Biography of Arthur Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940)

English politician, born in Birmingham on March 18, 1869 and died in Hedekfield on November 9, 1940.

Biographical synthesis

Son of the English politician Joseph Chamberlain, spent the first years of his life in the city of Birmingham, where he/she lived until 1890, date in which he/she moved to a plantation that had his family in the Bahamas. 7 years later he/she returned to England and once installed in his hometown, he/she founded and directed a factory metallurgical, which earned him significant benefits. Member of the conservative party, began his political career in 1911, thus in the municipal elections of the year he/she was elected Councillor. Some years later, in 1914, he/she held the Mayor's office and his outstanding performance led to his jump into national politics. It got its act of Parliament of the English Parliament in 1918 and thanks to his contacts and to his reputation as a good administrator, he/she was appointed director of the post office (1922-1923) after which was named Minister of health, since it occupied at various times (1923, 1924-1929, and in 1931). Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1923 and 1924, and from 1931 until 1937, following the resignation of Stanley Baldwin served as Prime Minister from May 28, 1937 until May 10, 1940. Firm defender of peacekeeping in Europe, during its mandate launched negotiations with both Mussolini and Hitler in order to maintain the status quo, as the signing of the Treaty of Munich in 1938, but their efforts were futile, since after the start of the invasion of Poland by the German army, Chamberlain was left with no other remedy that declare war on this country. Forced to resign a few months later, by the disaster of the British army in Norway, withdrew definitively from political life on October 2, 1940 and due to his delicate health died just a month later. Married Anne Vere Cole in 1911 Arthur Neville Chamberlain had two children, Dorothy and Francis Neville.

First years

Son of the prestigious English politician Joseph Chamberlain and the second wife, Florence Kenrick, barely knew his mother since this died in 1875, when he/she was approximately 6 years old. Arthur Neville Chamberlain spent the first years of his life and much of his youth in his native city, where he/she received a careful education as it corresponded to a young man in his position. It seems that since he/she was a child his father had decided that this is devoted to managing the Economic Affairs of the family, since his son major, Austen Chamberlain, was destined to follow in his footsteps in the Parliament, thus sir Joseph was intended to ensure the Fortune family.

Arthur Neville Chamberlain after completion of his studies at Rugby College, earned place in the prestigious Mason College, later University of Birmingham, where he/she studied for several years trade, metallurgy and mechanical engineering. Once completed his studies in 1890, when he/she was 21 years old, his father entrusted the task to take care of putting in order the Affairs of the plantation he/she owned in the island of Andros (Bahamas), Arthur Neville moved to immediately and place where he/she remained for 7 years.

In 1897 after having updated the business of his family young Arthur Neville returned to his country and settled in his native city, where he/she soon became a character notorious for merit of high society, since he/she used his savings and the knowledge acquired during his years of study to found a prosperous city Metalworkers, company that addressed personally and which provided him with important benefits. Due to its status as an entrepreneur he/she was one of the main drivers so that the Chamber of Commerce of the city of Birmingham were put up and some years later he/she was appointed President of the General Hospital.

Years of maturity and the beginnings of his political career

The youngest of the sons of sir Joseph Chamberlain not married until advanced age 41 years, possibly due to their multiple occupations. His bride was Anne Vere Cole who was 28 years old at the time of the link, which was held on January 5, 1911 in the village of Westbourne, in the Edgbaston district. Despite the age difference was a happy marriage, which produced two children, Dorothy born on December 25, 1911 and Francis Neville, which was born on January 23, 1914. Anne Vere Cole was at all times a loyal and sympathetic, companion who was with her husband in the bad times instilling energy to keep going, as the own Chamberlain said repeatedly during his life.

It was precisely in the year 1911 when it began the career of hitherto respected industrialist, since apparently advised by some of his closest friends and his own family, he/she decided to stand for municipal elections that took place that year, where he/she earned a place in the city of Birmingham as a Councillor. A few years later his political career took definitely, off which, in 1914, was elected to the mayoralty of the above Birmingham City, since where he/she remained until the middle of the year 1916. During his tenure as Mayor, he/she founded the Municipal Bank of salvation, the only one of these features across Britain, which gave him notoriety nationwide. The success of their proposals was so overwhelming that on August 19, 1916 was appointed Director General of the service national, in which he/she stayed until he/she formalized his resignation on August 8, 1917, since it had not completely with the ideas of the coalition Government of David Lloyd George formed during the first world war.

In the elections of 1918 he/she obtained for the first time an act of Parliament, so arrival at the Parliament was a challenge for him and did not hesitate to stand out for their great skills. Many authors consider that the rise of Chamberlain in the conservative party could qualify as meteoric, since after about four years in the Parliament of Great Britain as a member, he/she was appointed on 31 October 1922 during the Government of Bonar Law, at the age of 47, director of the post office, since where he/she remained until March 7, 1923, and that combined with his post of General accountant for a few months, from February 5 to March 15, 1923. In these first years on several occasions Neville Chamberlain won the invaluable support of his brother, the mentioned Austen Chamberlain, who persuaded him to continue being part of the Conservative coalition.

