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Archive of (Richard Edward) Geoffrey Howe, Baron Howe of Aberavon


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The papers comprise: Diaries, 1947-2000; Correspondence, 1916-2000; Political working papers, 1867-2000; Articles and broadcasts, 1949-2000, n.d.; Speeches, 1949-2005, n.d.; Memoirs Conflict of Loyalty, 1977-1999, n.d.; Financial papers, 1931, 1956-1977; Personal papers, 1875-2004, n.d.; Photographs, 1908-2002, n.d.; Printed material, 1921-2004, n.d.; Miscellaneous papers, 1960-1998, n.d.; Audio visual, 1979-1992, n.d.


  • Creation: 1867-2005 1867-2005


72.71 Linear metres (661 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Some material is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Howe dep. 1, fols. 1-2).

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Howe dep. 1-661

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 6132, 6486, 11417, 1418


Archive of (Richard Edward) Geoffrey Howe, Baron Howe of Aberavon (1926-2015), politician.

Biographical / Historical

(Richard Edward) Geoffrey Howe was born 20 December 1926 at Port Talbot, Wales, the eldest son of (Benjamin) Edward Howe and his wife Lili (née Thomson). Geoffrey Howe was educated at Bryntirion School, Abberley Hall, Winchester College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Between 1945-8 Howe served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Signals. He was called to the Bar, Middle Temple, in 1952.

In the following year, 1953, he married Elspeth Shand (the future Baroness Howe of Idlicote). The couple have three children.

Howe was a founder member of the Conservative Bow Group and served as it is chairman in 1955. He was the managing director of the Bow Group's Crossbow, 1957-60, and its editor, 1960-2. Howe unsuccessfully contested the Aberavon parliamentary seat in the 1955 and 1959 General Elections before being elected Conservative MP for Bebington in the 1964 General Election. He held the seat for two years, losing it in the 1966 General Election.

At the 1970 General Election Howe returned to the House of Commons as MP for Reigate. He held the seat until the redrawing of the constituency boundary at the General Election of 1974. In 1974 he was returned as MP for Surrey East, a seat that he held until his retirement from the House of Commons in 1992. In 1970 Howe was knighted and appointed Solicitor-General in the Conservative government of Edward Heath. In 1972 Howe entered the Heath cabinet as Minister for Trade and Consumer Affairs.

Following the Conservative defeats in the February and October 1974 elections, Howe unsuccessfully contested the elections for the Conservative Party leadership in 1975. In the first round of the ballot Howe supported Edward Heath. Following Heath's resignation after the first ballot, Howe declared his own candidacy for the second ballot in which he came joint-third with James Prior. Howe was then appointed shadow chancellor by the new Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher.

Following the Conservative victory in the 1979 General Election, Howe was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. He went on to become the longest serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative governments. In 1983 Howe was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. In 1989 he was removed from the Foreign Office by Margaret Thatcher and appointed Lord President of the Council, Leader of the House of Commons and Deputy Prime Minister. On 1 November 1990, having become increasingly frustrated with Margaret Thatcher's position towards the European Community, Howe resigned from the government. His resignation speech to the House of Commons on 13 November, widely regarded as one of the outstanding political speeches of the second half of the twentieth century, triggered the chain of events which led to Margaret Thatcher's resignation as Prime Minister.

Howe entered the House of Lords, as a life peer, in 1992 with the title Baron Howe of Aberavon. Lord Howe continued to play an active political role, most notably in the areas of foreign policy, the European Community and economic and tax affairs. He published his political memoirs Conflict of Loyalty in 1994. He died on 9 October 2015.


Most material in each series is arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited by Lord Howe, Mar. 2000; Oct. 2006.

Catalogue of the archive of (Richard Edward) Geoffrey Howe, Baron Howe of Aberavon, 1867-2005
Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Elizabeth Turner, Elinor Robinson and Matthew Neely
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom