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Letter reveals Scot’s role in curing King’s speech

A letter that shows how the Royal Family found Lionel Logue, the speech therapist depicted in the Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech, has been discovered in the archives of the National Library of Scotland (NLS).

The King’s Speech, which dramatises King George VI’s battle with his stammer, dominated this year’s Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Actor for Colin Firth, Best Director for Tom Hooper and Best Original Screenplay by David Seidler.

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In the film, Mr Logue is played by Geoffrey Rush, who was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

The letter, found in the extensive Murray Archive in the NLS in Edinburgh, is dated May 18, 1925, and is from Lord Stamfordham, King George V’s private secretary, to the Scottish publisher John Murray, thanking him for Mr Logue’s address and stating that he would “pass it on to the Duke of York’s people”.

George VI was at that point the Duke of York, and known by his given name of Albert.

Perhaps notable is the date of May 18, several months before George VI’s difficult closing speech at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley on October 31, 1925, which in the film is seen as a turning point in the Royal Family’s efforts to seek help for the Prince’s stammer.

The date of the letter suggests the Royals were looking for help for the stammer long before that speech, in which the Duke struggled to read his notes.

The letter was addressed to John Murray V, a member of the John Murray publishing dynasty, who lived from 1884 to 1967. John Murray V’s nephew, John “Jock” Murray VI, was successfully treated for a stammer by Mr Logue.

It was through Mr Murray’s recommendation to his friend, Lord Stamfordham, that Mr Logue was introduced to the palace.

David McClay, senior curator at the NLS, said: “There has always been a lot of speculation about how the introduction between King George VI and Lionel Logue came about, even more so following the success of the film The King’s Speech.

“John ‘Jock’ Murray VI’s wife, Diana, recalled in an interview recently that Mr Logue had actually been introduced to the palace by her husband’s uncle and this wonderful item from our collection verifies that claim.”

As viewers of the film now know, Mr Logue, an Australian, went on to successfully treat the Prince, and then King, for his stammer, and the two remained friends for many years afterwards.

The Murray Archive in Edinburgh was bought for the nation for £31 million in 2005, and is a treasure trove containing more than 150,000 items penned by some of the greatest writers, politicians, scientists and explorers of the late 18th to early 20th centuries.

The collection was created by Mr Murray, who founded a publishing house in Edinburgh in 1768.

The firm went on to become one of the most influential British publishers and its archive covers the period from 1768 to 1920.

It is owned by the Murray family and was offered to the National Library by John Murray, a descendant of the founder, and opened to the public in 2007.

The John Murray Archive exhibition space, at the NLS in Edinburgh, shows some of the highlights from this vast collection.

An ongoing fundraising campaign to ensure that the archive is preserved for future generations has amassed £30m over the last five years.

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