Norman Angell

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Ralph Norman Angell
Norman Angell 01.jpg
Ralph Norman Angell Lane

(1872-12-26)26 December 1872
Holbeach, England
Died7 October 1967(1967-10-07) (aged 94)
Croydon, Surrey, England
Occupation lecturer, journalist, author, politician
Known for Nobel Peace Prize (1933)

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.

Nobel Peace Prize One of five Nobel Prizes established by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. Since March 1901, it has been awarded annually to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".

Member of Parliament (United Kingdom) Voters representative in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Member of Parliament (MP) is the title given to individuals elected to serve in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.


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]

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.

The League of Nations Union (LNU) was an organization formed in October 1918 in the United Kingdom to promote international justice, collective security and a permanent peace between nations based upon the ideals of the League of Nations. The League of Nations was established by the Great Powers as part of the Paris Peace Treaties, the international settlement that followed the First World War. The creation of a general association of nations was the final one of President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points. The LNU became the largest and most influential organisation in the British peace movement. By the mid-1920s, it had over a quarter of a million registered subscribers and its membership eventually peaked at around 407,775 in 1931. By the 1940s, after the disappointments of the international crises of the 1930s and the descent into World War II, membership fell to about 100,000.

The dignity of Knight Bachelor is the basic and lowest rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised orders of chivalry; it is a part of the British honours system. Knights Bachelor are the most ancient sort of British knight, but Knights Bachelor rank below knights of chivalric orders.


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

Holbeach town in the South Holland district of southern Lincolnshire, England

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.

Lycée Alexandre Ribot

The Lycée Alexandre Ribot is a school located at 42 rue Gambetta, in the town of Saint-Omer, France. Founded as a Walloon Jesuit college in 1565, it has been a lycée since 1848. It was named in honor of its former student Alexandre Ribot in 1924.

Saint-Omer Subprefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Saint-Omer is a commune in France.

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]

Prospecting The physical search for minerals

Prospecting is the first stage of the geological analysis of a territory. It is the physical search for minerals, fossils, precious metals or mineral specimens, and is also known as fossicking.

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat was originally a daily print newspaper based in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1852 until 1986. When the trademark registration on the name expired, it was reincarnated as an unrelated free historically themed paper.

<i>San Francisco Chronicle</i> newspaper serving the San Francisco Bay area

The San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California. It was founded in 1865 as The Daily Dramatic Chronicle by teenage brothers Charles de Young and Michael H. de Young. The paper is currently owned by the Hearst Corporation, which bought it from the de Young family in 2000. It is the only major daily paper covering the city and county of San Francisco.

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 .

The Daily Messenger is an American daily newspaper published weekday afternoons and on Sundays in Canandaigua, New York. It is owned by Messenger Post Newspapers, a division of GateHouse Media.

Dreyfus affair Sociopolitical controversy in France where an Alsatian Jew was falsely convicted of treason

The Dreyfus Affair was a political scandal that divided the Third French Republic from 1894 until its resolution in 1906. 'The Affair', as it is known in French, has come to symbolise modern injustice in the Francophone world, and it remains one of the most notable examples of a complex miscarriage of justice and antisemitism. The role played by the press and public opinion proved influential in the conflict.

<i>Daily Mail</i> British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper published in London

The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market newspaper published in London in a tabloid format. Founded in 1896, it is the United Kingdom's second-biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982, while Scottish and Irish editions of the daily paper were launched in 1947 and 2006 respectively. Content from the paper appears on the MailOnline website, although the website is managed separately and has its own editor.

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.

Rushcliffe (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

Rushcliffe is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 1970 by Ken Clarke, a Conservative and the current Father of the House.

Rossendale (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

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.

Bradford North (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom

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.

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 medal awarded to Angell 1933 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Norman Angell.JPG
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]


Further reading

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  1. National Archives
  2. The Edinburgh Gazette (issue 14719), 6 January 1931, p. 12, retrieved 9 June 2016
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Angell biography,; accessed 11 September 2015.
  4. "No. 31809". The London Gazette . 5 March 1920. p. 2820.
  5. 1 2 3 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.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Eugene Ramsden
Member of Parliament for Bradford North
Succeeded by
Eugene Ramsden