Ernest Bevin: from Devon Farm Boy to Foreign Secretary
by Professor Andrew Thorpe

Date: Thursday 9 February 2017

From humble south-west origins, Ernest Bevin rose to become a minister in Churchill’s war cabinet and Labour Foreign Secretary 1945-51

Ernest Bevin: from Devon Farm Boy to Foreign Secretary

Ernest Bevin (1881-1951) rose from humble origins in the South West to become one of the leading figures in twentieth-century British politics. This lecture will trace his development as founder of Britain’s largest trade union, power-broker of the inter-war Labour party, key minister in Churchill’s war cabinet, and Foreign Secretary in Attlee’s post-war Labour government, assessing both his own contribution and what it tells us more generally about the development of modern British politics. 

Andrew Thorpe is Professor of Modern British History and Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of Humanities at the University of Exeter. Among his publications are: The British General Election of 1931 (1991); Britain in the 1930s (1992); The British Communist Party and Moscow, 1920-1943 (2000); Parties at War: Political Organization in Second World War Britain (2009); and A History of the British Labour Party (4th edn. 2015).  He is currently researching and writing on the life and political career of the Labour leader, Arthur Henderson (1863-1935) and co-editing (with Richard Toye) the political diaries of Cecil Harmsworth, 1st Baron Harmsworth (1869-1948) for the Royal Historical Society. 

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