Reginald Sorensen

Other names: 

Reginald William Sorensen

Date of birth: 
19 Jun 1881
City of birth: 
Islington, London
Date of death: 
08 Oct 1971
Location of death: 

Walthamstow, London


Reginald Sorensen was a politician and Unitarian clergyman. Sorensen became a member of the Liberal Christian League and was influenced by Rev. Reginald John Campbell. Sorensen joined the Finsbury branch of the Independent Labour Party in 1908. In the 1920s he stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate for Southampton. He was elected to Parliament for Leyton West in 1929. His brother in law, Fenner Brockway, served at the same time as him as an MP for Leyton East. Both lost their seats in the 1931 General Election. But Sorensen regained his seat in 1935.

Sorensen was a supporter of anti-colonial liberation movements. He was part of the Fabian Colonial Bureau. In the 1930s, Sorensen became a supporter of the India League. Although he had many disagreements with Krishna Menon, they had similar views about Indian self-determination. By 1937, he became the Parliamentary Secretary of the India League, a position he shared with Tom Williams. Sorensen co-organised the National Independence Day demonstration which took place on 26 January 1938 in Trafalgar Square, which attracted around 1,000 people in an expression of solidarity with the Republicans fighting in the Spanish Civil War, and the struggles in China and Abyssinia. He also co-organized the India League’s Independence Day event in 1939. Sorensen regularly chaired India League meetings or spoke at events. He also challenged the British Government’s position on India in Parliament.

In 1946, he was part of the Government deputation to India, led by Robert Richards. While a staunch supporter of Indian independence, he was not in favour of the partition of the subcontinent. In 1964, he was given a life peerage. He died in 1971.

Published works: 

Aden: The Protectorate and the Yemen (London: Fabian International & Commonwealth Bureaux, 1961)

Famine, Politics - and Mr. Amery (London: India League, 1944)

For Sanity and Humanity (London: R. W. Sorensen, 1943)

God and Bread (Walthamstow: Guild Shop, 192?)

I Believe in Man (London: Lindesey Press, 1970)

India and the Atlantic Charta (London: India League, 1942)

The Liberty of the Subject (London: United Kingdom Temperence Alliance, 1964)

Men or Sheep? (Ripley: J. S. Reynolds, 192?)

My Impression of India (London: Merdian, 1946)

The New Generation (Leicester: Blackfriars Press, 192?)

The 'Red Flag' and Patriotism (Southampton: Hobbs & Son, 192?)

'These things shall be' - But What Thinks the Bookmaker? (Walthamstow: R. Sorensen, 1940)

Tolpuddle or 'Who's afeared.' A Democratic Epioside in Three Acts (London: T. C. Foley, 1929)

Secondary works: 

Howe, Stephen, Anticolonialism in British Politics: the Left and the End of Empire (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993)

Owen, Nicholas, The British Left and India: Metropolitan Anti-imperialism, 1885-1947 (Oxford: OUP, 2007)

Philpot, Terry, ‘Sorensen, Reginald William, Baron Sorensen (1891–1971)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008) []

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)


Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/448-56, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Labour History Archive and Study Centre, Manchester

Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies, Rhodes House, Oxford