Campbell, John 1947-
Campbell, John 1947-
Born 1947; married; children: two. Education: Edinburgh University, Ph.D., 1975. Hobbies and other interests: Theater, music, cricket, golf, tennis.
Home—London, England. Agent—David Higham Associates, 5-8 Lower John St., Golden Sq., London W1F 9HA, England.
Writer and historian.
NCR Book Award for Nonfiction, 1994, for Edward Heath: A Biography; Shortlisted for Whitbread Award for biography for Margaret Thatcher, Vol. 2: The Iron Lady, 2003.
BIOGRAPHIES; UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED
Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1977.
Roy Jenkins: A Biography, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1983.
F.E. Smith, First Earl of Birkenhead, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1983.
(Editor) The Experience of World War II (nonfiction), Harrap (London, England), 1989.
Edward Heath: A Biography, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 1993.
Margaret Thatcher, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 2000.
Margaret Thatcher, Vol. 2: The Iron Lady, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 2003.
If Love Were All …: The Story of Frances Stevenson and David Lloyd George, Jonathan Cape (London, England), 2006.
Editor of the series "Masters of the Twentieth Century," Cardinal, 1990-91. Contributor to periodicals, including London Times, Scotsman, Spectator, New Statesman, Listener, London Review of Books, History Today, Political Quarterly, Sunday Telegraph, British Journalism Review, and Times Literary Supplement.
John Campbell is a British historian and political biographer. In Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness, Campbell examines the period of the British statesman's life from 1922 to 1931. Although Lloyd George never held public office after his premiership ended in 1922, Campbell maintains that the balance of the politician's career was nearly as influential and important as his time in office. Philip Terzian noted in the New Republic that Lloyd George's political life suggests that "power and policy … do not always reside in office," for by allying himself with John Keynes and others whose economic ideas spelled the best plan for postwar recovery, Lloyd George "was the one politician continually on the minds of his successors, the permanent Opposition." Terzian praised Lloyd George as "a novel interpretation of an underrated chapter in [the politician's] life."
Expressing a similar view, David Marquand wrote in the Times Literary Supplement that Campbell's "mordant and thought-provoking study … paints a vivid and sympathetic picture of the greatest British politician of the century at a stage in his career which has often been viewed with less sympathy than it deserves." Spectator reviewer John Grigg commented that Campbell's biography "does justice to Lloyd George's achievements during a period which has tended to be written off as merely the first stage of his long and melancholy twilight." "Conviction, talent and temperament alike more or less ensured that [Lloyd George] would spend the rest of his life in the wilderness," added Grigg. "And the loss to Great Britain is still incalculable. No praise can be too high for this book. It is equally good in its analysis of events and in its description and assessment of human beings."
In Nye Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism, Campbell analyzes Aneurin "Nye" Bevan's career and its political significance. "For the price of one," stated New York Times Book Review contributor Kenneth Harris, "the purchaser of this excellent book gets three: a much needed biography of one of the most gifted and flawed political leaders in twentieth-century British history; an authoritative account of the British Labor Party between 1929 and 1960; and a well-informed answer to the question, ‘What has happened to British socialism?’" Bevan is the only brilliant figure that the Labor movement has produced, contended John Grigg in the London Times, adding that "his aim was always power, and when he had the chance to exercise it alas, for only six years, between 1945 and 1951 he was in many ways strikingly flexible and pragmatic." As Minister of Health in the Clement Atlee government, Bevan established the National Health Service. He resigned in 1951 and was considered by many to be a possible party leader. However, according to Harris, Campbell shows that because British society had changed so much by 1959, Bevan's socialism, which belonged to the 1920s and 1930s, was no longer acceptable to the majority of the Labor Party. Bevan died the following year. "It is, in one respect, an incomplete biography. Campbell does not delve into the private life of Bevan, and that is a pity," concluded London Times contributor Tim Jones, adding that "as it is, he has produced a biography of the highest quality and scholarship. For anyone seeking to understand the modern Labour Party it is essential, fascinating reading."
In If Love Were All …: The Story of Frances Stevenson and David Lloyd George, Campbell examines the tempestuous thirty-year relationship between the British politician and his much younger private secretary and mistress who later became his wife. The author "breaks new ground in this thorough, fair-minded and highly accomplished new biography," noted History Today contributor Robert Pearce, "especially by returning to the original diaries of Frances Stevenson, A.J. Sylvester, Lord Riddell and Maurice Hankey, instead of relying on expurgated published versions." "Campbell's pacily written book is tantalizing," remarked Chris Bryant in the Independent, adding that If Love Were All … "reminds us that public respectability is no more than veneer."
Campbell once told CA: "I am an academic historian who tries to make a living by writing good but readable history trying with difficulty to bridge the gulf between the serious and the popular. But I am primarily a writer; history just happens to be my subject partly by aptitude, partly by accident, partly because biography is the only sort of history that sells."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Review, summer, 2007, review of If Love Were All …: The Story of Frances Stevenson and David Lloyd George, p. 257.
History Today, August, 2006, Robert Pearce, review of If Love Were All …, p. 63.
Independent, June 16, 2006, Chris Bryant, "Power and Its Passions," review of If Love Were All ….
Listener, May 26, 1983, review of Roy Jenkins: A Biography, p. 20.
London Review of Books, January 25, 2007, Susan Pedersen, "In the Front Row," review of If Love Were All ….
New Republic, November 26, 1977, Philip Terzian, review of Lloyd George: The Goat in the Wilderness.
New Statesman, June 24, 1977, review of Lloyd George, p. 861.
New York Times Book Review, September 13, 1987, Kenneth Harris, review of Aneurin Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism.
Observer (London, England), June 19, 1977, review of Lloyd George, p. 28; May 29, 1983, review of Roy Jenkins, p. 31; December 11, 1983, review of F.E. Smith, First Earl of Birkenhead, p. 33; June 4, 2006, Hilary Spurling, "The Courtesan's Tale," review of If Love Were All ….
Spectator, June 11, 1977, John Grigg, review of Lloyd George.
Times (London, England), March 26, 1987, John Grigg, review of Nye Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism; October 22, 1988, Tim Jones, review of Nye Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism.
Times Literary Supplement, October 27, 1978, David Marquand, review of Lloyd George; April 24, 1987, review of Nye Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism, p. 417.
Washington Post Book World, August 9, 1987, review of Aneurin Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism, p. 11.