Lord Woolton: A life of 'social work' and humanitarianism

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Between 1943 and 1963, Frederick James Marquis, Lord Woolton, was the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the British Red Cross Society (BRCS) and held key roles in the International Red Cross Movement in the aftermath of war. This article examines how the Director of a department store chain, Lewis’s, who became a member of the Conservative Party’s Cabinet in 1951, was the chair of the BRCS at such a key time in its history – the reframing of the charity after the Second World War and the launch of the National Health Service. Woolton not only had experience in retail but also in social work in Manchester and Liverpool, in roles supporting the governments in both wars, famously as Minister of Food during the Second World War, and latterly in party politics. This research takes a biographical approach, utilising Woolton’s memoir and his personal papers at the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, together with Red Cross archives, to explore how Woolton contextualised his career through his background in social work, constructing a humanitarian narrative in his memoir.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-428
Number of pages24
JournalCultural and Social History
Issue number3
Early online date29 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2023


  • Lord Woolton
  • Red Cross
  • Conservative Party
  • social work
  • life-writing


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