The English-Speaking Union

News And Events

Chairman's October Newsletter

A Message from Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper

Dear friends,

It was a day to remember!

On Monday, October 3, 2022, after two postponements due to the pandemic and many months of preparation and anticipation, the ESU hosted Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal in our New York headquarters followed by a Gala at the Cosmopolitan Club of New York.

As many of you know, The Princess Royal is
President of our sister organization, the ESU of the Commonwealth, and an ardent supporter of our common purpose to strengthen bonds between nations and cultures through the power of the English language.

After touching down at John F. Kennedy International Airport mid- day on Monday, Her Royal Highness was whisked away by police escort to the ESU headquarters in mid-town Manhattan. She was greeted by our staff and met with beneficiaries of our educational programs. Presented to the Princess were new immigrants and English language learners, tutors and teachers, National Shakespeare Competition winners, TLab and Secondary School Exchange scholars, and Middle School Debate participants who shared with her how the ESU has enriched their lives.

And then, after only a very brief retreat to the UK Consulate, Her Royal Highness joined us for the Gala dinner at the Cosmopolitan Club to congratulate the recipients of the inaugural 2020 Princess Royal Awards and bestow the 2022 Awards to three honorees – Dr. Loveday Conquest, Mrs. Natalie Pray and Dr. Julia Churchill Van de Water.
Despite having just arrived after a transatlantic flight, the Princess was engaging and warm, putting everyone at ease with her graciousness and wit. She charmed us all.

Dear friends, October 3rd was especially rewarding for me personally because, finally, my years-long aspiration and efforts to host Princess Anne at the ESU became reality. And the reality exceeded the dreams. It was a perfect day and a perfect evening, made all the more meaningful by having The Princess Royal bestow the Princess Royal Awards to three extraordinary ladies at a private Club for accomplished professional women.

In her remarks, the Princess commended the ESU's commitment to building bridges among people and expanding opportunities through the English language. Our programs for English language learners were of special interest to her as she was singularly impressed by the ESU volunteers who "have just taken a little extra time and interest to make somebody else's life work better."

I want to follow up on Her Royal Highness' praise and invite you to "make someone's life work better" by engaging in the English in Action across America program. The program is an expansion of the English-in-Action Conversations that for more than forty years have brought together English language learners and volunteer native speakers for weekly one-to-one conversation sessions. Until recently, English in Action connected volunteers and students in New York City only. But thanks to the introduction of technology during Covid, ESU was able to launch a pilot project that paired volunteers from other parts of the country with students from the New York area for weekly conversations via Zoom. The pilot was hugely successful. Here is what participants have to say:

"When I communicate with [my tutors], I feel like I regained my family... They give me safety and courage."
- Student from Burma (Myanmar)

"Volunteering through the ESU is a form of lifelong learning...I guarantee you'll have a sense of accomplishment..."
- Volunteer, ESU Denver Branch

I invite Branches to join the program. It is a terrific opportunity to engage – and grow – your membership.

I also invite individual members to raise their hands. As a volunteer, you'll give the gift of fluency and help an English language learner become familiar with our culture, traditions, and lifestyle. And in exchange, you'll be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment at your student's progress and enjoy a glimpse into another culture and way of life.

The program takes place online over Zoom. You will receive training, resources, and support from ESU National Office to ensure you are successful in your role as a mentor. If you are interested and want to find out more about the program or sign up as a tutor, please email

Lastly, I want to remind you that we are less than a month away from our first in–person Annual General Conference since the pandemic. It will take place from November 11 to 13 at the historic Mills House in Charleston, South Carolina.

I would like to thank our host, the ESU Charleston Branch, and its President, Mr. Lawrence Hollingsworth, for the invaluable insight into how to experience Charleston in a weekend. Bookended by a Gala dinner on Friday, November 11 and a Sunset Harbor Cruise and Reception on Sunday, November 13, the Conference will offer social gatherings to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones, bespoke guided tours that will open a window into Charleston's timeless charms, and thoughtful discussions about the ESU's future success.

The ESU staff has prepared a handy guide into accommodations and transportation options in the area to help you plan your trip. The registration form also lists all the experiences included in the conference package as well as the traditional Patron reception on Saturday, November 12, and the optional extension tour on Monday, November 14, to the American College of Building Arts and Middleton Place Plantation, two of Charleston's most memorable landmarks.

And to encourage many of you to attend, the ESU National Office is announcing a special AGM Branch Prize for the Branch with the greatest number of conference registrants that comes with a $2,500 gift to be used in whatever manner the Branch deems fit. The winning Branch will be announced and feted at the Gala dinner on Friday, November 11.

