Philip Noel-Baker Biography

(British Politician, Diplomat, Academic, and Athlete Who Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1959)

Birthday: November 1, 1889 (Scorpio)

Born In: London, England

Philip Noel-Baker was a British politician and a renowned campaigner for disarmament. A dedicated pacifist, he passionately advocated international disarmament and tirelessly campaigned for 40 years to promote international peace. He was honored with the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1959 in recognition of his pacifist efforts. In addition to being a politician he was also an amateur athlete who carried the British team flag and won an Olympic silver medal at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp. The son of a Canadian-born Quaker, he was raised in an environment of religious observance and political activism, in England. His father was a politician, pacifist and humanitarian and the young Baker would soon follow in his footsteps. A brilliant student, he excelled in his studies at King’s College, Cambridge, and at the universities of Munich and Paris. Eventually he ventured into public service and held a succession of prestigious ministerial posts. A pacifist at heart, he actively campaigned for international peace and also wrote extensively on the subject. His book ‘The Arms Race: A Programme for World Disarmament’, published in 1958, won the Albert Schweitzer Book Prize. He also played a pivotal role in drafting the United Nations Charter.
Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In November

Also Known As: Philip John Baker, Philip John Noel-Baker, Baron Noel-Baker

Died At Age: 92

Nobel Peace Prize Political Leaders

Died on: October 8, 1982

place of death: London, England

City: London, England

Notable Alumni: King's College, Cambridge

More Facts

education: Haverford College, King's College, Cambridge

awards: Nobel Peace Prize

Childhood & Early Life
Philip Noel-Baker was born in Brondesbury Park, London, on 1 November 1889. His parents were Canadian-born Quaker father, Joseph Allen Baker and Scottish-born mother, Elizabeth Balmer Moscrip. He had six siblings.
His father served as a Progressive Party member of the London County Council and as Liberal Party member of the House of Commons for East Finsbury. He was also interested in humanitarian causes, an interest his son inherited.
Young Philip was a good student. He was educated at Ackworth School, Bootham School and then in the U.S. at the Quaker-associated Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He was also active in athletics.
He joined the King's College, Cambridge, in 1908, studying there until 1912. He was President of the Cambridge Union Society in 1912 and President of the Cambridge University Athletic Club from 1910 to 1912. He also studied for a brief time in Paris and Munich.
He ran in the Olympic Games held in Stockholm in 1912, participating in the 800 meters and 1500 meters, reaching the final of the 1500 meters, won by his fellow countryman Arnold Jackson.
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In 1914, he accepted the post of vice-principal of Ruskin College at Oxford. The World War I broke out the same year and he organized and became the commandant of the Friends' Ambulance Unit attached to the fighting front in France (1914-1915).
In 1920, he was captain of the British track team for the Summer Olympics in Antwerp and carried the flag. He won the silver medal in the 1,500 meters. He was again the captain for the 1924 Olympics at Paris.
Noel-Baker participated in the formation, the administration, and the legislative deliberations of the League of Nations and the United Nations. He served as the principal assistant to Lord Robert Cecil on the committee which drafted the League of Nations Covenant in 1918-1919.
The University of London invited him to become the first Sir Ernest Cassell Professor of International Law and he occupied this chair from 1924 to 1929. Drawing from his experience as a pacifist, he conducted research on the related issues and wrote and published ‘The Geneva Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes’ (1925), ‘The League of Nations at Work’ (1926), ‘Disarmament’ (1926), and ‘Disarmament and the Coolidge Conference’ (1927).
He was elected a member of the Labour Party's National Executive Committee, in 1937. Before the beginning of the World War II, he spoke at the House of Commons against aerial bombing of German cities based on moral grounds.
During the World War II, he was a parliamentary secretary at the Ministry of War Transport from February 1942 in the coalition government. He was made Secretary of State for Air, in October 1946, and then became Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, in 1947, and joined the cabinet.
In the post war period, he helped to draft the Charter of the United Nations at San Francisco and was appointed to membership on the British delegation, in 1946. He also served as Chairman of the Labour Party, in 1946–47.
In the 1950s he returned to his studies on disarmament and published ‘The Arms Race: A Programme for World Disarmament’ in 1958. From 1960 to 1982 he served as president of the International Council on Sport and Physical Recreation of UNESCO.
Meanwhile he also aided Fridtjof Nansenas as an adviser in his prisoner-of-war and refugee work, and was a member of the British delegation to the Assembly of the League from 1929 to 1931. He then spent a year as Dodge Lecturer in 1933-1934 at Yale University.
Major Works
Philip Noel-Baker was committed to pacifist ideals and campaigned widely for 40 years for peace through multilateral disarmament. He helped to draw up the United Nations Charter, and worked determinedly to prevent nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union after the World War II.
Awards & Achievements
Philip Noel-Baker received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1959 in recognition of his tireless campaigning for international disarmament.
His writing ‘The Arms Race: A Programme for World Disarmament’, a comprehensive, historical and analytical study, won the Albert Schweitzer Book Prize, in 1961.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1915 Philip Baker married Irene Noel, a field hospital nurse in East Grinstead, and adopted the hyphenated name Noel-Baker. The couple had one son, Francis.
The marriage was, however, not a happy one and Noel-Baker became involved in an affair with Megan Lloyd George in 1936 that lasted up to Irene’s death in 1956.
He lived a long life and died on 8 October 1982, in Westminster, London, at the age of 92..
This British politician is the only person to have won an Olympic medal and also received a Nobel Prize.

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