This quotation, the title of the last chapter in Martin Edwards’s seminal The Golden Age of Murder, is, as so many things in the study of the genre, from Agatha Christie. The last lines of Mr Edwards’s book are:
The last word belongs to Christie. In 1940, at the height of the Blitz, when she could not know if she or her family and friends would survive for long, she inscribed a copy of Sad Cypress: “Wars may come and wars may go, but MURDER goes on forever!”
How right she was. Furthermore, despite all predictions to the contrary, traditional murder and detective fiction go on forever. Nothing could prove that more clearly than the popularity of the British Library series of reprints, first of Victorian but more recently of various half-forgotten Golden Age detective novels and collections of short stories, all of which have been immensely popular.

Martin Edwards’s role in publishing and publicizing the series cannot be overestimated. He has chosen the books, provided highly knowledgeable introductions to a number of them and edited collections of short stories. While doing all that he has been writing his own books and running a blog about detective fiction that is to be recommended to anyone who is even half-way interested in the subject. His greatest achievement to date, however, is this massive volume, a history of the Detection Club in the thirties and forties, a collection of biographies of the extraordinary people who were its members and, incidentally, a history of the genre in the period. That is what I call a useful book.

Not only is it useful but it is wonderfully well written; indeed the story of the Detection Club [photo of one of their dinners above], whose headquarters at 31 Gerrard Street in Soho (though nowadays mostly known as Chinatown) ought to be commemorated with a blue plaque, unfolds like a collection of interlocking thrilling short stories. One cannot say this often enough: the people who created the Club and the genre, which has not died out to this day, were quite extraordinary. And while many of us know the story of Agatha Christie, her sensational disappearance, divorce and second marriage to Max Mallowan, the story of Dorothy L. Sayers and her secret illegitimate son, the story of Margery Allingham (though this is less well known) we do not necessarily know the story of John Dickson Carr, John Rhode/Miles Burton, Henry Wade, Anthony Berkeley, Helen Simpson, Christianna Brand and a number of others. The fact is that despite the rather lazy assumption by people who have recently written about the subject, there were far more writers than just the “Four Queens”, many of them more popular at the time (though Christie overtook most of her colleagues by the forties) and, whisper who dares, many of them men. Nor were these writers particularly cosy in their approach to the subject or, necessarily, conservative in their attitude though I still maintain that somewhere at the heart of the genre there is a conservative moral attitude, which did not mean the same in political and social terms.

 Many of the writers were good at hiding details of their own existence and Mr Edwards must have enjoyed playing the detective to uncover matters hidden or just forgotten for a long time.

To me the most interesting “discovery” was the relationship between Anthony Berkeley (real name Anthony Berkeley Cox and also Francis Iles) and the underrated E. M. Delafield, a very popular novelist of the period who dared to touch a lot of rather difficult subjects in her novels but who is known now largely for the delightful series of Provincial Lady diaries, rather deceptive in themselves, and who is often confused with the main character of those books, the Provincial Lady herself. Martin Edwards thinks he has traced a much closer relationship between these two difficult, talented and now half-forgotten writers than most of us, including Violet Powell, Delafield’s biographer realized. Admittedly, the trail that leads through novels more than letters and reminiscences depends a great deal on hypotheses and assumptions but it may not be too far off the truth. (Though I do not believe and neither, I think, does Mr Edwards that Delafield’s husband was abusive, no matter what Anthony Berkeley implied in his novels.)

I do have a couple of bones to pick. One has nothing to do with the author and much to do with the publisher. Is it really not possible for a respectable publisher like HarperCollins to employ a proof-reader? The number of serious errors is outrageous and completely unnecessary: this is not a hastily produced paperback. (I wonder if HarperCollins would consider employing a highly experienced eagle-eyed proof-reader.)

My second bone is to do with the general assumption of what the thirties were like. There were serious economic problems in many parts of the country, especially after the 1929 crash and there was a great deal of uncertainty, both with employment and more generally in the second half of the decade as the probability of another big war became stronger. But, at the same time, it was the decade of much house building, when the well-known two-down-three-up houses with decent sized gardens grew in large numbers and many more families could afford to live in their own homes; it was also the period when many more council and housing association estates went up and these remain far better and more attractive than those built later on; when the popular Morris Minor meant that a good many more people had cars than just Lord Peter Wimsey; when holidays became statutory for many more people. It was also the period when new publishing houses were created and magazines were set up; when writers could live off their writing and the audience for new books and periodicals grew; when Allen Lane revolutionized publishing and reading by his brilliant idea of the Penguin paperbacks.

The two views are not mutually exclusive but both are important as we look at the background to the enormous popularity of detective stories, both bought and borrowed from various libraries.

A small quibble about a book that is a joy to read and exhausting to remember. Martin Edwards says that he constructed it in such a way as to make it readable right through from beginning to end as one very complicated but fascinating story (which is what I have done) and also as a book one can dip into for detailed information about authors and books (which is what I intend to do in the future). When I add that the number of writers and, especially, books listed is enormous and many of the more controversial facts are backed by carefully written notes, you will see why I say that this book is of the highest importance to anyone who wants to know about a vital part of English life and literature in the thirties and forties but is also a work that needs many more readings than just one. I have already made a list of books that I absolutely have to read in the near future and I suspect I shall be returning to The Golden Age of Murder frequently. I also suspect I shall blog about it once or twice again.

Martin Edwards:                     The Golden Age of Murder
The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story

2015                                        London

Those of us who complained in the past that detective stories are not taken seriously enough in this country or the US (two countries that have been in the forefront of producing the actual literature) ought to be pleased with the amount of academic interest displayed in the genre in the last couple of decades. All Tory Historian can say is that one must beware of what one wishes for as it might just come true.

