Clement Attlee

Attlee, Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl

Clement Richard Attlee Attlee, 1st Earl (ăt´lē), 1883–1967, British statesman. Educated at Oxford, he was called to the bar in 1905. His early experience as a social worker in London's East End led to his decision to give up law and devote his life to social improvement through politics. In 1907 he joined the Fabian Society and soon afterward the Labour party. He was a lecturer in social science at the London School of Economics, and, after service in World War I, he became (1919) the first Labour mayor of Stepney.

Attlee entered Parliament in 1922. In 1927 he visited India as a member of the Simon commission and was converted to views that strongly favored Indian self-government. He joined the Labour government in 1930 but resigned in 1931 when Ramsay MacDonald formed the National government. As leader of the Labour party from 1935, Attlee was an outspoken critic of Conservative foreign policy, objecting particularly to the government's failure to intervene in the Spanish civil war. During World War II he served (1940–45) in Winston Churchill's coalition cabinet, and on Labour's electoral victory in 1945 he became prime minister.

Under Attlee's leadership, the Bank of England, the gas, electricity, coal, and iron and steel industries, and the railways were nationalized. His government also enacted considerable social reforms, including the National Health Service. Independence was granted to Burma (Myanmar), India, Pakistan, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and Palestine, and Britain allied itself closely with the United States in the cold war confrontation with the Soviet Union. The postwar economic crisis required stringent economic and financial controls, which reduced support for the government. Labour won the 1950 general election by a narrow margin, but in 1951, Attlee decided to go to the country again and was defeated. He was leader of the opposition until his retirement in 1955, when he received the title of Earl Attlee.

See his autobiographies, As It Happened (1954) and Twilight of Empire (ed. by F. Williams, 1962); biography by K. Harris (1983); studies by K. Morgan (1984) and P. Hennessy (1994).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Clement Attlee: Selected full-text books and articles

Fifty Key Figures in Twentieth Century British Politics By Keith Laybourn Routledge, 2002
Librarian's tip: "(Richard) Clement Attlee" begins on p. 10
A Dictionary of Political Biography By Dennis Kavanagh Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: "Attlee, Clement" begins on p. 22
"A Very Present Menace"? Attlee, Communism and the Cold War(1) By Deery, Phillip The Australian Journal of Politics and History, Vol. 44, No. 1, March 1998
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Attlee By Pearce, Robert History Review, No. 28, September 1997
Modern Britain, 1885-1955 By Henry Pelling T. Nelson, 1960
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Clement Attlee begins on p. 171
Twentieth-Century Britain By Alfred F. Havighurst Harper & Row, 1966 (2nd edition)
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Clement Attlee begins on p. 363
British Political Parties: The Distribution of Power within the Conservative and Labour Parties By R. T. McKenzie Melbourne, 1955
Librarian's tip: Discussion of Clement Attlee begins on p. 323
Ernest Bevin: Portrait of a Great Englishman By Francis Williams; Clement Attlee Hutchinson, 1952
Librarian's tip: "Foreword" by Clement Attlee begins on p. 7
Winston Churchill and the Wartime Coalition 1940-45 By Jefferys, Kevin History Review, December 1998
Correspondence between the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the U. S. S. R. and the Presidents of the U. S. A. and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 By Clement R. Attlee; Winston S. Churchill; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R Foreign Languages Pub. House, vol.1, 1957
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