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Stephen King-Hall

William Stephen Richard King-Hall, Baron King-Hall (21 January 1893 – 2 June 1966), was a British naval officer, writer, politician and playwright.[1][2]


The son of Admiral Sir George Fowler King-Hall and Olga Felicia Ker; theirs was an artistic naval family, King-Hall's sisters Magdalen and Lou also being writers. He married Kathleen Amelia Spencer (died 14 August 1950), daughter of Francis Spencer, on 15 April 1919 and they had three children, Ann, Frances Susan and Jane.

He was educated at Lausanne in Switzerland and at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. He fought in the First World War between 1914 and 1918, with the Grand Fleet, serving on HMS Southampton and 11th Submarine Flotilla. He gained the rank of commander in the service of the Royal Navy in 1928, before resigning in 1929. He wrote several plays between 1924 and 1940, including Posterity accepted by Leonard Woolf for the Hogarth Essays. He joined the Royal Institute of International Affairs in 1929, having previously been awarded their Gold Medal for his 1920 thesis on submarine warfare. He entered the House of Commons in 1939 as Member of Parliament (MP) for Ormskirk unopposed, standing as the National Labour candidate. He later changed his affiliation and continued to stand as an Independent, subsequently losing the seat to future Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the 1945 general election. During the Second World War, he served in the Ministry of Aircraft Production under Beaverbrook as Director of the Factory Defence Section.[3] In 1944 he founded and chaired the Hansard Society to promote parliamentary democracy. He presented a programme for children on current affairs on both BBC radio and television. He was invested as a Knight Bachelor in 1954 and was created Baron King-Hall, of Headley in the County of Hampshire (Life Peer) on 15 January 1966. He lived at Hartfield House, Headley until his death on 2 June 1966.


Political and Historical

  • A Naval Lieut, 1914–1918 [1]
  • Western Civilisation and the Far East, 1924 [1]
  • Imperial Defence [1]
  • The China of To-day [1]
  • The War at Sea, 1914–1918 [1]
  • Submarines in the Future of Naval Warfare, 1920. Thesis.
  • Our Own Times, 2 vols, 1935 [1]
  • London Newsletter (a.k.a. K-H Weekly News Letter Service, National News Letter), 1936. [1]
  • Total Victory, 1941 [1]
  • Britain's Third Chance, 1943 [1]
  • My Naval Life, 1952 [1]
  • History in Hansard (with Ann Dewar), 1952 [1]
  • The Communist Conspiracy, 1953 [1]
  • Defence in the Nuclear Age. Gollancz, London, 1958; Nyack, N.Y.: Fellowship, 1959. [1]
  • Common Sense in Defence, 1960 [1]
  • Men of Destiny, 1960 [1]
  • Our Times, 1900–1960, 1961 [1]
  • Power Politics in the Nuclear age. Gollancz, London, 1962. [1]
  • Diary of a U-Boat-Commander 1918, as "Etienne"[4]

In Defence in the Nuclear Age he advocated a British policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament and national defence involving some reliance on conventional military force. This was to be supplemented by "a defence system of non-violence against violence" - what is often called "defence by civil resistance" or "social defence".[5]

In Men of Destiny he criticised all sides for the creation of the Cold War and further promoted his aim of nuclear disarmament.

There have been several accounts and appraisals of his work advocating unilateral nuclear disarmament and defence by civil resistance.[6][7]


  • Letters to Hilary, 1928 [1]
  • Hilary Growing Up, 1929, E. Benn, London. [1]

The latter described by the author as building "upon the foundations laid down in its predecessor Letters to Hilary. This book is for children from twelve to ninety... a series of essays, or talks... on sociology."[8]


  • Moment of No Return, Ballantine Books (No. F543), New York, 1961. A Cold - War novel about tensions between the Soviet Bloc and the West.


  • Posterity, 1927
  • The Middle Watch, 1930
  • The Midshipmaid, 1932
  • Admirals All, 1935
  • Tropical Trouble, 1936
  • The Middle Watch, 1940
  • Carry on Admiral, 1957
  • Girls at Sea, 1958


  • BBC Children's Hour

See also


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007, accessed 17 Nov 2012. King-Hall
  2. Lundy, Darryl. "Sir William Stephen King-Hall, Baron King-Hall". 
  3. Edgerton, David (December 2005). Warfare State: Britain, 1920-1970. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 154. Digital object identifier:10.2277/0521672317. ISBN 978-0-521-67231-3. 
  5. Stephen King-Hall, Defence in the Nuclear Age, Gollancz, London, 1958; Nyack, N.Y.: Fellowship, 1959.
  6. Gene Keyes, "Strategic Nonviolent Defense: The Construct of an Option" (1981)
  7. Brian Martin, "Researching nonviolent action: past themes and future possibilities" (2005)
  8. WorldCat - Hilary Growing Up

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sam Tom Rosbotham
Member of Parliament for Ormskirk
Succeeded by
Harold Wilson

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