Kingsley Martin Archive

Scope and Content

As the longest-serving editor of the New Statesman, Kingsley Martin's papers are both an essential complement to the magazine's own archive (SxMs 60) and important in their own right as a record of the life and mind of a senior commentator. Reflecting Martin's interests as journalist, traveller, author, broadcaster and lecturer, they contain material relating to British domestic politics during the 1930s, to international affairs during and after the Second World War, and to the development of India after 1947. They are supplemented with interviews with Martin's contemporaries recorded by his biographer, C. H. Rolph (SxMs 55).

The form of the material includes personal papers (with a few papers from his parents, the Revd D. B. Martin and Olga Martin) and travel notebooks. Some documentation (notes, drafts, press cuttings) relates to Martin's journalist days, including his grounding at the Manchester Guardian and editorship of the New Statesman. One file details the early days of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND); Martin presided over CND's first meeting.

Martin's papers contain correspondence with many significant figures, though most represented by a few letters; the larger groups include H. N. Brailsford (23 letters), J. M. Keynes (130) and J. B. Priestley (25). Five files hold George Bernard Shaw-related material ranging from 1914 to 1946, principally Shaw's letters to the New Statesman and to others including Sidney and Beatrice Webb and Harold Laski. One further file pertains to H. G. Wells and includes Wells's letters to the New Statesman and essays written by Martin about Wells. Material on the Cold War includes cordial letters from Martin to Khrushchev.

Administrative / Biographical History

Basil Kingsley Martin (1897-1969) was born in Hereford in 1897 and schooled in the city, in South Africa and at Millfield. After serving in France (1917-18), he spent three years (1919-22) at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he developed his early interest in socialism. Fellowships at Princeton University (1922-23) and at Magdalene College (1924-25) allowed him to pursue research published in 1924 as The Triumph of Lord Palmerston, a study of Press manipulation of public opinion to make an unpopular war feel desirable among the masses. For three years (1924-27) he lectured on politics at the London School of Economics under the guidance of Harold Laski, and in 1927 helped to found The Political Quarterly, of which he became co-editor. Books on Laski and the General Strike brought him to the attention of C P Scott and for three years (1927-30) Martin wrote leading articles for Scott's Manchester Guardian. In 1931 he was appointed editor of the New Statesman and Nation, a position he occupied until 1960. During his prosperous editorship he employed many distinguished journalists, from H. N. Brailsford to R. H. S. Crossman, and in directing the affairs of the paper he was closely associated with J. M. Keynes, an old Cambridge associate. Both during his editorship and after his retirement in 1960 he travelled widely, wrote and lectured. Latterly he lived with his partner of many years, Dorothy Woodman, at Rodmell, near the University of Sussex, where he delivered some lectures.

Access Information

The collection is available to all researchers upon proof of identity and acceptance of the terms and conditions of use. Some items may be subject to DPA checks before access is given.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Dorothy Woodman in November 1969


Prepared by John Farrant, September 2002.

Other Finding Aids

An online catalogue is available on The Keep's website.

Conditions Governing Use

COPIES FOR PRIVATE STUDY: Subject to copyright, conditions imposed by owners and protecting the documents, digital copies can be made.

PUBLICATION: A reader wishing to publish material in the collection should contact the Head of Special Collections, in writing. The reader is responsible for obtaining permission to publish from the copyright owner.

Related Material

SxMs 60, New Statesman Archive

SxMs 55, C. H. Rolph Papers


The papers were used extensively by C. H. Rolph [Charles Rolph Hewitt] for Kingsley: The life, letters and diaries of Kingsley Martin (Gollancz, 1973).