The Chamberlain Legacy


Charles Nettlefold

In this book, the author has sought to re-examine the reputations of the Chamberlains by concentrating as much on their personal lives and the motives that drove them as on the mighty political events that dominated their times. His conclusions may surprise the reader.





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Three great men. Three towering political figures. But what motivated and inspired them? The Chamberlain Legacy reveals the real men and women behind the public figures. Dining with Mussolini, gambling in casinos, passionate convictions, ‘masculine force to a superlative degree’… How did their personal lives and the political events of the time affect their policies, and what lessons can we learn from them today?

The Chamberlains were a dominant dynasty in British politics whose legacy lives on.

Joseph, as Mayor of Birmingham, had strong socialist ideals, yet is hailed by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May as her political hero.

Austen, as foreign secretary was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for fostering peace in Europe, befriended Mussolini, but later called for force to be used against Hitler’s mighty army.

Neville, as prime minister, appeased Hitler but was then blamed for Hitler’s surge in power, and suffered bitter political defeat himself.


Read Charles Nettlefold’s piece in Conservative Home, What May can learn from the Chamberlains

1 review for The Chamberlain Legacy

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    Gisela Stuart Labour MP Birmingham Edgbaston – Bartley Green, Harborne & Quinton: The Chamberlain Legacy is an accessible history of an extraordinary family that lived through and shaped a tumultuous period of British and world history. The Chamberlains were sometimes divisive and there were failures – e.g. the churches continue to have a significant influence on the education system. Charles Nettlefold, a descendant of Chamberlain’s business partner, has succeeded in telling the story of three big figures, but also putting it into the wider historic context.
    The Chamberlain legacy is everywhere in Birmingham, but the city is not as conscious of it as it ought to be. One of the few statues of Joe is in the House of Commons and not in Birmingham. But his legacy lives on – we have Birmingham University, our water still comes from Wales and we continue to grow orchids in the glass houses (Joe’s favourite pastime).
    If I had known before I stood for election that I – a woman, a socialist and born near Munich – was contesting Neville Chamberlain’s old seat I might have had second thoughts. It’s a tribute to the openness and diversity of the city that they elected me.

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    “With today’s Prime Minister citing Radical Joe as one of her political influences, this cross-generational examination of the Chamberlain dynasty by Charles Nettlefold is a must read for 2017.

    It was the success of the family firm, Nettlefold & Chamberlain, that gave Radical Joe the financial footing to first enter politics. Charles Nettlefold provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the three Chamberlains, father and sons, who did so much to shape politics in the 19th and early 20th century.”

    Caroline Squire (nee Chamberlain) Conservative Home

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