Guardian Newspaper European Foreign Correspondence

  • Reference
      GB 133 GDN/204-221
  • Dates of Creation
      Jan 1912-Dec 1939
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English unless otherwise stated. Some material in German
  • Physical Description
      Approx. 6280 items
  • Location
      Collection available at The John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

The European foreign correspondence series spans the period from January 1912 to December 1939 and consists predominantly of correspondence between the editor (or occasionally other members of staff) and the foreign correspondents based in various major European cities. It comprises over 6,000 items, including letters, telegrams, dispatches, confidential notes and memoranda, with some press cuttings and the occasional photograph. It covers the later period of the editorship of C.P. Scott (until 1929), his son, Edward Taylor Scott (until April 1932) and a significant period of the editorship of the first non-family member editor, W.P. Crozier. Amongst the correspondence of 1929 to 1932 are a number of unsigned missives, which may be from either Crozier or Scott. The bulk of the material emanates from the period of Crozier's editorship in the 1930s.

The archive contains correspondence with: Robert Dell, initially based in Paris, and later in Geneva, 1932-1939; Frederick Voigt in Berlin, 1921-1932, Paris, 1932-1933 and 1934, and London, 1934-1939; Alexander Werth in Paris 1931-1932, 1933-1939 and Berlin, 1933; Marcel Fodor, although actually having commenced work for the Guardian in the 1920s, is first represented here in Vienna 1932-1938, Prague 1938 and subsequently Zürich and the Hague; Charles Lambert in Berlin 1929, 1933-1939 and Stockholm, 1939. There are also some exchanges with Voigt's assistant, Swiss refugee Max Wolf, 1937-1939.

The correspondence charts the growth of the foreign correspondence from the appointment of Robert Dell in Paris in 1912 (when interest focused on the effect foreign affairs had on England) until the 1930s, when the correspondence reached its height under Crozier's editorship, with a network of foreign correspondents worldwide. Many of the items are confidential, being intended for the editor's private information, Crozier in particular being keen to keep abreast of the key issues in foreign issues and verify his sources.

The archive is a rich source of material for historians of the period; although the earlier sequence from 1912 to 1929 is somewhat sparse, that of the 1930s is extensive, providing in particular a detailed narrative of the events and political machinations in the period leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War, including the escalating Nazi terror, the Stalinist purge of the mid 1930s, and from 1936, the Spanish Civil War and its repercussions. Another of the archive's strengths is the detailed chronicling of the politics and events in the smaller and lesser-known (in England) central and eastern European states by the Vienna and Balkans correspondent in the lengthy memoranda he sent to Crozier.

The archive contains a great deal of information which did not make it into, or was never intended for the paper's columns, for reasons of confidentiality, diplomacy, or simply lack of space. In particular, there are a number of both original and copies of letters or accounts, many in German, from or about victims, or relatives of victims, of the Nazi persecution and the Stalinist purge in Russia, and whose identities had to be concealed for fear of reprisals.

The series ends in December 1939, a few months after the outbreak of war; the final batch of letters gives an insight into some of the difficulties faced by the editor and the correspondents as they try not only to communicate during the early stages of the conflict, but to try to find new and safe bases from which to work.

The correspondence also gives an insight into the status of the paper, the way in which the correspondents worked, their relationships with the editor and each other, and also with other papers and journalists. There are frequent references to other Manchester Guardian staff in both Manchester and London, to freelancers and to journalists of other papers, which should also be of interest to family historians. A brief glimpse into the commercial side of the paper can be viewed in the small run of correspondence between 1922 and 1925, dealing with advertising in the central European Weekly edition.

The series of foreign correspondence largely retains the chronological sequence in which it was acquired from the newspaper. Some foreign correspondence may also be found in other areas of the Guardian archive; the editorial correspondence may contain material relating to the staff correspondents and a number of the freelancers, whilst the private correspondence of W.P. Crozier may include some relevant material relating to Europe (see Related Material). Further information about the foreign service may be gleaned from contributors' lists, payment books, staff ledgers and address lists.

