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Additional papers of Ava Anderson, Viscountess Waverley and miscellaneous papers of John Anderson, 1st Viscount Waverley


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The papers comprise of: Appointments calendar and visitors' book, 1907-74; Correspondence, 1913-74 (comprising of special and general correspondence of Viscountess Waverley, 1915-74, Family correspondence of Viscount and Viscountess Waverley, 1922, 1941-58 and correspondence and papers of Viscount Waverley, 1913-58); Correspondence and papers concerning Sir John Wheeler-Bennett's biography John Anderson, Viscount Waverley, 1958-63; Printed Ephemera, 1925-74; and Photographs, c.1900-74.


  • Creation: 1907-1974


2.6 Linear metres (26 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Eng. e. 3459, fols. 1-2.]

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Eng. c. 7207-7219, d. 3629-3635, e. 3459-3461, MSS. Photogr. c. 187-189

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 11480, 11759


Correspondence and papers of Ava Anderson, Viscountess Waverley (1896-1974) and miscellaneous correspondence and papers of her husband, John Anderson, 1st Viscount Waverley (1882-1958), civil servant, statesman.

Biographical / Historical

Ava Anderson, Viscountess Waverley (1896-1974) was the only daughter among four children of John Edward Courtenay Bodley (1853-1925) and his first wife Evelyn Frances Bodley. Her childhood years were spent dividing her time between France and England in the company of her father's wide circle of friends drawn from political, literary and academic spheres.

In 1925 she married Ralph Follet Wigram (1890-1936), First Secretary at the British Embassy in Paris. In 1927 Wigram was diagnosed with infantile paralysis, a condition that left him reliant on walking sticks and often in considerable pain. In 1929 Ava gave birth to her only child, Charley. Born severely disabled, he required constant care until his death in 1951. In 1933 the Wigrams returned to London following Ralph's appointment as a Counsellor in the Foreign Office. In December 1936 Wigram suddenly died of a haemorrhage.

Ava now devoted her time to caring for her son and continuing to enhance her reputation as one of London's premier hostesses. It was through her ability to draw the most sought after guests to her home that she first met Sir John Anderson, the newly elected independent MP for the Scottish Universities and former governor of Bengal, in 1938. In October 1941 she married Anderson (now Lord President of the Council in the Churchill coalition government). Throughout the war Anderson continued to rise through the cabinet ranks culminating in his service as Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1943-5. Anderson left office upon the defeat of the Churchill government in the 1945 General Election but remained an MP until the abolition of the university seats in 1950.

In 1946 Anderson accepted the chairmanship of the Port of London Authority, a role in which he was greatly aided by Ava. The couples' river cruises, almost exclusively organised by Ava, soon became a highlight of the London social scene attracting prominent guests from all over the world and greatly enhancing the reputation of the Port of London. In 1952 Anderson was created 1st Viscount Waverley of Westdean. He died in 1958.

Ava was not only renowned as hostess but also as a correspondent of the highest discretion, a service greatly valued by Harold Macmillan during his Premiership. Ava was a passionate follower of opera and ballet, serving as a Trustee of the Royal Ballet Benevolent Fund and as a Member of Council of the Friends of Covent Garden. She was also a keen bloodhound breeder.

Custodial History

The papers were in the possession of T. Benton.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Given by T. Benton, 2001. MS. Eng. d. 3629 was bought from T. Benton, 2001. MS. Eng. e. 3460 was bought from Peter B. Sutton, 2001.

Related Materials

The Library also holds other papers of Viscountess Waverley comprising of letters, 1947-74, from Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, (MSS. Eng c. 4778-80) with letters from Lady Dorothy Macmillan, Sir Alexander Douglas-Home, Sir David Eccles, Sir Hubert Gladwyn Jebb and Oliver Lyttleton, 1st Viscount Chandos (MS. Eng. c.4780, fols. 95-115); A collection of mainly loose manuscript diary notes, with some typescript copies, mainly relating to Viscountess Waverley's meetings with her future husband Sir John Anderson and the years of their marriage, 1940-58, with (fols. 86-96) Viscountess Waverley's account of conversations with the incoming Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, concerning his wish to appoint Sir John to the Washington Embassy (MS. Eng. c. 6661), Correspondence and papers, Oct. 1953-28 May 1965 (MS. Eng. c. 6662), Letters to Viscountess Waverley from various correspondents, June 1965-1967, n.d. (MS. Eng. c. 6663), Miscellaneous papers including (fols. 1-29) financial papers, 1938-65, (fols. 30-92) printed material (mainly memorabilia), 1957-75, n.d. and (fols. 93-9) newspaper cuttings, 1960-75 (MS. Eng c. 6664); Photographs of Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton (MS. Photogr. c.19, fols. 28-34) and Photographs of family members and Viscount Waverley (MS. Photogr. c.78, fols. 40-51).

Catalogue of additional papers of Ava Anderson, Viscountess Waverley and miscellaneous papers of John Anderson, 1st Viscount Waverley, 1913-74
Finding aid prepared by Matthew Neely
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom