- Curzon, George Nathaniel, Marquess Curzon of Kedleston
- (1859–1925)Viceroy of India and British foreign secretary, Curzon was a younger son of an ancient Norman family, and always had a burning desire to add luster to his family’s name by conspicuous political achievement. Educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, he had numerous connections to England’s political elite. Curzon, however, acquired an early fascination with Asia and used that interest as a basis for his political career. He spent a number of years traveling in central and eastern Asia, explored the sources of the River Oxus, and published a series of respected volumes on Persia, central Asia, and the Far East.First elected to Parliament as a member of the Conservative Party in 1886, he briefly held office as undersecretary for India in 1891–1892, where he supervised the passage through the Commons of the India Councils Bill, a first halting step to representative government in that country. After serving from 1895 to 1898 as undersecretary to the Foreign Office under Lord Salisbury, also prime minister, in Curzon, George Nathaniel, Marquess Curzon of Kedleston 173 1899 he was made viceroy of India. It was as viceroy that Curzon made his name as the epitome of the ostentatious imperial governor, at the same time justifying his position by the improvements, moral and material, conferred on the governed. But through his ham-handed attempt to partition Bengal, the power base of the emerging Indian National Congress, Curzon also acquired a reputation as the enemy of Indian self-government. Leaving India under a cloud created by a long-running bureaucratic battle with Lord Horatio Kitchener, commander of the Indian Army, Curzon’s political career appeared over.He returned to active politics, however, in the wartime coalition cabinet of 1915, and in 1916 joined David Lloyd George’s war cabinet. In 1919, he became foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the Dawes plan concerning postwar reparations, the withdrawal of the French from the Ruhr, and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne with Turkey, one of the most enduring of the post-World War I treaties. Curzon expected to be asked to form a government on the 1923 resignation of Andrew Bonar Law, but he was passed over, in part because he sat in the House of Lords, in favor of Stanley Baldwin.FURTHER READING:Dilks, David. Curzon in India. New York; Taplinger, 1970;Gilmour, Ian. Curzon: Imperial Statesman. London: John Murray, 1994;Zetland, Lord. Life of Lord Curzon. 3 vols. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1928.MARK F. PROUDMAN
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.