Telephone: +44 (0) 207 935 8131
Durrants Hotel, George Street
London, W1H 5BJ


SIMON KERRY & ‘Lansdowne: The Last Great Whig’


Might World War 1 have ended earlier if the 5th Marquess of Lansdowne’s proposal for the negotiation of a peace treaty had been heeded?

Our very first Guest Author evening is to be held on Tuesday 6th November when we will be welcoming Simon Kerry to the hotel to chat about his book, ‘Lansdowne: the Last Great Whig’.

Author and historian, Simon Kerry will consider whether World War I might have concluded earlier if the 5th Marquess of Lansdowne’s ‘Peace Letter’ to the Daily Telegraph of 29th November 1917 had achieved its desired result. As he does so, he will draw a remarkable figure of British politics out of the shadows.

Over the course of a distinguished 50-year career between the late Victorian and interwar years, Lord Lansdowne served as Governor-General of Canada, Viceroy of India, Secretary of State for War, Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Lords. Appalled at the scale of slaughter from a war that had been expected to last just a few months, Lansdowne’s letter to the Daily Telegraph in late 1917 called for Britain to negotiate a peace treaty with Germany and for a guarantee of the ‘freedom of the seas’, saying: “We are not going to lose this war, but its prolongation will spell ruin for the civilised world, and an infinite addition to the load of human suffering which already weighs upon it.”

While Lord Lansdowne’s advocacy was highly informed and well-considered, his viewpoint on peace negotiation was extremely unpopular among those singularly-focused on the prospect of victory. Considered “a deed of shame”, his ‘Peace Letter’ – which The Times had refused to print – set him as an outcast and effectively ended his political career.

Presenting his great-great-grandfather in the context of his time, Simon Kerry’s book sheds fascinating light on the leading personalities and most significant political events of the day. He also highlights how many of the issues Lansdowne faced are still important today and that his career profoundly affected the course of modern history. This authoritative book is based on the first full examination of the 5th Marquess of Lansdowne’s extensive archive.

Simon Kerry was awarded an MA in Archaeology at Jesus College, Cambridge and a doctorate in late Victorian British History at the University of East Anglia in 2015.

After the talk, there will be a book signing and sales session, supported by Heywood Hill bookshop.
(‘Lansdowne: the Last Great Whig’ published by Unicorn Publishing, £25)

We very much hope you can join us on Tuesday 6th November from 6.30pm. Tickets to attend must be reserved in advance and are priced at £15 per person to include a glass of fizz and canapés (copy of book not included).

To make a reservation, please contact the hotel’s sales office on 020 7935 8131 (Ext. 705) or e-mail

Future Guest Author evenings
More such events will be announced shortly so do check Durrants’ Diary Dates on for details of the line-up into 2019.

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