The Cliveden Set were a 1930s, upper class group of prominent individuals politically influential in pre-World War II Britain, who were in the circle of Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor. The name comes from Cliveden, the stately home in Buckinghamshire, which was then Astor's country residence.
The "Cliveden Set" tag was coined by Claud Cockburn in his journalism for the Communist newspaper The Week. It has long been widely accepted that this aristocratic Germanophile social network was in favour of friendly relations with Germany. John L. Spivak, writing in 1939, devotes a chapter to the Set. Norman Rose's 2000 account of the group proposes that, when gathered at Cliveden, it functioned more like a think-tank than a cabal. Ironically, according to Carroll Quigley, the Cliveden Set had been strongly anti-German before and during World War I.
The actual beliefs and influence of the Cliveden Set are matters of some dispute, though most historians[who?] of the period in the late 20th century came to consider the Cliveden Set allegations to be exaggerated. For instance, Christopher Sykes, in a sympathetic 1972 biography of Nancy Astor, argues that the entire story about the so-called Cliveden Set was an ideologically motivated fabrication by Claud Cockburn that came to be generally accepted by a public looking for scapegoats for British pre-war appeasement of Adolf Hitler. There are also academic arguments that while Cockburn's account may have not have been entirely accurate, his main allegations cannot be easily dismissed.
- Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor
- Geoffrey Dawson, editor of the London Times newspaper
- Philip Kerr (Lord Lothian), author and politician
- Edward Wood (Lord Halifax), politician
- William Montagu, 9th Duke of Manchester, politician
- Robert Brand
In season six episodes four and five of the 1960s sitcom Hogan's Heroes, the two-parter episode 'Lady Chitterly's Lover' involves a plot to negotiate England's surrender from a fictitious member of the Cliveden set, Sir Charles Chitterly.
- Secret Armies, (New York, Modern Age Books, 1939)
- A Reevaluation of Cockburn's Cliveden Set at userwww.sfsu.edu
- The Cliveden Set: Portrait of an Exclusive Fraternity, Norman Rose (2000)
- Nancy, the Life of Lady Astor, Christopher Sykes (London, Collins, 1972)
- "A Reevaluation of Cockburn's Cliveden Set", online academic essay, John Taylor, San Francisco State University (1999)
- The Hollow Men, Margaret George (1965)
- "Fighting Fire with Propaganda: Claud Cockburn’s The Week and the Anti-Nazi Intrigue that Produced the ‘Cliveden Set,’ 1932-1939," Ari Cushner, San Francisco State University (2007)
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