Norman Angell

Sir Ralph Norman Angell (26 December 1872 – 7 October 1967) was an English Nobel Peace Prize winner. He was a lecturer, journalist, author and Member of Parliament[1] for the Labour Party.

Angell was one of the principal founders of the Union of Democratic Control. He served on the Council of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, was an executive for the World Committee against War and Fascism, a member of the executive committee of the League of Nations Union, and the president of the Abyssinia Association. He was knighted in 1931 and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1933.[2][3]

Ralph Norman Angell
Norman Angell 01
Ralph Norman Angell Lane

26 December 1872
Holbeach, England
Died7 October 1967 (aged 94)
Croydon, Surrey, England
Occupationlecturer, journalist, author, politician
Known forNobel Peace Prize (1933)


High Street, Holbeach (geograph 4099230)
Angell's birthplace on High Street, Holbeach, marked by a blue plaque

Angell was one of six children, born to Thomas Angell Lane and Mary (née Brittain) Lane in Holbeach, Lincolnshire, England.[3] He was born Ralph Norman Angell Lane, but later adopted Angell as his sole surname.[4] He attended several schools in England, the Lycée Alexandre Ribot at Saint-Omer in France,[3] and the University of Geneva, while editing an English-language newspaper published in Geneva.[3]

In Geneva, Angell felt that Europe was "hopelessly entangled in insoluble problems". Then, still only 17, he emigrated to the West Coast of the United States,[3] where he for several years worked as a vine planter, an irrigation-ditch digger, a cowboy, a California homesteader (after filing for American citizenship), a mail-carrier, a prospector,[5] and then, closer to his natural skills, as a reporter for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and later the San Francisco Chronicle.[3]

Due to family matters he returned to England briefly in 1898, then moved to Paris to work as a sub-editor on the English language Daily Messenger,[5] and then as a staff contributor to the newspaper Éclair. He also through this period acted as French correspondent for some American newspapers, to which he sent dispatches on the progress of the Dreyfus case.[3] During 1905–12, he became the Paris editor for the Daily Mail.

He returned to England and, in 1914, he was one of the founders of the Union of Democratic Control. He joined the Labour Party in 1920 and was parliamentary candidate for Rushcliffe in the general election of 1922 and for Rossendale in 1923. He was MP for Bradford North from 1929 to 1931; after the formation of the National Government, he announced his decision not to seek re-election on 24 September 1931.[6] In 1931 he was knighted for his public and political services, and in 1933 he was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize.[3] He fought unsuccessfully London University in 1935.

From the mid-1930s, Angell actively campaigned for collective international opposition to the aggressive policies of Germany, Italy, and Japan. He went to the United States in 1940 to lecture in favour of American support for Britain in World War II, and remained there until after the publication of his autobiography in 1951. He later returned to Britain and died at the age of 94 in Croydon, Surrey.[5]

He married Beatrice Cuvellier but they separated and he lived his last 55 years alone. He purchased Northey Island, Essex, which is attached to the mainland only at low tide, and lived in the sole dwelling on the island.

His Nobel Peace Prize medal and accompanying scroll are held by the Imperial War Museum.[7]

The Great Illusion

1933 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Norman Angell
1933 Nobel Peace Prize medal awarded to Angell

Angell is most widely remembered for his 1909 pamphlet, Europe's Optical Illusion, which was published the following year (and many years thereafter) as the book, The Great Illusion. (The anti-war film La Grande Illusion took its title from his pamphlet.) The thesis of the book was that the integration of the economies of European countries had grown to such a degree that war between them would be entirely futile, making militarism obsolete. This quotation from the "Synopsis" to the popular 1913 edition summarizes his basic argument.

He establishes this apparent paradox, in so far as the economic problem is concerned, by showing that wealth in the economically civilized world is founded upon credit and commercial contract (these being the outgrowth of an economic interdependence due to the increasing division of labour and greatly developed communication). If credit and commercial contract are tampered with in an attempt at confiscation, the credit-dependent wealth is undermined, and its collapse involves that of the conqueror; so that if conquest is not to be self-injurious it must respect the enemy’s property, in which case it becomes economically futile. Thus the wealth of conquered territory remains in the hands of the population of such territory. When Germany annexed Alsace, no individual German secured a single mark’s worth of Alsatian property as the spoils of war. Conquest in the modern world is a process of multiplying by x, and then obtaining the original figure by dividing by x. For a modern nation to add to its territory no more adds to the wealth of the people of such nation than it would add to the wealth of Londoners if the City of London were to annex the county of Hertford.[8]

The Money Game

Angell was also the designer of The Money Game, a visual method of teaching schoolchildren the fundamentals of finance and banking. First published in 1928 by J. M. Dent & Sons, The Money Game, How to Play It: A New Instrument of Economic Education was both a book and a game. The bulk of the book was an essay on money and a discussion of economic theory, it also contained a summary of the game's story and an explanation of the rules.[9]

Nobel Peace Prize

Ironically, Angell was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the same year, 1933, that Hitler came to power in Germany.


