W.P. Crozier's Confidential Foreign Affairs Correspondence

Scope and Content

This series comprises the confidential foreign affairs correspondence of W.P. Crozier. Many of the materials are bundles of correspondence and reports sent to Crozier by correspondents. Crozier collected these materials, adding his own notes and materials about the editorial and business affairs of the Manchester Guardian. Most of the materials are marked confidential or secret. Many have been translated from Hebrew and a small number are in French, German, and Hebrew.

The correspondence is largely concerned with the Zionist movement, particularly in Palestine. There are significant materials relating to the creation of Jewish settlements in Palestine, the efforts of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, and debates about the creation of a Jewish state. With the growing persecution of Jews under the Third Reich, a large portion of the correspondence concerns the refugee crisis of Jews who fled to Palestine and were interned in detention camps. There are also materials relating to the defence of Palestine during the Second World War, Jewish-Arab relations in Palestine, and the Middle East more broadly, including Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Egypt. Crozier's primary source of information regarding Palestine and the Middle East was Sir Lewis Bernstein Namier, a Jewish historian and long-time professor at the University of Manchester who frequently sent Crozier bundles of documents. The series also contains materials from Chaim Weizmann, another University of Manchester professor and Zionist who later became the first President of Israel, and Moshe Shertok [later Sharett], secretary of the Jewish Agency and later Prime Minister of Israel.

The series also contains materials regarding foreign affairs during the Second World War. There is correspondence concerning diplomatic and military action in Russia, Germany, France, Japan, the United States, and most of the countries involved in the war. Crozier's primary correspondents for foreign affairs were Charles Lambert, Alexander Werth, and Marcel Fodor. The series contains interviews with prominent figures such as Harold MacMichael, High Commissioner for Palestine, Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, Sir Winston Churchill, William Maxwell Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, Anthony Eden, David Lloyd George, and Walter Guiness, 1st Baron Moyne. There are also clippings from publications such as the Zionist Review and the New Statesman and Nation, including publications from South Africa and Palestine.

The remainder of the series concerns domestic affairs during the war, including air raid reports, home security reports, rationing, the evacuation of British children, and the wartime operations of the Manchester Guardian.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Percival Crozier was born on 1 August 1879 in Stanhope, County Durham, the son of a Methodist minister. After reading classics at Oxford and becoming a schoolmaster for a year, he became a journalist for the Times. After several months, he joined the Manchester Guardian in 1903. Crozier quickly impressed the newspaper's editor, C.P. Scott, who put him in charge of much of the newspaper's operations, including news gathering and reforming the foreign news service.

Under Crozier's leadership, the Manchester Guardian consolidated its reputation as a paper of national and international renown. His journalistic passion was foreign affairs and he maintained a global network of correspondents with whom he communicated nearly constantly throughout his career, exercising a remarkable degree of control over their work and every detail of the newspaper's publication. In addition to pioneering the paper's coverage of foreign affairs, Crozier reformed the paper's format, drastically increasing the use of maps and photographs. He was responsible for the introduction of a women's page in 1922 and a daily crossword in 1929.

After the premature death of C.P. Scott's son Ted in 1932, Crozier was made editor of the Manchester Guardian. The outbreak of the Second World War allowed him to expand the paper's coverage of foreign affairs. Crozier had been critical of Nazism since 1933, when Adolf Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany. A fervent Zionist and Biblical scholar, Crozier had a particular interest in the creation of a Jewish national home, Palestine, and the fate of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.

Crozier led the Manchester Guardian through the turbulent years of the war, offering incisive analysis of foreign affairs and continuing to write articles for the paper in addition to his editorial work. During this period, he navigated the paper through challenges such as wartime censorship, frequent air raids in Manchester, and paper rationing. He was renowned as a particularly meticulous editor, especially regarding grammar and the introduction of jargon and colloquial language into copy. Crozier regarded himself as the inheritor and protector of C.P. Scott's legacy of excellent journalism which was concise, correct, and clear.

In the final years of his life, Crozier was plagued by ill health. He continued working until his death on 16 April 1944.


The original order of the correspondence, which was based on numbering individual pieces in chronological order, has been maintained. In the original order, bundles of materials sent to Crozier from one source were separated and put in chronological order with the rest of the correspondence and his notes.

Each item is a file arranged chronologically. The items are as follows:

  • 145/30/1-145/38/44: [1930]-23 Apr 1938
  • 145/38/45-65: 25 Apr-23 May 1938
  • 145/38/66-84: 24 May-14 Jul 1938
  • 145/38/85-109: 26 Jul-31 Aug 1938
  • 145/38/110-134: 8 Sep-17 Nov 1938
  • 145/38/135-145/39/108: 14 Dec 1938-28 Dec 1939
  • 145/40/1-30: 1 Jan-4 Apr 1940
  • 145/40/31-114: 5 Apr-19 Jul 1940
  • 145/40/115-172: 22 Jul-16 Oct 1940
  • 145/40/173-293: 20 Oct-26 Nov 1940
  • 145/40/294-341: Nov-11 Dec 1940
  • 145/40/342-391: 11-31 Dec 1940
  • 145/41/1-100: 1 Jan-28 Feb 1941
  • 145/41/101-200: 28 Feb-23 Apr 1941
  • 145/41/201-300: 23 Apr-27 Jun 1941
  • 145/41/301-400: 29 Jun-11 Aug 1941
  • 145/41/401-499: 13 Aug-24 Sep 1941
  • 145/41/500-600: 24 Sep-27 Nov 1941
  • 145/41/601-676: 27 Nov-31 Dec 1941
  • 145/42/1-100: [1 Jan]-12 Feb 1942
  • 145/42/101-200: 13 Feb-27 Mar 1942
  • 145/42/201-300: 27 Mar-14 May 1942
  • 145/42/301-400: 15 May-8 Jul 1942
  • 145/42/401-500: 8 Jul-8 Oct 1942
  • 145/42/501-524: 11 Oct-23 Dec 1942
  • 145/43/1-61: 28 Jan-22 Dec 1943
  • 145/44/1-14: 10 Feb-20 Jun 1944

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection may include material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue for the Guardian Archive as a whole, including this series, is available on the University of Manchester Special Collections website here. There is also a collection-level description of the Guardian Archive available via ELGAR.

Separated Material

Later records of the Guardian from the late 1960s to the present are held at the Guardian News and Media Archive in London.

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.


Ayerst, D. Guardian: Biography of a Newspaper (London: Collins, 1971).

Morris, A.J.A. 'Crozier, William Percival (1879-1944)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/32651, accessed 12 Jan 2016]