But without a doubt the first important appointment he/she received in those years occurred at the beginning of the year 1923, when Chamberlain met the news that would deal with the Ministry of health, a charge which officially took office on March 7 of the year and which remained at first about 5 months. It should be noted that the Ministry occupied it twice more, from 6 November 1924 until June 7, 1929, in the second Government of Stanley Baldwin; and since the 25 of August 1931 until November 5 of the same year, during the Government of coalition of MacDonald.

The time that remained in the Ministry of health promoted major reforms of health care type, this mode took measures that will improve the quality of life of the orphanages, got that part of the State budget will provide to workers to take a pension at the time of his retirement, put under the control of local governments large number of hospitals and charities after void in 1929 the so-called Poor Law Guardians and last should be noted which promoted the construction of approximately a million homes, which were occupied by working families with scarce economic resources, since they were put on sale at affordable prices.

In this way, we can say that in the so-called inter-war period Neville Chamberlain settled firmly in the conservative party, since in a few years it was considered one of its main leaders, along with the aforementioned Stanley Baldwin. Thus, he/she was always very close to power and at intervals which did not occupy the position of Minister of health, was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, activity that held from August 27, 1923 until January 22, 1924 and on November 5, 1931 until May 28, 1937.

The last years of Chamberlain

The arrival to the throne of England from Jorge VI was a marked change in the political situation in Great Britain, since shortly after the coronation of the new monarch was the resignation of Baldwin, which had been in power since the year 1935 until 1937. Thus new head of the conservative party, instructed was Chamberlain, then that formed a new Government. So this served as Prime Minister from May 28, 1937 until May 10, 1940.

Strong supporter of the so-called policy of appeasement, developed during the administration of his predecessor, despite the hard circumstances in which lived much of Europe, where there had been the rise of the Nazi party in Germany and the arrival of Benito Mussolini to power in Italy, decided to continue this policy in General. Thus in order to ingratiate the British Government with the Italian, in April 1939 Chamberlain signed a Treaty of friendship that recognized the sovereignty italiana in Abyssinia, after the war in Ethiopia, and in return the Ducce undertook to abandon Spain when concluded the Civil War (1936-1939), in which the English Prime Minister decided not to intervene in order to not to start a new conflict in the international arena.

In order to resolve the question of Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain travelled to Germany where he/she met with Hitler on September 16, 1938 in Bergchtesgarden. Days later, on 29 September, held another meeting of both Presidents, which Benito Mussolini and Édouard Daladier, where it was sealed also participated in the Munich Treaty, whereby Great Britain and Germany were committed to keeping the peace in Europe, leaving the region of Sudetenland under German control. The signing of the Treaty mentioned Arthur Neville returned to London, where he/she was acclaimed by the crowd by being able to stop a war that seemed imminent, although some members of the Parliament were in disagreement with what they considered a claudication by Great Britain Germany front.

But while the English Prime Minister believed that achieved peace could be lasting, Great Britain began its rearmament as a preventive measure. As well, some time later, Chamberlain had to recognize that the signing of the Treaty of Munich had been useless, since months later, in March 1939, Hitler occupied the remainder of Czechoslovakia and was forced, after publicly repudiate the invasion, to ensure the security along with France, Poland, Romania and Greece, in anticipation of new expansionist of the German Army movements.

Finally the signing of the Treaty side, on August 23, 1939, by which both countries committed themselves not to attack, made the Chamberlain Government the imminence of war. So a few days later, on September 1, 1939, Hitler began the invasion of Poland and on 3 September of that same year, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Neville Chamberlain who did not have a strong army, while the rearmament had begun some months before, immediately took steps to organize the defense of the territory and appointed a Cabinet of war, thus attending to the pressures of the people appointed first lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill.

But Arthur Neville Chamberlain despite their efforts not could stay in power for a long time after the outbreak of the second world war, since after the failed expedition that carried out by British troops to Norway in April 1940, it lost the support of many members of his party and finally, practically only in the ParliamentHe was forced to resign on 10 May of that same year, being replaced by Winston Churchill. Despite having to leave power, the new Prime Minister told him, despite his advanced age, so take care of the Council of Ministers as Chairman from September 30, 1940, although due to his delicate health this was forced to retire from political life on October 2 of that year.

Chamberlain died about a month later, on 9 November of 1940, at the age of 71, in their possessions of Reckfiel (Hanpshire), deeply distressed by have not been able to curb the warlike race. Despite the circumstances that had led to his departure from power, his death was felt by all his fellow and the own Churchill in Parliament made a heartfelt tribute to this great statesman.


FUSI, J. P., TUSELL, J. Handbook of Universal history. Contemporary age (1898-1945). (Madrid, history 16, 1992).

NEVILLE, P. Neville Chamberlain, a study in failure?. (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1992).

PARKER, R.A.C. Chamberlain and appeasement. British policy and the coming of Second Wold War. (London, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1993).

STEWART, G. Burning Caesar: Churchill, Chamberlain and the batle for Tory Party. (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1999).

VICENS VIVES, J. modern general history. 18th - 20th. (Barcelona, Vicens Vives, 1997).