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Childers, Robert Erskine

Childers, Robert Erskine (1870–1922). Childers was a prim civil servant with a taste for high adventure. He was born in London and educated at Haileybury and Trinity College, Cambridge. His father, a distinguished oriental scholar, died when he was 6, and Childers was brought up by his mother, whose family came from Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains. From 1895 to 1910 Childers was a clerk in the House of Commons. At the outbreak of the Boer War he volunteered and wrote two books on his experiences. In 1903 he achieved a sensational success with a brilliant novel, The Riddle of the Sands, about two yachtsmen who stumbled on German preparations, in the shelter of the Frisian Islands, for a barge-invasion of England: it touched public anxiety and sold copiously. From 1910 Childers became more involved in the Irish nationalist cause and in 1914 ran a quantity of arms to Howth in his yacht Asgard. During the Great War he worked as an intelligence officer and took part in the air raid on Zeppelin bases at Cuxhaven in November 1914—his old stamping-ground. He was secretary to the Irish delegation in 1921 but joined de Valera in 1922 in opposition to the treaty and was shot by the new government of the Irish Free State. He died with composure, shaking hands with the firing squad. His son Erskine was president of Eire from 1973 to 1975.

J. A. Cannon

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"Childers, Robert Erskine." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Childers, Robert Erskine." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/childers-robert-erskine

Childers, Robert Erskine

Robert Erskine Childers (chĬl´dərz), 1870–1922, Irish politician and author. Born into a Protestant family, he was a clerk in the House of Commons (1895–1910). Gradually becoming convinced of the need for Irish Home Rule, he resigned to work for it, engaging in gun-running for the Irish Volunteers in 1914. After serving in the British forces during World War I, he represented the Irish cause at Versailles and was a member of the Irish delegation that negotiated the treaty with Britain (1921). By this time he was opposed to anything other than republic status for Ireland and urged rejection of the treaty. He fought in the Irish Republican Army in the civil war that followed the creation of the Irish Free State, and was court-martialed and shot as a traitor in 1922. Childers wrote on Irish politics and on military matters, but his best-known work is Riddle of the Sands (1903, repr. 1971), a spy novel. His son, Erskine Hamilton Childers, 1905–74, became a naturalized Irish citizen and a member of the Dáil in 1938. He held a succession of cabinet posts in the Fianna Fáil governments from 1944 on and in 1973 was elected president of Ireland.

See A. Boyle The Riddle of Erskine Childers (1977).

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"Childers, Robert Erskine." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Childers, Robert Erskine." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/childers-robert-erskine

"Childers, Robert Erskine." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/childers-robert-erskine