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The Papers of Brendan Bracken, Viscount Bracken of Christchurch

Reference Code: GBR/0014/BBKN

Scope and Contents

The Bracken papers held by Churchill College Archive Centre consist mainly of the source materials used by Andrew Boyle in his biography "Poor Dear Brendan: The Quest for Brendan Bracken" (Hutchinson, London, 1974)". In addition there is a section of xerox copies of letters from Bracken to Lord Beaverbrook made available by the House of Lords Library. M. Whitmore Richards’. reminiscences of Bracken in connection with the Union Corporation of South Africa form a third section.


  • Creation: 1948 - 1973

Biographical / Historical

Brendan Rendall Bracken was born on 15 February 1901 in County Tipperary, the son of Joseph Kevin Bracken and Hannah Agnes Ryan. Bracken was a "bright and unruly child" (Jason Tomes) and attended several schools including St Patrick's national school, O'Connell School, and Mungret, a Jesuit boarding-school. In 1916 Bracken was sent to New South Wales where he worked on a sheep station and then at schools in Echuca, Sydney, and Orange. In 1920 Bracken went to England, where he claimed to be Australian (after this date he avoided admitting to his Irish or Roman Catholic roots and later he made a mystery of his background). Bracken enrolled himself as a pupil at Sedbergh public school and then worked at various schools.

He worked on the "Empire Review" and, in 1921, was introduced to Winston Churchill by J L Garvin. Bracken remained a loyal supporter to Churchill, despite heated arguments. He assisted Churchill with his 1923 election campaign for West Leicester and in the same year began to work for Eyre and Spottiswoode, editing "English Life", then "The Banker". Bracken's "social success was that of an unconventional ‘character’: a loud-mouthed know-all, impervious to rebuffs, who gatecrashed parties and insulted everyone with reckless abandon. His witty cracks were as renowned as his preposterous lies. When caught out, he would simply laugh." (Jason Tomes) In 1926, Bracken joined the board at Eyre and Spottiswoode and persuaded the firm to acquire a number of financial titles, including a stake in the Economist. These were run by Financial Newspaper Proprietors Ltd in which Bracken held shares.

In 1929, Bracken was elected Conservative MP for North Paddington, becoming Churchill's Parliamentary Private Secretary in 1939. He was Minister of Information from 1941-45 where he focused on giving the public as much information as possible without compromising security. In 1945, Bracken became First Lord of the Admiralty and Chairman of the Union Corporation. In 1945, Bracken lost his North Paddington seat but was elected later that year to Bournemouth East and Christchurch (until 1951). Viscount Bracken of Christchurch, created in January 1952, never took his seat in the Lords. He died on 8 August 1958.


2 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

The collection has been catalogued and copies of the catalogue are available for consultation in the reading room at Churchill Archives Centre, at the National Register of Archives in London and on the Janus website.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was mainly deposited at Churchill Archives Centre in 1977. BBKN 4 was accessioned in 2000.


This catalogue was prepared by Natalie Adams of Churchill Archives Centre in February 2005, using information from an existing catalogue (1979). Biographical information was obtained from the original catalogue and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Jason Tomes, Bracken, Brendan Rendall, Viscount Bracken (1901-1958), in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: OUP, 2004)).


Boyle, Andrew

2005-02-15 14:09:24+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087