Frederick William Dwelly died over 50 years ago, but his vision for the place of worship that both made and broke him still pervades. His influence is there in the philosophy of inclusion that typifies the Cathedral's religious and educational activities; in the liveliness and relevance of services; and even in the rust and unbleached cotton of the cassocks and surplices, and the cream, black and red of special service papers. In the estimation of many eminent figures in the Church of England Dwelly was nothing short of a liturgical genius, but one whose life history could so very easily be lost. It was this realisation that spurred former Cathedral Education Officer Peter Kennerley to embark upon research into the great man's life and legacy. Using letters, sermons, newspapers and the testimony of those still alive who knew him, the author paints a fascinating, though inevitably incomplete, portrait of a truly inspirational man who was full of contradictions. He was ground-breakingly liberal in his views about interdenominational cooperation, but he could also be dictatorial.
He knew how to make everyone who was involved with the Cathedral feel valued, but though widely loved he was greatly held in awe. It was certainly impossible to say 'no' to the first Dean of Liverpool Cathedral! Such a mixture of character traits is, however, what made Dwelly such an attractive, charismatic and effective dean. His foibles were at once his weakness and his strength; yes, he was less than perfect, but in the end his human faults merely served to make people warm to him. This is the book that might never have been written. For Peter Kennerley, the sifting of the archives has been a huge challenge which at times he has doubted his ability to overcome. The material available to him has been both copious and tantalisingly vague, and he has had to distil from it the essence of a man who in many ways is impossible to portray with total clarity. What is certain is that everyone who knew the Dean, everyone who knows the Cathedral, as well as all students of religious and liturgical history, will be grateful to the author for committing to posterity the life and work of such an intriguing, controversial and pivotal figure, and for doing it so well.