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Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

(b. Sept. 22, 1694, St James's, Westminster, London – d. March 24, 1773, Chesterfield House, Westminster, London )

Gender: M

Philip Dormer, Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773), was a British politician and diplomat. He was best known for the publication after his death of the Letters to his Son (London, J Dodsley, 1774). The son in question, Philip Stanhope, was illegitimate and Chesterfield saw him infrequently, but was determined he should become successful in the fields of politics and diplomacy. Most of the letters were written while his son was touring Europe, accompanied by his tutor. He advised him on how to be well-mannered and pleasing, and to charm both men and women. The letters were both celebrated and infamous: pious readers were offended by his cynical emphasis on external show and neglect of religion and morality. The younger Philip Stanhope died at the age of 36, and Lord Chesterfield was surprised to find that he had married an illegitimate Irish girl, Eugenia Peters, and fathered two sons. The Letters were published by his son’s wife after Chesterfield’s death as a money-making venture: she sold the copyright to Dodsley for the large sum of 1,500 guineas. They were hugely popular: eleven editions appeared by 1800, and they were also printed in Paris, Amsterdam and Leipzig.

Also known as:

  • 4th Earl of Chesterfield
  • Philip Dormer Stanhope


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