Of course, TH and other like-minded individuals are delighted with the appearance, at intervals, of serious, well-researched and well-argued books on the subject. For example all those who are interested in the genre must be looking forward to the publication of Martin Edwards's history of the Detection Club and its denizens, The Golden Age of Murder. But Martin, who is a friend, is not an academic but a writer, anthologist and historian of the genre who loves it and understands it. He is also the author of some excellent detective novels of his own and has been much involved both as consultant and as a writer of illuminating introductions in the production of the British Library reprints of early and Golden Age detective stories that have sunk into undeserved oblivion as far as the general reading public is concerned. (Incidentally, the general reading public has taken to the reprints in a big way and most of them have been selling very well, indeed, thus proving past experts on the subject wrong.)

There are many other serious and informative books, anthologies and collections of essays on the market though, alas, not always published in the UK (still, with Amazon that should not be too much of a problem). The work of Douglas G. Greene, the biographer of John Dickson Carr, anthologist and essayist is of enormous importance. As far as I know he is not related to Sir Hugh Greene who, back in the 1970s created interest in forgotten "rivals" of Sherlock Holmes through a highly successful TV series and several volumes of short stories, but it is an amusing coincidence.

Douglas Greene has been honoured by a festschrift edited by Curtis J. Evans, called Mysteries Unlocked, full of goodies about well known and not so well known authors. Curt Evans himself is an author of several books on the subject, including one that really ought to have been published in the UK a long time ago, as it is a study of three leading British Golden Age authors: John Rhode/Miles Burton (same man but two noms de plume), Freeman Wills Croft and J. J. Conington (another nom de plume).

There are many more examples of such works and, if required, Tory Historian can list a good selection.

TH was also very impressed by the splendid exhibition the Museum of London had about Sherlock Holmes and aspects of his career and various reincarnations. Of particular interest were the many photographs and paintings, oil and watercolour, of London of the period and the tracing of the journeys Holmes and Watson took across various parts of he city and out of it from one of the many railway stations. It is important to recall that Holmes and Watson carried out all those investigations at a time when London was growing and changing rapidly. Sometimes one sees that in the stories but the curators of the exhibition made a great effort to demonstrate it through maps, quotations and pictures. The world Holmes and Watson lived and worked in was not a cosy, dependable bourgeois one that is so often argued by those academic students of the genre; it was one of great and rapid upheavals.

Which finally brings Tory Historian to the whole issue of academic studies of crime and detective fiction. There are now courses in detective fiction, academic publications on the subject that manage to take all the joy out of it, even whole series of academic books.

Clive Bloom edits such a series for Palgrave Macmillan called Crime Files, which makes it sound like a TV series of almost any vintage but its purpose is far more serious:
Crime Files is a ground-breaking series offering scholars, students and discerning readers a comprehensive set of guides to the world of crime and detective fiction. Every aspect of crime writing, detective fiction, gangster movie, true-crime expose, police procedural and post-colonial investigation is explored through clear and informative texts offering comprehensive coverage and theoretical sophistication. 
Those are grand claims and hard to live up to. Whether the series does or not is something every reader of individual books has to decide but two things need to be said at once: there is nothing particularly ground-breaking in the serious study of crime fiction as it has been done for good many decades and it is unlikely that very many ordinary readers, discerning or otherwise, will bother with titles like Masculinity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature or its counterpart, Femininity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature.

Some of the titles are of interest. The problem is that they are deceptive. These books are not for discerning readers or even for students except those who are about to take exams in the subject and, even more so, those who want to rise in the academic ladder.

There is some evidence that both early and Golden Age writers of crime fiction did not consider that work to be important or worthy of serious consideration. We all know that about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hating Sherlock Holmes because he displaced what he considered to be his serious literary work from the public's knowledge and affection. As a matter of fact, those historical novels are very good and the various non-Holmes short of adventure, medical life and ghostliness are excellent but we all know who holds our attention and affection and does so all over the world.

Detective fiction writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century sometimes used pseudonyms or considered their output to be merely an unimportant part of their work. The same applied to some of the Golden Age writers like S. S. Van Dine, Henry Wade, J. J. Conington and others. Women continued to use male pseudonyms long beyond the time this was deemed to be necessary and it is only slowly that the writing of detective fiction became an acceptable and honoured profession. (There is no need to discuss J. K. Rowling's tricksy way of advertising her detective novels, supposedly written by one Robert Galbraith with the truth somehow becoming known to every journalist within days of the first book's publication.)

Of course, this is not true for everyone. Conan Doyle may not have liked Sherlock Holmes but he wrote the stories under his own name and eventually accepted his detective's importance; Agatha Christie used her real name for the detective fiction and a pseudonym, Mary Westmacott, for what might be termed her "serious" fiction. John Dickson Carr, who did use several names at various times, gloried in being a crime fiction writer, calling it the "grandest game on earth". Despite this and despite the great popularity of the genre in the years between the wars and immediately after the Second World War, some unease prevailed.

Nowadays the unease lies with those academics. The subject may exist but its students are uneasy: can it really be called a serious academic study, they ask themselves. The answer is no, not unless it is analyzed from many, reasonably fashionable point of view and certainly not unless rather spurious academic debates can be conducted.

Tory Historian realized this with complete clarity while reading one of the books in the Crime Files series, Late Victorian Crime Fiction in the Shadows of Sherlock by Clare Clarke, Assistant Professor of Nineteenth Century Literature at Trinity College, Dublin.

Professor Clarke's main intent is to show that there were other detective fiction writers contemporaneous with Conan Doyle (not precisely news to people who have been reading the various anthologies that have been published over the yeas) and that a number of these were somewhat more subversive of the self-satisfied Victorian view of the world than .... who, precisely?

