Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

Peace News

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Pacifist Magazine

United Kingdom

First issue


Peace News

Humphrey Moore (1936–40), John Middleton Murry (1940–46), Frank Lea (1946–49), Bernard Boothroyd (1949–51), J. Allen Skinner (1951–55), Hugh Brock (1955–64), Theodore Roszak (1964–65), Rod Prince (1965–67), Ken Simons (1990–95), Tim Wallis (1995–97), Chris Booth and Stephen Hancock (1997–2000), Ippy Dee (2000–07), Milan Rai and Emily Johns (2007–present).

Peace News (PN) is a pacifist magazine first published on 6 June 1936 to serve the peace movement in the United Kingdom. From later in 1936 to April 1961 it was the official paper of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), and from 1990 to 2004 was co-published with War Resisters' International.


Founding and early days

Peace News was begun by Humphrey Moore who was a Quaker and in 1933 had become editor of the National Peace Council's publications. Working with a peace group in Wood Green, London, Moore and his wife, Kathleen (playing the role of business manager), launched Peace News with a free trial issue in June 1936. With distribution through Moore’s contacts with the National Peace Council, the new magazine rapidly attracted attention. Within six weeks, Dick Sheppard, founder of the Peace Pledge Union, proposed to Moore that Peace News should become the PPU’s paper. Early contributors to this new organ of the PPU included Gandhi, George Lansbury, and illustrator Arthur Wragg. Peace News also had a large number of women contributors, including Vera Brittain, Storm Jameson, Rose Macaulay, Ethel Mannin, Ruth Fry, Kathleen Lonsdale and Sybil Morrison.

Some contributors were so sympathetic to the grievances of Nazi Germany that one sceptical member found it difficult to distinguish between letters to Peace News and those in the newspaper of the British Union of Fascists. The historian Mark Gilbert has argued that "With the exception of Action, the journal of the British Union of Fascists, it is hard to think of another British newspaper which was so consistent an apologist for Nazi Germany as Peace News." However, Juliet Gardiner has noted that Peace News also urged the British government to give sanctuary to Jewish refugees from Nazism. The fact that some PN contributors were supporting appeasement and excusing Nazi actions caused PN contributor David Spreckley to express fears that "in their scramble for peace", they were gaining "some questionable allies".

Sales of Peace News peaked at around 40,000 during the so-called Phoney War between September 1939 and May 1940. In that month in the face of demands in parliament for the banning of the paper, the printer and distributors stopped working with Peace News. However, with help from the typographer Eric Gill, Hugh Brock and many others, Moore continued to publish Peace News and arrange for distribution around the UK.

Humphrey Moore’s emphasis on Peace News having a single-minded anti-war policy was increasingly being challenged. Others wanted greater emphasis on building a peaceful society once hostilities ended. In 1940 the PPU asked Moore to step aside in the post of assistant editor (which post he held until 1944), and appointed John Middleton Murry as editor. By 1946 Murry had abandoned pacifism and resigned.

Hugh Brock took on the role of assistant editor of Peace News in 1946 and became editor in 1955, lasting until 1964. During his period of tenure the magazine separated from the PPU as it had widened its focus into areas not directly related to absolute pacifism. Peace News in the 1940s published material from American journalist Dwight Macdonald and Maurice Cranston (later to become a noted philosopher).

From the 1940s on, Peace News began to take a strongly critical line towards British rule in Kenya. The magazine also established links with African anti-colonial activists Kwame Nkrumah and Kenneth Kaunda, and "Peace News′ close involvement with the anti-apartheid struggle...led to the banning of the paper in South Africa in 1959". During the 1950s, Peace News contributors included such noted activists as André Trocmé, Martin Niemöller, Fenner Brockway, A. J. Muste, Richard B. Gregg, Alex Comfort, Donald Soper, Michael Scott, Leslie Hall, M.P., Muriel Lester, Emrys Hughes, M.P., Wilfred Wellock, and Esmé Wynne-Tyson

1959 to 1969

In 1959 a gift of £5,700 from Tom Willis enabled Peace News to buy 5 Caledonian Road, London, N1. This became its office and printing press and was also shared with Housmans Bookshop. It was at the Peace News office that the Nuclear Disarmament/Peace symbol was adopted. Describing the British pacifist tradition in the 1950s, David Widgery wrote "at its most likeable it was the sombre decency of Peace News, then a vegetarian tabloid with a Quaker emphasis on active witness".

The magazine campaigned against nuclear weapons, often working with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. During this period Brock brought to Peace News "a staff of writer-activists committed to developing Gandhian nonviolent action in the anti-militarist cause", including Pat Arrowsmith, Richard Boston, April Carter, Alan Lovell, Michael Randle, Adam Roberts and the American Gene Sharp. Brock's successor in 1964 was Theodore Roszak. In the same year, a Caribbean Quaker and PN writer, Marion Glean, "contributed to a series of statements by post-colonial activists on 'race' in the run-up to the 1964 election, published by Theodore Roszak, editor of Peace News." After the election, Glean helped bring together several activists, including David Pitt, C. L. R. James and Ranjana Ash to form the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination. Throughout the 1960s, Peace News covered issues such as opposition to the Vietnam War and the Biafran issue in the Nigerian Civil War. The magazine's coverage of the Vietnam War was notable for its support for the protests of the Vietnamese Buddhists, who it argued could become a nonviolent "Third Force" independent of both the Saigon and Hanoi governments. Peace News also ran lengthy analysis of left-wing thinkers, including E.P. Thompson's two-part study of C. Wright Mills and Theodore Roszak's assessment of Lewis Mumford.

