David Lloyd George with his wife, Margaret, and daughters Olwen (far left) and Megan (right) c.1910
© Science & Society Picture Library / National Portrait Galery, London pensity to gobble and digest masses of official papers. It stuck because it fitted perfectly his unswerving pursuit of women as counterpoint to his chase after power. Churchill, to his lifelong benefit, always remained faithful to Clementine — one reason why his career was a story of ultimate success and happiness. For to a public man, persistent adultery is prodigal in time and energy, risk and worry, and likely to provoke universal distrust.
His sexual compulsion was so great that in the 21st century it would have been diagnosed as a psychotic condition
The trouble with Lloyd George, as Hattersley notes, is that apart from a little golf, women were his only relaxation. Whereas Churchill had his writing and his painting in which to invest any passion left over from politics, Lloyd George had only sex. Hattersley writes: ‘His sexual compulsion was so great that in the 21st century it would have been diagnosed as a psychotic condition.’ That is going a bit far; but there may have been something abnormal about it. Frances Stevenson, who was hired as a governess for his daughter Megan, became his mistress when she was 23 and he 46 and remained so until she became, just before his death, the second Countess Lloyd George. She described him at their first meeting:
The sensitive face with deep furrows between the eyes: the eyes themselves, in which were all knowledge of human nature, grave and gay simultaneously ... a magnetism which made my heart leap and swept aside my judgment.
There may have been something else more directly physical. A.J. Sylvester, his factotum during his twilight years, described Lloyd George without his clothes on:
There he stood, as naked as when he was born, the biggest organ I have ever seen. It resembled a donkey’s more than anything else . . . No wonder they are always after him and he after them.
the spectator | 18 September 2010 | www.spectator.co.uk
Sylvester added in his diary: If LG gave his mind to thinking how best he could help his country instead of thinking cunt and women, he would be a better man.
As it was, ladies were always slipping in and out of the political scenario. Legal threats of paternity cases and divorce citations were normally dispelled by stout lying, but the notorious ditty ‘Lloyd George knew my Father’ was not without substance. Lloyd George himself made no general pronouncement on his sex life other than objecting to his bust in the House of Commons:‘It make me look lecherous.’ He was also perhaps the greatest political talent in 20th-century Britain, which the country, aided by his own follies, cut off in its prime.
The Great Outsider: David Lloyd George by Roy Hattersley Little Brown, £25, pp. 709, ISBN 9781408700976