Administrative / Biographical History

The archive covers the later period of the editorship of C.P. Scott (until 1929), his son, Edward Taylor Scott (until April 1932) and a significant period of the editorship of the first non-family member editor, W.P. Crozier (from 1932), and contains communications with the staff correspondents based in Paris, Berlin, Vienna and Geneva, and later, London.

Before the First World War the Guardian's foreign service was somewhat irregular. Full-time staff correspondents were virtually unknown, as the service relied mainly on special contributors and freelancers. Examples of early correspondents and contributors include Morgan Philips Price, who contributed regularly on a staff basis from Russia from 1914, and William T. Goode, who was employed as correspondent for specific trips to Finland and Russia.

In 1912 Robert Dell, a 'very brilliant journalist,' was invited by C.P. Scott to write the occasional article as a correspondent in Paris, following an initial suggestion from his nephew, Arthur, about sometimes featuring letters from Paris in the paper. Dell, one-time editor of the Burlington Magazine, wrote for the Nation, and also worked as an art dealer and gallery director during the First World War. 'We don't need very much' wrote Scott, 'as the only point of view from which we can afford to deal with French politics is in their practical bearing upon English interests.'

After the war the Manchester Guardian began to build up a network of its own staff correspondents in key places, whilst continuing to use freelances, or 'stringers', as they were known, in the less critical areas. Besides Robert Dell in the immediate post war period, J.G. Hamilton (from 1919) reported from various locations, initially Berlin and later Paris (although the archive contains only references, rather than any actual correspondence with the latter). Other correspondents were recruited over the next decade, in particular, those whose names dominate the pages of the archive: Frederick Voigt, Marcel Fodor and Alexander Werth, who, as correspondent of the Glasgow Herald, often substituted for Dell from 1929.

Instrumental in this development of the foreign service was W.P. Crozier (1879-1944), who had been news editor since 1912, and who took a keen interest in foreign affairs. He was appointed overall editor following Edward Taylor Scott's premature death in 1932. It was under his aegis that the foreign correspondence developed, reaching a height in the 1930s when the paper earned a particular reputation for foreign news and in obtaining letters to the editor from significant foreign figures. Crozier's appointment as editor coincided with the rise of Hitler; recognising the threat this posed not only to Germany, but to Britain and the world, he was determined that the truth about the Nazi regime should be fully reported. The paper was hence in the forefront of the reporting of the atrocities of Nazi Germany.

Crozier maintained an ongoing dialogue with his correspondents. The purpose of the correspondence was to keep himself well-informed about the main European and world issues, as well as to verify sources; consequently, a number of these missives were confidential or private. At the same time this allowed him to personally supervise what was a team of often independent-minded individuals.

Frederick Voigt (1892-1957), formerly employed as a schoolmaster, was recruited in late 1920 for Berlin, where he remained until his reporting of the Nazi terror necessitated his move to Paris in 1932. Described by Crozier as 'the most serious opponent of Nazi Germany in the English press', and narrowly avoiding a German assassination attempt at his Paris flat in 1933, he was moved permanently to London for his safety in 1934, where he became the paper's first diplomatic correspondent, using his network of contacts to gather information, assisted by Swiss refugee, Max Wolf. Hungarian-born Marcel Fodor (1890-1977), multi-lingual, and an engineer by training, commenced his journalistic association with the Manchester Guardian in 1919, being appointed correspondent for Austria and the Balkans in 1923; he remained in Vienna until forced to flee the German advance in the Anschluss of March 1938, subsequently reporting from Prague, Zürich and the Hague. Russian-born Alexander Werth (1901-1969), originally correspondent for the Glasgow Herald, substituted for Dell in Paris before being taken on as correspondent for Berlin in 1933, and subsequently Paris, where he remained from 1933 to 1939. Charles Lambert, previously a sub-editor in Manchester, was in Berlin from 1929 to 1931 and again from late 1933 to 1939.

Robert Dell (1865-1940) was expelled from France in 1918 for revealing secret information about the Emperor of Austria's peace overtures to France, but returned in 1924, re-joining the paper in 1929 as Paris correspondent. As Geneva was busy, being headquarters of the League of Nations and the venue of various international conferences, he removed from Paris to Geneva as resident correspondent in 1932, where he remained until retirement in 1939.

