Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Eden, Sir Robert Anthony (First Earl of Avon) (1897–1977)

British politician and foreign secretary who served as a cabinet minister during World War II. Born in Windlestone, England, on 12 June 1897, Eden served in France during World War I, rising to brigade-major, and then took a degree in Oriental languages at Cambridge. He entered Parliament in 1924 and became Stanley Baldwin's foreign secretary at age 38 in December 1935. A staunch supporter of the League of Nations, Eden resigned in February 1938 in disagreement over Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Benito Mussolini's policies.

With the outbreak of war, Eden returned to Chamberlain's cabinet as Dominions secretary (3 September 1939) and helped to develop the Empire Air Training Scheme that trained thousands of pilots and aircrew in Canada and Africa. When Winston L. S. Churchill became prime minister, he named Eden war minister (10 May 1940); shortly thereafter came the disastrous British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and its Dunkerque evacuation, as well as British setbacks in the Middle East.

Eden again became foreign secretary (on 23 December 1940) and attended virtually all the Allied wartime conferences. Patient and urbane, he was a superior diplomat who effectively represented British interests to the other Allies—especially the often difficult Charles de Gaulle, whose Free French cause Eden often defended. Churchill appointed Eden leader of the House of Commons in November 1942, a role he played well but at a cost to his health. Churchill also named Eden, by now part of his inner circle, as his designated successor in the event of his own death. Eden worked hard on the formation of the United Nations, and he left office only when the Labour Party won the British elections (27 July 1945). However, he retained his own seat in the House of Commons

Eden served a third time as foreign secretary in Churchill's second government (1951–1955) but never fully recovered from abdominal surgery in 1953. He was knighted in 1954, and on Churchill's retirement, he served as prime minister (6 April 1955–9 January 1957), resigning after the mishandled Suez Crisis. He was made the earl of Avon in 1961 and died on 14 January 1977, in Alvediston, England.

Christopher H. Sterling


Further Reading
Aster, Sidney. Anthony Eden. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1976.; Barker, Elizabeth. Churchill and Eden at War. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1978.; Carlton, David. Anthony Eden: A Biography. London: Allen Lane, 1981.; Dutton, David. Anthony Eden: A Life and Reputation. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.; Eden, Anthony. Full Circle: The Memoirs of Sir Anthony Eden. London: Cassell, 1960.; Eden, Anthony. Facing the Dictators: The Memoirs of Sir Anthony Eden. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962.; Eden, Anthony. The Reckoning: The Memoirs of Sir Anthony Eden. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965.; James, Robert Rhodes. Anthony Eden: A Biography. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986.; Thorpe, D. R. Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden, First Earl of Avon, 1897–1977. London: Chatto and Windus, 2003.
 

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