The problem with those who are out to prove how self-satisfied the Victorians were but actually there were subversive writers even in that period is that they have to rely on those very Victorians to show the seamy side of that supposedly self-satisfied existence. Indeed, one reason why life was improving for so many people was the existence of crusading journalists and writers, like W. T. Stead who were not afraid to write about unpleasant facts, actually going to prison in his case.

Stead, a remarkable man, brave, emotional, hard-working, but often contradictory and infuriating, is much discussed by Professor Clarke because of his campaign against child prostitution that included his shocking and very well known series of articles in the Pall Mall Gazette, The Maiden Tribute to Babylon and the equally shocking Eliza Armstrong case, which resulted in the journalist going to prison for purchasing a child from her mother in order to demonstrate how easy that was.

Stead's most recent biographer, W. Sydney Robinson suggests in Muckraker that the story of Eliza Armstrong was not quite as straightforward and Stead's behaviour not quite as honest as it has always been assumed.

However, the case and the articles had a shattering effect on many and the age of consent was hastily raised in law till sixteen. By no stretch of the imagination could it be said that any of it was unknown until Professor Clarke and other modern academics uncovered it.

What Professor Clarke has done is to link the Maiden Tribute to Babylon with The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, arguing that child prostitution is at the heart of that story. As one of the only two crimes that Mr Hyde is known to have committed (the rest of his activity being shrouded in the mists of horror) is him trampling on a young girl, the argument is not unreasonable. When it is then extended to Dr Jekyll and his friends it becomes slightly less plausible. Yes, they might go wandering in the streets of Edinburgh at night in search of young girls or they might do so in search of young men who are willing to engage in sexual activity, or in search of opium dens or various other things.

As far as the theme of the book as a whole is concerned, Stevenson's novella is a problem. Professor Clarke argues for greater recognition of late Victorian writers who do not happen to be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and of the complexity of both life and literature of that period. Nobody could possibly argue that Robert Louis Stevenson is not well known or that the complexity of his work, especially of his account of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, is underestimated. I have no doubt that many have already written about the theory of it being linked to W. T. Stead's investigative journalism.

Apart from the chapter on Stevenson's novella the book has one chapter on Sherlock Holmes that illustrates the contradictions and difficulties of his character as a number of recent academics have apparently insisted that he is the epitome of Victorian bourgeois morality and the man who creates peace and contentment at the end of his adventures, solving the problems and restoring law and order.

It seems a little odd that there should be any academics who can argue that as the various difficulties and contradictions of Holmes's character are openly discussed by Dr Watson from his first meeting with the man in laboratory of Bart's Hospital and we can all list stories in which Holmes deals with something else but crime, does not manage to catch the criminal or decides not to punish him.

Indeed, there is one story in which the criminal is actually Holmes's client and an innocent person is hounded out of the country by the great detective. But before TH turns to that rather odd tale, a little more about Professor Clarke's book.

The other chapters are a call for greater interest in other contemporary writers who, unlike Conan Doyle, took a less acceptable attitude to crime, showing, in the case of Fergus Hume, that the so-called respectable society in Australia still rested on criminality (hardly an unknown idea), or the influence slum living can have on human beings as in Israel Zangwill's one crime story, The Big Bow Mystery, or looking at crime from another perspective, that of the criminal as in Arthur Morrison's The Dorrington Deed-Box and Guy Boothby's The Prince of Swindlers.

Actually, none of these writers are completely unknown and various stories from the two latter collections have been reprinted. Fergus Hume's The Mystery of the Hansom Cab and Zangwill's novella have also been reprinted from time to time and many of them are now available on line.

The sad truth is that Fergus Hume, Guy Boothby, Israel Zangwill and Arthur Morrison may be interesting and amusing writers but Conan Doyle and Stevenson are great writers who approach genius in some of their works. That is not a reason for not reading the first four but it is the reason why they are less well known. Furthermore, if we are looking for complex, ambiguous and subversive writing we are once again faced with the fact that Stevenson in The Strange Case and other works and Conan Doyle in the Sherlock Holmes canon fulfil that task better than, say, Guy Boothby.

Conan Doyle's astonishing achievement was the creation of a character who was really rather unpleasant, anti-social to the point of rudeness, arrogant, self-centred, a drug addict and a probable manic depressive (though he did soften as time went on) who was nevertheless liked and admired in the books and has been liked, admired by readers all over the world and emulated by other writers ever since. Arthur Morrison could not have done so either with his honourable and upright Martin Hewitt (again, the stories are very well worth reading) or his smart, dishonourable, completely amoral Dorrington.

What is more the public loved the ambiguous character of Holmes. The first two long stories were reasonably well received but it was not till Strand Magazine started publishing the Adventures that real popularity emerged. The first of those was A Scandal in Bohemia. Professor Clarke's first reference to it is a little odd. In her introduction she says:
There are instances, for example, where Holmes does not catch the criminals ('A Scandal in Bohemia', 'The Five Orange Pips' and 'The Yellow Face'); is prepared to break the law in pursuit of a case ('A Scandal in Bohemia' and 'The Illustrious Client'); fails to save his client from being murdered ('The Five Orange Pips'); lets the guilty party go free ('The Boscombe Valley Mystery' and the 'The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle'); ....
One wonders why there is no mention of Charles Augustus Milverton but one cannot list all the stories that have quirks in them. What is undoubtedly odd is that reference to not catching the criminals. There are no criminals in The Yellow Face and the criminal in A Scandal in Bohemia is not Irene Adler who does nothing except protect herself but the King, Holmes's client. Let us recall part of their first conversation:
We were both in the photograph.

Oh, dear! That is very bad! Your Majesty has indeed committed an indiscretion.

I was mad—insane.

You have compromised yourself seriously.

I was only Crown Prince then. I was young. I am but thirty now.

It must be recovered.

We have tried and failed.

Your Majesty must pay. It must be bought.

She will not sell.

Stolen, then.

