Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead

Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead, replica by Sir Oswald Birley, 1932, based on a work of circa 1922 - NPG 2552 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead

replica by Sir Oswald Birley
oil on canvas, 1932, based on a work of circa 1922
52 in. x 39 in. (1321 mm x 991 mm)
Given by Francis Howard, 1932
Primary Collection
NPG 2552

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir Oswald Birley (1880-1952), Painter. Artist associated with 15 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

Educated at Oxford and a fellow of Merton College (1896), F.E. Smith was called to the bar in 1899 and practised in Liverpool. Having been elected as a Conservative MP for the Walton division of Liverpool (1906-18), Smith moved to London where he continued to practise as a lawyer. His early promise as an MP was compromised by his reputation for extravagance and self-interest but his reputation as a legal authority steadily increased. A member of Cabinet during the First World War, he was involved in some famous wartime court cases, including the trial of Roger Casement. He was lord chancellor from 1919-1922, the year in which he was made an earl.

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Events of 1922back to top

Current affairs

The British Broadcasting Company (later British Broadcasting Corporation) is established to experiment with radio broadcasting. It is the largest broadcasting corporation in the world, providing radio, television and Internet services to the public in Britain and across the world.

Art and science

1922 is a key year for modernist literature with the publication of James Joyce's novel, Ulysses and T.S. Eliot's poem, The Waste Land. Both broke new ground with Ulysses (loosely based on Homer's Odyssey) introducing the 'stream of consciousness' narrative technique, and The Waste Land experimenting with multiple voices and a patchwork of literary, historic, mythological and personal allusions.


The Soviet Union is formed under Joseph Stalin who takes power after Lenin suffers a debilitating stroke.
In an attempt to avoid civil war, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy invites Benito Mussolini to form a new government following the Fascist Party's March on Rome.

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