Indian National Congress

Stafford Cripps


Stafford Cripps was born in 1889 in London to Charles Alfred Cripps and his wife Theresa. His father was a Conservative MP and later a Labour cabinet minister.

After turning down a scholarship to New College, Oxford, in 1907 he studied for an MSc degree at University College, London. In 1911, he married Isobel Cripps (née Swithinbank), whom he had met a year earlier when helping out with his father's campaign. When war broke out in 1914, Cripps, still recovering from a breakdown, did not join the forces. Instead, he became a lorry driver for the Red Cross. In 1929, Cripps joined the Labour Party and became a minister in Ramsay MacDonald's Labour government the year after. His campaign to become an MP was supported by Sukhsagar Datta. In 1933 he became chairman of the Socialist League, which he dissolved in 1937. Cripps was also heavily involved with the Left Book Club.

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Cripps went on a tour of India, China, Russia and the United States. Cripps' first visit to India was intended to explore the possibility of self-government; he was warmly received by Jawaharlal Nehru. After India he went to China where he befriended Chiang Kai-shek, then he went to Russia where he met Foreign Minister Molotov. From June 1940 to January 1942 he served as the British Ambassador to the Soviet Union. Cripps succeeded in bringing Russia and Britain together as allies during the war, and consequently, in February 1942, Churchill brought Cripps into the government as Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons. Only a month later, on 22 March, Cripps would fly to Delhi on the so-called Cripps Mission, which was intended to secure Indian self-government after the war in return for support in the British war effort. The Cripps Mission failed and the Indian National Congress and the British Government became further estranged. The failure of the mission was the catalyst for Gandhi  to launch the Quit India movement in August 1942. After his return to Britain, Cripps' status within the Government had diminished and in the autumn of that year he resigned from the War Cabinet and took up the post of Minister of Aircraft Production.

After Clement Attlee's Labour victory in 1945, Cripps remained interested in the question of Indian independence, and from March to June 1946 Cripps travelled to India for the third time, along with Secretary of State, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, and Lord of the Admiralty, A. V. Alexander. The Cabinet Mission's offer of a three-tier structure was accepted by Jinnah and the Muslim League but Gandhi and the Congress turned it down. Cripps realized that the future government of India lay in the hands of the Indian leaders. By the end of 1946, at the behest of Cripps, Attlee appointed Lord Mountbatten the last Viceroy of India and set a date for British withdrawal. This paved the way to Independence and Partition in 1947.

In 1947, Cripps was appointed Minister for Economic Affairs but took over the post of Chancellor of Exchequer six weeks later. He fought hard to restore the British economy in the post-war years. At this point, Cripps was also seriously ill and was reconvalescing at the Bircher Benner clinic in Zürich. Cripps resigned as Chancellor and as MP on 20 October 1950 on grounds of ill health. He died at the Bircher Benner Clinic on 21 April 1952.

Published works: 

The Choice for Britain: Capitalism in Crisis, vol. 4 (London: Socialist League, 1934)

Why This Socialism? (London: Victor Gollancz, 1934)

'National' Fascism in Britain (London: Socialist League, 1935)

(with Michael Foot) The Struggle for Peace (London: Victor Gollancz, 1936)

(with James Maxton and Harry Pollitt), The Unity Campaign (London: National Unity Campaign Committee, 1937)

Empire (Speech Delivered at the Conference on Peace and Empire Organised by the India League and the London Federation of Peace Councils (London: India League, 1938)

Democracy Up-to-Date: Some Practical Suggestions for the Reorganization of the Politcal and Parliamentary System (London: Allen & Unwin, 1939)

The Petition: The Speech (London, 1939)

Shall the Spell be Broken? Rectorial Address the the University of Aberdeen Delivered on 6 February 1943 (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1943)

Britain and Austria (London: Anglo-Austrian Democratic Society, 1945)

Towards Christian Democracy (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1945)

Democracy Alive: A Selection from Recent Speeches ([S. I.]: Sidgwich and Jackson, 1946)

The Church and the World Economic Crisis (Westminster: Industrial Christian Fellowship, 1948)

The Survival of Christianity (London: World's Evangelical Alliance, 1948)

God in Our Work Religious Addresses ([S. I.]: Thomas Nelson and sons, 1949)

The Spiritual Crisis: A Sermon Preached in St. Paul's Cathedral (London: A. R. Mowbray & Co, 1950)

Stafford Cripps in Moscow, 1940-1942: Diaries and Papers, ed. by Gabriel Gorodetsky (Edgware: Vallentine Mitchell, 2007)

Are You a Worker? Where the Middle Class Stands ([S. I.]: Labour Party, n.d.)