Five attempts have been made. Twice burglars in my pay ransacked her house. Once we diverted her luggage when she travelled. Twice she has been waylaid. There has been no result.

No sign of it?

Absolutely none.
Well, well, just what are those five attempts but commissioning of serious crime which includes two attempts to terrify a lady? Yet the King becomes the client and Holmes behaves in a questionable manner, particularly when creating a false fire alarm, completing the case by driving the blameless Nortons from England as they are afraid of what the King and his "henchman" Holmes will do. Hardly the behaviour of an honourable man and yet the public loved it and saw nothing strange in the fact that the man who behaves in such a fashion in one story becomes the epitome of morality (he might esteem the intelligence of criminals but pace Professor Clarke he does not actually admire them) in the subsequent ones.

As one starts discussing Sherlock Holmes and the complexities of the character and stories, one finds that there is enough material for a medium-sized book though the chances are most of those points have been made by someone else not in the academic world whose denizens seem to do nothing but invent theories of no importance and argue against other academic theories of equal interest. What a terrible waste of opportunity and effort.

In the meantime, here are a couple of questions about Holmes and the canon that TH might answer in another long blog:

In The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor, another non-criminal case, Holmes expresses himself as a true lover of America or, as we would say nowadays, the Anglosphere.
It is always a joy to meet an American, Mr Moulton, for I am one of those who believe that the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a minister in far-gone years will not prevent our children from being one day citizens of the same world-wide country under a flag which shall be a quartering of the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes.
And yet, a good many of the stories are about crime and criminals that come over from the United States. The Study in Scarlet, The Valley of Fear, The Five Orange Pips, The Dancing Men, The Red Circle and The Three Garridebs spring to mind immediately. There may be others.

As against that, and this is TH's second point, there is no evidence of one of the latest academic theory and that is "fear of reverse colonization", that is fear expressed that men of the colonies, either native or white influenced by native ideas, return home and bring back criminal ideas. When there is a crime story, which is somehow rooted in colonial events, as in The Sign of Four or The Boscombe Valley Mystery, the criminals are white and have not been particularly influenced by anything but their own criminal nature. Little Tonga to whom Professor Clarke refers rather a lot, is a secondary character and is activated by complete, all-consuming loyalty to Jonathan Small who had saved his life.

The First but Forgotten Lord Hailsham
Chris Cooper

Dr Chris Cooper was recently awarded a PhD at the University of Liverpool. He has taught at a variety of higher education institutions and has published a number of articles on different aspects of modern British political history.  
The Conservative History Journal blog is very pleased to be publishing this article about an unjustly neglected Conservative politician and personality.

In the course of the twentieth century only one family succeeded in occupying cabinet posts in Conservative governments over three successive generations. Douglas Hogg served as Minister of Agriculture under John Major from 1995 to 1997 and, as a successful barrister, he must have nurtured hopes of eventually following his father and grandfather by becoming Lord Chancellor. But he did not prosper under subsequent Tory leaders and his career ended in controversy when his claim for cleaning the moat at his country manor-house epitomised the ‘expenses scandal’ of 2009. Douglas’s father, Quintin, was one of the century’s longest serving cabinet ministers. Becoming Harold Macmillan’s Minister of Education in 1957, he finally stepped down as Margaret Thatcher’s Lord Chancellor thirty years later. He came tantalisingly close to the party leadership and premiership when Macmillan resigned in 1963. Though Quintin Hogg, second Viscount Hailsham and, in a later incarnation, Baron Hailsham, died in 2001, he is well remembered for his formidable intellect, passionate oratory and ebullient personality.[1] By contrast, Quintin’s father, also called Douglas, the doyen of this remarkable political family, is a largely forgotten figure. He wrote no memoirs and has yet to be the subject of a full-scale biography.

The limited historical discussion concerning Douglas McGarel Hogg, 1st Viscount Hailsham (1872-1950), does not do justice to his significance. He held key government offices under Prime Ministers Andrew Bonar Law, Stanley Baldwin, Ramsay MacDonald and Neville Chamberlain. He had, as one obituary concluded, a ‘brilliant career’ and ‘was one of the mainstays of the Conservative Party’.[2] He was twice Attorney-General (1922-4 and 1924-8), twice Lord Chancellor (1928-9 and 1935-8), Leader of the House of Lords (1931-5), Secretary of State for War (1931-5), Lord President of the Council (1938) and acting Prime Minister during the summer of 1928.
Hogg was born on 28 February 1872, the eldest of the three sons of Quintin Hogg, a sugar merchant and philanthropist who founded London’s Regent Street Polytechnic. Educated at Eton, Hogg achieved the distinction of becoming Captain of the Oppidans. He did not continue to university, instead spending his next eight years managing the family merchant firm in the West Indies and British Guiana. After his decorated service in the Boer War, Hogg returned to Britain and embarked on a highly successful career in the law. But he also nurtured political ambitions. Inspired by Joseph Chamberlain’s campaign for ‘Tariff Reform’, Hogg became a Conservative. After standing down as the pro-tariff Unionist candidate for East Marylebone in 1909 to help maintain party unity, Hogg patiently waited for his political opening. In the meantime, he became a KC during the Great War, was appointed a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn in 1920 and acted as the Prince of Wales’ Attorney-General during 1921-2. With annual earnings exceeding £40,000, he was Britain’s leading lawyer in commercial and libel cases.[3]

Hogg’s opportunity to launch his political career came in October 1922 with the collapse of Lloyd George’s Unionist-Liberal Coalition after the celebrated Carlton Club revolt. When Andrew Bonar Law became Prime Minister and assumed the Conservative leadership, Lloyd George’s former law officers – like many leading Conservatives – refused to serve in Law’s administration. Hogg was appointed Attorney-General even before being elected as an MP. Returned unopposed for Marylebone in the November General Election, he began his parliamentary career on the government’s front bench.