Just think about the many ways your Branch could use these dollars to grow your membership or strengthen participation in the ESU's educational programs. Perhaps host a party to thank members for their loyalty and support, or a thought-provoking lecture to show prospective members what the ESU is all about. Or perhaps give a teacher in your community a TLab scholarship to Oxford or University of Edinburgh.

So when you sign up for this year's Annual Conference, the first in-person ESU-wide gathering in three years, you will not only reunite with fellow members from across the country and have fun in charming Charleston, but you will also help your Branch in the noble competition to deepen the fellowship and sense of community among us all.

Dear friends, I invite you to come. It will be a wonderful start to the holiday season as well as a great opportunity to enjoy Charleston's southern hospitality and support our Union.

Look forward to seeing many of you in Charleston.

With best regards,

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

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In Memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

It is with admiration and profound respect that we pay tribute to the life and legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty served as Patron of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth since granting it a formal Royal Charter in 1957. She served alongside her husband the late Prince Philip who was President of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth from 1952 to 2011. The Princess Royal, Princess Anne has since taken the mantle as President of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth. 

Queen Elizabeth II's reign spanned 14 American Presidencies, beginning in 1952 with Dwight D. Eisenhower, later Chairman of the English Speaking Union of the United States. Emblematic of her reign was her care in fostering a special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States, the principle upon which the English-Speaking Union was founded. She was a fierce champion for charity, education, and goodwill around the world.

Queen Elizabeth II speaking at an ESU event at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, 1957. Seated right is Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (President of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth from 1952 to 2011)

As Patron of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth, Queen Elizabeth II traveled extensively and served as an ambassador for peace. The English-Speaking Union of the United States was fortunate to honor and host her, as well as His Royal Highness Prince Philip, on multiple occasions. Among pictures in the ESU's collection are images from her visits to New York in 1957 and 1976, where she spoke at ESU-US-sponsored events at the Waldorf Astoria. 

His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (left),  Her Majesty The Queen (center), and Lewis Douglas, ESU Chairman from 1951-1959 (right) pictured at the ESU-hosted dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in 1957.

Queen Elizabeth II demonstrated steadfast leadership and integrity during her 70-year reign - qualities which we honor and emulate as an organization. We are thankful for her unwavering, life-long support of the English-Speaking Union's mission to foster global understanding and goodwill through the power of the English language.

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ESU message on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II served as Patron of the English-Speaking Union since granting our Royal Charter in 1957. We send our deepest condolences to her family at this time.

We will commemorate the passing of our Patron in the days to come.

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

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A Message from the English-Speaking Union of the United States

On behalf of the National Board of Directors of The English Speaking Union of the United States and our entire community, I express our deep concern about the news from Buckingham Palace.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty the Queen and her family at this time.

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

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Chairman's September Newsletter

A Message from Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper

Dear friends,

The passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is a loss felt across the world. Her late Majesty was a symbol of unity, constancy and grace, and an inspiration to us all. Among her many responsibilities, she served as Patron of our sister organization - the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth. Her late Majesty's patronage gave special recognition to the purpose of our two organizations – to foster global understanding and goodwill through the power of the English language. We are deeply grateful for her unwavering, life-long support of this lofty mission.
Despite the sad circumstances, The Princess Royal is keeping her promise to travel to New York to stop by the ESU headquarters and attend our Gala at the Cosmopolitan Club on October 3, 2022. This past Tuesday, we had a reconnaissance "recce" visit by the Her Royal Highness' personal protection officer who toured the ESU House and the Cosmopolitan Club in preparation for her arrival.

Flags at half-mast at ESU National Headquarters

Her Royal Highness' visit is a special honor and a rare opportunity to showcase the ESU's achievements and contributions to society for over 100 years. The Princess is interested in learning about the ESU's educational programs and scholarships and has asked that during her afternoon stop at the ESU headquarters she meet the staff and beneficiaries of our programs.

In the evening, the Princess will join us to celebrate all of you – members, volunteers, benefactors, activists – who have built the ESU into such a unique and impactful institution. We look forward to the most important moment of the evening when Her Royal Highness will take the stage to address the gathering and recognize the Princess Royal Award honorees.

I'm sure it won't come as a surprise that the Gala is sold out for in-person attendance, but it will be broadcasted live. I invite you to join remotely and be part of this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

I also encourage our Branches to take advantage of the Branch Virtual Access to the Gala. There is no limit on the number of guests who can attend, and it comes with the invitation to send a pre-recorded greeting to Her Royal Highness and all Gala participants worldwide.
I say worldwide because our Gala will be a truly global event bringing together the entire international ESU community. Ms. Jane Easton, Director General of the English-Speaking Union of the Commonwealth, and Ms. Lucia Dumont, former Chair of ESU France and President of the ESU International Council, will be with us in person. And thanks to ESU Board member Donald Best's generous gift, international ESUs from as far as Mauritius and New Zealand, Mongolia and Lithuania, and Ukraine and France will join us remotely for the celebration. I hope you will too.

