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Edward Christian David Gascoyne-Cecil, usually known as Lord David Cecil, CH (9 April 1902 – 1 January 1986), was an English aristocrat, literary scholar, biographer and academic. His title was a courtesy title: he was a younger son of James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury.


He was the fourth child and second son of the 4th Marquess of Salisbury and Lady Cicely Gore, second daughter of Arthur Gore, 5th Earl of Arran. He was a delicate child, suffering from a tubercular gland in his neck at the age of 8 years, and after an operation he spent a great deal of time in bed, where he developed his love of reading. Owing to his delicate health his parents sent him to Eton later than other boys and he survived the experience by spending one day a week in bed.

After Eton Collegemarker he went on to Christ Church, Oxfordmarker as an undergraduate. He was a Fellow of New College, Oxfordmarker from 1939 to 1969, when he became an Honorary Fellow. During 1947, he was made professor of rhetoric at Gresham Collegemarker, London, for a year. He was Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxfordmarker from 1948 to 1970, his pupils including Kingsley Amis, Dr. R.K.Sinha, John Bayley and Ludovic Kennedy. He was also a member of the literary group known as the "Inklings".


He married Rachel MacCarthy, daughter of Desmond MacCarthy; the actor Jonathan Cecil is their son. His siblings were Lady Beatrice Edith Mildred Cecil afterwards Baroness Harlech; Robert Cecil, Viscount Cranborne (1893-1972);and Lady Mary Alice Cecil.


The Young Melbourne

Pan Books edition, 1948
  • The Stricken Deer or The Life of Cowper (1929), on the poet William Cowper--winner of the 1929 James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
  • Sir Walter Scott: The Raven Miscellany (1933)
  • Early Victorian Novelists : essays in revaluation (1934)
  • Jane Austen (1936)
  • The Young Melbourne and the Story of his Marriage with Caroline Lamb. London: Constable & Co., Ltd., 1939; re-published by Pan Books Ltd., London, 1948, book number GP 9
  • The English Poets (1941)
  • The Oxford Book of Christian Verse (1941) editor
  • Men of the R.A.F. (1942) with Sir William Rothenstein
  • Hardy the Novelist: an Essay in Criticism (1942) Clark Lectures
  • Antony and Cleopatra, the fourth W. P. Ker memorial lecture delivered in the University of Glasgow, 4 May, 1943 (1944)
  • Poetry of Thomas Gray (1945) Warton Lecture
  • Two Quiet Lives (1948) Dorothy Osborne and Thomas Gray
  • Poets & Story-tellers (1949) essays
  • Reading as One of the Fine Arts (1949) inaugural lecture delivered before the University of Oxford on 28 May 1949
  • Lord M, or the Later Life of Lord Melbourne (1954)
  • Walter Pater--the Scholar Artist (1955) Rede Lecture
  • Augustus John: Fifty-two Drawings (1957)
  • The Fine Art of Reading and Other Literary Studies (1957)
  • Modern Verse in English 1900-1950 (1958) editor with Allen Tate
  • Max (1964) biography of Max Beerbohm
  • The Bodley Head Beerbohm (1970) editor
  • Max Beerbohm: Selected Prose (1970) editor
  • Visionary and Dreamer : two poetic painters : Samuel Palmer and Edward Burne-Jones (1969)
  • A Choice of Tennyson's Verse (1971) editor
  • The Cecils of Hatfield House: a Portrait of an English Ruling Family (1973)
  • Walter de la Mare (1973) English Association leaflet
  • A Victorian Album: Julia Margaret Cameron and her Circle (1975) with Graham Ovenden
  • Library Looking-Glass (1975) anthology
  • Lady Ottoline's Album (1976)
  • A Portrait of Jane Austen (1978)
  • A Portrait of Charles Lamb (1983)
  • Desmond MacCarthy, the Man and His Writings (1984) editor
  • Some Dorsetmarker Country Houses (1985)

See also


  • Glyer, Diana (2007) The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. ISBN 978-0873388900

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