With a dearth of debating talent in Law’s so-called ‘Government of the Second XI’, Hogg quickly established himself as one of the most capable ministers. He helped to pilot the controversial Irish Free State Constitution Bill through the Commons less than two weeks after his election at Marylebone. Hogg’s contribution led the Daily Mirror to conclude that the Attorney-General ‘stands out radiantly as the most notable success’ of the new parliament.[4] The Daily Telegraph later noted that ‘No man ever made his mark more quickly or more surely’.[5] Law believed that, in unearthing Hogg’s talents, he had made ‘a real discovery’.[6] Before the close of 1922, Hogg had become a Privy Councillor and a Knight.

In the years that followed Hogg made extensive policy contributions. He helped re-shape Conservatism at the beginning of the democratic age, during a period marked by the rise of organised labour and the appearance of an avowedly socialist party that competed for – and obtained – power. The Conservatives, especially after Baldwin inherited the leadership in 1923, presented a constructive non-socialist alternative that sought to maintain Britain’s constitutional framework and adhere to traditional Tory principles. Hogg’s role in formulating the ‘New Conservatism’ helped the party establish a broad base of support.

Hogg became renowned for his oratorical skills, regularly delivering combative speeches in parliament and the country. One newspaper noted that the Labour Party had grown to ‘dread the remorseless analytical logic of this benevolent and rubicund looking lawyer’.[7] In opposition after the 1923 General Election, Hogg wound up his party’s case during the parliamentary debate on the Campbell Case that led to the resignation of the minority Labour government in November 1924. The Conservatives won the resultant General Election and Hogg was again appointed Attorney-General. In recognition of his growing stature, he secured a cabinet place. Hogg’s speedy climb up the greasy pole continued. He was soon described by one backbench MP as ‘One of the major figures of Conservatism’.[8]

In October 1925 Hogg sanctioned the arrest of a number of Britain’s leading communists and conducted the successful prosecution of ‘the twelve’ under the Incitement to Mutiny Act. Meanwhile, he joined a ministerial sub-committee that considered the legal position of Trade Unions. During the General Strike of May 1926, he was amongst those who favoured an immediate legislative response. But, although Baldwin’s caution prevailed and the strike collapsed, Hogg’s thirst for action was not a reactionary attempt to crush organised Labour. His proposals omitted one controversial aspect of the bill that ultimately addressed Trade Union powers in 1927 – the replacement of ‘contracting in’ to the political levy by ‘contracting out’. During the deliberations over this legislation, Hogg was overruled in his desire to leave the political levy alone. Nonetheless, the Attorney-General wholeheartedly endorsed the outlawing of ‘general strikes’ and industrial action directed against the state and he assumed responsibility for the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Bill in the Commons. Hogg won many plaudits after his composed presentation in the fiery debate during the second reading in May 1927.

The Attorney-General’s prosecution of Communists, his role in restricting Trade Union powers and his oratorical assaults on Labour seemed far removed from Baldwin’s conciliatory style and calm statesmanship. But ‘New Conservatism’ was a doubled-edged sword. Anti-socialism and the defence of the constitution were accompanied by progressive reform and Disraelian calls for national unity. Hogg played an important role in this constructive facet of the Tory appeal. In 1927 one cabinet colleague welcomed Hogg’s ‘most valuable support… in opposing Diehards or in backing what you might call left-wing proposals’.[9]

These progressive instincts were clear in Hogg’s involvement in shaping the Electricity Supply Act of 1926. The challenge was securing an efficient supply of electricity throughout Britain without nationalising the industry. Hogg chaired the cabinet’s sub-committee, established in May 1925, charged with formulating a bill. It recommended the creation of a ‘Grid’ system that would be publicly owned, while other assets would remain in private hands. During the bill’s second reading in March 1926, Hogg, in Disraelian tones, told the Commons that the scheme was designed to ‘benefit the people whom we are here to serve’. It would also ‘make nationalisation more difficult by removing some of the very difficulties and criticisms which consumers... can level’.[10] This pragmatic measure, geared to enhance industrial competitiveness, reduce unemployment and raise living standards whilst blocking nationalisation, exemplified the reformist nature of ‘New Conservatism’. The Act was one of the most important industrial developments of the inter-war years.

The Attorney-General had now established himself as a leading Conservative figure. In 1927 Neville Chamberlain noted that Hogg had

become one of the most influential Members of the Cabinet by sheer force of character... People are beginning to talk of him as a possible leader... and so far as I am concerned...  he would make a great one.[11]

When Baldwin considered the succession the following month, he penned that ‘the best men are Neville and Hogg, and I think on the whole the second would be chosen… [H]e is first rate and stuffed with character.’[12] But when Hogg succeeded Lord Cave as Lord Chancellor in March 1928 and accepted the accompanying peerage and the title Baron (later Viscount) Hailsham, his chances of becoming Conservative leader in a democratic age had seemingly evaporated. His elevation was a permanent move, as no mechanism allowed peers to renounce their titles. But unlike many Lord Chancellors, he maintained a political role. This was central to his re-emergence as a potential Tory leader.

