Robert Sencourt


Robert Sencourt (1890–1969) – pen name of Robert Esmonde Gordon George – critic, historian, biographer. Born in New Zealand, he was educated in Auckland and at St John’s College, Oxford. He taught in India and Portugal before serving as Professor of English Literature, University of Egypt, 1933–6. His Times obituary noted that he was ‘born an Anglican [but] was converted to Roman Catholicism which alone could inspire him with the spiritual dimension of the life of grace … [He] was the most fervent and devout of religious men, with the same personal mysticism which makes his life of St John of the Cross a joy to read. Never fearing to speak his mind in religious matters, even when (as often) his view ran counter to the church’s, he was intolerant of any form of ecclesiastical cant or humbug.’ Works include Carmelite and Poet: St John of the Cross (1943), biographies of George Meredith, Empress Eugénie, Napoleon III, and Edward VIII, and T. S. Eliot: A Memoir, ed. Donald Adamson (1971). Valerie Eliot to Russell Kirk, 15 May 1973: ‘Sencourt’s memoir is, to put it mildly, unfortunate, and leaves a nasty taste. As you say, the whole background is both strange and malicious. He had nothing whatsoever to do with Tom’s conversion – this long, slow process had come to fruition before they met.’ See too Sencourt, ‘T. S. Eliot: His Religion’, PAX: A Benedictine Review, 312 (Spring 1965), 15–19.