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Letter about the 1908 Olympic Games

This letter from 1913 is from the papers of Ralph David Blumenfeld. It refers to the London Games of 1908, and to a current Olympic fund.  It was written by Lord Northcliffe, who was grumbling about a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle regarding the fund. In the document Northcliffe describes himself as "not  keen" on the Olympics, and not happy at being pushed into forming the fundraising committee. Later in the letter he describes those who seem to think he should be raising the money as ‘busybodies'.

Northcliffe was a contributor to the Olympic fund for the 1908 games. London hosted the games rather unexpectedly, as Italy had to pull out when funds were needed to repair the damage after an eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and they could not afford to host the games. Conan Doyle was a big fundraiser for that, and later Olympic events. He even covered the marathon for the Daily Mail.


Letter from Viscount Northcliffe to Blumenfeld



Catalogue number

Parliamentary Archives, BLU/1/15/NOR.6



Dear Blumenfield,
   Arriving here from the country, I find that Conan Doyle has placed me in a small predicament by enclosing a long letter and asking me to approve it, and adding a postscript in the covering letter, Thank God I am off, after his long illness I presume.  Even if I disapprove I am helpless.  As a matter of fact, there are one or two trivial points with which I do not agree.  But I send the letter on to you to do just as you like with it.

   I have seen no querulous article in the Express or elsewhere.  I sent for yesterday's Express and quite agree with the article therein.

   I am never fond of advertising my private benevolences, nor am I keen on the Olympic Games, except that I think we cannot retire after defeat.

   When approached, I positively declined to take up the matter as I did in 1908.  For certain good reasons, I offered, if it were necessary, to make a contribution according to my means, provided only one appeal by only one representative committee was issued and that and everything connected with the matter through the P.A. and General News to all newspapers.

   Since then I have heard nothing, and agree with the Article in the Express that it is time things got going.

   Max Pemberton told me last September that some busybody had said that I was guaranteeing an Olympic fund.  The wish was no doubt father to the thought.

   Doyle and Perry Robinson, whom you probably know, deserve great credit for their laborious work in this matter.

   This letter should reach you tonight.

   Yours faithfully,


R. Blumenfield, Esq.                                                                                 23rd May 1913