Amid mounting criticism of Baldwin’s performance in opposition after the Conservatives lost the 1929 General Election, Hailsham, in the absence of Lord Salisbury, successfully directed the party in the House of Lords and his leadership credentials were widely touted. In March 1931 Neville Chamberlain recognised that if Baldwin stepped down there was a ‘strongish possibility that the two Houses would unite in choosing Hailsham as leader’. Chamberlain and Hailsham even agreed that, if Baldwin retired, they would promote a Hailsham-Chamberlain partnership and refuse to serve under Winston Churchill.[13] For one Conservative, if Baldwin resigned ‘the only possible suggestion... is that Hailsham should lead the party and Neville be leader in the Commons’.[14] Lord Derby reached the same conclusion, noting that ‘surely all would accept Lord Hailsham as Prime Minister’.[15]  

Baldwin, however, mounted an unexpected recovery and survived this crisis.[16] Upon the formation of the National Government in August 1931, Hailsham found himself excluded from office and he was never again regarded as a potential Tory leader. Nonetheless, he continued to make important contributions to British politics. Following the General Election in October, Hailsham returned to the cabinet as War Secretary and Leader of the Lords. He was then the author of the famous ‘Agreement to Differ’ in early 1932. The suspension of cabinet collective responsibility allowed free-trade ministers to remain members of the coalition despite their opposition to taxing imports.
As during the 1920s, Hailsham continued to make interventions beyond his ministerial portfolio and he quickly became a major player in Britain’s imperial policy. He assumed a leading role at the Imperial Economic Conference held at Ottawa during the summer of 1932 which introduced a modified form of imperial preference. Baldwin, the nominal head of Britain’s delegation, ensured that the bulk of the work would fall to Hailsham and Neville Chamberlain, two committed tariff reformers.[17]
The War Secretary chaired the conference’s main committee charged with the ‘Promotion of Trade within the Commonwealth’. While the conference was not a total success, the British delegation did sign workable bilateral agreements with the Dominions which helped boost imperial trade.

Hailsham also became involved in a drawn-out feud between Britain and Southern Ireland. When Éamon de Valera’s Fianna Fáil Party was elected to power in March 1932, pledged to abolish the Oath of Allegiance and withhold land annuity payments to Britain, Hailsham, a committed Unionist of Ulster descent, was at the forefront of British attempts to resist Irish infringements of existing agreements. His influence over Britain’s Irish policy was rooted in his membership of a cabinet sub-committee, charged with shaping policy towards the Free State. Hailsham quickly concluded that ‘No useful purpose would be served by... making fresh bargains with a government which has just shown in unmistakable fashion that it could not be relied upon to keep the most solemn engagements.’[18]

To compel de Valera’s government to reconsider its attitude towards past agreements, the National Government imposed a 20 per cent tariff on Irish goods entering Britain. When the Free State responded with similar measures, the ‘economic war’ began. In the second half of 1932, J.H. Thomas, the Dominions Secretary, sought to end the dispute through British concessions. Hailsham, however, helped stiffen the government’s resolve, warning Thomas that he would ‘not be a party to an agreement... to let off Ireland from all her liabilities’.[19] After negotiating with de Valera in Dublin and London in June 1932, Hailsham concluded that the Irishman was ‘so much obsessed with his own bigoted view of Anglo-Irish relations’ that no settlement was possible.[20] The National Government followed Hailsham’s lead until late 1935. But, in the meantime, de Valera’s administration undermined the position of the Governor General, abolished the Right of Appeal to the Privy Council and made British citizens aliens in the Irish Free State.

When Baldwin began his final premiership in June 1935, Hailsham returned to the Woolsack. Malcolm MacDonald, son of Ramsay, succeeded Thomas as Dominions Secretary in November. He was prepared to make major concessions to engineer an Anglo-Irish Settlement. Hailsham, however, stuck to his guns, maintaining that negotiations ‘could produce no good result’ as de Valera was pursuing his ‘obsession’ of an all-Ireland republic.[21] But two crucial developments undermined his protests. Firstly, Hailsham suffered a serious stroke. Although he returned to work in January 1937 and ‘struggled on manfully with his cabinet work’, he was ‘no longer the vigorous expounder of his views’.[22] Secondly, Chamberlain, who began to see the merits of conciliating Britain’s opponents, now dropped his support for Hailsham’s hard line.[23]

The preliminary discussions with the Free State went ahead and led to the eventual signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of April 1938. The National Government, now headed by Chamberlain, voluntarily removed trade barriers, withdrew financial claims and relinquished access to the three Treaty Ports. Hailsham was dissatisfied with the whole agreement but his spirited protests fell on deaf ears. Strikingly, he was the only minister to object to relinquishing the Treaty Ports, which had repercussions for the Royal Navy during the Second World War.[24]

Historians generally dismiss Hailsham’s views on imperial affairs as those of a reactionary ‘diehard’. But this interpretation does less than justice to his position. The same instincts that underpinned his opposition to Irish violations of past agreements were crucial in shaping his support of a progressive solution to Indian constitutional reform. In both instances Hailsham’s thinking was underpinned by a clear belief in the sanctity of existing agreements and pledges – whether or not he personally approved of them. He became an important – perhaps vital – link between the Conservative leadership and the party’s disgruntled right wing during the years that the Government of India Act of 1935 was shaped and enacted. He helped persuade many Conservative backbenchers to support what their instincts suggested was an unnecessary measure.

In October 1929, while the Conservatives were in Opposition, Lord Irwin, the Viceroy, declared that India’s constitution should progress towards Dominion Status. This was accepted by the leaders of Britain’s main parties as the ultimate aim of British rule in India. Nonetheless, Britain’s mission in the sub-continent remained an emotive topic for most Tories. Opinions ranged from Baldwin’s liberal Conservatism to that of right-wing ‘Diehards’, led by Winston Churchill, who opposed increases in Indian autonomy. While Hailsham shared the concerns of the Conservative right, he believed that reform was essential as past pledges, however problematic, must be acted upon. ‘[W]e have been committed to a particular objective’, he told one audience, ‘and whether it be right or wrong, when this country’s word is pledged, I am satisfied that no party in the State would wish to go back on its word’.[25]

To seek agreement over India’s constitutional development, Britain hosted the Round Table Conference [RTC] in London during 1930-32. Britain’s main political parties were represented and all shades of Indian opinion were invited. Samuel Hoare, the leading Conservative, appreciated the key role that Hailsham could play. He warned Baldwin, that without Hailsham’s presence at the conference, ‘you may have great trouble with some of the members of the extreme right of the party’.[26] Hailsham preferred not to get involved, but under pressure from his colleagues, he eventually agreed to become a RTC delegate in July. Following the National Government’s landslide election victory in November 1931, Hailsham served on the cabinet’s India sub-committee.

