Obituary: Muriel Grindrod

Muriel Kathleen Grindrod, scholar of Italian: born Oxford 4 February 1902; editor, Rivista 1948-94; OBE 1962; died London 4 January 1994.

ANYBODY WHO knew Muriel Grindrod during the last 40 years of her long life would associate her with Italian affairs and specifically with the British Italian Society to which she gave devoted (and unpaid) service as editor of the society's journal Rivista. But it was long after she had first joined the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House in 1927 that she started to specialise in Italian questions. It was only in the Forties that she became a considerable expert on Italy and made the acquaintance of a large number of distinguished Italian politicians and intellectuals who at the time were planning the construction of a post-Fascist


Grindrod was born in 1902, daughter of an inspector of schools in Suffolk. She went to school at Ipswich and subsequently, when her father was transferred to Somerset, at Bath High School (where she was a contemporary of Barbara Cartland). From there she went to Girton College, Cambridge, in 1921 and took Part One of the Classical tripos in her first year, then switched to Modern and Medieval Languages for Part Two. When she came down she spent a year at the Sorbonne before taking the job of research assistant to Sir Charles Bell and immersing herself in Tibetan affairs.

She then accepted an appointment at Chatham House, initially as assistant to Professor Arnold Toynbee. This was to be her base until his retirement in 1962, though she travelled a great deal and spent a year in the late Twenties working in the German Institute for International Affairs in Hamburg. During the Second World War her section of Chatham House was incorporated into the Foreign Office research department at Balliol College, Oxford, and it was there that she fully developed her expertise in Italian current affairs. She became editor of the Chatham House journal The World Today in 1952 and of International Affairs as well, from 1956 to 1962.

I had known Muriel Grindrod slightly since the Seventies but I only got to know her well when I became chairman of the British Italian Society in 1983. She had by then become the very heart of the society, since she had known all the founding members from its beginning in 1941 and had herself been editor of the society's journal since 1948. She was invariably helpful not only over the management and editing of Rivista but also in recruiting suitable lecturers for the society's programme. Her skill as an editor ensured that Rivista made a significant contribution to Anglo- Italian understanding and it was for this that the Italian government appointed her Commendatore of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 1974. She continued as editor of Rivista until her death.

Trim in figure, with fair hair and blue eyes, Muriel was always well turned out and neat in appearance. She had a diffident manner but was always charming and lively in conversation. Her knowledge of Italian literature and of the Italian scene was formidable but it was often hard to get her to express her own opinion; still harder to get her to talk of her own achievements. Yet she was author of a book Italy (1968) and later of The Rebuilding of Italy 1945-55 (1955) which were both well received and she continued to write well on a number of Italian topics such as the Cassa del Mezzogiorno, the independent society set up by the Italian government to promote the development of Southern Italy. She also took a close interest in translations from Italian, having herself been an occasional translator for the Western European Union in the Sixties and Seventies.

(Photograph omitted)

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments