Arthur Lloyd James
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Arthur Lloyd James
A man wearing a jacket, white shirt, and dotted bow-tie.
Photograph of Arthur Lloyd James, printed in a 1941 issue of the Derby Evening Telegraph

Arthur Lloyd James (21 June 1884 - 24 March 1943) was a Welsh phonetician who was a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies and the linguistic adviser to the British Broadcasting Corporation. His research was mainly on the phonetics of English and French, but he also worked on the phonetics of Hausa and Yoruba. He committed suicide while a patient at the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, where he was committed after killing his wife, the violinist Elsie Winifred Owen, in 1941.

Early life

Arthur Lloyd James was born on 21 June 1884, in Pentre, Glamorgan, Wales. His parents were William James, manager of a coal mine and a mining engineer, and Rachel James, née Clark. He went to school in Llanelli and then Pontypridd. Lloyd James graduated from University College, Cardiff in 1905, obtaining third-class honours in French. He taught for a few years and then went to Trinity College, Cambridge; his research centred on Old French and Provençal, and he graduated in 1910 with a degree in medieval and modern languages. He taught French and phonetics at Training College, and during World War I served with the Royal Engineers[1]

Academic employment

Lloyd James became a lecturer in phonetics at University College, London in 1920. He became the first head of the School of Oriental Studies department of phonetics in 1927. He became a reader in 1930 and a professor in 1933. From 1924 to 1933, Lloyd James lectured at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[1]


He wrote papers on the phonetics of various languages, including Yoruba,[2] Hausa (with George Percival Bargery),[3] Marathi (with S. G. Kanhere),[4] and Pashto (with Georg Morgenstierne).[5]

Work with the BBC

From 1926 to 1940, Lloyd James was the honorary secretary of the BBC's advisory committee on spoken English. In 1938, he was given the title of "Linguistic Adviser to the BBC".[1]

Personal life

Arthur Lloyd James's wife was Elsie Winifred (1888/1889-1941). She was the daughter of the musician Luther Owen, and herself was a well known violinist and a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music. They had one child, David Owen Lloyd James.[1]

Murder and trial

In 1941 the stress of World War II led Arthur Lloyd James to kill his wife, fearing the war would otherwise cause her hardship.[1] The murder weapons were a fork and poker.[6]

He was tried at the Central Criminal Court, with Mr. Justice Wrottesley presiding. The prosecutor was Mr. G. B. McClure, and Mr. Richard O'Sullivan, K.C. was the defence. Brixton Prison senior medical officer Dr. H. A. Grierson argued that Lloyd James had manic depressive insanity with a predominant depressive stage. Lloyd James pleaded not guilty; the jury found him guilty but insane.[7]


Arthur Lloyd James committed suicide on 24 March 1943, at the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in Crowthorne, Berkshire.[1] He hanged himself with a necktie and scarf from a bar in his cell.[8]

Selected works

  • Lloyd James, Arthur (1928). "The Practical Orthography of African Languages". Africa: Journal of the International African Institute. 1 (1): 125-129. doi:10.2307/1155869. JSTOR 1155869.
  • Lloyd James, Arthur (1929). "Pronunciation". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 18 (14th ed.). London: The Encyclopædia Britannica Company. pp. 578-580.
  • Lloyd James, Arthur (1929). Historical Introduction to French Phonetics. London: University of London Press.
  • Lloyd James, Arthur (1935). The Broadcast Word. London: Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner.
  • Lloyd James, Arthur (1928-1939). Broadcast English: Recommendations to Announcers. London: British Broadcasting Corporation.

Edited collections

  • Collins, Beverly S.; Mees, Inger; Carley, Paul, eds. (2012). English Phonetics: Twentieth-Century Developments. Vol. II: Lloyd James: Broadcasting and Spoken English. Routledge. ISBN 9780415590563.
  • Collins, Beverly S.; Mees, Inger; Carley, Paul, eds. (2012). English Phonetics: Twentieth-Century Developments. Vol. III: Lloyd James's Broadcast English. Routledge. ISBN 9780415590570.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Jones, Daniel (2004) [1959]. "James, Arthur Lloyd (1884-1943)". In Cannadine, David (ed.). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Rev. by John D. Haigh. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/34148.
  2. ^ Lloyd James, Arthur (1923). "The Tones of Yoruba". Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London. 3 (1): 119-128. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00000082. JSTOR 607168.
  3. ^ Lloyd James, Arthur; Bargery, George Percival (1925). "A Note on the Pronunciation of Hausa". Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London. 3 (4): 721-728. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00000446. JSTOR 607084.
  4. ^ Lloyd James, Arthur; Kanhere, S. G. (1928). "The Pronunciation of Marathi". Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London. 4 (4): 791-801. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00123717. JSTOR 607259.
  5. ^ Morgenstierne, Georg; Lloyd James, Arthur (1928). "Notes on the Pronunciation of Pashto (Dialect of the Hazara District)". Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London. 5 (1): 53-62. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00130599. JSTOR 607782.
  6. ^ Bell, Amy Helen (2015). "Violent crime and the family in wartime London, 1939-45". Murder Capital: Suspicious Deaths in London, 1933-53. Manchester University Press. p. 67. doi:10.7228/manchester/9780719091971.003.0003. ISBN 9780719091971.
  7. ^ "Trial of Professor Lloyd James: Guilty But Insane". Law. The Times. No. 48847. London. 11 February 1941. col E, p. 2.
  8. ^ "British Wife-Slayer: A Suicide in Asylum. Professor Lloyd James, Expert on Phonetics, Hangs Himself". New York Times. Vol. 92, no. 31, 114. 2 April 1943. p. 14.

Further reading

Work with the BBC

News articles on murder, trial, and suicide

  • "British Professor Accused of Slaying Wife; Lloyd James an Expert on Pronunciation". New York Times. Vol. 90, no. 30, 307. 15 January 1941. p. 25.
  • "Famous Authority on Speech Charged With Wife's Murder". The Globe and Mail. Vol. 98, no. 28, 418. 15 January 1941. pp. 1-2.
  • "Professor Lloyd James Charged with Wife Murder". Courier and Advertiser. No. 27337. Dundee, Scotland. 15 January 1941. p. 3.
  • "Professor Remanded on Wife Murder Charge". The Nottingham Evening Post. No. 19503. 15 January 1941. p. 5.
  • "Murder Charge: B.B.C. Professor in Court". Derby Evening Telegraph. No. 18545. 15 January 1941. p. 1.
  • "BBC Professor Charged with Wife's Murder". Daily Mail. No. 13954. 15 January 1941. p. 1.
  • "'War Nerves' Seen in London Slaying: Prof. Lloyd James Is Quoted by Police as Saying He Killed Wife While She Was Happy. Shaken in a Recent Raid: Phonetics Expert Had Suffered Nervous Breakdown--Word 'Haw Haw' Credited to Him". New York Times. Vol. 90, no. 30, 308. 16 January 1941. p. 44.
  • "B.B.C. Professor on Murder Charge: Wished His Wife to Die While Happy". News. The Times. No. 48825. London. 16 January 1941. col E, p. 2.
  • "B.B.C.'s Tutor in Dock". Daily Mail. No. 13955. 16 January 1941. p. 5.
  • "Cause of Mrs. James's Death: Inquest Evidence of Blow on the Head". News. The Times. No. 48826. London. 17 January 1941. col E, p. 9.
  • "Died of Skull Fracture: English Language Expert's Wife Beaten, Inquest Reveals". New York Times. Vol. 90, no. 30, 309. 17 January 1941. p. 18.
  • "BBC Man Sent for Trial". Daily Mail. No. 13963. 25 January 1941. p. 5.
  • "The Phonetic Murder". Foreign News. Time. Vol. 34, no. 24. 27 January 1941. p. 22.
  • "Wife-Slayer is Insane: Verdict Is Returned in Case of British Language Expert". New York Times. Vol. 90, no. 30, 334. 11 February 1941. p. 13.
  • "Too Hard a Worker: The Tragedy of Lloyd James". Daily Mail. No. 13977. 11 February 1941. p. 5.
  • "Professor Guilty But Insane". Press and Journal. No. 26869. Aberdeen. 11 February 1941. p. 5.
  • "Professor Dies in Broadmoor". Daily Mail. No. 17909. Hull. 1 April 1943. p. 4.
  • "Died. Professor Arthur Lloyd James". Milestones. Time. Vol. 41, no. 15. 12 April 1943. p. 42.

External links

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