1. Childhood


    The Lyttelton family was, as Humph called it, ‘a family with a capital F’, peppered with distinguished soldiers, land owners, politicians, clerics and scholars. Not a musician, let alone a jazz musician, to found amongst them.

    Humphrey was born and eventually educated in Eton College, where his father George was an illustrious housemaster. It was, however, his mother Pamela who he attributes to encouraging his musical and artistic leanings.

  2. Pamela Marie Adeane Lyttelton

    ‘My mother began to take an interest in my artistic…

  3. A Stately Life

    Large families were not new in the Lyttelton family. Earlier…

  4. Humph Aged 2

    This picture has always intrigued me. Later pictures of my…

  5. Letters Home

    Recently discovered letters home from a very young Humph

  6. 1934 – Humph and his sisters
  7. Eton


    Humphrey’s interest in jazz began at Eton, listening to the Air Forces Network on home made crystal set radios and visiting the the local ‘record store’ in Windsor. He led his first band playing mouth organ.

    When attending the Eton and Harrow cricket match at Lord’s in 1936, the 15-year-old Humphrey and his mother slipped away from the game to the Charing Cross Road and bought his first trumpet. Humphrey enlisted on Friday 13th 1939.

  8. Eton Tails

    Eton is an open school without gates or boundaries and…

  9. Eton Photograph Album

    These few pages come from a very early photograph album….

  10. Scrapbook

    This scrap book was put together by a young Humph…

  11. J. C. Butterwick’s House Photograph

    ‘At Butterwick’s, the emphasis was on games. And not only…

  12. Harrow Eton Cricket match

    One weekend in 1936, I went up to Lord’s Cricket…

  13. Romantic Socialist


    Leaving Eton in the summer of 1940 there no immediate prospect of call up. Humphrey and his cousin Anthony took up the offer from an uncle who was an executive in the steel industry to work in one of his firms steel works in Port Talbot, Wales.

    ‘If my life can be said to have had a single turning-point, the short time in South Wales was it’. A diary of Humphs time in Wales was found after his died.

  14. Humph’s Diary (first page)
  15. Diary Excerpts
  16. Port Talbot Photos

    Fred Hurley, his wife May, their children and her parents…

  17. Fred Hurley

    Our status changed when we graduated to the Melting Shop….

  18. Military


    On 6 June 1941 Lyttelton enlisted in the Brigade of Guards and took his commission at Sandhurst. He landed on the beach at Salerno as a signals officer with a pistol in one hand and his trumpet in the other.

    He saw some savage fighting before being invalided first to Africa and finally home. Humphrey travelled to London on VE Day where he was pushed about in front of Buckingham Palace in a wheelbarrow whilst playing his trumpet.

  19. Army

    ‘My time doing military service in World War II offered…

  20. Lieutenant Lyttelton invited to the castle
  21. Returning to Caterham Barracks

    During my spell at the Guards Depot I began to…

  22. Roll Out The Barrell

    ‘On 8 May 1945, V.E. Day, there was an atmosphere…

  23. Camberwell


    Humph enrolled in Camberwell School of Art, studying under John Minton. It was here that he inadvertently discovered his talent for comic illustration.

    Humph was also making forays into the London Jazz scene. He would play at jam sessions and began to travel to the Red Barn, a pub in Bexley in Kent, where George Webb’s band played. He joined the Webb band in March 1947, cementing a life-long friendship and musical partnership with its clarinet player, Wally Fawkes.

  24. George Webb Band 1947

    While at Camberwell I made a journey down to Bexleyheath…

  25. Session at the No 1 Rhythm Club 1947
  26. King Georges Hall March 8th 1947

    ‘While at Camberwell I made a journey down to Bexleyheath…

  27. First Recordings


    Lyttelton formed his own band in January 1948, taking Fawkes and eventually Webb himself with him. The band had its first public engagement on 22 February 1948, at a club in North London.

    In 1949 the band played on stage with Sidney Bechet and recorded with him for the Melodisc label. Recordings for Tempo and his own London Jazz label followed until Humph signed for Parlophone Records. Humph had also became a full time illustrator for the Daily Mail.