Although the RTC collapsed without agreement in late 1932, the government designed legislation to extend Indian autonomy in the provinces and create an all-India Federation with a central legislative body possessing limited sovereignty. While broadly consistent with past pledges, Hailsham was concerned that the bill went too far. But, unable to offer a better alternative, he accepted the government’s proposals and publicly backed them. When Tory opposition to the India bill threatened to tear the party apart, Hailsham, as Hoare had anticipated, used his established position on the Conservative right to promote party unity. As Leader of the Lords, Hailsham faced a number challenges to the government’s policy in the Upper Chamber but, under his careful supervision, the government always avoided defeat. Hailsham also defended the government’s policy at Conservative Party meetings. In one instance during June 1933, where defeat might have toppled Baldwin and the National Government, Hailsham skilfully wound up the debate and the dissidents were comfortably defeated. ‘You were quite excellent’, a grateful Baldwin wrote, ‘No one could have done what was needed at that moment better.’[27] Hailsham had delivered an important victory for the government.

After a Joint Select Committee, the Conservative Party and both Houses of Parliament had approved the government’s plans, Hoare, the India Secretary, introduced the Government of India Bill in early 1935.
Though it was endorsed by both Houses of Parliament by wide margins, the Act was largely still-born as India’s Princely states, by refusing to participate, vetoed the creation of the federation. Nevertheless, the bill’s passage was a noteworthy achievement for Hailsham and the Conservative leadership. Convinced that past pledges must be fulfilled in order to maintain imperial unity, Hailsham was an important link between the leaders of the National Government and the Tory right. Without him, Conservative unity would have been more seriously fractured.
Challenges to Britain’s position in the 1930s were not confined to imperial matters and Hailsham played an important role in shaping Britain’s foreign policy in the era of the European dictators. He has strong claims to being the first cabinet minister to identify the German threat, warning his colleagues about the dormant menace even before Hitler had assumed power. For Hailsham, the turning point came in July 1932 when Germany withdrew its delegation from the Geneva Disarmament Conference. In September, when the cabinet considered granting Germany ‘equality of rights’ in armaments to facilitate its return to the conference, Hailsham uttered his first ‘grave warning’. Sanctioning German rearmament, he predicted, would allow Germany to realise ‘her undisguised intention of rectifying her eastern frontier’.[28] He made similar remarks the following month, adding that a rearmed Germany might also pursue territorial ambitions in Western Europe.[29] This was no passing fixation. In April 1934 he told a cabinet sub-committee that German rearmament could only be stopped by ‘a preventive war which France was not prepared to undertake’.[30] A year later he observed that ‘It really looks as if Germany were still pining for that world domination which brought about the last war’.[31]

Yet, despite his farsighted warnings, Hailsham consistently supported the National Government’s foreign policy. After heading the War Office during the initial stages of what he regarded as inadequate rearmament, Hailsham believed that Britain would be unable effectively to combat a potential three-pronged challenge from Germany, Italy and Japan. Reluctant support for appeasement was the inevitable consequence. He offered no alternative to the government’s responses to the Italo-Abyssinian War, Germany’s remilitarisation of the Rhineland, the Sino-Japanese War or the Austro-German Anschluss. He supported Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain not Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary, when the latter resigned in February 1938 over the prospect of opening negotiations with Mussolini’s Italy. Yet, although Hailsham appeared to be an out-and-out ‘appeaser’, there was a point beyond which he would not go.

On his second visit to Germany in September 1938, Chamberlain met Hitler at Godesberg. The two leaders planned to finalise Czechoslovakia’s cession to the Reich of the German-speaking Sudetenland.
Hailsham, now Lord President, had agreed with the rest of the cabinet in accepting secession after Chamberlain’s first meeting with the Fuhrer. Hitler, however, suddenly increased his demands, insisting that German forces must occupy the Czech state’s German districts immediately. The Fuhrer threatened to invade Czechoslovakia if his terms were rejected. This would trigger the Franco-Czech alliance and almost certainly drag Britain into war. Chamberlain, desperate to avoid such a course, judged that the issue was essentially one of timing. He believed that Britain should accept Hitler’s terms and advise the French and Czechs to do the same.

Lord Halifax, Eden’s successor as Foreign Secretary, is generally credited with the cabinet’s refusal to endorse the Prime Minister’s line. He suddenly dropped his support for Chamberlain’s approach. But the cabinet’s successful revolt on 25 September involved the input of other ministers – most notably Hailsham, Chamberlain’s longest-serving cabinet colleague. Whilst Chamberlain believed that Hitler’s ambitions were limited to ‘racial unity and not the domination of Europe’, Hailsham undermined the Prime Minister’s view by listing a catalogue of broken promises, telling the cabinet that ‘we could not trust Herr Hitler’s declarations’. ‘The right thing to do’, the Lord President recommended,

was to put the facts to the Czechoslovak Government, and if that Government rejected the German demands and France came to Czechoslovakia’s assistance, we should come to the help of France. No pressure… should be put upon Czechoslovakia to accept.[32]

After Hailsham’s lengthy intervention, other ministers voiced their misgivings. The cabinet did not accept Hitler’s demands, and with the Czechs poised to fight, war with Germany seemed inevitable.

