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Anthony Eden, 1st earl of Avon

Eden, Anthony, 1st earl of Avon (āˈvən) [key], 1897–1977, British statesman. After service in World War I he attended Oxford and entered (1923) Parliament as a Conservative. He soon made his mark as a champion of peace, internationalism, and the League of Nations and was made lord privy seal (1934–35) and "traveling ambassador." He served (1935) as British minister for League affairs and became foreign minister in 1935. He resigned in Feb., 1938, because of his opposition to Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement of the Axis powers, but at the beginning (1939) of World War II he was called back to the cabinet as secretary of state for dominion affairs. After Winston Churchill became (May, 1940) prime minister, Eden was briefly secretary of war before returning to the foreign office in Dec., 1940. He was instrumental in concluding the wartime Anglo-Soviet Alliance and in establishing the United Nations. He remained in Parliament under the Labour government of 1945–51, and with the Conservative victory of 1951 he returned once more to the foreign office. As chairman of the 1954 Geneva Conference, he helped to negotiate a temporary settlement of the conflict in Indochina. He was knighted in 1954 and became prime minister upon Churchill's resignation in 1955. Eden's decision to use armed intervention in the Suez Canal crisis of 1956 provoked great controversy. His health collapsed, and he resigned in Jan., 1957. He was raised to the peerage as earl of Avon in 1961.

See his three volumes of memoirs, Full Circle (1960), Facing the Dictators, 1923–1938 (1962), and The Reckoning (1965); study by G. McDermott (1969); biographies by R. R. James (1986) and D. Carlton (1981).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies


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