  28. 100 Oxford Street 1949
  29. London Jazz Club 1949
  30. Humph’s First Band

    “The band did its first public engagement on 22 February…

  31. 1948 London Jazz Club cutting
  32. International Jazz Festival Nice 1948

    ‘ Soon after the band had settled into its resident…

  33. Review 1949
  34. Humphrey Lyttelton Club flyer 1949
  35. Jazz Illustrated 1949
  36. London Jazz recordings

    The very first recordings of Humph’s Band were made on…

  37. Part time Jazz


    Despite rapid popularity for the Humphrey Lyttelton Band, Humph remained a full time illustrator for the Daily Mail until 1953 and was writing Jazz Reviews for the Melody Maker.

    During the Fifties Humph was also BBC Radio’s main jazz presenter. Now signed to Parlophone the bands 78’s sold so well that a new one was released every month until the advent of the LP. The band were touring Europe and the Uk and selling out large venues

  38. Riverboat Shuffles

    ‘We played at the London Jazz Club every Monday and…

  39. Belsize Park

    These photos were taken of Humph’s flat in Belsize Park,…

  40. Humph And Wally on Holiday
  41. Jazz Jamboree 1950
  42. Mezz Mezzrow Letter
  43. Daily Mail Column Breakers
  44. 1952 Press Cuttings
  45. Humphrey Lyttelton Jazz Show Programme

    I have never liked the Royal Festival Hall. Every performer…

  46. Humph Band Newsletters 53/54
  47. RFH Programme
  48. Jazz Session 10″ LP
  49. Humph’s first book – I Play As I Please
  50. At home with Humph’s parents
  51. Royalty Honours Jazz
  52. Every Woman Article
  53. Coronation
  54. Programmes
  55. Bad Penny Blues


    In 1956 his simple riff composition “Bad Penny Blues” became the first jazz record to reach the Top 20. The ‘hit’ enabled to Humph to plan and build his own house in Arkley, Hertfordshire.

    Also in 1956 the legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong appeared at The Humphrey Lyttelton Club (now the 100 Club) with his band . As a broadcaster Humph broke new ground when he compered BBC2’s Jazz 625. In 1959 Humph and the band toured America.

  56. Humph banned for supporting Labour?

    Bristol promoter Charles Lockier postponed a concert booked for Bristol’s…

  57. Louis Armstrong

    Another indicator of the strength of Louis Armstrong’s character was…

  58. Humph EP’s

    Some of the many Ep’s released during this period

  59. This is Your Life
  60. Letter from Hugh Gaitskill PM
  61. Radio 3 Louis Tribute
  62. Portrait 1959
  63. New House
  64. Press
  65. Long Life Advert
  66. Jazz News
  67. Magazines
  68. Hungarian Relief Fund Concert
  69. Humphrey Lyttelton Club Bulletin N0 2 Vol 6
  70. Eddie Condon
  71. 1959 US Tour
  72. 1959 Cuttings Book
  73. 1961 – 63 Cuttings
  74. Programmes
  75. Humph and Buck


    Lyttelton was now successful enough to begin bringing over American stars to work with his band. They included the gospel singer Marie Knight, blues singers Jimmy Rushing and Joe Turner, tenor man Buddy Tate and trumpeter Buck Clayton.

    Several were ex-Count Basie musicians, and Lyttelton established a special affinity with Clayton, who made several tours and recordings with the band. The two men became close personal friends and on-stage rivals in trumpet battles.

  76. Piano

    ‘This was our piano at home. For a long while…

  77. Buck Clayton

    Buck Clayton was remarkably handsome even, as he was then,…

  78. 1965 Cuttings Book (Pages 1 – 10)
  79. 1965 Cuttings Book (Pages 11 – 20)
  80. 1965 Cuttings Book (Pages 21 – 30)
  81. 1965 Cuttings Book (Pages 31 – 45)
  82. Rare painting
  83. BME116 copy
  84. Humph diversifies


    As an accomplished writer, journalist and broadcaster Humph took on many roles. His Radio 2 programme ‘The Best of Jazz’ began in 1967 and ran continuously for more than 40 years.

