Liddell, Eric

Reference code(s): GB 0237 Edinburgh University New College Library MSS BOX 49.5.1-6
Held at: Edinburgh University New College Library
Title: Liddell, Eric
Date(s) of contents: 1940-1945
Level of description: Fonds
Extent and medium: 1 file


Name of creator(s): Liddell, Eric Henry (1902-1945)

Administrative/Biographical history: Eric Henry Liddell, Olympic runner and missionary, was born in 1902 in China, the son of Scottish missionaries. He was educated in Blackheath and Eltham, London, then studied at Edinburgh University where he was a rugby blue and gained his B.Sc. in 1924. He was outstanding as a runner and was selected for the British team in the Paris Olympics of 1924. He refused to run in the heats for the 100 meters as they were held on a Sunday and instead entered the 400 meters which he won in a world record time. Liddell's story was later made into the film Chariots of Fire. He went on to study at the Scottish Congregational College and in 1925 went to China as a missionary with the London Missionary Society. He began by teaching science at the Anglo-Chinese College in Tientsin then moved to rural Siochang where he worked despite the difficult conditions caused by poverty and war. He married Florence Mackenzie in 1934 but he last saw his wife and children in 1940 when, for safety, they went to Canada to live with family. Liddell was interned by the Japanese in 1943 in Weihsien prison camp, Shantung where he died of a brain tumour in 1945. His death was widely mourned not least in the camp itself where he had become a teacher, friend and guide to scores of imprisoned children.

Custodial history:

Immediate source of acquisition: The material was presented to New College Library by the Reverend George C. Cameron in 1985. The letter was found in the Thomson booklet.


Scope and content/abstract: The collection consists of Eric Liddell by D.P. Thomson (1945) and a letter (30 June 1940) from Liddell to Mary and George Cameron, Heriot, Midlothian describing his movements during his last trip with his family. There is also a photograph of the letter and an accompanying exhibition captions.

System of arrangement:


Language: English.

Conditions governing access: Contact the repository for details.

Conditions governing reproduction: Contact the repository for details.

Finding aids: The Index to Manuscripts held at New College Library mentions the collection. A handlist is filed in the New College Inventory of Manuscripts under BOX 49.


Related material: Edinburgh University Library also has Olympic medals once belonging to Liddell. Liddell's official correspondence as an LMS missionary is to be found in the Council for World Mission Archives at the School of Oriental and African Studies.


Archivist's note: Compiled by Caroline Brown, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives.

Note: The biographical history was compiled using: (1) Bibliographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, G.H. Anderson (ed.) (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998). (2) Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology N.M. de S. Cameron (ed.) (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993).

Date(s) of descriptions: 7 July 2000


Personal names
Liddell | Eric | 1902-1945

Corporate names
London Missionary Society