The Lord Rennell
|British Ambassador to Italy|
|Preceded by||Edwin Henry Egerton|
|Succeeded by||George Buchanan|
|Member of Parliament for St Marylebone|
|Preceded by||Douglas McGarel Hogg|
|Succeeded by||Alec Cunningham-Reid|
James Rennell Rodd
9 November 1858
|Died||26 July 1941(aged 82)|
Lilias Georgina Guthrie
|Relations||John Tremayne Rodd (grandfather)|
Anthony Todd Thomson (grandfather)
|Parent(s)||James Rennell Rodd|
Elizabeth Anne Thomson
|Alma mater||Balliol College, Oxford|
Rodd was born in London on 9 November 1858. He was the only son of Cornishman Major James Rennell Rodd (1812–1892) of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, and his wife Elizabeth Anne Thomson, the third daughter of Dr. Anthony Todd Thomson. His paternal grandparents were Admiral Sir John Tremayne Rodd and the former Jane Rennell, a daughter of the geographer James Rennell.
Rodd was educated at Haileybury and Balliol College, Oxford, where he was associated with the circle of Oscar Wilde. In 1880, he won the Newdigate prize for Raleigh. Wilde later assisted Rodd in securing publication for his first book of verse, Rose Leaf and Apple Leaf, for which Wilde provided an introduction. As Wilde began to court scandal in his public career, their friendship cooled. Following Wilde's trial, Rodd strongly dissociated himself from him, particularly as his own work had contained a number of gently homoerotic verses, such as: "his eyes would gaze from his soul at mine/My eyes that would answer without one sign/And that were enough for love."
Rodd entered the British Diplomatic Service in 1883, and served in minor positions at embassies in Berlin, Rome, Athens and Paris. From 1894 to 1902, Rodd worked under the Consul-General of Egypt, Lord Cromer. He played an important part in negotiating the Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1897 with Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia. In late 1901, he was appointed first secretary at the embassy in Rome, where he arrived in 1902, and remained for the next two years.
In 1904, Rodd was made minister plenipotentiary to Sweden—and until November 1905, Norway—but did not arrive until 17 January 1905. He played an active and neutral part in the Dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden, for which he was rewarded the Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star by King Oscar II. After the secession, he continued as a minister in Sweden until 1908.
In 1908 he was appointed ambassador to Italy. He remained in this post until 1919, and played a key role in securing Italy's adhesion to the Triple Entente. Rodd left the Diplomatic Service in 1919, but nonetheless served on the mission to Egypt in 1920, with The Viscount Milner. Rodd was the British delegate to the League of Nations from 1921 to 1923. He also sat as Unionist Member of Parliament for the constituency of St Marylebone between 1928 and 1932.
Writing career and scholar
Apart from his diplomatic services Rodd was also a published poet and scholar of ancient Greece and Rome. In 1920 he delivered the British Academy's Italian Lecture, and in 1928 he visited America where he delivered a lecture on modern Greek folklore to an enraptured H.P. Lovecraft. Earlier in 1927 he met travel writer Richard Halliburton at a party and the two "clicked at once" as Halliburton recounted his time in Greece, including his following in the footsteps of Odysseus and Alexander the Great, deeds which appeared in his recent The Glorious Adventure.  He published his memoirs, entitled Social and Diplomatic Memories, in three volumes between 1922 and 1925. His diaries were published in 1981 by Torsten Burgman, and edited by Victor Lal in 2005.
Rodd was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1897, Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 1899, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) in 1905, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in 1915, and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in the 1920 New Year Honours. He was appointed to the Privy Council in 1908 and in 1933 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Rennell, of Rodd in the County of Hereford.
On 27 October 1894, Rennell Rodd was married to Lilias Georgina Guthrie (1864–1951) at St George's Hanover Square Church. She was the fourth daughter of James Alexander Guthrie, 4th Baron of Craigie and the former Elinor Stirling (a daughter of Adm. Sir James Stirling, Governor of Western Australia from 1834 to 1838). Lilias' sister, Rose Ellinor Guthrie, was the wife of Maj.-Gen. The Hon. Sir Cecil Edward Bingham (a younger son of Charles Bingham, 4th Earl of Lucan). They had four sons and two daughters, including:
- Francis James Rennell Rodd, 2nd Baron Rennell (1895–1978), who married the Hon. Mary Constance Vivian Smith, daughter of Vivian Smith, 1st Baron Bicester.
