Charles Webster (historian)

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Sir Charles Kingsley Webster KCMG (25 July 1886 – August 1961) was a British historian and diplomat.

He was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, Crosby and King's College, Cambridge.


  • Professor of Modern History, Liverpool University, 1914–1922
  • Subaltern in the Royal Army Service Corps, 1915–1917
  • General Staff of the War Office, 1917–1918
  • Secretary, Military Section, British Delegation to the Conference of Paris, 1918–1919
  • Wilson Professor of International Politics, University of Wales, 1922–1932
  • Außerordentlicher (=Associate) Professor, University of Vienna, 1926
  • Nobel Lecturer, Oslo, 1926
  • Reader, University of Calcutta, India, 1927
  • Professor of History, Harvard University, USA, 1928–1932
  • Stevenson Professor of International History, London School of Economics and Political Science, 1932–1953
  • Foreign Research and Press Service, 1939–1941
  • Director, British School of Information, New York, 1941–1942
  • Foreign Office, 1943–1946
  • Member of British Delegation, Dumbarton Oaks and San Francisco Conferences, 1944–1945
  • Member, Preparatory Commission and General Assembly, United Nations, 1945–1946
  • Ford Lecturer, Oxford University, 1948
  • President, 1950–1954, and Foreign Secretary, 1955–1958, British Academy

While Professor of International Relations at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth he wrote his two major books on the foreign policy of Lord Castlereagh, the first (published in 1925) covering the period 1815–1822, the second (published in 1931) that from 1812–1815. In 1932 Webster moved to the newly established Stevenson chair of international relations at the London School of Economics (LSE).

During World War II, he worked extensively in the Foreign Office, especially in the United States, and was a leading supporter of the new United Nations, as he had been of the League of Nations. He attended the first meetings of both the General Assembly and the Security Council in January 1946 and the final meeting of the League of Nations in April. He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in the new year's honours list of 1946.

In 1948, Webster gave the Ford Lectures in the University of Oxford. In 1951, his biography of Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston was finally published. He was President of the British Academy in 1950. He was awarded honorary degrees from Oxford, Wales, Rome, and Williams College, Massachusetts, as well as an honorary fellowship at King's College, Cambridge. He retired from his chair at the LSE in 1953.


  • The Congress of Vienna, OUP, 1919 (Revd. ed. 1934) online
  • The European alliance, 1815–1825 (University of Calcutta, 1929)
  • The Congress of Vienna, 1814–1815 (Foreign Office Historical Section, London, 1919)
  • British diplomacy, 1813–1815 : select documents dealing with the reconstruction of Europe (1921); 409pp online
  • Editor of Britain and the independence of Latin America, 1812–1830 (Ibero-American Institute of Great Britain, London, 1938)
  • The art and practice of diplomacy (LSE, London, 1952) online edition
  • British Foreign Policy since the Second World War
  • The Congress of Vienna, 1814–15, and the Conference of Paris, 1919 (London, 1923)
  • The foreign policy of Castlereagh, 1815–1822 (G Bell and Sons, London, 1925)
  • The Foreign Policy of Palmerston, 1830-1841: Britain, the Liberal Movement, and the Eastern Question (1951) online edition of vol 2
  • The founder of the national home (Weizmann Science Press of Israel, 1955)
  • The League of Nations in theory and practice (Allen and Unwin, London, 1933)
  • The pacification of Europe, 1813–1815 (1922)
  • Palmerston, Metternich and the European system, 1830–1841 (Humphrey Milford, London, 1934)
  • Sanctions: the use of force in an international organisation (London, 1956)
  • Some problems of international organisation (University of Leeds, 1943)
  • What the world owes to President Wilson (League of Nations Union, London, 1930)
  • The strategic air offensive against Germany, 1939–1945 (HMSO, London, 1961), coauthor 3 vol official history
  • Editor of British diplomatic representatives, 1789–1852 (London, 1934)
  • Editor of Some letters of the Duke of Wellington to his brother, William Wellesley-Pole (London, 1948).


  • Fagg, John Edwin. "Sir Charles Webster 1886- " in S. William Helperin, ed., Some 20th century historians (1961) pp 171–200
  • Reynolds, P. A. and E. J. Hughes, The historian as diplomat: Charles Kingsley Webster and the United Nations, 1939–1946, (1976).

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