    He took on the role of food critic for Harpers and Queen and was also a regular contributor to Punch Magazine. It was in 1972 that he took on the chairmanship of Radio Four’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. Nobody imagined that his role would last for the rest of his life.

  85. Harpers and Queen Food Writer
  86. Punch
  87. Imperial Cigar Advert
  88. Croft Original Advert
  89. The Diaries


    Humph started writing his diaries in 1974. These were never intended to be deep and insightful but more to support his writing as he was now a regular contributor to Punch magazine amongst many other publications.

    The diaries also gave him the opportunity to practise his italic handwriting as they are all written in his fine italic script. The Band were not idle, twice touring Europe and the Middle East for the British Council. In 1976 Humph was offered a CBE by the Jim Callaghan Government. This he declined.

  90. Why No Beethoven
  91. Painting presented to Humph
  92. LENNON
  93. John Somerville sets Humph in Bronze
  94. Humph & Buck
  95. Eton Rambler article for the Sunday Times Magazine, 1976
  96. Owl carving
  97. Calligraph Records


    In 1983, 35 years after his first attempt, Humph formed his own record label, Calligraph Records, and commissioned recordings from many of his musical associates, British and American.

    He continued to record his own bands whilst rounding up as many as he could of his early recordings for reissue on the new label. A book of Humphs’s diaries from the middle east tours, entitled Why No Beethoven, was published in 1984. It included some of Humph’s best illustrations.

  98. Trumpeters House
  99. Humph celebrates 35 years in Jazz
  100. Humph at desk
  101. The Doctorate Years


    Reaching retirement age seemed to spur Humph on to do more. The Clue production was taken over by Jon Naismith and Humph was really enjoying the role. In 1990 he became president of the Society for italic Handwriting, a role he took very seriously.

    The band continued to record and tour. Humph received 6 honorary doctorates from the Universities of Warwick, Loughborough, Durham, Keele, Hertford and de Montfort . In 1994 he was offered a Knighthood, which he respectfully declined.

  102. Humph celebrates his 70th Birthday in Belfast
  103. Article – What Is Cool Jazz?
  104. Tour Programme
  105. Society for Italic Handwriting Newsletter
  106. Portrait by Trog
  107. Louis Tribute 1991
  108. List of recordings
  109. Knighthood

    In 1994 Humph received this letter from Downing Street. He had previously…

  110. Playing the fool
  111. Hurricane
  112. Humph’s sisters
  113. Doctorate Awards
  114. Bruce Turner Obituary
  115. Book keeping
  116. A National Treasure


    In 2002 Humph played with Radiohead before a crowd of 42,000 and also appeared on ‘Life In A Glasshouse’ on the album Amnesiac. He continued to develop his band, bringing in new talent like the saxophonists Karen Sharp, Robert Fowler and Jo Fooks.

    In the last 18 months before his death Humph played over 100 concerts, recorded two series of Clue, completed the live tour of ISIHAC, recorded 2 new albums (nearly completing a third) and wrote a new book, ‘It Just Occurred To Me’.

  117. Clue doodle

    Jon Naismith, producer of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue,…

  118. House photos
  119. Backstage 1999

    This photo was taken for a ‘in band’ calendar that depicted the…

  120. 80th Birthday Cake
  121. The White Volvo

    Humph owned his Volvo until it could take no more….

  122. In the office 2007
  123. Waitrose Cartoon
  124. Radiohead
  125. Ode from Barry Cryer
1921-1932 - Childhood
1934-1939 - Eton
1940 - Romantic Socialist
1941-1945 - Military
1946-1948 - Camberwell
1948-1949 - First Recordings
1950-1955 - Part time Jazz
1956-1962 - Bad Penny Blues
1963-1966 - Humph and Buck
1967-1974 - Humph diversifies
1974-1982 - The Diaries
1983-1986 - Calligraph Records
1987-1996 - The Doctorate Years
1996-2008 - A National Treasure