The correspondents made frequent journeys into countries other than the ones in which they were based, including eastern Europe and the Balkans, Turkey, the Baltic States and even north Africa (Morocco, Tunis and Algiers). Both Voigt and Werth visited Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

Although this particular correspondence deals mainly with the above personnel, the Manchester Guardian had correspondents and contacts in other areas as the developing political situation demanded, and who are sometimes referred to in these missives. Cecil Sprigge enjoyed a spell in Rome as staff correspondent, from 1923 to 1929 and Berlin in 1929. Arthur Ransome, William H. Chamberlin and Malcolm Muggeridge featured amongst the Moscow correspondents, the latter at the height of the Stalinist period. Elizabeth Wiskemann and Shiela Grant Duff operated on a freelance basis in the 1930s; many others were engaged, including Joel Cang in Warsaw, who wrote for the News Chronicle, and Julio Álvarez del Vayo in Madrid, who wrote for La Nación and other titles.

The Guardian enjoyed an international reputation, but its reporting of the truth about the situation in Germany did not endear it to the authorities; the paper was banned in Germany in 1933, and indefinitely in September 1936.


The European foreign correspondence series largely retains the chronological sequence in which it was acquired from the newspaper.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader, although there may be some closures of material containing personal data about living people.

Acquisition Information

The bulk of the archive was donated to the Library by the Guardian in 1971; there have been several subsequent accruals.

Archivist's Note

The term message has been used to indicate a range of communications, in particular messages telephoned or wired in from the correspondents; the term is also used by the correspondents to denote an article. Between 1929 and 1932 there are a number of unsigned copy letters to correspondents, which could have been issued by either W.P. Crozier or Edward Taylor Scott; where the context of the letter does not make it clear, these have been given the attribution of [W.P. Crozier?].

The following items are missing from the archive: 205/207; 212/84; 216/163.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The European foreign correspondence series is part of the larger Guardian archive, which was donated to the Library in 1971 by the Guardian newspaper; the arrangement of the material was imposed on the collection before the donation was made.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

Some foreign correspondence may also be found in other areas of the Guardian archive. In particular, the editorial correspondence may contain material relating to the staff correspondents; the 'A' and 'B' series contains files of correspondence with Robert Dell, 1931-1932 (A/D27/1-3), 1937-1941 (B/D79A/1-11); Frederick Voigt, 1920-1957 (B/V51A/1-181); Marcel Fodor, 1940 (B/F161A/1-15); Alexander Werth, 1930-1949 (B/W170/1-277); Charles Lambert, 1934-1942 (B/L16A/1-239); and Max Wolf, 1936-1947 (A/W68/1-80), 1940-1945 (B/W310/1-301).

Communications with other correspondents and freelancers may also be found in the above editorial series, including William T. Goode, 1918-1923 (A/G27/1-25); Morgan Phillips Price, 1913-1924 (A/P53/1-38); J.G. Hamilton, 1905-1929 (A/H17/1-24); W.H. Chamberlin, 1925 and 1927 (A/C36/1-6), 1937 (B/C82/2-5); Joel Cang, 1932-1951 (B/C23/1-177); Shiela Grant Duff, 1937-1946 (B/D135/1-31) and others.

The private correspondence of W.P. Crozier at GDN 145/30-44, although relating mainly to Palestine, may include some relevant European material. A separate collection of papers of W.P. Crozier contains accounts of interviews conducted by Crozier with statesmen, politicians and other notable figures, on subjects including European politics and the Nazi threat (WPC). Further information about the foreign service and correspondents may be gleaned from payment books, staff address lists and contributors' lists.

The Guardian archive in London holds a collection of the personal papers of W.P. Crozier, including some correspondence relating to European affairs leading up to the Second World War, and also a collection of correspondence between C.P. Scott and W.P. Crozier and Cecil Sprigge, foreign correspondent in Rome, 1923-1929.


David Ayerst, Guardian: Biography of a Newspaper (London: Collins, 1971). This official history is the standard study of the newspaper up to 1956.

Peter McNiven, 'The Guardian Archives in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester', Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 74 (1992), pp. 65-84.

Corporate Names

Geographical Names