wimbledon, England. He served under the Foreign Office in Holland from 1917-1919. After his service, he attended New College, Oxford, where he was Lothian prizeman in 1921, and where he received First Class Honors in Modern History. At Oxford, he was quite active as a member of several organizations, including the Essay Society, the Oxford Union Club, the Liberal Club, and the debating team. He was elected President of the Oxford Union Club for 1923. After receiving his B.A., Woodruff lectured in history at Sheffield College from 1923-24. He then embarked on a world-wide debating tour as leader of the Oxford Union Debating Team which included Christopher Hollis and Malcolm MacDonald. As a result of this visit, he wrote Plato's American Republic. When he returned to England, Woodruff joined the editorial staff of The Times, where he remained until 1938. From 1931- 1933, he was also in charge of press publicity for the Empire Marketing Board, and from 1934-36, he was also on the staff of the British Broadcasting Corporation. In 1933, he married the Honorable Marie Immaculee Acton, daughter of the 2nd Lord Acton. In 1936, he became editor of The Tablet, England's leading Catholic weekly review, where he became well-known for his witty column "Talking at Random". While at The Tablet, he also served as chairman of the Tablet Publishing Company, deputy chairman of Burns and Oates Publishers from 1948-1962, chairman of Allied Circle from 1947-62, chairman of B.O.W. Holdings, director of Hollis and Carter from 1948-1962, and chairman and managing director of Associated Catholic Newspapers. In addition to editing and publishing, Woodruff wrote many works, including The British Empire, Plato's Britannia, Charlemagne, The Story of the British Colonial Empire, The Tichborne Claimant, and Church and State in History. He also produced compilations of his "Talking at Random" column in Talking at Random, More Talking at Random, and Still Talking at Random. Woodruff was awarded the Grand Cross, Order of St. Gregory the Great, in 1968. He died on March 9, 1978, the day after his dear friend Harrod died.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Provenance: Acquired from Lady Harrod through Mr. Hamish Riley- Smith, proprietor for Rare and Important Books, 1986

Processed by: Deborah Ann Marrone Date: March 21, 1988

John Douglas Woodruff - Sir Roy (Forbes) Harrod Collection
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057