Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
Laetus in Praesens

Eyvind Siegfried Tew

in memory of a major contributor to international documentation

-- / --

Contributions in Transnational Associations, 1989, 6, pp. 350-351

Eyvind Tew

As background to the following contributions, it is more than appropriate to recall what Eyvind Tew enabled through his disciplined approach  before computers were applied to the compilation of complex works of documentation. He exemplified the tradition established by the "father of the internet", Paul Otlet, at the Union of International Associations (Union of International Associations -- Virtual Organization: Paul Otlet's 100-year hypertext conundrum ? 2001). What he immediately rendered possible is summarized in Sharing a Documentary Pilgrimage: UIA -- Saur Relations (2001).

By Anthony Judge: We much regret to announce the death of Eyvind S. Tew on 25 July 1989 as the result of a train accident in London. He was 75. From 1956 through 1975 he was based in Brussels as the principal editor of the Union of International Associations. After that time he continued to perform occasional editorial tasks for the UIA from his home in London, where he lived with his brother's family.

Eyvind Tew was one of the world's unusual people. In his youth, before the Second World War, he cycled around Europe -- including Eastern Europe "in order to improve his languages". Since his family was partly of Danish origin, these included Danish, Swedish, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Esperanto. He made active use of Danish and Swedish with relatives, used English and French as working languages in Brussels, used Spanish during many extended holidays in Majorca, and used other languages in documentary work. Having a Danish mother, and a father with numerous business contacts in Europe, resulted in many early travels and a period of schooling in France. Subsequently he travelled to countries in Africa and Asia, spending a year in South America in 1959.

His early knowledge of Europe and his documentary skills, and perhaps his affinity for chess, ensured that he spent the years of the war at Bletchley Park (in the United Kingdom), one of the principal centres for war intellingence work. One of his closest friends in this early period was Peter Hunot, personal secretary to H. G. Wells, the well-known author and social visionary. Regrettably Peter Hunot also died early in 1989, but from those early years until their deaths they worked together on many projects and envisaged many more -- in the tradition established by H. G. Wells and other social reformers.

After the Union of International Associations was reconstituted in 1949, following the war years, Peter Hunot was invited to edit the 4th edition of the Yearbook of Internationa! Organizations in the period 1951-1952, by Georges Patrick Speeckaert, the UIA Secretary-General. Naturally this led to the involvement of Eyvind Tew, firstly in proof-reading and subsequently in a full-time capacity from 1956. It is well to recall that at that time especially, and for many years after, the UIA was constantly struggling to make ends meet and to produce information to meet the needs of the growing international community of organizations and those associated with them. Although the UIA had had a vast documentation system in the early years of the century, housed in the Palais du Cinquantenaire, this had been largely destroyed or dispersed as a result of wars and shortage of funds.

The UIA owes to Eyvind Tew the development of a method of documentary work capable of handling vast amounts of source material on extremely small budgets, so as to produce international reference books which other bodies would seldom be capable of producing on much larger budgets. He set a pattern, using classical techniques requiring a multiplicity of card files, which underlies much of the work currently done by the UIA with all the sophistication of computer systems. His special art was to design procedures which cut through to the essential of any task in order to achieve the impossible. He demonstrated this skill in everything he did, but especially in the following publications for which he was responsible which at that stage of the development of the UIA, usually involved doing most of the editorial work :

It was Eyvind Tew who over the years ensured the systematic development of the statistical data on the evolution of international organizations and their conferences -- data essential to many early academic studies of international organization and tho the development of the conference industry.

It required a peculiar kind of courage and intellectual endurance to undertake the preparation of such large reference book on thousands of international organizations -- knowing that it would involve scanning many thousands of pages of source material, in many languages and on many subjects, for scraps of information which would otherwise be unobtainable. The self-discipline and persistence demanded by such tasks was one of the most striking features of his character.

The other principal characteristic of Eyvind Tew was his modesty in all things. Few of the reference works for which he is responsible bear his name. His lifestyle was modest, almost to an extreme degree. It was strongly influenced by the values of the Society of Friends (the Quakers), with whom his family had many links. Whilst in Brussels, he chose to live in a modest attic (specially kept for him by his landlady, even during extended periods of absence) without hot water, making him a regular user of the public baths. He ate and drank extremely modestly. He made an art form out of locating restaurant, hotel and travel facilities offering the best price/quality combination, especially in off-peak periods. He was renowned for the parsimony with which he clothed himself.