1970 to 2014

In 1971 it added to its masthead the words "for nonviolent revolution".

In 1974, the paper moved its main office to Nottingham, where it remained until 1990.

In 1978, one worker at Housmans was injured after a bomb was sent to the Peace News offices, (allegedly by the neo-Nazi organisation Column 88) as part of a series of attacks on left-wing organisations (similar attacks were made on the Socialist Workers Party and Anti-Nazi League offices before this occurred).

Peace News suspended publication at the end of 1987, intending to relaunch after a period of rethinking and planning. In May 1989 the paper resumed publication, but quickly ran into financial difficulties. In 1990 it became linked to War Resisters' International and was co-published as a monthly until 1999, then as a quarterly with a British-oriented Nonviolent Action published in the intervening months. Peace News came out strongly against the Iraq War while at the same time condemning Saddam Hussein. In 2005, Peace News resumed monthly publication, as an independent British publication and in a tabloid format.

On June 2014, Peace News ran an article calling for a "Yes" vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum.

Present day

Peace News continues to be published in tabloid size print media and as a website by Peace News Ltd. It describes its editorial objectives as: to support and connect nonviolent and anti-militarist movements; provide a forum for such movements to develop common perspectives; take up issues suitable for campaigning; promote nonviolent, antimilitarist and pacifist analyses and strategies; stimulate thinking about the revolutionary implications of nonviolence. It is currently edited by Milan Rai and Emily Johns.

The Peace News archives are held at the Commonweal Collection in the J.B. Priestley Library, University of Bradford

Tony Benn has described Peace News as " a paper that gives us hope...(it) should be widely read".

Campaigns and trials

Peace News has been associated with initiating numerous campaigns, and a number of its staffmembers have been arrested for taking part in peace actions. In November 1957 Hugh Brock was one of three founders of the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War, which was run from the Peace News office and involved many Peace News staff. The DAC produced the first badges with the Nuclear Disarmament/Peace symbol, and organised various actions of civil disobedience against nuclear weapons and also the first of the Aldermaston Marches in Easter 1958.

In 1971 Peace News, together with War Resisters' International, initiated a nonviolent direct action project, Operation Omega to Bangladesh, to challenge the Pakistani military blockade of then East Pakistan.

In the same year Peace News criticised the attempt to ban the sex education book The Little Red Schoolbook, and reprinted extensive extracts from the publication in the magazine.

In 1972 Peace News co-editor Howard Clark, after meeting activists from the Canadian Greenpeace boats, initiated the group that became London Greenpeace, at first campaigning against French nuclear tests.

In 1973 Peace News played a central role in launching the British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland Campaign (BWNIC) and in supporting the "BWNIC 14", fourteen activists, including a member of the Peace News collective, charged with "conspiracy to incite disaffection" via a leaflet "Some Information for Discontented Soldiers". After an 11-week trial, a jury acquitted the BWNIC 14 in 1975, although two members of Peace News collective were fined for helping two AWOL soldiers go to Sweden.

In 1974, together with Nicholas Albery of BIT Information Service, Peace News began publishing the Community Levy for Alternative Projects, an invitation to supply funds for, generally, fledgling alternative projects, partly targeting shops and businesses that identified with counter-cultural ideas and aspirations.

In August 1974, Peace News published a special edition revealing and printing in full Colonel David Stirling's plans to establish a strike-breaking "private army", "Great Britain 1975". By arrangement The Guardian led with this story on the day of publication, Peace News won the 1974 "Scoop of the Year" award from Granada Television.

In 1978, Peace News, together with The Leveller magazine revealed the identity of Colonel B, a witness in the ABC Trial. Peace News fought its conviction for "contempt of court" right up to appeal in the House of Lords, where the Lord Chief Justice's "guilty" verdict was finally overturned.

In 1995, Peace News, together with Campaign Against Arms Trade, was sued for libel by the Covert & Operational Procurement Exhibition (COPEX) for repeating allegations that the exhibition was serving as a meeting place for buyers and sellers of torture implements. The High Court struck out the case when COPEX failed to show in court and the peace groups were awarded costs.


The following is a partial list of Peace News publications.


1934: Humphrey Moore 1940: John Middleton Murry 1946: Frank Lea 1949: Bernard Boothroyd 1952: J. Allen Skinner 1955: Hugh Brock 1964: Theodore Roszak 1965: Rod Prince 1967: All editorial staff, jointly


Peace News Wikipedia

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