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Liddell, Eric Henry, 1902-1945 (Olympic Athlete and Missionary)



  • Existence: 1902 - 1945


Eric Henry Liddell, Olympic runner and missionary, was born in 1902 in China, the son of Scottish missionaries. He was educated in Blackheath and Eltham, London, then studied at Edinburgh University where he was a rugby blue and gained his B.Sc. in 1924. He was outstanding as a runner and was selected for the British team in the Paris Olympics of 1924. He refused to run in the heats for the 100 meters as they were held on a Sunday and instead entered the 400 meters which he won in a world record time. Liddell's story was later made into the film Chariots of Fire. He went on to study at the Scottish Congregational College and in 1925 went to China as a missionary with the London Missionary Society. He began by teaching science at the Anglo-Chinese College in Tientsin then moved to rural Siochang where he worked despite the difficult conditions caused by poverty and war. He married Florence Mackenzie in March 1934 in Tientsin but he last saw his wife and children in 1940 when, for safety, they went to Canada to live with family. Liddell was interned by the Japanese in 1943 in Weihsien prison camp, Shantung where he died of a brain tumour in 1945. His death was widely mourned not least in the camp itself where he had become a teacher, friend and guide to scores of imprisoned children.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Collection relating to Eric Henry Liddell

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Coll-218
Scope and Contents

Small collection of items, from multiple sources, relating to Eric Liddell.

Annual sports programmes of Edinburgh University Athletic Club, 1923-1925, showing Liddell's times in the races entered, and an annotated Scottish Inter-Universities programme, 1923; two photographs of a memorial stone in China; Wedding invitation.

Dates: Majority of material found within 20th century

Lantern slides representing sporting events

Identifier: Coll-1996
Content Description

This is a collection of thirty lantern slides (8.5 cm sq.) which cover a number of training style poses and sporting/athletic events such as running, shot put throw, high jump, rope pulling, and hurdles. There is no accompanying description, but they appear to be connected with the University of Edinburgh. The Scottish athlete Eric Liddell, who studied at the University in 1920-1924, appears in some of them.

Dates: 1920s

Additional filters:

Athletics 1
China 1
China -- Photographs 1
Games 1
Lantern Slides 1
∨ more