Can Socialism Come by Constitutional Methods? (The Socialist League, n.d.)

Parliamentary Institutions and the Transition to Socialism (n.d.)

The Ultimate Aims of the Labour Party (Labour Party, n.d.)

Date of birth: 
24 Apr 1889

 Albert Alexander, Clement Attlee, Claude Auchinleck, Abul Kalam Azad, Barbara Castle, Winston Churchill, Sukhsagar Datta, Michael FootMohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Agatha Harrison, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Louis Johnson, Chiang Kai-shek, Harold Laski, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Lord Linlithgow, Krishna Menon, Naomi Mitchison, Lord Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru, George Padmore, Vallabhbhai Patel, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, Paul Robeson, Lord Wavell, Lord Zetland.

Contributions to periodicals: 
Secondary works: 

Addison, Christopher, Problems of a Socialist Government (London: Gollancz, 1933) 

Baume, Eric, India! We Call on the People of Britain!! (London: India League, 1942)

Bryant, Christopher, Stafford Cripps: The First Modern Chancellor (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997) 

Burgess, Simon, Stafford Cripps: A Political Life (London: Gollancz, 1999)

Chatterji, Prashanto K., The Cripps Mission, 22 March-11 April 1942: An In-Depth Study (Kolkata: Minerva Associates, 2004)

Clarke, Peter, The Cripps Version: The Life of Sir Stafford Cripps (London: Allen Lane, 2002)

Clarke, Peter, and Toye, Richard, 'Cripps, Sir (Richard) Stafford (1889-1952)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Cooke, Colin Arthur, The Life of Richard Stafford Cripps (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1957)

Coupland, Reginald, The Cripps Mission (London: Oxford University Press, 1942)

Economic Survey for 1947 (1947)

Estorick, Eric, Stafford Cripps: A Biography (London: William Heinemann, 1949)

Gorodetsky, Gabriel, Stafford Cripps' Mission to Moscow, 1940-42 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984)

Hall, Robert Lowe, The Robert Hall Diaries, 1947-1953, ed. by Alec Cairncross (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989)

Harrison, Agatha, and Bailey, George William, India, 1939-1942: A Summary of Events up to and Including the Cripps Mission (London: National Peace Council, 1942)

India League Executive Committee, India and the British Proposals (London: India League, 1942)

Labour Party Annual Conference Report (1935)

Mishra, B. K., The Cripps Mission: A Reappraisal (New Delhi: Concept Pub. Co., 1982)

Nehru, Jawaharlal, Jawaharlal Nehru on the Cripps Mission: An Authoritative Statement on the Breakdown of the Negotiations at New Delhi (London: India League, 1942)

Patel, Harbans, Cripps Mission: The Whole Truth (New Delhi: Indus Pub. Co., 1990)

Patil, V. T., Jawaharlal Nehru and the Cripps Mission (Delhi: BR Pub. Corp., 1984)

Singh, Bhim Sen, The Cripps Mission: A Handiwork of British Imperialism (New Delhi: Usha, 1979)

Strauss, Patricia, Cripps: Advocate and Rebel (London: Victor Gollancz, 1943)

Subrahmanyam, M., Why Cripps Failed, 2nd edn (New Delhi: Hindustan Times Press, 1943)

Tyler, Froom, Cripps: A Portrait and a Prospect (London: G. G. Harrap & Co., 1942)

Weigold, Auriol, Churchill, Roosevelt, and India: Propaganda during World War II (London: Routledge, 2008)

Archive source: 

Private papers, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Private papers, Nuffield College, Oxford

CAB 127/57-154, Correspondence and papers, National Archives, Kew

Beatrice Webb Diary, Passfield MSS, British Library of Political and Economic Science, London School of Economics

Corespondence with Clement Attlee,  Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence with Lord Monckton,  Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence with Arthur Creech Jones, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies, Rhodes House, Oxford

Correspondence with Bristol South East Labour Party and Its Secretary H. E. Rogers, Bristol Record Office

Correspondence with A. V. Alexander, Churchill College, Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge

Correspondence with Dame Caroline Haslett, Institution of Electrical Engineers, London

Correspondence with Sir B. H. Liddell Hart, Liddell Hart Centre, King's College, London

Correspondence with Huw T. Edwards, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

Correspondence with Thomas Jones, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

Correspondence with Lord Cherwell, Nuffield College, Oxford

Current affairs footage, British Film Institute, National Film and Television Archive, London

Documentary footage, British Film Institute, National Film and Television Archive, London

News footage, British Film Institute, National Film and Television Archive, London

Propaganda film footage (Ministry of Information), British Film Institute, National Film and Television Archive, London