Angell's book The Press And The Organisation of Society is cited as a source in F. R. Leavis' pamphlet Mass Civilisation and Minority Culture (1930).[10] Vera Brittain quoted Angell's statement on "the moral obligation to be intelligent" several times in her work.[11]


  • (As Ralph Lane) Patriotism under Three Flags: A Plea for Rationalism in Politics (1903)
  • Europe's Optical Illusion (First ed.), London, UK: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1909, retrieved 12 December 2012
  • The Great Illusion: A Study of the Relation of Military Power in Nations to their Economic and Social Advantage (First ed.), New York: G.P. Putnam's & Sons, 1910, retrieved 12 December 2012
  • America and the New World State (in U.S., 1912)
  • War and the Workers (1913)
  • Peace Theories and the Balkan War (First ed.), London, UK: Horace Marshall & Son, 1912, retrieved 12 December 2012
  • The Foundations of International Polity (First ed.), London, UK: William Heinemann, 1914, p. 235, retrieved 12 December 2012
  • America and the New World-State. A Plea for American Leadership in International Organization (First ed.), New York & London, UK: G.P. Putnam's & Sons, 1915, retrieved 12 December 2012
  • The Problems of the War – & the Peace: A Handbook for Students (First ed.), London, UK: William Heinemann, 1915, p. 99, retrieved 12 December 2012
  • The World's Highway (1916)
  • The Dangers of Half Preparedness (1916, in U.S.)
  • War Aims: The Need for a Parliament of the Allies (1917)
  • Why Freedom Matters (1917)
  • The Political Conditions of Allied Success: A Protective Union of the Democracies (1918, in U.S.)
  • The Treaties and the Economic Chaos (1919)
  • The British Revolution and the American Democracy (1919)
  • The Fruits of Victory: A Sequel to "The Great Illusion" (First ed.), London, UK: W. Collins Sons & Co., 1921, p. 338, retrieved 12 December 2012
  • The Press and the Organization of Society (1922)
  • If Britain is to Live (1923)
  • Foreign Policy and Human Nature (1925)
  • Must Britain Travel the Moscow Road? (1926)
  • The Public Mind: Its Disorders: Its Exploitation (1927)
  • The Money Game: Card Games Illustrating Currency (1928)
  • The Story of Money (First ed.), Garden City, NY: Garden City Pub. Co., 1929, retrieved 12 December 2012
  • Can Governments Cure Unemployment? (1931, with Harold Wright)
  • From Chaos to Control (1932)
  • The Unseen Assassins (1932)
  • The Great Illusion—1933 (1933)
  • The Menace to Our National Defence (1934)
  • Preface to Peace: A Guide for the Plain Man (1935)
  • The Mystery of Money: An Explanation for Beginners (1936)
  • This Have and Have Not Business: Political Fantasy and Economic Fact (1936)
  • Raw Materials, Population Pressure and War (1936, in U.S.)
  • The Defence of the Empire (1937)
  • Peace with the Dictators? (1938)
  • Must it be War? (1938)
  • The Great Illusion—Now (1939)
  • For What do We Fight? (1939)
  • You and the Refugee (1939)
  • Why Freedom Matters (1940)
  • America's Dilemma (1941, in U.S.)
  • Let the People Know (1943, in U.S.)
  • The Steep Places (1947)
  • After All: The Autobiography of Norman Angell (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1951; rpt. New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1952). [Out of print.]

Further reading

  • Martin Ceadel, Living the Great Illusion: Sir Norman Angell, 1872–1967; Oxford University Press, 2009
  • J. D. B. Miller, Norman Angell and the Futility of War; Macmillan, 1986
  • Michael Meadowcroft, "Norman Angell" in Brack & Randall (eds.) The Dictionary of Liberal Thought; Politico's, 2007, pp. 9–11
  • Alberto Castelli, The Peace Discourse in Europe (1900-1945), Routledge, 2019, pp. 21-37.

