Oswald Mosley

Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet (16 November 1896 – 3 December 1980) was a British politician who rose to fame in the 1920s as a Member of Parliament and later in the 1930s became leader of the British Union of Fascists (BUF).[1] Mosley inherited the title 'Sir' by virtue of his baronetcy; he was the sixth baronet of a title that had been in his family for centuries.[2]

Sir Oswald Mosley

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
7 June 1929  19 May 1930
Prime MinisterRamsay MacDonald
Preceded byRonald McNeill
Succeeded byClement Attlee
Member of Parliament
for Smethwick
In office
21 December 1926  27 October 1931
Preceded byJohn Davison
Succeeded byRoy Wise
Member of Parliament
for Harrow
In office
14 December 1918  29 October 1924
Preceded byHarry Mallaby-Deeley
Succeeded bySir Isidore Salmon
Personal details
Oswald Ernald Mosley

16 November 1896
Mayfair, Westminster, London, England
Died3 December 1980(1980-12-03) (aged 84)
Orsay, Essonne, France
Political partyConservative Party
(1922–1924; 1940–1948)
Labour Party
New Party
British Union of Fascists
Union Movement
Other political
National Party of Europe
ChildrenVivien Mosley
Nicholas Mosley
Michael Mosley
(b. 1932)
Alexander Mosley
(b. 1938)
Max Mosley
(b. 1940)
Alma materWinchester College
Royal Military College, Sandhurst
Awards Victory Medal
British War Medal
1914–15 Star
Military service
Allegiance British Empire
Branch/service British Army
16th The Queen's Lancers
Royal Flying Corps
Years of service1914–1918
Battles/warsFirst World War
Second Battle of Ypres
Battle of Loos

After military service during the First World War, Mosley was one of the youngest Members of Parliament, representing Harrow from 1918 to 1924, first as a Conservative, then an independent, before joining the Labour Party. He returned to Parliament as Labour MP for Smethwick at a by-election in 1926 and served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the Labour Government of 1929–31. He was considered a potential Labour Prime Minister but resigned due to discord with the Government's unemployment policies. He then founded the New Party. He lost his Smethwick seat at the 1931 general election. The New Party became the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932.

Mosley was imprisoned in May 1940, and the BUF was banned. He was released in 1943 and, politically disgraced by his association with fascism, moved abroad in 1951; he spent the majority of the remainder of his life in Paris. He stood for Parliament twice in the post-war era but garnered very little support.

Life and career

Early life and education

Mosley was born on 16 November 1896 at 47 Hill Street, Mayfair, Westminster.[3][4] He was the eldest of the three sons of Sir Oswald Mosley, 5th Baronet (1873–1928), and Katharine Maud Edwards-Heathcote (1874–1950), daughter of Captain Justinian H. Edwards-Heathcote of Apedale Hall, Staffordshire. He had two younger brothers: Edward Heathcote Mosley (1899–1980) and John Arthur Noel Mosley (1901–1973).[5]

The family traces its roots to Ernald de Mosley of Bushbury, Staffordshire in the time of King John in the 12th century. The family was prominent in Staffordshire and three baronetcies were created, two of which are now extinct. His five-time great-grandfather John Parker Mosley, a Manchester hatter, was made a baronet in 1781.[5] His branch of the Mosley family was the Anglo-Irish family at its most prosperous, landowners in Staffordshire seated at Rolleston Hall near Burton-upon-Trent. His father was a third cousin to the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, father of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who served alongside King George VI as Queen (of the United Kingdom).

After his parents separated he was brought up by his mother, who went to live at Betton Hall near Market Drayton, and his paternal grandfather, Sir Oswald Mosley, 4th Baronet. Within the family and among intimate friends, he was always called "Tom". He lived for many years at his grandparents' stately home, Apedale Hall, and was educated at West Downs School and Winchester College.

Mosley was a fencing champion in his school days; he won titles in both foil and sabre, and retained an enthusiasm for the sport throughout his life.

Military service

In January 1914, Mosley entered the Royal Military College, Sandhurst but was expelled in June for a "riotous act of retaliation" against a fellow student.[6] During the First World War he was commissioned into the British cavalry unit the 16th The Queen's Lancers and fought in France on the Western Front. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as an observer, but while demonstrating in front of his mother and sister he crashed, which left him with a permanent limp, as well as a reputation for being brave and somewhat reckless.[1] He returned to the trenches before the injury had fully healed and at the Battle of Loos (1915) passed out at his post from pain. He spent the remainder of the war at desk jobs in the Ministry of Munitions and in the Foreign Office.[6]

Marriage to Lady Cynthia Curzon

On 11 May 1920, he married Lady Cynthia "Cimmie" Curzon (1898–1933), second daughter of the 1st Earl Curzon of Kedleston, (1859–1925), Viceroy of India, 1899–1905, Foreign Secretary, 1919–1924, and Lord Curzon's first wife, the U.S. mercantile heiress, the former Mary Leiter.

