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Eric Liddell exhibition to be part of London 2012 Olympic celebrations

13 July 2012

Eric Liddell exhibition to be part of London 2012 Olympic celebrations

An exhibition of photogaphs and documents relating to the life of Scottish Olympian Eric Liddell is part of the National Archives' celebrations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The National Archives has released details of an exhibition of photos and documents relating to the life of Scottish Olympian Eric Liddell, held as part of the celebrations for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The exhibition, which is part of the Archive Awareness Campaign, features more than fifty images and personal documents which chronicle the life of Scottish athlete Eric Liddell. Liddle, whose story was told in the film Chariots of Fire became well-known as the fastest runner in Scotland and made the headlines ahead of the 1924 Paris Olympics for his stance against running on the Sunday, due to his Christian beliefs. His decision forced him to withdraw from competing in the Olympics 100 metres - considered his best event, but he went on to win bronze and gold medals in the 200 and 400 metres events. In 1925, at the peak of his athletic career, he left sport to become a missionary in China.

The exhibition focuses on the lesser-known side of Liddell’s life, delving into the fascinating story of his life as a missionary after he stepped out of the limelight of Olympic success. Drawing on documents found in the archive of the London Missionary Society, held by SOAS Library, the exhibition looks at Liddell’s family background; his birth in China to Scottish missionary parents, his personal motivation for becoming a missionary, his work as a teacher at the Anglo-Chinese College in Tientsin and his eventual imprisonment and premature death in a Japanese internment camp at Weihsien in 1945.
Materials on display include photographs, application papers submitted to the London Missionary Society and Liddell’s annual reports and correspondence back to the mission directors in London. As well as reflecting on his work and life in the context of civil war, and the Japanese occupation of China in the lead-up to and during the Second World War, the correspondence includes letters and medical reports relating to his death at Weihsien Camp, and the impact this had on his family, colleagues, and the nation.

The exhibition runs from 13 July 2012 to 22 September 2012 at the Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Russell Square, London. Open: Tue to Sat, 10.30am to 5pm (late opening until 8pm Thursdays).

For more information on the London Missionary Society archive, visit the School of Oriental and African Studies website.

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Last Updated: 10th May 2012