Just over a month later, on November 11-13 we will come together in Charleston, S.C., for the ESU 2022 Annual Conference, the first in-person convention in three years. On the program are several important working sessions – the 2022 Annual General Meeting, a plenary on the ESU's future growth led by our consultant Rev. Renee LiaBraaten, and a series of workshops on various aspects of Branch life.

Charleston, NC

There will also be plenty of occasions to experience enchanting Charleston, spend time with old friends, and make new ones. You will enjoy receptions and meals, bespoke guided tours to historic places, the traditional Patron Reception at the Charleston Library Society, and a closing sunset cruise. An optional follow-on tour will offer us a glimpse of Charleston's fascinating cultural heritage with a curated trip to the American College of the Building Arts and Middleton Place, home to the oldest landscaped gardens in the U.S. and an enduring, vibrant, and essential part of the history of Charleston and America.

I invite you to the ESU 2022 Annual Conference to share in the camaraderie and help us to plan for the future of our Union.

In the spring of 2023, we will mark the ESU National Shakespeare Competition's 40th anniversary, an important milestone for our most beloved and widely recognized program. A brainchild of ESU Chairman Emeritus Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill, then headmaster of the Anglo-American School in New York, and Edwina Sandys, Winston Churchill's granddaughter, the competition was originally designed to engage young people in the 1983 Britain Salutes New York festival. Five years later, the ESU held the first truly national Shakespeare Competition in Cleveland, hosted by ESU Cleveland. Since then, the competition has been embraced by our members and generations of teachers and students as a way to connect with the lasting power of the Bard's words.

Coincidentally, 2023 will also mark the quadricentennial of Shakespeare's First Folio. The first printed edition of the Bard's collected plays is an extraordinary achievement of the literary world. Without it, we would have lost half of Shakespeare's dramatic work.

We will take inspiration from the role the First Folio has played in culture and art over the last 400 years and celebrate our own anniversary with a series of events – a Shakespeare festival of sorts – throughout 2023. It will present virtual lectures and in-person Branch events curated by renowned Shakespeare scholar, author, and ESU National Shakespeare Competition judge Dr. Catherine Loomis, professor of English at the University of New Orleans. The entertaining lectures by leading experts will look at Shakespeare's works from a variety of perspectives and discuss how they have inspired art beyond the theatrical stage.

The virtual lectures will bring together the entire membership via Zoom. The Branch-sponsored events will engage our members locally, allowing the host Branches to celebrate the anniversary and raise funds for their activities. The possibilities are endless – from black tie to casual to costume, these parties can be hosted in a restaurant, club or garden (think Forest of Arden from As You Like It) or even on stage. Remember, Shakespeare is theater – make the leap from the page to the stage!

The 40th ESU National Shakespeare Competition will gather all Branch winners, their teachers and families, Branch leaders, and Members-At-Large to a memorable weekend in New York City from April 22-24, 2023. We hope that Lincoln Center will open its doors to us again. A program of exciting activities will be offered to the contestants and guests ending with a festive reception.

The competition's 40th anniversary celebration will culminate in an exclusive small-group tour - a Transatlantic crossing on Queen Mary II, followed by a cultural program in and around London from July 7-17, 2023. Under the theme of Queens of Shakespeare, the voyage will be much more than a trip to the U.K. It will lead to unparalleled cultural insight and personal enrichment.

Queen Mary II

At sea, Dr. Loomis will amuse and challenge the twenty or so guests with engaging daytime lectures and evening conversations about all things Shakespeare. On shore, we will delight in behind-the-scenes access to unique places and people made possible by the ESU's network of connections built over a century.

This trip will be the first of our re-imagined Patron tours to destinations and experiences connected to the ESU's history, programs and cultural traditions. You will enjoy traveling with fellow ESU members who share your sense of adventure and intellectual curiosity. And you will find special satisfaction in knowing that a portion of your trip fare will be a charitable contribution to support the ESU's programs.

Dear friends, I am excited about the 2022-2023 ESU calendar of big events. I hope you will be too. I invite you to join in as many of these opportunities as you possibly can. We've stayed home long enough. It is time to reconnect with friends and re-engage in our Union. I look forward to seeing you soon.

With best regards,

Dr. E. Quinn Peeper
The English-Speaking Union

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