George Nathaniel Curzon Curzon of Kedleston, 1st Marquess

Curzon of Kedleston, George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess (kûrˈzən, kĕdˈəlstən) [key], 1859–1925, British statesman. A member of the minor aristocracy, he attended Eton and Oxford. From his university days onward, he earned a reputation for an unusually high intelligence mingled with an enormous ego, snobbery, and pomposity. Entering Parliament as a conservative in 1886, he showed early brilliance in politics and was undersecretary of state for India (1891–92) and undersecretary for foreign affairs (1895–98). Three trips to Asia resulted in several books— Russia in Central Asia (1889), Persia and the Persian Question (1892), and Problems of the Far East (1894). As viceroy of India (1898–1905) he championed the imperial colonial ideal, achieved important reforms in administration, transportation, education, and currency, and set up (1901) the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan). He also partitioned (1905) Bengal, an action that angered Indian nationalists. He resigned (1905) after a quarrel with Lord Kitchener, commander of the army in India, who was supported by the home government.

After his return to England, Curzon became (1907) chancellor of the Univ. of Oxford and was created (1911) an earl (raised to marquess in 1921). During World War I he served in the coalition cabinets of Asquith (see Oxford and Asquith, Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st earl of) and Lloyd George. As foreign secretary (1919–24), he presided over the Conference of Lausanne (see under Lausanne, Treaty of), disapproved of the French occupation of the Ruhr, and paved the way for the Dawes Plan for settling German war reparations. He expected to succeed Andrew Bonar Law as prime minister in 1923 and was bitterly disappointed at being passed over in favor of Stanley Baldwin.

See biographies by Lord Ronaldshay (1928), K. Rose (1969), and D. Gilmour (1994, U.S. ed. 2003); D. Dilks, Curzon in India (2 vol., 1969).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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