Between 1926 and 1931 Edward Wood, Lord Irwin – better known as Lord Halifax, foreign secretary at the time of the Munich Agreement of 1938 and the man who could have been prime minister instead of Winston Churchill in May 1940 – served as viceroy of India. Irwin had been a member of the Conservative Cabinet before Stanley Baldwin appointed him viceroy and was well connected outside politics too, as a friend of several members of the royal family and of such people as Geoffrey Dawson, editor of The Times. During his half-decade in New Delhi, where Sir Edwin Lutyens built a magnificent new viceregal palace for him, Irwin received a large number of letters from many of the most eminent Tory politicians of the day. The distinguished academic Stuart Ball has selected from and edited this correspondence with scholarship and skill to produce a fascinating insight into British politics at a time of acute economic and imperial crises.
The period during which these letters were written saw the General Strike, the Wall Street Crash, the start of the Great Depression, the Tory defeat in the 1929 general election and Ramsay MacDonald’s formation of the National Government and subsequent expulsion from the Labour Party. Meanwhile in New Delhi, Irwin