Eden was a British Conservative politician who served as foreign secretary in three different decades and became prime minister in 1955. His premiership was overshadowed by the Suez Crisis and he resigned after little more than 18 months in office.
Anthony Eden was born the son of a baronet on 12 June 1897 in County Durham and received a typical Edwardian upper-class education at Eton and Oxford. After a distinguished military service record in World War One, he entered parliament as member of parliament for Warwick and Leamington in 1923. In 1935 he became foreign secretary at the extraordinarily early age of 38, although he resigned within three years, in protest at Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy towards Germany.
While he always had an awkward relationship with that other prominent anti-appeaser, Winston Churchill, the latter's elevation to the premiership in May 1940 restored Eden to the Foreign Office. In 1940 - 1945, and again in 1951 - 1955, Eden was not only Churchill's foreign secretary, but also his acknowledged and uncontested successor as leader of the Conservative Party. However, he grew resentful at Churchill's refusal to step down and by the time he finally succeeded Churchill in April 1955, he was already suffering from poor health.
He made a serious tactical mistake in colluding with France and Israel to use military force against General Abdel Nasser, after the Egyptian leader had nationalised the Suez canal in 1956. When America failed to support Britain's action, Eden was left to face the humiliating fact that Britain was no longer a world power, and he was obliged to withdraw British forces. Eden resigned in January 1957, his reputation in tatters. It was ironic that his greatest failure as premier should have come in the area of policy that he had excelled at over three decades - that of foreign affairs.
He lived quietly in retirement with his second wife Clarissa, who was Winston Churchill's niece. In 1961, Eden was created Earl Avon. He died on 14 January 1977.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.