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Author: Geoff Berridge

A Diplomatic Whistleblower in the Victorian Era: The Life and Writings of E. C. Grenville-Murray, Second Edition (Revised) 2015


Unlike Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, the most well-known whistleblowers of the present day, Eustace Clare Grenville-Murray (1823-1881), the illegitimate son of an English duke and an actress who was also a lover of Lord Palmerston, did not make public highly classified documents. Instead, while serving as a diplomat behind the fragile shield of anonymity, he employed satire and ridicule in books, periodicals, and newspapers to attack the aspects of diplomacy he disliked.

His chief target was the use of patronage and favouritism in appointments to the diplomatic service but he also urged many other diplomatic reforms. His writing was powerful but his gift for satire was sometimes over-indulged. As a result, he made armies of enemies and was eventually dismissed from the diplomatic service. In exile in France in the first years of the Third Republic and after many personal and financial trials, he eventually became a rich man by means of his novels and journalism. But the impression of him created at the time, not least by organs like The Times of London, was so unflattering that it has become part of the historical furniture: he is still routinely dismissed as a ‘scurrilous journalist’ or even as a ‘pornographer’. As this biography tries to establish, such descriptions trivialise the life and accomplishments of a major figure. He was in fact not only acknowledged by fellow writers to be one of the most gifted journalists of his day but also a diplomat of high intelligence and great energy who thought and wrote very creatively about his profession. This book is based on private family papers, diplomatic correspondence, recently digitised nineteenth century British newspapers, and Grenville-Murray’s own vast literary output, as well as on many other primary sources. It is the first biography of this journalist-diplomat to be published. In addition to the online version (see below), it is also available in a lightly revised paperback edition published by The Isis Press (Istanbul) in 2017. Unlike the online edition, the paperback also has a full analytical index.