On the Fringes of Diplomacy

Influences on British Foreign Policy, 1800–1945

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  • Edited by John Fisher, University of the West of England, UK and Antony Best, London School of Economics, UK
  • In recent decades the study of British foreign policy and diplomacy has broadened in focus. No longer is it enough for historians to look at the actions of the elite figures - diplomats and foreign secretaries - in isolation; increasingly the role of their advisers and subordinates, and those on the fringes of the diplomatic world, is recognised as having exerted critical influence on key decisions and policies. This volume gives further impetus to this revelation, honing in on the fringes of British diplomacy through a selection of case studies of individuals who were able to influence policy. By contextualising each study, the volume explores the wider circles in which these individuals moved, exploring the broader issues affecting the processes of foreign policy. Not the least of these is the issue of official mindsets and of networks of influence in Britain and overseas, inculcated, for example, in the leading public schools, at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and in gentlemen's clubs in London's West End.

    As such the volume contributes to the growing literature on human agency as well as mentalité studies in the history of international relations. Moreover it also highlights related themes which have been insufficiently studied by international historians, for example, the influence that outside groups such as missionaries and the press had on the shaping of foreign policy and the role that strategy, intelligence and the experience of war played in the diplomatic process. Through such an approach the workings of British diplomacy during the high-tide of empire is revealed in new and intriguing ways.
  • Contents: Introduction; The invisible politician: Mary Derby and the Eastern crisis, John Charmley and Jennifer Davey; Diplomacy and the Fourth Estate: the role of the press in British foreign policy in then age of Palmerston, David Brown; 'He interviews the ambassadors': Alfred de Rothschild, high finance, and high politics in Victorian and Edwardian Britain, T.G. Otte; Services rendered: Arminius Vambéry and British diplomacy, Keith Hamilton; The double agent's tale: Vincent Kraft and Anglo-Japanese relations, 1915–1918, Antony Best; Writers, the clergy, and the 'diplomatisation' of culture: sub-structures of Anglo-American diplomacy, 1820–1914, Melanie Hall and Erik Goldstein; 'An eagle whose wings are not always easy to clip': Walter Burton Harris, John Fisher; Gunboats, independence movements and war: three incidents involving missionaries on the fringes of diplomacy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Hamish Ion; The cultural diplomacy of Sir James Rennell Rodd, Saho Matsumoto-Best; Diplomatic light and shade: Sir Eric Phipps and Anglo-French Relations 1922–1928, Gaynor Johnson; 'An excellent conning-tower': John Buchan on the fringes of diplomacy, Keith Neilson; 'Miserably kept running in low gear': Lord Lloyd at the periphery of politics and diplomacy, 1930–1940, Louise Atherton; Index.
  • About the Editor: Dr Antony Best, London School of Economics, UK and Dr John Fisher, University of the West of England, UK.
  • Reviews: '[This book] combines thorough research with an eye for the quirky. It has historic understanding with vivid descriptions of important personalities who influenced British foreign policy during the period.'
    Asian Affairs

    '… reveal[s] the hidden forces behind British foreign policy in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and examine the false impressions that have occurred. … deserve[s] to be read widely …'
    Victorian Studies