- Hon. Evelyn Violet Elizabeth Rodd (1899–1980), who was a Conservative politician and was created a life peer as Baroness Emmet of Amberley in 1965.
- Hon. Gloria Rodd (1901–1975), who married the painter Simon Elwes
- Hon. Peter Murray Rennell Rodd (1904–1968), who married the author Nancy Mitford, daughter of David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale and one of the famous Mitford sisters.
- Hon. Gustaf Guthrie Rennell Rodd (1905-1974), who married Yvonne Mary Marling, the youngest daughter of diplomat Sir Charles Murray Marling.
Lord Rennell died in July 1941, aged 82. He was succeeded in the barony by his second, but eldest surviving, son Francis, who later served as president of the Royal Geographical Society. His widow died on 20 September 1951.
- "Rodd, James Rennell, first Baron Rennell (1858–1941), diplomatist and classical scholar". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35809. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 4 June 2020. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Bose, T.; Colbeck, R. N. (1 November 2011). A Bookman's Catalogue Vol. 2 M-End: The Norman Colbeck Collection of Nineteenth-Century and Edwardian Poetry and Belles Lettres. UBC Press. ISBN 978-0-7748-4481-9.
- Oscar Wilde: Poems in Prose and Private Letters ; Including an Intimate Preface by His Biographer, Frank Harris. Pearson's (25c) Library. 1919. p. 10. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
- Grech, Leanne (2019). Oscar Wilde's Aesthetic Education: The Oxford Classical Curriculum. Springer. p. 26. ISBN 978-3-030-14374-9. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
- Rodd, James Rennell, Social and Diplomatic Memories, 1884–1893, Edward Arnold, London 1922, pp. 22–5.
- Rodd, Rennell Rose Leaf And Apple Leaf, J.M. Stoddart 1882, p59
- "No. 27367". The London Gazette. 22 October 1901. p. 6846.
- "Rodd, James Rennell (1858-1941) 1st Baron Rennell, diplomat". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. The National Archives. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
- "James Rennell Rodd, 1st Baron Rennell (1858-1941) - Rome of the Renaissance and to-day / by Sir Rennell Rodd ; with illustrations by Henry Rushbury". www.rct.uk. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
- Rodd, Sir Rennell (1920). "The Italian People". Proceedings of the British Academy. 9: 389–407.
- "Italian Lectures". British Academy.
- H.P. Lovecraft, Selected Letters II, page 331.
- Richard Halliburton; His Story of His Life's Adventures, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1940, p. 278.
- Legg, L. G. Wickham, Williams, E. T (editors). The Dictionary of National Biography, 1941-1950. Oxford University Press, 1959.
- "No. 31712". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1919. p. 3.
- "No. 33917". The London Gazette. 3 March 1933. p. 1424.
- "Rennell, Baron (UK, 1933)". www.cracroftspeerage.co.uk. Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
- "Obituary: Lord Rennell of Rodd, KBE, CB, JP". The Geographical Journal. 144 (2): 392–393. 1978. ISSN 0016-7398. JSTOR 634229.
- Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, vol. 3, ed. Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 2003, p. 3319
- Burke's Peerage. 1956.
- Social and Diplomatic Memories of James Rennell Rodd
- Sir Walter Raleigh at Internet Archive
- Frederick, Crown Prince and Emperor: a Biographical Sketch Dedicated to his Memory at Internet Archive
- Social and Diplomatic Memories at Internet Archive
- Love, Worship and Death; some renderings from the Greek Anthology at Internet Archive
- Songs in the South at Internet Archive
- Feda: with other poems, chiefly lyrical at Internet Archive
- The Princes of Achaia and the Chronicles of Morea, a study of Greece in the middle ages at Internet Archive
- The Customs and Lore of Modern Greece at Internet Archive
- The Violet Crown at Internet Archive
- Ballads of the Fleet and other Poems at Internet Archive
- Poems in Many Lands at Internet Archive
- The Unknown Madonna, and other Poems at Internet Archive
- Rose Leaf and Apple Leaf with introduction by Oscar Wilde at Internet Archive
- An Englishman in Greece with introduction by Sir Rennell Rodd at Internet Archive
- The British mission to Uganda in 1893 edited and with a memoir by Rennell Rodd at Internet Archive
- Portraits of Lord Rennell at the National Portrait Gallery, London
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Rennell Rodd
- Works by Rennell Rodd at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Rennell Rodd at Internet Archive
- Works by Rennell Rodd, 1st Baron Rennell at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)