Lord Curzon had to be persuaded that Mosley was a suitable husband, as he suspected Mosley was largely motivated by social advancement in Conservative Party politics and Cynthia's inheritance. The 1920 wedding took place in the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace in London – arguably the social event of the year. The hundreds of guests included King George V and Queen Mary, as well as foreign royalty such as the Duke and Duchess of Brabant (later King Leopold III and Queen Astrid of Belgium).[1][7]

During this marriage, he began an extended affair with his wife's younger sister, Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, and with their stepmother, Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston, the American-born second wife and widow of Lord Curzon of Kedleston.[8] He succeeded to the Baronetcy of Ancoats upon his father's death in 1928, which entitles the current holder to the prefix style Sir.

India and Gandhi

Among his many travels, Mosley travelled to India accompanied by Lady Cynthia in 1924. His father-in-law's past as Viceroy of the British Raj allowed for the acquaintance of various personalities along the journey. They travelled by P & O boat and stopped shortly in Cairo.[9]

Having initially arrived in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka), the journey then continued through mainland India. They spent these initial days in the government house of Ceylon, followed by Madras and then Calcutta, where the Governor at the time was Lord Lytton.[9]

Mosley met Gandhi through C.F. Andrews, a clergyman and an intimate friend of the Indian Saint, as Mosley described him. They met in Kadda, where Gandhi was quick to invite him to a private conference in which Gandhi was chairman. They enjoyed each other's company for the short time they were together. Mosley later further described Gandhi as a 'sympathetic personality of subtle intelligence'.[9]

Marriage to Diana Mitford

Cynthia died of peritonitis in 1933, after which Mosley married his mistress Diana Guinness, née Mitford (1910–2003). They married in secret in Germany on 6 October 1936 in the Berlin home of Germany's Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. Adolf Hitler was their guest of honour.[10]

Mosley spent large amounts of his private fortune on the British Union of Fascists (BUF) and tried to establish it on a firm financial footing by various means including an attempt to negotiate, through Diana, with Adolf Hitler for permission to broadcast commercial radio to Britain from Germany. Mosley reportedly struck a deal in 1937 with Francis Beaumont, heir to the Seigneurage of Sark, to set up a privately owned radio station on Sark.[11][12]

Member of Parliament

By the end of the First World War, Mosley had decided to go into politics as a Conservative Member of Parliament, as he had no university education or practical experience due to the war. He was 21 years old and had not fully developed his own political views. He was driven by, and in Parliament spoke of, a passionate conviction to avoid any future war, and this seemingly motivated his career. Largely because of his family background and war service, local Conservative and Labour Associations preferred Mosley in several constituencies—a vacancy near the family estates seemed to be the best prospect. He was unexpectedly selected for Harrow first. In the general election of 1918 he faced no serious opposition and was elected easily.[13] He was the youngest member of the House of Commons to take his seat, though Joseph Sweeney, an abstentionist Sinn Féin member, was younger. He soon distinguished himself as an orator and political player, one marked by extreme self-confidence, and he made a point of speaking in the House of Commons without notes.[9]:166

Crossing the floor

Mosley was at this time falling out with the Conservatives over Irish policy and he condemned the operations of the Black and Tans in Ireland against civilians.[14] Eventually, he crossed the floor to sit as an Independent Member on the opposition side of the House of Commons. Having built up a following in his constituency, he retained it against a Conservative challenge in the 1922 and 1923 general elections.

The Liberal Westminster Gazette wrote that Mosley was:

the most polished literary speaker in the Commons, words flow from him in graceful epigrammatic phrases that have a sting in them for the government and the Conservatives. To listen to him is an education in the English language, also in the art of delicate but deadly repartee. He has human sympathies, courage and brains."[15]

By 1924, he was growing increasingly attracted to the Labour Party, which had just formed a government, and in March he joined it. He immediately joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) as well and allied himself with the left.

When the government fell in October, Mosley had to choose a new seat, as he believed that Harrow would not re-elect him as a Labour candidate. He therefore decided to oppose Neville Chamberlain in Birmingham Ladywood. Mosley campaigned aggressively in Ladywood; and accused Chamberlain of being a "landlords' hireling".[16] The outraged Chamberlain demanded that Mosley retract the claim "as a gentleman".[16] Mosley, whom Stanley Baldwin described as "a cad and a wrong 'un", refused to retract the allegation.[16] It took several re-counts before Chamberlain was declared the winner by 77 votes and Mosley blamed poor weather for the result.[17] His period outside Parliament was used to develop a new economic policy for the ILP, which eventually became known as the Birmingham Proposals; they continued to form the basis of Mosley's economics until the end of his political career.