See also


  1. ^ National Archives
  2. ^ The Edinburgh Gazette (issue 14719), 6 January 1931, p. 12, retrieved 9 June 2016
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Angell biography,; accessed 11 September 2015.
  4. ^ "No. 31809". The London Gazette. 5 March 1920. p. 2820.
  5. ^ a b c Ball State University
  6. ^ The Times, 25 September 1931, p. 6.
  7. ^ "Nobel Peace Prize gold medal 1933". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  8. ^ Angell, Norman (1913), The Great Illusion: A Study of the Relation of Military Power in Nations to their Economic and Social Advantage (3 ed.), New York and London: G.P. Putnam's & Sons, pp. X–XI, retrieved 10 June 2016
  9. ^ Christine Riggle (22 March 2012). "How Depression-Era Children Learned About Money". Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  10. ^ Deane, Patrick (1998). History in our hands: a critical anthology of writings on literature, culture, and politics from the 1930s. London, UK: Leicester University Press. pp. 17, 20. ISBN 0-7185-0143-8.
  11. ^ Brittain, Vera (1951). Search After Sunrise. Macmillan. p. 19.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Eugene Ramsden
Member of Parliament for Bradford North
Succeeded by
Eugene Ramsden
1872 in the United Kingdom

Events from the year 1872 in the United Kingdom.

1933 in the United Kingdom

Events from the year 1933 in the United Kingdom.

Anarchy (international relations)

In international relations theory, anarchy is the idea that the world lacks any supreme authority or sovereign. In an anarchic state, there is no hierarchically superior, coercive power that can resolve disputes, enforce law, or order the system of international politics. In international relations, anarchy is widely accepted as the starting point for international relations theory.While some political scientists use the term "anarchy" to signify a world in chaos, in disorder, or in conflict, others view it simply as a reflection of the order of the international system: independent states with no central authority above them. Anarchy provides foundations for realist, liberal, neorealist, and neoliberal paradigms of international relations. Constructivist theory disputes that anarchy is a fundamental condition of the international system.

The constructivist Alexander Wendt argued, "anarchy is what states make of it". In Wendt's opinion, while the international system is anarchical, anarchy does not determine state behaviour in the way in which other schools of international relations theory envision it, but rather it is a construct of the states in the system.

Battle of Rovine

The Battle of Rovine took place on 17 May 1395. The Wallachian army led by Voivod Mircea cel Bătrân (Mircea the Elder) opposed the Ottoman invasion personally led by Sultan Bayezid I the Lightning. The Turkish force heavily outnumbered the Wallachian troops. The legend says that on the eve of the battle, dressed as a peace emissary, Mircea cel Bătrân talked to Bayezid asking him to leave Wallachia and promising him safe passage back. The Sultan proudly insisted on fighting.

Bernard Langdon-Davies

Bernard Noel Langdon-Davies (1876 – 1952) was a British pacifist activist.

Langdon-Davies was educated at St Paul's School and Pembroke College, Cambridge, serving as President of the Cambridge Union. He joined the Liberal Party and became a supporter of pacifism. In 1912, he began working for the Garton Foundation, which promoted the work of Norman Angell.In 1914, dismayed by Liberal support for World War I, Langdon-Davies resigned and instead joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP). He was a conscientious objector, and worked as the organiser of the National Council for Civil Liberties, in addition to being active in the Union of Democratic Control.Following the war, Langdon-Davies devoted his time to publishing and bookselling, for some time running the Labour Publishing Company. He remained with the Labour Party when the ILP split from it, but resigned from the party in 1940.

Bradford North (UK Parliament constituency)

Bradford North was a borough constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Until it was abolished for the 2010 general election, it elected one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election.

Eugene Ramsden, 1st Baron Ramsden

Eugene Joseph Squire Hargreaves Ramsden, 1st Baron Ramsden OBE (2 February 1883 – 9 August 1955), known as Sir Eugene Ramsden, Bt between 1938 and 1945, was a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG) is an American book publishing company, founded in 1946 by Roger W. Straus, Jr. and John C. Farrar. FSG is known for publishing literary books, and its authors have won numerous awards, including Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, and Nobel Peace Prizes. The publisher is currently a division of Macmillan, whose parent company is the German publishing conglomerate Holtzbrinck Publishing Group.


Holbeach is a fenland market town in the South Holland district of southern Lincolnshire, England. The town lies 8 miles (13 km) from Spalding; 17 miles (27 km) from Boston; 20 miles (32 km) from King's Lynn; 23 miles (37 km) from Peterborough; and 43 miles (69 km) by road from the county town of Lincoln. It is on the junction of the A151 and A17. The main High Street is the B1515.

The Prime Meridian of the world passes through the west of Holbeach and is marked with a millstone at Wignals Gate.

Idealism in international relations

Idealism in foreign policy holds that a state should make its internal political philosophy the goal of its foreign policy. For example, an idealist might believe that ending poverty at home should be coupled with tackling poverty abroad. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was an early advocate of idealism. Wilson's idealism was a precursor to liberal international relations theory, which would arise amongst the "institution-builders" after World War II. It particularly emphasized the ideal of American exceptionalism.

More generally, Michael W. Doyle describes idealism as based on the belief that other nations' stated good intentions can be relied on, whereas Realism holds that good intentions are in the long run subject to the security dilemma described by John H. Herz.

