Adrian Courtenay

Adrian Courtenay

Department of History
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: A case study of the Cheltenham Branch of the League of Nations Union
SupervisorProfessor Matt Houlbrook and Professor Nicholas Crowson
PhD History


  • MA (Oxon)
  • M. Res. (Birmingham)
  • M. Phil (Open)
  • MEd (Open)


40 years teaching in state secondary schools


“Mothering the Nation or Educating the Nation?” – an assessment of the impact of the League of Nations Union on the growth of grassroots political engagement centred upon a case study of a local branch (Cheltenham) in the years 1920 to 1939.

Although the work of the LNU was organized and led by an executive headquarters based in London, much of the League’s power base was in a grass roots network of churches, schools, women's organizations, youth groups and the local Liberal and Labour parties. By 1930 the LNU claimed it had over 3000 branches co-ordinating its work at a local level.

To date little has been researched and written on the work of these local branches. Professor Helen McCarthy refers to this area of study as a terra incognita but also one of great importance. The relevance of such an enquiry is that it contributes to an understanding of the growth of the nation’s popular political awareness through the first half of the twentieth century. It is a study of democracy in action, with those formerly excluded from the debate, for the first time finding their voice. This process of popular scrutiny of government foreign policy and the calling for a ‘moral’ dynamic in international relations is also something of profound contemporary relevance and connects directly to current debates over such issues as Tony Blair’s ‘illegal’ war with Iraq and our future relations with Europe. Likewise, groups such as the climate ‘Extinction Rebellion’ movement are testimony to the legacy of the LNU’s creation of a more educated and more informed political nation.


'Midlands History (1992)