Morley, John, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn

Morley, John, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn, 1838–1923, English statesman and man of letters. Educated at Oxford, he made his reputation as a journalist in London and served (1867–82) as editor of the liberal Fortnightly Review. He was elected to Parliament in 1883 as a strong supporter of William Gladstone. As chief secretary for Ireland (1886, 1892–95), Morley helped prepare the first and second Home Rule bills and cautiously modified the coercive laws for the preservation of peace. He lost his seat in Parliament in 1895 but regained it the following year. He was a vigorous opponent of the South African War, leading the “pro-Boer” wing of the Liberal party. As secretary of state for India (1905–10), he worked with the earl of Minto to produce the Morley-Minto reforms (1909). Raised to the peerage in 1908, Morley helped steer the Parliament Act of 1911 through the House of Lords. He was lord president of the council from 1910 until 1914, when he retired because of Great Britain's entry into World War I. One of the best biographers of his time, Morley wrote lives of Voltaire (1872), Rousseau (1873), Richard Cobden (1881), Robert Walpole (1889), Oliver Cromwell (1900), and Gladstone (1903; perhaps his best work). He was general editor of the “English Men of Letters” series, for which he wrote a life of Edmund Burke (1879). His political and critical writings include Critical Miscellanies (1871–77), On Compromise (1874), Diderot and the Encyclopedists (1878), Studies in Literature (1890), and On Politics (1914). His Recollections provide an explanation of his Victorian liberalism.

See F. W. Hirst, Early Life and Letters of John Morley (1927); biography by D. A. Hamer (1968); studies by E. Alexander (1972) and J. Van Arx (1985).

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