His family moved from Helsinki, Finland, to London in 1919. His mother was Scottish Violet McHutchen and his father was Ossian Donner, who headed Finland's first diplomatic mission in London 1919 to 1925. The family later settled in England for good, and his father became a British citizen.
Donner studied English literature at Exeter College, Oxford and later entered business. He was elected at the 1931 election as Conservative MP for Islington West. The seat being marginal, Donner was selected for the safe Conservative seat of Basingstoke for the 1935 election against the wishes of Conservative Central Office, who preferred Sir Francis Oswald Lindley.The papers of Sir Henry Maxence Cavendish Drummond Wolff appear to indicate that Sir Oswald Mosley interviewed Donner to decide upon his suitability to serve as MP for the Basingstoke constituency, which had previously been held by two fascists, Drummond Wolff and Viscount Lymington.
In Parliament, Donner was active on British Empire and Indian policy, playing an important part in the India Defence League. He served in the Royal Air Force during World War II and was knighted in 1953. He served as Basingstoke's MP for 20 years, stepping down at the 1955 election.
Donner's memoirs, Crusade: A Life Against the Calamitous Twentieth Century, were released in 1984.
- EA Loveridge to Sir H Drummond Wolff 7/8/35- DW Papers (Hants Record Office) I/50 p. 148 "I met Sir P Donner yesterday and I understand he had a successful meeting with Tom Mosley"
- Martin Pugh, Hurrah for the Blackshirts! Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars, Pimlico, 2006, p. 279
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Islington West
1931 – 1935
Henry Maxence Cavendish Drummond Wolff
| Member of Parliament for Basingstoke
1935 – 1955