A striking feature of his lifestyle was his approach to working hours. He would arrive at the office at 6.30 in the morning. Work until just after others arrived at 8.30 and then disappear for one hour for breakfast. He would then return until 11.30 when he would take an early lunch to avoid the crowds. He would then work until 3.30, take a break for tea... After dinner he would return again for a further period of 2 hours. He adopted this routine 7 days a week. However if it was sunny (rare in Brussels) he would take the day off and go for a 20 km walk in the beautiful woods around Brussels -- which he knew intimately. Since much of the publication work was in annual cycles, he would take 2-3 months holidays passing the winter months in Majorca.

His principal forms of recreation were walking, chess, classical music, travel and reading. He read extensively -- but rarely fiction. And when he read he almost always took extensive notes. Either for UlA purposes, or in relation to his wider interest in peace, social reform and international organization. He spent the last years of his life organizing 50 years of these notes into a special set of archives for which he developed a computerized index.

Eyvind Tew was a very private person -- quite open in conversation, but very skilled in avoiding topics which he did not desire to discuss. Conversation with him was in many ways an art form, in that one came to recognize that there were boundaries not to be crossed and areas of his daily life which he did not wish to share. Despite this all who had contact with him were struck by his unfailing courtesy, humour, charm and generosity of spirit. He did not seek social contact, rather there were quite well-defined time limits to any socializing in which he engaged. He tended to avoid parties, social gatherings and meetings.

In a period when many identified with this or that ideology or cause, Eyvind Tew took a much more neutral position. Obliged as he was to read materials from many ideological positions, from the far left to the far right (and including some of the more stranger religious persuasions), he dedicated his life to according a place to such seemingly incompatible views and to the actions to which they gave rise. It is this spirit which has guided the evolution of the Union of International Associations as a clearinghouse for information on international organizations of all persuasions. In his quiet way he made many things possible. He is remembered with much affection.


Par Geneviève Devillé: A la veille de fêter son soixante-quinzième anniversaire, le 25 juillet 1989, Eyvind Siegfried Tew a été happé par le métro de Londres et est décédé rapidement.

Tous ceux qui l'ont connu ont été profondément émus et tout particulièrement ceux qui ont travaillé avec lui pendant de longues années. L'UAI perd en lui une cheville ouvrière qui a résolument marqué toute le période de reprise d'activité après la deuxième guerre mondiale.

En 1959 l'UAI venait de racheter les droits d'édition de son Annuaire des organisations internationales et avait publié une édition en français. Une édition en anglais s'imposait et également une tutelle professionnelle. C'est ainsi que l'UAI fit appel à Peter Hunot qui vint travailler à Bruxelles et fut l'artisan compétent et dévoué de l'édition 1951-52 de I''Annuaire.

On commença à ce moment à entendre parler d'un certain Mr Tew qui travaillait à Londres, dans l'ombre. En fait, l'activité au départ de Londres était telle qu'un réseau important de relations s'était tissé entre les rédacteurs de l'Annuaire et les organisations internationales établies en Grande-Bretagne.

Tout naturellement la nécessité d'un secrétariat national s'imposa. M. Hunot, professionnellement trop occupé présenta Mr Tew. Dès la fin 1951 un secrétariat national fonctionnait et en même temps la 5e édition du Yearbook était mise en chantier : Mr Tew en devenait le seul responsable.

Le secrétariat général de l'UAI à Bruxelles ne pouvait rester insensible à cette étoile montante et ne pouvait, en même temps, que souhaiter faire bénéficier Mr Tew de tout l'arsenal documentaire centralisé à Bruxelles. Les pourparlers furent menés tambour battant par M. Speeckaert, secrétaire général, et aboutirent à l'intégration de Mr Tew dans le staff de l'UAI. Le secrétariat de Londres n'en était pas décapité pour autant, Mr Tew l'ayant sagement doté d'une excellente secrétaire, Mrs Delahaye, formée par lui. En 1965, 10,5 % des recettes de l'UAI provenaient encore du secrétariat de Londres.

A l'annonce de l'arrivée à Bruxelles de Mr Tew, que l'on avait à vrai dire fort peu vu, un petit frisson avait parcouru le staff de l'UAI : le courrier très abondant que l'on avait avec lui témoignait d'un esprit clair, d'une méthode rigoureuse, d'un caractère décidé, indépendant et... autoritaire. On avait un peu peur de lui. Il entra le 1er octobre 1956. Si on ne s'était guère trompé sur ses qualités intellectuelles, il se révéla très vite qu'Eyvind Tew était un excellent collègue, très sensible aux problèmes des autres. Il conserva toujours de très bonnes relations avec tous.

