The Chamberlains were a unique urban dynasty. The locus of their power was the industrial city of Birmingham, the largest in the Midlands. For sixty-four unbroken years, never losing an election, they represented Birmingham in Parliament. The family belonged to the Nonconformist elite, which dominated the city socially and commercially, and rose to prominence under the leadership of the charismatic Joseph – a successful entrepreneur who as Mayor was credited with transforming the city. Joseph entered Parliament as a Radical in 1876, then years later was active in defeating Irish Home Rule and creating the Liberal Unionist party.
From 1895 to 1903 he was Colonial Secretary and an aggressive imperialist, eventually splitting his party over tariff reform. His elder son Austen spent his career at the apex of the Conservative party: twice Chancellor of the Exchequer, a distinguished Foreign Secretary, and several times passing up opportunities leading to the premiership. Neville followed closely in his father’s footsteps. Entering Parliament late, he became a key figure in inter-war politics – a reforming Minister of Health and a successful Chancellor in the wake of the Great Depression. As Prime Minister from 1937-40 he tragically fell foul of the dictator Hitler, and his policy of Appeasement blighted his reputation.
Roger Ward graduated from London University in 1960, completed a P.G.C.E at Cambridge University in 1961 and a London University M.A. in 1971. Beginning his career as a schoolteacher in London, he moved to Birmingham in 1973 as Lecturer in History at Birmingham College of Education. In 1973 he joined the Social Science Faculty of Birmingham Polytechnic, later the University of Central England. He ended his career there as a Principal Lecturer and Course Director. In 2005 he published a standard work on Birmingham politics, City-state and Nation. Birmingham’s Political History 1830-1940. He has been a contributor to many books and journals and has lectured extensively. He is currently Visiting Professor at Birmingham City University.
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Extent: 184 pages
Illustrations: 32 black-and-white photographs