Peter Ritchie Calder

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The Lord Ritchie-Calder

Member of the House of Lords
In office
5 July 1966 – 31 January 1982
Personal details
Peter Ritchie Calder

(1906-07-01)1 July 1906
Forfar, Angus, Scotland
Died31 January 1982(1982-01-31) (aged 75)
Edinburgh, Scotland
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Mabel Jane Forbes McKail
(m. 1927)
Children5, including Nigel Calder and Angus Calder
RelativesSimon Calder (grandson)
  • Author
  • journalist
  • academic

Peter Ritchie Calder, Baron Ritchie-Calder, CBE (1 July 1906 – 31 January 1982) was a Scottish socialist author, journalist and academic.

Early life[edit]

Peter Ritchie Calder was born on 1 July 1906 in Forfar, Angus, Scotland.


Calder first worked as a journalist in Dundee and Glasgow, where he became noted as a socialist and peace activist; as Science Editor of the News Chronicle, he wrote under the name of 'Ritchie Calder'.

After moving to London before World War II, he accepted an appointment as the Director of Plans and Campaigns at the Political Warfare Executive branch of the Government, which was responsible for the allied war propaganda effort. He wrote propaganda posters and leaflets and speeches for allied leaders. He was a member of the 1941 Committee, a group of liberal politicians, writers and other people of influence in the United Kingdom. In 1941 he became popular with his book Carry on London, which described the effects of the German bombardment of London, Coventry and other cities in Great Britain.

After the war Calder returned to his former activities as a writer and specialised in internationalism, the peace movement and in the public understanding of science. He worked also with the United Nations and was President of the National Peace Council and of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He also worked for the News Chronicle newspaper as Science Editor.

Sir Lawrence Bragg's original announcement of the discovery of the structure of DNA was made at a Solvay conference on proteins in Belgium on 8 April 1953 but went unreported by the UK press. He then gave a talk at Guy's Hospital Medical School in London on Thursday 14 May 1953, which resulted in an article by Ritchie Calder in the News Chronicle of London on Friday 15 May 1953, entitled "Why You Are You. Nearer Secret of Life".

Calder was an ardent peace activist and humanist. In 1955, Calder recorded and released an album on Folkways Records entitled, Science in Our Lives. In 1980 he was one of the signatories of A Secular Humanist Declaration, a statement of belief in democratic secular humanism, issued by the Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism ("CODESH"), now the Council for Secular Humanism ("CSH"). He was also one of the signers of the Humanist Manifesto.[1]

He also taught International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, from 1961 to 1967. He was created a life peer as Baron Ritchie-Calder, of Balmashanner in the Royal Burgh of Forfar on 5 July 1966,[2] and received the 1960 Kalinga prize.

Personal life[edit]

Lord Ritchie-Calder and his wife Mabel Jane Forbes McKail had five children: science writer Nigel Calder (1931-2014); writer and historian Angus Calder (1942-2008); mathematician Allan Calder; educationist Isla Calder (1946-2000) and teacher Fiona Rudd (née Calder). He was also the grandfather of travel writer Simon Calder and the actor, writer and comedienne Gowan Calder.


Calder died on 31 January 1982, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

See also[edit]


  • Trevor I. Williams, ‘Calder, Peter Ritchie, Baron Ritchie-Calder (1906–1982)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2012 accessed 17 July 2013
  • Author and Bookinfo,Com


  1. ^ "Humanist Manifesto II". American Humanist Association. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  2. ^ "No. 44048". The London Gazette. 8 July 1966. p. 7719.

External links[edit]