Hedley Bull wrote:

By the 'idealists' we have in mind writers such as Sir Alfred Zimmern, S. H. Bailey, Philip Noel-Baker, and David Mitrany in the United Kingdom, and James T. Shotwell, Pitman Potter, and Parker T. Moon in the United States. ... The distinctive characteristic of these writers was their belief in progress: the belief, in particular, that the system of international relations that had given rise to the First World War was capable of being transformed into a fundamentally more peaceful and just world order; that under the impact of the awakening of democracy, the growth of 'the international mind', the development of the League of Nations, the good works of men of peace or the enlightenment spread by their own teaching, it was in fact being transformed; and that their responsibility as students of international relations was to assist this march of progress to overcome the ignorance, the prejudices, the ill-will, and the sinister interests that stood in its way.

King's Bench Walk, London

King's Bench Walk is a street in Temple, in the City of London. It is mainly made up of barristers' chambers.

La Grande Illusion

La Grande Illusion (also known as The Grand Illusion) is a 1937 French war film directed by Jean Renoir, who co-wrote the screenplay with Charles Spaak. The story concerns class relationships among a small group of French officers who are prisoners of war during World War I and are plotting an escape. The title of the film comes from the book The Great Illusion by British journalist Norman Angell, which argued that war is futile because of the common economic interests of all European nations. The perspective of the film is generously humanistic to its characters of various nationalities.

La Grande Illusion is regarded by critics and film historians as one of the masterpieces of French cinema and among the greatest films ever made. Orson Welles named La Grande Illusion as one of the two movies he would take with him "on the ark." Empire magazine ranked it #35 in "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.

Neoliberalism (international relations)

In the study of international relations, neoliberalism refers to a school of thought which believes that states are, or at least should be, concerned first and foremost with absolute gains rather than relative gains to other states. Neoliberalism is a revised version of liberalism.

Alongside neorealism, neoliberalism is one of the two most influential contemporary approaches to international relations; the two perspectives have dominated international relations theory for the last three decades.

Northey Island

Northey Island is an island in the estuary of the River Blackwater, Essex. It is linked to the south bank of the river by a causeway, covered for two hours either side of high tide. The island is approximately 1 mile (2 km) to the east of Maldon, Essex and 1 mile (2 km) to the west of Osea Island.

The Battle of Maldon, 991 is believed to have taken place on the causeway and the south bank of the Blackwater near the island. At that time the causeway is thought to have been half as long as it is presently - 120 yards rather than 240 yards today.Significant land reclamation was carried out by the Dutch contractor Nicholas Van Cropenrough in the early 18th century; he enwalled marshland to significantly enlarge the island but the walls were breached by the sea and the land returned to marshland on 29 November 1897.In 1923 Northey was bought by Norman Angell.

The whole island and part of the bank near the causeway are now a national nature reserve.

Northey is home to diverse birdlife and this is reflected in the place name 'Awl Creek' which perpetuates the traditional Essex dialect word for the Avocet.At one time Northey was home to more species than it is now. The island was one of the last southern strongholds of the Raven, the last bird being taken from the Ladies grove in 1888.It is uninhabited apart from the warden. The island is owned by the National Trust and can be visited by arrangement with the warden. It is one of 43 (unbridged) tidal islands which can be walked to from the British mainland and one of six such tidal islands in Essex.

Peter Beck (schoolmaster)

Francis Peter Beck CVO (27 June 1909 – 17 May 2002) was an English soldier and schoolmaster.

In the 1930s Beck was a peace campaigner, but in 1938, a year before the Second World War, he joined the British Army. After the war he became headmaster of Cheam School, serving there from 1947 to 1963.

Rossendale (UK Parliament constituency)

Rossendale was a parliamentary constituency in the Lancashire, England. Created in 1885, it elected one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, elected by the first-past-the-post voting system. When created it comprised the districts of Rawtenstall, Bacup, and Haslingden; Ramsbottom district was added to the constituency in 1950.

The constituency ceased to exist with the implementation of the 1983 boundary changes and was replaced by the Rossendale and Darwen constituency. The exact nature of the changes were as follows: 9,882 electors of the Rossendale seat were transferred to Bury North. 25,918 electors were added from the abolished Darwen constituency and 5,267 from Heywood and Royton.

The Great Illusion

The Great Illusion is a book by Norman Angell, first published in the United Kingdom in 1909 under the title Europe's Optical Illusion and republished in 1910 and subsequently in various enlarged and revised editions under the title The Great Illusion.

Union of Democratic Control

The Union of Democratic Control was a British pressure group formed in 1914 to press for a more responsive foreign policy. While not a pacifist organisation, it was opposed to military influence in government.


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