Norman Angell

Eyridiki Sellou | Jul 14, 2023

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Sir Ralph Norman Angell († October 7, 1967 in Croydon) was a British writer and publicist. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1933 as a member of the Executive Commission of the League of Nations and the National Peace Council.

Origin and early years

Norman Angell was born in Holbeach in Lincolnshire in 1874, one of six children of Thomas Angell Lane, a farmer and merchant, and his wife Mary Lane, née Brittain. At the request of his father, he was to pursue a commercial education and therefore went to the Lycée St. Omer in northern France at the age of 13 and subsequently to London to study economics. He completed this course of study for only one year, at the same time working as a journalist for a provincial newspaper. He then went to Geneva to study literature.

Work as a publicist

At the age of 17 he emigrated to the USA for some time. From 1894, he worked there as an overseer, cowboy, farmer and teacher, mainly in California; he also traveled through Mexico and Central America and published in the San Francisco Chronicle about the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898. After returning to Europe, he reported on the Alfred Dreyfus affair (Dreyfus Affair), condemned the British government for its policies and the Boer War with the African Boer states, and founded the Daily Messenger in Paris.

In 1903, Angell published his first book under the name Ralph Lane, entitled Patriotism under Three Flags. A plea for rationalism in politics, which brought him to the attention of Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe, who offered him the post of editor of the Continental Daily Mail. He accepted this offer and met several important politicians.

After 1909, Angell no longer used the surname "Lane."

His second book, which made him internationally famous, was published in 1910 and was entitled The Great Illusion (Engl. The false bill. What does war bring in?). It was translated into 15 languages within a year. In the book he denounced warfare as well as traditional pacifism. He argued that every war is always a loss, even for the victors, with enormous financial resources as well as human lives. An effective pacifism, he argued, must view war as lacking reason in order to succeed. His book was the beginning of the creation of a new peace movement that originated in Britain and became known as Norman Angellism. By 1912, there were 40 clubs of the movement in Britain.

World War I and first ideas for a League of Nations

Angell returned to Great Britain in 1914. At the outbreak of World War I, he spoke out strongly against his country's entry into the war. In 1915, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace invited him to a summer academy at Cornell University. There, Angell spoke out against U.S. entry into the war, but also against isolationism. Rather, the U.S. should bring its economic power into play on the side of the Allies. At this time, he was also developing ideas for a League of Nations, referred to in his draft as the League of Free Nations, and for a reorganization of international relations that already came close to what was later called "collective security."

Work in the interwar period

After the First World War, Norman Angell campaigned for a revision of the Treaty of Versailles in favor of Germany, which was supposedly solely responsible for the war and was demanded to pay immense reparations. In 1919, he became a member of the Labour Party and its foreign policy advisor. From 1928 to 1931, the newspaper Foreign Affairs was published under his editorship. From 1929 to 1931 he was also a member of the House of Commons for the Bradford North constituency, having defeated the Conservative incumbent Eugene Ramsden. In 1931 he was ennobled as a Knight Bachelor ("Sir"). He wrote The defense of the Empire (1937), Peace with the dictators (1938). In 1939 appeared his book, written with Dorothy Frances Buxton, You and the Refugee. The Morals and Economics of the Problem, in which they appealed for understanding for the refugees from the Third Reich. Their acceptance - as Buxton and Angell already mention in the subtitle of their book - was both a moral duty and, insofar as a large part of the German emigrants were highly qualified professionally, an economic gain for Great Britain.

Last phase of life

Since 1951, Angell lived in seclusion in Surrey. Until his death in 1967, he published a number of other books and writings.

John Ironmonger recalled Norman Angell in his novel The Whale and the End of the World.

(in chronological order)


  1. Norman Angell
  2. Norman Angell
  3. ^ a b c "Ball State University". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 13 December 2006.
  4. ^ The Times, 25 September 1931, p. 6.
  5. ^ "Nobel Peace Prize gold medal 1933". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Coulton, G.G., The Main Illusions of Pacifism: A Criticism of Mr. Norman Angell and of the Union of Democratic Control, (Cambridge: Bowes & Bowes, 1916) (retrieved November 25, 2022).
  8. John Donald Bruce Miller: Norman Angell and the Futility of War. Peace and the Public Mind. Peace and the Public Mind. Palgrave Macmillan, London 1986, S. 12.
  9. John Donald Bruce Miller: Norman Angell and the Futility of War. Peace and the Public Mind. Peace and the Public Mind. Palgrave Macmillan, London 1986, S. 14.
  10. John Donald Bruce Miller: Norman Angell and the Futility of War. Peace and the Public Mind. Peace and the Public Mind. Palgrave Macmillan, London 1986, S. 15.
  11. ^ Cornelia Navari, "THE GREAT ILLUSION REVISITED: THE INTERNATIONAL THEORY OF NORMAN ANGELL", in Review of International Studies, 15, no. 4 (ottobre 1989): 341-358.

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