Papers of William Percival Crozier

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Letters and other papers accumulated and retained by WP Crozier and his family covering his career including his editorship of the Manchester Guardian. The collection also contains material concerning his literary works and commitments outside the Guardian.

The first file of the collection contains biographical material and focuses on documents relating to the first world war and Crozier's exemption from military service due to poor health.

The second file of the collection contains documents concerning Crozier's early career at the Guardian. It begins with documents detailing his initial appointment to the Guardian in 1903 after a brief spell working for The Times. At the Guardian Crozier began work for the sub-editors where his diverse range of interests helped him excel. The file includes correspondence with CP Scott who praises Crozier's work for the Guardian. At the end of 1912 Crozier became news editor (a new title at the Guardian). He was also instrumental in ensuring the Guardian kept pace with the changing face of journalism - introducing the women's pages and increasing the use of photographs within the paper. Crozier's responsibility on the Guardian increased with the outbreak of war in 1914. By 1921 he was made director of the company. Crozier had a massive influence on the production of the paper - he was involved in everything from introducing the crossword to presenting criminal trials. The file contains WP Crozier's correspondence with Arthur Ransome from the early 1920s concerning difficulties in gaining entry to Russia and reporting on events there. There is also a photograph of WP Crozier from the latter end of this period, 1931.

The collection is then divided into a series of files all relating to WP Crozier's editorship of the Guardian which began officially on the 6 May 1932 following the death of Ted Scott in a boating accident. The first file in this series contains documents relating to Crozier's appointment as editor. There is a file of Crozier's general correspondence with Guardian staff focusing on staff management and editorial duties. During his editorship Crozier further developed the reputation of the Guardian for reporting foreign events. This was increasingly important as conflicts in Europe were slowly building to the second world war. A file of correspondence with William Eames contains much comment about general world events and there is a file of correspondence with FA Voigt, the foreign and diplomatic correspondent, which discusses European affairs leading up to the outbreak of the second world war. There is a further file of correspondence with individuals external to the Guardian, many of which are either politicians or staff from other newspapers. Again comment can be found amongst these documents concerning the outbreak of war. Further files relating to Crozier's time as editor include photographs and prints of the period and the speeches he gave as a part of his editorial duties.

WP Crozier did not limit his writing to journalism and published two novels; the first, the 'Letters of Pontius Pilate' was published in 1928 and the second, 'The Fates are Laughing', was published posthumously in 1945. The collection contains a file of documents and correspondence relating to these novels and includes a review of his second novel written by George Orwell. Crozier also had many commitments outside the Guardian and the collection contains a series of files relating to these. One file contains documents and correspondence relating to WP Crozier's connection with the University of Manchester. He was a member of the Council, the Post-War Developments Committee and Chairman of the Athletics Committee at the university. The second file in this series contains an example of Crozier's freelance journalism. There is also a file containing documents relating to Crozier's other interests, including: the Liberal Party Convention Committee; the Historical Association of Manchester and the Reform Club in Manchester.

Towards the end of his twelve years in the editor's chair, Crozier began to have persistent heart problems. He was advised to rest but did not. The collection contains a series of files relating to Crozier's legacy. The first contains press cuttings from the Guardian and the Manchester Evening News. It includes leaders, tributes, messages of sympathy, and reports of the funeral. The second file is a large collection of correspondence to Mrs Crozier expressing sympathy at Crozier's death and the third file contains messages of condolence written to James Bone.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in Stanhope, Durham in 1879 Crozier was educated at the Manchester Grammar School and subsequently won a scholarship to Trinity College, Oxford - commencing 1898.

After leaving university, Crozier worked as a teacher for a year, before a brief spell at the Times newspaper. At the end of September 1903 he began working for the Guardian. Crozier began work for the sub-editors where his diverse range of interests helped him excel. He was particularly praised for his work on the Russo-Japanese war. At the end of 1912 Crozier became news editor for the paper. He was also instrumental in ensuring the newspaper kept pace with the changing face of journalism - introducing the women's pages and increasing the use of photographs within the paper.

Crozier's responsibility on the Guardian increased with the outbreak of war in 1914. By 1921 he was made director of the company. In April 1932 Crozier replaced E T Scott as editor. At the Guardian Crozier built up a team of foreign writers while he was a deputy editor, but under his editorial position the foreign department of the newspaper grew in reputation. This was increasingly important as conflicts in Europe were slowly building to the second world war. He often wrote articles himself with a powerful and concise style.

Crozier was known for appearing cold and sceptical, but was extremely passionate about liberal politics. He reflected his views within the Guardian, promoting the League of Nations and attacking Hitler's anti-semitic policies before it was popular to do so. Towards the end of his twelve years in the editors chair, Crozier began to have persistent heart problems. He was advised to rest but did not. He wrote his last leading article on the 14th April 1944.

Arrangement

Arranged by subject and then each subject is ordered chronologically.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Records may be viewed in our reading room by appointment only, see our website for more information.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Mary Crozier (daughter of WP Crozier) in 2001. Within the papers donated were some documents relating to Mary Crozier. This have been catalogued as a separate Mary Crozier collection.

Other Finding Aids

A full catalogue description for this collection can be found on the GNM Archive catalogue.