George Dangerfield

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George Dangerfield (28 October 1904 – 27 December 1986) was an English-American journalist, historian, and the literary editor of Vanity Fair from 1933 to 1935. He is known primarily for his book The Strange Death of Liberal England (1935), a classic study of the rapid decline of the Liberal Party in the United Kingdom before World War I.


George Bubb Dangerfield was born in Newbury, Berkshire and educated at Forest School, Walthamstow (then in Essex). His first memory, he wrote in his thirties, was "of being held up to a window and shown Halley's Comet" in 1910.[1] In 1927 he received his B.A. from Hertford College, Oxford. He moved to the United States in 1930, married Mary Lou Schott in 1941, and became an American citizen in 1943.[2]

His The Strange Death of Liberal England was not given much attention by academic historians when it first appeared in 1935, but has gained admirers over the years because of its lively style and trenchant analysis. It remains one of the best accounts of the failure of the Liberals to deal effectively with increasingly vehement demands from Ulster Unionists, industrial workers, and suffragettes. In 1941 Dangerfield published a work on the early life of Edward VII, Victoria's Heir: The Education of a Prince.[citation needed]

After serving in the United States Army with the 102nd Infantry Division during World War II,[3] he returned to the study of history and wrote The Era of Good Feelings (1952), which is about the period in American politics and culture between the presidencies of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. His book won the Bancroft Prize and the Pulitzer Prize.[4]

A Guggenheim Fellowship in 1970[5] allowed [clarification needed] Dangerfield to return to Europe for research. In the UK and in Ireland, he collected material for his last book, The Damnable Question: A Study of Anglo-Irish Relations, which was a finalist in 1976 for the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction.[6]


He died of leukemia in Santa Barbara, California, where he had taught for a few years at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was the father of two daughters, Mary Jo Lewis and Hilary Fabre, and a son, Anthony.[7]


  • "If the novel can go to history, history can go to the novel, at least to the extent of bringing a creative imagination to bear upon its characters.... History, which reconciles incompatibles, and balances probabilities, by its very nature eventually reaches the reality of fiction. And that is the highest reality of all."[8]
  • "When codes, when religions, when ideas cease to move forward, it is always in some shining illusion that an alarmed humanity attempts to take refuge." --The Strange Death of Liberal England, 343 (Stanford University Press ed., 1997)



  1. ^ "Author's Foreword", The Strange Death of Liberal England.
  2. ^ "George Dangerfield", The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Volume 2: 1986-1990. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999; ISBN 978-0-684-80619-8
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Pulitzer Prize Awards for 1953.
  5. ^ John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
  6. ^ General Nonfiction Finalists, National Book Critics Circle Award.
  7. ^ Obituary, New York Times, January 6, 1987
  8. ^ "George Dangerfield." The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Volume 2: 1986-1990. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.