Philip Noel-Baker, Baron Noel-Baker: Wikis


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Olympic medal record
Men's Athletics
Silver 1920 Antwerp 1500 metres

Philip John Noel-Baker, Baron Noel-Baker, born Philip John Baker (1 November 1889 – 8 October 1982) was a British politician, diplomat, academic, an outstanding amateur athlete, and renowned campaigner for disarmament who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1959.[1]


Early life and athletic career

Born Philip Baker in Hendon, to a Canadian-born Quaker father, Joseph Allen Baker, who moved to England to set up a manufacturing business and himself served on the London County Council and in the House of Commons. Educated at Bootham School, York and then in the US at the Quaker-associated Haverford College, he attended King's College, Cambridge from 1910 to 1912. As well as being an excellent student, he became President of the Cambridge Union Society and the Cambridge University Athletic Club.

He was selected and ran for Britain at the Stockholm Olympic Games in 1912, and was team manager as well as a competitor for the British track team for the 1920 and 1924 Olympics. In 1920 at Antwerp he won a silver medal in the 1500 metres. The exploits of the British team at the 1924 Games in Paris were later made famous in the 1982 film Chariots of Fire, though Noel-Baker's part in such was not portrayed in that film.

During World War I, Noel-Baker organised and led the Friends' Ambulance Unit attached to the fighting front in France (1914-1915), and was then adjutant of the First British Ambulance Unit for Italy (1915-1918), for which he received military medals from France and Italy as well as his own country.

Political career

After the war, Noel-Baker was heavily involved in the formation of the League of Nations, serving as assistant to Lord Robert Cecil, then assistant to Sir Eric Drummond, the league's first secretary-general. He also spent time as an academic early in his career, as a the first Sir Ernest Cassel Professor of International Relations at the University of London from 1924 to 1929[2] and as a lecturer at Yale University from 1933 to 1934.

His political career with the Labour Party began in 1924 when he stood, unsuccessfully, for Parliament. He was elected as the member for Coventry in 1929, but lost his seat in 1931. In 1936 Noel-Baker won a by-election in Derby after J.H. Thomas resigned; when that seat was divided in 1950, he transferred to Derby South and continued until 1970. In 1977, he was made a life peer as Baron Noel-Baker, of the City of Derby.

As well as a Parliamentary Secretary role during World War II under Winston Churchill, he served in a succession of junior ministries in the Attlee Labour Government. He was also prominent within Labour, serving as Chairman of the Labour Party in 1946. In the mid-1940s, Noel-Baker served on the British delegation to what became the United Nations, helping to draft its charter and other rules for operation as a British delegate.

Private life

Noel-Baker married Irene Noel, a field hospital nurse, in 1915 in East Grinstead, adopting the hyphenated name in 1943. Their only son, Francis Noel-Baker, also became a parliamentarian and served together with his father in the Commons. Philip Noel-Baker's mistress from 1936 to 1956 was Lady Megan Lloyd George, daughter of the former Liberal Party leader David Lloyd George and herself a Liberal and later Labour MP. Following Noel-Baker's death in Westminster, he was buried alongside Irene in Heyshott in West Sussex.


by Philip Noel-Baker

  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1925). The Geneva Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. London: P. S. King & Son Ltd.  
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1926). Disarmament. London: The Hogarth Press.   (Reprint 1970, New York: Kennicat Press)
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1926). The League of Nations at Work. London: Nisbet.  
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1927). Disarmament and the Coolidge Conference. London: Leonard & Virginia Woolf.  
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1929). The Present Juridical Status of the British Dominions in International Law. London: Longmans.  
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1934). Disarmament. London: League of Nations Union.  
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1934). Hawkers of Death: The Private Manufacture and Trade in Arms. London: Labour Party.   (28pp pamphlet)
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1936). The Private Manufacture of Armaments. London: Victor Gollancz.   (Reprint 1972, New York: Dover Publications)
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1944). Before we go back: a pictorial record of Norway's fight against Nazism. London: H.M.S.O..  
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1946). U.N., the Atom, the Veto (speech at the Plenary Assembly of the United Nations 25 October 1946). London: The Labour Party.  
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1958). The Arms Race : A Programme for World Disarmament. London: Stevens & Sons. ASIN: B0000CJZPN.  
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1962). Nansen's Place in History. Oslo: Universitetsförlaget.   (26pp pamphlet)
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1963). The Way to World Disarmament-Now!. London: Union of Democratic Control.  
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1979). The first World Disarmament Conference, 1932-1933 and why it failed. Oxford: Pergamon. ISBN 0080233651.  

by Philip Noel-Baker with other authors

  • Buzzard, Rear-Admiral Sir Anthony; Noel-Baker, Philip (1959). Disarmament and Defence. United Nations [Peacefinder Pamphlet. no. 28].  
  • Mountbatten, Louis; Noel-Baker, Philip, and Zuckerman, Solly (1980). Apocalypse now?. Nottingham: Spokesman Books. ISBN 0851242979.  
  • Noel-Baker, Philip; et al. (1934). Challenge To Death. London: Constable.  

by others

  • Ferguson, John (1983). Philip Noel-Baker : the man and his message. London: United Nations Association. ASIN: B0000EF3NF.  
  • Lloyd, Lorna: Philip Noel-Baker and the Peace Through Law in Long, David; Wilson, Peter (eds) (1995), Thinkers of the Twenty Years’ Crisis. Inter-War Idealism reassessed, Oxford: Clarendon Press, ISBN 0198278551  
  • Russell, Bertrand (1960). "Philip Noel-Baker: A Tribute". International Relations 2: 1–2. doi:10.1177/004711786000200101.  
  • Whittaker, David J. (1989). Fighter for peace : Philip Noel-Baker 1889-1982. York: Sessions. ISBN 1850720568.  


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Archibald Boyd-Carpenter
Member of Parliament for Coventry
Succeeded by
Capt WF Strickland
Preceded by
J. H. Thomas and
William Allan Reid
Member of Parliament for Derby
With: William Allan Reid to 1945
Clifford Wilcock from 1945
constituency divided
New constituency Member of Parliament for Derby South
Succeeded by
Walter Johnson
Political offices
Preceded by
Harold Laski
Chair of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Manny Shinwell
Preceded by
The Viscount Stansgate
Secretary of State for Air
Succeeded by
Arthur Henderson
Preceded by
The Viscount Addison
Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
Succeeded by
Patrick Gordon Walker


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