Edgar Lansbury (politician)

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Edgar Isaac Lansbury (3 April 1887 – 28 May 1935) was a British socialist politician.

Life and career[edit]

Lansbury was the son of Elizabeth (née Brine) and Labour Party politician George Lansbury. He grew up in Poplar in the East End of London, and joined the Civil Service at a young age. In 1910 he left to set up with his brother as timber merchants.[1]

Lansbury was elected to Poplar council in 1912, serving alongside his father. He represented both the Labour Party and (after its foundation in 1920) the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).[1] Later in 1912 he worked on his father's campaign for Parliamentary re-election, after resignation over the issue, on a radical platform of women's suffrage at the Bow and Bromley by-election.[2] He also supported Sylvia Pankhurst's East London Federation of Suffragettes, serving as Honorary Treasurer in 1915.[3]

In 1917 he became liable to call-up for military service, and an initial application for exemption as a conscientious objector was refused, but the refusal was overturned by the London County Military Service Appeal Tribunal.[4]

In 1921 Lansbury was one of 30 Poplar councillors to be jailed as a result of the Poplar Rates Rebellion,[1] while in 1924 he was elected as a substitute member of the CPGB's Central Committee.[1] After his first wife Minnie Lansbury died in 1922, he married actress Moyna Macgill and the two moved to Regent's Park. From 1924 to 1925 he served as Mayor of Poplar,[1] the country's second Communist mayor after Joe Vaughan. He left the council in 1925,[1] the same year that his first child was born, future actress Angela Lansbury. Subsequent twin sons, Bruce and Edgar, Jr., later became prominent film and TV producers.

In 1927 Lansbury's timber firm was declared bankrupt.[5] In 1934 Lansbury wrote George Lansbury, My Father. In the work he inadvertently quoted from confidential documents his father had allowed him to see. He was found to have contravened section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911, and fined; his book was recalled in order for the text to be censored.[6][7] He died of stomach cancer in 1935.[citation needed]

Publications by Lansbury[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Michael Walker, "Edgar Lansbury", Compendium of Communist Biography
  2. ^ John Shepherd, A Life on the Left : George Lansbury (1859—1940) : a Case Study in Recent Labour Biography Archived 2008-07-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Elizabeth Crawford, The women's suffrage movement: a reference guide, 1866-1928, p.185
  4. ^ Julia Bush, Behind the Lines,1984
  5. ^ "Mr. Edgar Lansbury's "Extravagance"", Manchester Guardian, 20 December 1927
  6. ^ "Mr. Edgar Lansbury", Manchester Guardian, 29 May 1935.
  7. ^ Clive Ponting, The Right to Know: The Inside Stoy of the Belgrano Affair, Sphere Books, 1985


Party political offices
Preceded by
Evelina Haverfield
Honorary Treasurer of the East London Federation of Suffragettes
Succeeded by
Norah Smyth