BRITTAIN, Sir Harry Ernest, 1873-1974, Knight, MP and journalist

Scope and Content

This collection consists mainly of correspondence received by Harry Brittain. There are also autobiographical notes; speeches, press cuttings and photographs from such events and societies as the Imperial Press Conference (later Commonwealth Press Union), the Pilgrim Society, and various Exhibitions; and correspondence, notes, speeches and diaries relating to Sir Harry's travels to the United States of America, Canada, the Baltic, and South Africa.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Henry (Harry) Ernest Brittain, 1873-1974, was educated at Repton and Worcester College, Oxford, where he obtained at BA and an MA in law. He was called to the Bar in 1897 but only practiced for a week before retiring from law in favour of business and journalism. He worked on the staff of both the Standard and the Evening Standard , was secretary to Sir C Arthur Pearson, owner of the Evening Standard , and also worked with him in the formation of the Tariff Reform League and the creation of the tariff community. Sir Harry became Director of numerous daily and weekly newspapers and other business concerns. He was president of the British International Association of Journalists 1920-1922, Patron of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists from 1925, and was the originator and organiser of the first Imperial Press Conference, 1932.
He was always keen to build links with America. During World War One, when he was the British representative on the American Citizens Emergency Committee, 1914, serving on special mission throughout the USA, 1915, on the staff of General Lloyd as captain of the London Volunteer Regiment, 1916, as Director of Intelligence National Service Department, and as the founder and Chairman of the American officers club in London, 1917-1919. After the war he was the originator and honourary life member of the Association of American Correspondents in London, 1919 and the president of the Anglo-American delegation to Holland for the celebration of the Pilgrim Fathers tercentenary, 1920. He was a member of the Anglo-American Brains Trust, 1942-1944 and was awarded the Silver Medal of Merit and Diploma by the Poor Richard Club of Philadelphia for his lifelong services to Anglo-American fellowship and understanding in 1958.
Sir Harry Brittain was also a Conservative MP for Acton 1918-1929. As an MP he was a members of the executive of the Empire Parliamentary Association, 1919-1929 and a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, from 1929. He was also committed to the protection of British birds, and steered the Brittain Act for the protection of British birds through Parliament in 1925. Amongst his other honours, he was created KBE for public services in 1918, and CMG in 1924.


At present there is only a box list so that there is no particular arrangement, but the correspondence is grouped alphabetically.

Access Information

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Other Finding Aids

No handlist, but online catalogue available.

Archivist's Note

Output from CAIRS using template 14 and checked by hand on February 1, 2002

Separated Material

Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts holds correspondence of Brittain with A L Goodhart, 1945-1974 (Ref : MS Eng c 2882); British Library, Manuscript Collections, holds correspondence of Brittain with Lord Northcliffe, 1908-1920 (Ref: Add MS 62166).

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is held by the family.