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SUN KING’S COUNSELLOR, CECIL HARWOOD
A Documentary Biography
Simon Blaxland-de Lange
28 April 2021;
314pp (8pp colour plates);
23.5 x 15.5 cm;
‘He [Harwood] is the sole Horatio known to me in this age of Hamlets…’ – C. S. Lewis, from Surprised by Joy
Cecil Harwood (1898-1975) – lecturer, Waldorf teacher, writer, editor and anthroposophist – pioneered and developed the first Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf) school in the United Kingdom (the New School in London, now Michael Hall School in Sussex). He also led the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain for some 37 years.
In 1922, at the age of 24, Harwood attended a festival of English folk song and dance in Cornwall, alongside his life-long friend Owen Barfield. It was here – and not in the academic citadel of Oxford University, where they were both part of the literary circle known as the Inklings – that Harwood and Barfield were to encounter the work of Rudolf Steiner through meeting Daphne Olivier. Sun King’s Counsellor provides an intricate picture of the human connections, cultural movements and spiritual background that contributed to what came together in Cornwall in 1922, leading to Harwood’s life’s work. Featuring a colour plate section and full index, it documents Harwood’s early years and antecedents, marriages to Daphne Olivier and Margaret Lundgren, friendships with Barfield and C.S. Lewis, his life-changing meeting with anthroposophy and Rudolf Steiner, teaching and educational work, and Harwood’s critical role in healing divisions within the Anthroposophical Society.
Based on extensive research of primary sources, Blaxland-de Lange’s biography reveals the multi-faceted, flexible and sacrificial nature of this unique personality. Alfred Cecil Harwood – he preferred ‘Cecil’ instead of Alfred, with its meaning of ‘wise counsellor’ – began his career with the hope of becoming a writer, and had neither the intention nor ambition to become a teacher or the head of a national organization. Yet he became both an exemplary teacher and leader, as well as a celebrated author, editor, translator and lecturer.
SIMON BLAXLAND-DE LANGE has for many years worked as an educator for people with special needs as well as a writer and translator. A keen amateur musician and gardener, he is a co-founder of Pericles Translations and Research, Pericles Training and Work for adults with special needs and the Pericles Theatre Company. Together with Dr Vivien Law, he co-founded the Humanities Research Group and the British group of the Humanities Section of the School of Spiritual Science, and has been a member of the Council of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain since 2013. He participated in the Foundation Year course at Emerson College beginning in the autumn of 1972, which was the last year of Cecil Harwood’s teaching activity at the College. He is the author of Owen Barfield, Romanticism Comes of Age, A Biography (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2006)