Maïs il est vrai qu'intransigeant sur la qualité du travail ou la méthode à suivre, il était prêt à prendre sur lui ce qui ne pouvait être bien fait par d'autres ou à refuser le travail. Parfait organisateur, il savait juger de la globalité d'une entreprise, s'atteler aux tâches essentielles, se décharger des tâches secondaires, faire confiance à ses collaborateurs, élaguer ce qui à première vue paraissait souhaitable, mais qu'il estimait impossible... et il fonçait dans un rythme de travail chargé -- 8 à 10 heures par jour -- mais très cadencé, jamais plus de 2 heures d'affilée, et d'une intransigeante régularité. Très bon pédagogue, il a su en outre former d'excellents collaborateurs.

On reste stupéfait devant l'activité déployée par Eyvind Tew pendant cette période : rédaction du Yearbook of International Organizations, rédaction puis direction de l'International Congress Calendar, rédaction du Yearbook of International Congress Proceedings, 1ére édition. A côté de cela d'importantes traductions du français vers l'anglais, telles celle du rapport du Professeur Meynaud " Un plan d'évaluation des organisations internationales non gouvernementales ", des statistiques et articles pour la revue de l'UAI, d'innombrables corrections d'épreuves.

Il ne suffit pas de souligner l'étendue de cette production, mais surtout la qualité: la concision et l'esprit de synthèse dans la rédaction des notices des Yearbook, la transposition adéquate des nuances d'une langue à l'autre dans ses traductions, la vigilance parfaitement soutenue dans ses corrections d'épreuves. Au cours des dernières années, Eyvind Tew avait souhaité prendre un peu de distance par rapport au travail de l'UAI pour se consacrer davantage à une œuvre à laquelle, avec son ami de toujours, Peter Hunot, il s'était attaché: réunir l'information sur les problèmes sociaux mondiaux tels que répercutés par les publications internationales. Cette documentation a été indexée et consignée ensuite par ordinateur. Elle sera prochainement confiée à une bibliothèque britannique.

Peter Hunot s'en est allé quelques mois plus tôt qu'Eyvind Tew. Tous deux restent associés à une étape importante de la vie de l'UAI qui leur garde une très grande reconnaissance pour le tournant positif qu'ils lui ont permis d'accomplir.


By Edwina Palmer (Honorary Librarian, South Place Ethical Society). I was sad to hear of the recent death of Eyvind Siegried (Jimmy) Tew. He joined SPES in 1982, but I had known of him much earlier as a consistent donor of books for our Library, usually through Peter Hunot, who knew him through the H. G. Wells Society. He lived in Belsize Park, and although we seldom saw him at meetings he continued to make donations of books up to his death at age of 75. At the memorial meeting in memory of Peter Hunot, E. S. Tew was one of the contributors.


By Nicholas Hyman: Eyvind Tew who died tragically in July, aged 75; had been a friend of the Society, and especially of Peter Hunot, for many years. He belonged to many organisations including, before the Second World War, the H. G. Wells Society as then organised by Peter Hunot. He worked as a cryptographer at Ditchley Park [Bletchley Park] during the war and was always reticent about this area of his life. He had travelled in every decade from his adolescence onward over large areas of the world, generally by bicycle with very little luggage. His knowledge of pre-war Eastern Europe, of Scandinavia (he was fluent in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish), North America and Wales was amazing. For over a decade he lived in Brussels as well as London, editing the Yearbook of International Organizations.

A chess aficionado, a compulsive indexer, and brave supporter of many causes including full employment, free speech and peace, his lifework was perhaps a
contemporary archive covering the years 1939 to 1986. Together with a collectioo of material on organisations which he assembled with Peter Hunot. The Tew archive is to go to the Bishopsgate Institute where researchers from all over the world will find it an important quarry. His ascetic wit, diminutive and cheery frame, and above all his generosity of spirit are unforgotten. He will be missed by many.

At the time of writing both Geneviève Devillé and Anthony Judge
held the position of Assistant Secretary-General at the Union of International Associations (Brussels).
The obituaries deriving from Edwina Palmer and Nicholas Hyman, originally appeared in the
South Place Ethical Society Magazine, the Ethical Record (September 1989),
now the Conway Hall Ethical Society

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

For further updates on this site, subscribe here