Papers relating to the Manchester Guardian and the First World War

Scope and Content

This catalogue comprises letters exchanged with C.P. Scott regarding the Manchester Guardian’s reporting of the First World War and Scott’s own considerable political activities. Correspondents range from leading politicians to journalists, jurists, writers and diplomats, reflecting the extent of Scott's connections. This series includes considerable correspondence relating to the British Government’s wartime press censorship, the Liberal Cabinet’s various political crises, munitions and resource shortages, British impressions of German military strategies, and popular opinion across Europe (particularly in France and Germany).

Please note: The intellectual arrangement of this finding aid does not reflect the physical arrangement of the archive. All items in this series should be identified and ordered through the second reference given (e.g. GDN/333/151 not GDN/E/42].

Administrative / Biographical History

The Guardian is one of Britain's leading newspapers, with a longstanding reputation as a platform for Liberal opinion and debate, and an international online community of 30.4 million readers. Founded in Manchester in 1821, it was created by John Edward Taylor, a cotton manufacturer. In the wake of the Peterloo massacre, the paper was intended as a means of expressing Liberal opinion and advocating political reform. Over the next century, the paper, originally known as the Manchester Guardian, would be transformed from a small provincial journal into a paper of international relevance and renown. This transformation was largely owing to the leadership of C. P. Scott (1846-1932), who began work at the Manchester Guardian in 1871. He became editor of the paper in 1872, cementing the Liberal editorial philosophy of the paper, and ensuring a consistently high standard of journalism and journalistic integrity. He championed causes including women's suffrage, home rule for Ireland, and the establishment of a Jewish homeland. Scott stood out against Britain's policy in South Africa during the Boer war, and conscription during the First World War, supporting the formation of the League of Nations and negotiations for peace in Europe. He became the owner of the Manchester Guardian in 1907. In 1929, Scott retired, and was made a freeman of the city of Manchester in 1930. On his death in 1932, the Manchester Guardian's editorship was inherited by his son Edward Taylor Scott.

As a staunch opponent of the Boer War, Scott was often called upon by his contemporaries to speak out against the British Government's political agenda throughout the First World War. Although he heavily criticised many governmental policies, Scott usually declined invitations to voice anti-war rhetoric (either personally or through the Manchester Guardian), believing that public opinion must be angled in support of the war efforts; only after the conflict ended, Scott felt, would political negotiations between the warring countries be able to resume. Scott remained engaged with the tense political relations between Ireland and Westminster throughout the War, advocating for the reinstatement of the third Irish Home Rule Bill (passed in September 1914 but postponed by the Government at the outbreak of war; then repealed in 1920). Under Scott's editorship, the Manchester Guardian maintained a network of wartime correspondents around the world and became a leading war news outlet.


The arrangement of the material in the archive was imposed on the collection before it came to the University of Manchester. This is a subject-specific catalogue; its intellectual arrangement here does not reflect its physical arrangement in the archive. All items in this series are locatable through the general Manchester Guardian correspondence collection. The reference for purposes of retrieval and citation is the second reference code, mainly Guardian series GDN/333.

Researchers should request and cite items in this catalogue using the second reference in the catalogue description (e.g. GDN/333/100), not the "GDN/E" reference.

This catalogue has been arranged chronologically by year at sub-series level; it is arranged chronologically by date at item-level.

  • GDN/E/1 1914 Correspondence
  • GDN/E/2 1915 Correspondence
  • GDN/E/3 1916 Correspondence
  • GDN/E/4 1917 Correspondence
  • GDN/E/5 1918 Correspondence

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The Guardian Archive was given to the University of Manchester in 1971 by the Guardian Ltd, following the move of the Guardian's main editorial offices and production facilities to London in 1964. There have been several subsequent accruals.

Other Finding Aids

Two catalogues providing a list of the Guardian as a whole are available in PDF format from the Guardian page in the Library's Guide to Special Collections.

Archivist's Note

This catalogue was prepared by a University of Liverpool MARM placement student in January 2019.

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 correspondence was generated by C.P. Scott in his role as editor of the Manchester Guardian, and forms part of the Guardian Archive.


Accruals are not expected.


In compiling this finding aid, the following sources were used:

  • C.P. Scott, C.P. Scott: The Making of Modern Manchester (London: Frederick Muller Ltd, 1947)
  • William Haslam Mills, The Manchester Guardian: A Century of History (London: Forgotten Books, 2015)
  • David Ayerst, The Guardian Omnibus 1821-1971 (London, Collins, 1973)

Geographical Names