Actuality footage, Film and Video Archive, Imperial War Museum

Documentary footage, Film and Video Archive, Imperial War Museum

News footage, Film and Video Archive, Imperial War Museum London

Current affairs recording, Sound Archive, British Library, St Pancras

15271, 'What Has Become of Us?', Channel 4, November 1994, Sound Archive, Imperial War Museum, London

Oral history interview, Sound Archive, Imperial War Museum, London

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Sir Richard Stafford Cripps

Date of death: 
21 Apr 1952
Location of death: 
Bircher Benner Clinic, Zurich, Switzerland

Jawaharlal Nehru


Jawaharlal Nehru was president of the Indian National Congress (INC) 1929-30, 1936-7 and 1946; independent India’s first Prime Minister, and the author of some of its most definitive, form giving national texts (An Autobiography (1936); The Discovery of India (1946)). Nehru’s father Motilal sent him to England for his further education. Here he spent seven largely undistinguished, if privileged years, as described in the Autobiography: 1905-7 at Harrow, the public school; 1907-10 at Trinity College, Cambridge (Natural sciences tripos, 2nd class), and then ‘hovering about’ London studying for his Bar examinations (p. 25). He was called to the Bar in 1912 and returned to India where he eventually embarked on a successful political career through Congress.

Nehru traces the reverse path to M. K. Gandhi, who came into contact with Theosophy in Britain.  Nehru was a young Theosophist, due to the influence of his teacher F.T. Brooks (and was inducted by Annie Besant), but in England abandoned this in favour of a Pater-esque aestheticism, and then the binding involvement of nationalist politics. At Harrow he met the son of the Gaekwad of Baroda and Paramjit Singh. Nehru read the sexologists of the time, including Havelock Ellis and Kraft-Ebbing. At Harrow he met Edwin Montagu, and heard the guest speakers, B.C. Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai and Gokhale during his student days.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Nehru’s time in Britain is the extent to which his experiences as a student, an Indian student in particular, empowered him even if silently as a political thinker, and how his clubbing together with other Indian students fostered and sharpened his sense of India (although he was not particularly active in the Cambridge Majlis). Nehru returned to Britain a number of times after his student days, whether for political negotiations with the Government or to escort his daughter, Indira, for her education in the 1930s.

Published works: 

An Autobiography (London: John Lane, 1936)

Discovery of India (London: Meridian Books, 1946)

A Bunch of Old Letters (1958)

Date of birth: 
14 Nov 1889

Annie Besant, Gaekwad of Baroda, Stafford Cripps, Clemens Palme Dutt, Rajani Palme Dutt, M. K. GandhiGokhaleSyed Mahmud (student contemporary), Edwin Montagu, Sarojini Naidu, Indira Nehru, B. C. Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, J. M. Sengupta (student contemporary), T. A. Sherwani (student contemporary), Paramjit Singh, S. M. Sulaiman (student contemporary), E. J. Thompson, S. A. Wickremasinghe, Marquess of Zetland.

Secondary works: 

Akbar, M. J., Nehru. The Making of India (New York: Viking, 1988)

Brown, Judith M., Nehru: A Political Life (London: Yale University Press, 2003)

Gandhi, Sonia (ed.), Freedom's Daughter: Letters between Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru 1922-1939 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1989)

Gandhi, Sonia (ed.), Two Along, Two Together. Letters between Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru 1940-1969 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1992)

Gopal, S., Jawaharlal Nehru (London: Jonathan Cape, 1973)

Gopal, S (ed.), Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, 3 vols (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1975-1984)

Majeed, Javed, Autobiography, Travel and Postnational Identity (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

Nanda, B. R., The Nehrus. Motilal and Jawaharlal (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1962)

Parthasarathi, G. (ed.), A Bunch of Old Letters. Written Mostly to Jawaharlal Nehru and some written by him (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1958)

Wolpert, Stanley, Nehru. A Tryst with Destiny (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

Archive source: 

Photographs, Harrow Archive, Harrow School

Personal papers and correspondence, Nehru Memorial Library and Museum, Delhi

Correspondence with E. J. Thompson, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence with Sir Stafford Cripps, The National Archives, Kew

Government records, National Archives of India, New Delhi

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 


Trinity College Cambridge, CB2 1TQ
United Kingdom
52° 10' 21.3528" N, 0° 6' 40.3992" E
Harrow School HA1 3HP
United Kingdom
51° 35' 12.6204" N, 0° 20' 16.1376" W
Date of death: 
27 May 1964
Location of death: 
Delhi, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1905
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1905-12 (and as a visitor at times thereafter)


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