In the event, Chamberlain accepted a last-minute invitation to meet Hitler again at the end of September. The Munich settlement delayed the German occupation of the Sudetenland by ten days and ensured that plebiscites in disputed areas would be supervised by an international commission, not Germany. For Hailsham, this was not ‘Peace in our Time’. He justified the Munich Agreement in very different terms from Chamberlain. ‘My defence of the government policy’, he informed his younger son,

would be not faith in Hitler so much as distrust in our allies and of our preparedness to meet his attack, coupled with the consciousness that nothing we could have done would have availed Czechoslovakia...[33]   

Hailsham, of course, had been sceptical of German pledges since 1932 and there were always limits to his acquiescence in the appeasement of Germany. But, perhaps most importantly, his career shows that even someone who foresaw the near inevitability of the Second World War could not find a better policy. Only at this one moment did he demur from Chamberlain’s line.

The following month, Hailsham’s elder son was elected as Conservative MP in the Oxford City by-election. Once the contest was over, Hailsham revealed that he had resigned from the cabinet to provide a vacancy in order to help Chamberlain reinvigorate his government. Hailsham’s retirement was almost total, although he contemplated fronting a national campaign to ‘stump up the country here against any surrender of Tanganyika [formerly Germany East Africa] to Germany’. Convinced of Germany’s bad faith, Hailsham calculated that negotiations could only lead to futile surrender. In the event, news of Kristallnacht reinforced the government’s resolve and Hailsham dropped plans.[34

During the Second World War, Hailsham became a founding member of Lord Salisbury’s Watching Committee, established in April 1940. It monitored the government’s wartime performance and argued for the setting up of a government that embraced leaders from across the political spectrum. Hailsham survived the bombing of the Carlton Club in October 1940 unscathed, but he did not enjoy good health. He managed to fill the role of Honorary Colonel in the Inns of Court regiment until 1948 and he remained the chairman of the British Empire Cancer Campaign and acting President of the Polytechnic until his death at his Sussex home on 10 August 1950.

Quintin Hogg was inundated with letters of sympathy. Clement Attlee, a former political opponent, had ‘always appreciated the keenness of [Hailsham’s] intellect and his straightforward way of putting his case.’[35] For one correspondent Hailsham was ‘an example to his generation’.[36] Douglas Hailsham has been largely overlooked in the narrative of twentieth-century British history, but his sustained contributions to British domestic, imperial and foreign policy merit consideration. 

[1] See G. Lewis, Lord Hailsham (London, 1997) and Quintin Hailsham’s own writings, The Door Wherein I Went (London, 1974) and  A Sparrow’s Flight (London, 1990).
[2] Sunday Times, 20 Aug. 1950.
[3] Daily Express, 17 Aug. 1950.
[4] Daily Mirror, 15 Dec. 1922.
[5] Daily Telegraph, 29 March 1928.
[6] Parliamentary Archive, Bonar Law Papers, BL 111/12/60, Bonar Law to Curzon, 24 Jan. 1923.
[7] Daily Mirror, 1 March 1927.
[8] The Times, 12 Aug. 1925
[9] British Library, Indian Office, Irwin Papers, Eur.C.152/17, Chamberlain to Irwin, 25-27 Aug. 1927.
[10] House of Commons Debates, vol.193, col.1947.
[11] Chamberlain to Irwin, 25-27 Aug. 1927.
[12] Eur.C.152/17, Baldwin to Irwin, 15 Sept. 1927.
[13] Chamberlain to Hilda Chamberlain, 1 March 1931, cited in R. Self (ed), Neville Chamberlain Diary Letters vol.3 (Aldershot, 2002), p.244.
[14] J. Ramsden (ed.), Real Old Tory Politics: the political diaries of Sir Robert Sanders, Lord Bayford, 1910-1935 (London, 1984), p.245. Emphasis added.
[15] Birmingham University Library, Neville Chamberlain papers, NC 8/10/21: Derby to Chamberlain, 25 Feb. 1931.
[16] See S. Ball, Baldwin and the Conservative Party: the Crisis of 1929-1931 (Yale, 1988).
[17] T. Jones, A Diary with Letters (London, 1954), pp.49-50.
[18] The National Archives [TNA], CAB 27/523, Irish Situation Committee [ISC], 9 May 1932.
[19] TNA, Dominions Office papers, DO 35 397/13, Hailsham to Thomas, 10 Oct. 1932.
[20] Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge [CAC], Douglas Hailsham Papers, HAIL 1/1/1, Hailsham to Granard, 5 March 1934.
[21] CAB 27/523, ISC, 12 May; 17 June 1936.
[22] Viscount Simon, ‘Hogg, Douglas McGarel, first Viscount Hailsham (1872-1950)’, Dictionary of National Biography (London, 1959).
[23] M. MacDonald, Titans and Others (London, 1972), pp.60-1.
[24] TNA, Cabinet Papers, CAB 23/84, 2 March 1938.
[25] Manchester Guardian, 15 May 1930.
[26] Cambridge University Library, Baldwin Papers, vol.104, Hoare to Baldwin, 20 Aug. 1930.
[27] HAIL 2/3/3, Baldwin to Hailsham, 28 June 1933.
[28] CAB 23/72, 30 Sept. 1932.
[29] Ibid., 31 Oct. 1932.
[30] TNA, CAB 27/506, Ministerial Disarmament Committee, 9 April 1934.
[31] HAIL 1/3/7, Hailsham to General Lytle Brown, 7 May 1935.
[32] CAB 23/95, 25 Sept. 1938.
[33] HAIL 1/4/27, Hailsham to Neil Hogg, 6 Oct. 1938.
[34] HAIL 1/4/26, Hailsham to Neil Hogg, 24 Nov. 1938.
[35] CAC, Quintin Hailsham Papers, HLSM 8/2/3/3, Attlee to 2nd Viscount Hailsham, 17 Aug. 1950.
[36] HLSM 8/2/3/1, Howard Simmons to 2nd Viscount Hailsham, 18 Aug. 1950.