Harry Gordon Selfridge, Jr

 

 

 

b. 2 Apr 1900 in Chicago, known generally as 'Gordon'.

Son of Harry Gordon Selfridge Snr, the founder of Selfridge's department store in London; his mother, Amelia 'Rose' Buckingham, died of pneumonia in 1918. Gordon had 2 older sisters - Rosalie and Violette, and a younger sister Beatrice. Harry always regarded Gordon as his natural successor.

The children had a privileged upbringing during the years that Selfridge's was doing well - travelling frequently back to Chicago, or to St Moritz for skiing; cycling around London, playing tennis or learning judo. Gordon was a pupil at Winchester, then got a degree in economics at Trinity College Cambridge.

His father was apparently unimpressed with Gordon's liaison with a pretty girl called Charlotte Elsie Dennis, from the Toy Department in his store; Charlotte and Gordon eventually had four children (three of whom got PhD's), but Harry Sr simply refused to acknowledge the relationship.

Anyway, at 26, Gordon became MD of Provincial Stores Group (part of the Selfridge's Empire) and bought a new DH Moth to get around. This he crashed into a tree, whereupon his father insisted that he sell it (to Oscar Garden as it happens, who used it to fly solo to Australia). And he bought a speedboat. And then another plane. "He was constantly photographed beside a combination of a plane, a boat, or a beautiful woman"; he comes across as, let's be frank, a rich, spoilt, playboy.

Gordon continunued to be well-known in all the best aviating (and lunching) circles throughout the 1930s - e.g. in June 1932, "Miss Amelia Earhart was entertained to luncheon at Heston by Mr. Gordon Selfridge, Jnr. Among Mr. Selfridge's party at lunch were Sqd. Ldr. and Mrs. Orlebar, the Hon. Leo Russell, Mr. and Mrs. Nigel Norman and Mr. and Mrs. R. Denman. After lunch Mr. Selfridge flew Miss Earhart to Brooklands' display in a 'Puss  Moth', several private owners accompanying them in their machines as escort. Later in the day Miss Earhart returned to Heston, again being piloted by Mr. Selfridge."

Easter Flying Tour 1931 Gordon Selfridge Flt Lt MacIntosh H Jackaman R Denman JC Parkes Leslie Runciman Whitney Straight HH Leech  © The Royal Aero Club [0378-0025]

A typical jaunt - the Easter Flying Tour, in 1931: Harry (3rd from right) with others including Flt Lt MacIntosh, H Jackaman, R Denman, JC Parkes, Leslie Runciman, Whitney Straight, and HH Leech.

 

With Rosalind Norman at Heston in 1933 - The Bystander

However, after his father lost control of the Selfridge's Empire in 1939 and it became clear that there was no place for him in the new setup, Gordon returned to the U.S., finally married Charlotte (yes, her from the Toy Department) in Illinois and thereafter continued to work as a "retail executive" for Sears Roebuck.

mini - hg selfridge

d. 30 November 1976 at Red Bank, New Jersey, aged 76.

 

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