Neville Chamberlain (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Chamberlain was a major voice in the Conservative Party for two decades, seeking modest and solid social reforms to improve the housing and health of the common people of Great Britain. As prime minister from 1937 to 1940, he sought in vain to avert World War II by appeasing Adolf Hitler.
Arthur Neville Chamberlain was born March 18, 1869, into a well-to-do and politically prominent family in the rising industrial city of Birmingham. His father, Joseph Chamberlain, made a fortune manufacturing screws and went into politics, first locally and then in Parliament; eventually he became colonial secretary under Arthur Balfour. Neville’s elder half brother, Austen Chamberlain, was educated for a political career and went into Parliament at the age of twenty-eight. Young Neville was expected to go into business and broaden the family fortune. He attended Rugby, but rather than going to Cambridge like his brother, studied engineering at Mason College in Birmingham and finished his formal education with an apprenticeship in an accounting firm.
At the age of twenty-one, Neville was sent off to manage a family estate in the Bahamas, which promised large profits growing sisal for rope on hitherto undeveloped land. For six years Neville toiled in an attempt to create a prosperous plantation, but the venture was risky at best and doomed to failure at worst. Heavy capital investment was...
(The entire section is 2835 words.)
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