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Balfour, Elizabeth Edith, 1867-1942 (née Lytton, countess of Balfour, social hostess and biographer)



Elizabeth Edith 'Betty' Lytton was born on 12 June 1867 in London, the eldest of the five surviving children of Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton, first earl of Lytton (1831–1891), viceroy, diplomat, and poet, and his wife, Edith (d. 1936), daughter of the Hon. Edward Villiers. Always known as Betty, she was educated by governesses wherever her father was posted, including India when he became viceroy. They returned to Knebworth, the family home in Hertfordshire, in 1880. On 21 December 1887 Betty married Gerald William Balfour (1853–1945), MP and younger brother of Arthur Balfour; they had a son and five daughters. By 1910 Lady Betty Balfour had become an active supporter of the suffrage movement, but she never participated in violent protest actions. She was ahead of her time in her attitude towards female education, encouraging Ruth, her eldest daughter, to train as a doctor, and a younger daughter, Eve, to read agriculture at Reading University. Eve went on to become secretary of the Soil Association, and a founder of the organic movement. Lady Betty Balfour edited her father's official papers and letters as viceroy. 'The History of Lord Lytton's Indian Administration, 1876–1880' appeared in 1899. In addition she published a selection of his poems (1894) and edited 'The Personal and Literary Letters of Robert, First Earl of Lytton' (1906). In an edition of the letters of her sister Constance Lytton (1925), she produced a perceptive portrait of the great suffragette. On Arthur Balfour's death in 1930 Gerald Balfour succeeded as earl of Balfour and Lady Betty became countess. She died of a perforated duodenal ulcer at Fisher's Hill Cottage on 28 March 1942.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:


BALFOUR, Elizabeth Edith 'Betty', 19-29 Jul 1896

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10286/1/7
Scope and Contents

Two letters from 'Betty' Balfour to Ida Darwin dated 19 and 29 July 1896 enquiring after the health of Ida's daughter following an operation and seeking an opportunity to call on Ida during her stay in London.

Dates: 19-29 Jul 1896
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