Sir John Brunner, the son of a Swiss schoolmaster who settled in England, was co-founder of Brunner, Mond and Company, one of the great English chemical firms of the nineteenth century and the predecessor of ICI. Always interested in politics, Brunner entered Parliament after his industrial activities had already won for him a reputation as the 'Chemical Croesus'. Unlike most wealthy men of his time, he was a staunch supporter of the Liberal Party and a patron of its Radical causes: Irish Home Rule, disestablishment, land reform, welfare legislation, and naval disarmament. He achieved prominence and wide influence in politics, though never Cabinet rank, and presided over the National Liberal Federation in the crucial years before and during the First World War. Although Brunner was a paternalistic employer opposing socialism, one of his last political gestures was his support of a Labour candidate in the 'coupon' election of 1918. Professor Koss' study is based on a wide range of research, including extensive use of letters and other papers in the possession of the Brunner family.
Table of Contents
1. A nonconformist youth; 2. Captain of industry; 3. Chamberlain man; 4. A brief and troubled Parliament; 5. The Northwich by-election, 1887; 6. Remember Mitchelstown; 7. The socialist challenge; 8. From Gladstone to Campbell-Bannerman; 9. Reaction and revival; 10. Peace, retrenchment and reform; 11. Keeper of the faith; 12. The death of a Liberal.