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Albert James Sylvester (1889 – 1989) was raised in Staffordshire by a tenant farmer of modest income. In his late teens he attended evening classes to learn shorthand writing and migrated to London at the age of 21 to work as a freelance stenographer.

Sylvester launched his career in the political sphere as a shorthand writer in the office of Maurice Hankey. He would later become Hankey’s Private Secretary which led him to take up a similar position with the post-war coalition Prime Minister, David Lloyd George in 1921. Even though his employer fell from power in 1922, Sylvester would remain his Principal Private Secretary until Lloyd George’s death in 1945.

During his post, Sylvester chronicled Lloyd George’s activities and opinions. He kept a meticulous diary, mostly in Pitman’s shorthand. In 1947, A J Sylvester published his famous volume entitled The Real Lloyd George, which he based on his own diaries.

As his Principal Private Secretary, A J Sylvester coordinated many of Lloyd George’s overseas visits and tours of Britain; some of which he photographed. Below is a compiled gallery of his collection. Sylvester documented Lloyd George’s visit to Brazil in December 1927 and his trips to Europe in 1929. In January of that year he sailed by cruise along the coast from Cannes to Naples and also travelled by motor car through Belgium and France to the Italian Lakes with his wife Margaret and children Megan, Gwilym and his wife Edna. The collection also includes photographs of David Lloyd George’s trip to Morocco in 1936 with Winston Churchill. Later stills include Lloyd George at Berchtesgaden, Germany in 1936 and his Secretariats’ visit to Churt in 1941.

You can view the Catalogue record for the A J Sylvester Collection on NLW Archives and Manuscripts

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