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New biography outlines life and career of remarkable politician

Published: 22 October 2007

A new biography of British politician Peter Thorneycroft is launched tomorrow (Tuesday 23 October 2007) at Portcullis House in Westminster, London.

Written by Stanley Crooks, the illustrated biography outlines the life and achievements of the Rt Hon the Lord Thorneycroft of Dunston CH, who was a member of a remarkable cohort of British politicians of all parties, active in Parliament during the six decades before and after the Second World War.

During his long political career, Peter Thorneycroft made an outstanding contribution to political and public life. As Chairman of the Tory Reform Committee, he formulated a set of political principles to guide the Conservative party in the post-War years. He applied and adapted those principles to the realities with which he had to deal in a succession of major offices of state: President of the Board of Trade; Chancellor of the Exchequer; Minister of Aviation; Minister of Defence, and Secretary of State for Defence. Finally, as a highly-respected elder statesman, he supported a younger generation of politicians, most notably Margaret Thatcher.

Stanley Crooks, the biography's author and a former Trustee of the Southampton University Development Trust, says: "Thorneycroft was a truly remarkable man and I believe that his story carries many messages relevant to the challenges which today face 21st century politicians of all parties."

The author, an engineer and manager, first met Peter Thorneycroft in 1967 when they were both newly appointed as Managing Director and Chairman respectively of Pirelli General, the British arm of the Pirelli Group's world-wide cable sector, of which Stanley Crooks later became CEO.

The two men remained close business colleagues for almost thirty years until Peter's death in 1994. It was her perception of the strong mutual respect and trust forged between them during that time which led Carla Thorneycroft, Peter's widow, to encourage Stanley Crooks to write this biography, an undertaking which, he says, was to occupy him and broaden his horizons in a most absorbing way, for three years.

All proceeds from the sale of the biography are being donated to the University of Southampton's Development Trust, which was established in 1986 to help advance the work of the University by raising philanthropic income to support its strategy and goals.

The University of Southampton has many links with Lord Thorneycroft. The Thorneycroft Papers are held in its archive collections in the Harley Library and the Thorneycroft Memorial Fund has funded a number of postgraduate PhD research students, Thorneycroft Scholars, in its politics department. Lord Thorneycroft also has local connections with Southampton: for twenty years he was Chairman of Pirelli General plc, which had factories in Southampton, Eastleigh and Bishopstoke and a chapter of the book looks in detail at his role at the company.

Notes for editors

  1. Digital copies of images featured in the biography are available from Media Relations on request.
  2. Hardback copies of Peter Thorneycroft by Stanley Crooks are available at £25.00 each plus £2.50 postage and packing from: Stanley Crooks, Thorneycroft Memorial Fund, Bournewood House, Bourne lane, Twyford, Winchester, SO21 1NX.
  3. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. It is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, offering first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering. The University has around 20,000 students and over 5000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £310 million.

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