In 1926, the Labour-held seat of Smethwick fell vacant, and Mosley returned to Parliament after winning the resulting by-election on 21 December. Mosley felt the campaign was dominated by Conservative attacks on him for being too rich, including claims that he was covering up his wealth.[9]:190

Mosley and his wife Cynthia were committed Fabians in the 1920s and at the start of the 1930s. Mosley appears in a list of names of Fabians from Fabian News and the Fabian Society Annual Report 1929–31. He was Kingsway Hall lecturer in 1924 and Livingstone Hall lecturer in 1931.


Mosley then made a bold bid for political advancement within the Labour Party. He was close to Ramsay MacDonald and hoped for one of the great offices of state, but when Labour won the 1929 general election he was appointed only to the post of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a position without Portfolio and outside the Cabinet. He was given responsibility for solving the unemployment problem, but found that his radical proposals were blocked either by his superior James Henry Thomas or by the Cabinet.

Mosley realising the economic uncertainty that was facing the nation due to the death of her domestic industry, eventually put forward a whole scheme in the "Mosley Memorandum", which called for high tariffs to protect British industries from international finance, for state nationalisation of main industries, and for a programme of public works to solve unemployment. Furthermore, within the memorandum, it laid out the foundations of the corporate state which intended to combine businesses, workers and the Government into one body as a way to "Obliterate class conflict and make the British economy healthy again".[18] Mosley published this memorandum due to his dissatisfaction of the laissez-faire attitude that both Labour and the Conservative party held and how passive it was to the ever increasing globalisation of the world and thus looked to a modern solution to fix a modern problem. However, it was rejected by the Cabinet, and in May 1930 Mosley resigned from his ministerial position. At the time, the weekly Liberal-leaning paper The Nation described his move: "The resignation of Sir Oswald Mosley is an event of capital importance in domestic politics... We feel that Sir Oswald has acted rightly — as he has certainly acted courageously — in declining to share any longer in the responsibility for inertia."[15] In October he attempted to persuade the Labour Party Conference to accept the Memorandum, but was defeated again. Thirty years later, in 1961, Richard Crossman described the memorandum: "... this brilliant memorandum was a whole generation ahead of Labour thinking."[15] As his book 'The Greater Britain' focused on the issues of free trade, the criticisms against globalisation that he formulated can be found through the critiques of contemporary globalisation. He warns nations that buying cheaper goods from other nations may sound appealing but ultimately ravage your domestic industry and lead to large unemployment as seen in the 30s. Mosley in regards to free trade argues that they are trying to "challenge the 50-year-old system of free trade which exposes industry in the home market to the chaos of world conditions, such as price fluctuation, dumping, and the competition of sweated labour, which result in the lowering of wages and industrial decay.” [19]

New Party

Dissatisfied with the Labour Party, Mosley founded the New Party. Its early parliamentary contests, in the 1931 Ashton-under-Lyne by-election and subsequent by-elections, arguably had a spoiler effect in splitting the left-wing vote and allowing Conservative candidates to win. Despite this, the organisation gained support among many Labour and Conservative politicians who agreed with his corporatist economic policy, and among these were Aneurin Bevan and Harold Macmillan. It also gained the endorsement of the Daily Mail newspaper, headed at the time by Harold Harmsworth (later created 1st Viscount Rothermere).[20]

The New Party increasingly inclined to fascist policies, but Mosley was denied the opportunity to get his party established when during the Great Depression the 1931 General Election was suddenly called—the party's candidates, including Mosley himself running in Stoke which had been held by his wife, lost the seats they held and won none. As the New Party gradually became more radical and authoritarian, and as critics of the fascists in the Spanish Civil War emerged in the press, art and literature, many previous supporters defected from it. Shortly after the 1931 election, Mosley was described by the Manchester Guardian:

When Sir Oswald Mosley sat down after his Free Trade Hall speech in Manchester and the audience, stirred as an audience rarely is, rose and swept a storm of applause towards the platform—who could doubt that here was one of those root-and-branch men who have been thrown up from time to time in the religious, political and business story of England. First that gripping audience is arrested,[n 1] then stirred and finally, as we have said, swept off its feet by a tornado of peroration yelled at the defiant high pitch of a tremendous voice.[15]


After his election failure in 1931, Mosley went on a study tour of the "new movements" of Italy's Benito Mussolini and other fascists, and returned convinced that it was the way forward for Britain. He was determined to unite the existing fascist movements and created the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932. The BUF was protectionist, strongly anti-communist and nationalistic to the point of advocating authoritarianism.[21] It claimed membership as high as 50,000, and had the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror among its earliest (though short-lived) supporters.[20][22][23] The Mirror piece was a guest article by Daily Mail owner Viscount Rothermere and an apparent one-off; despite these briefly warm words for the BUF, the paper was so vitriolic in its condemnation of European fascism that Nazi Germany added the paper's directors to a hit-list in the event of a successful Operation Sea Lion.[24] The Mail continued to support the BUF until the Olympia rally in June 1934.[25]

John Gunther described Mosley in 1940 as "strikingly handsome. He is probably the best orator in England. His personal magnetism is very great". Among Mosley's supporters at this time included John Strachey,[26] the novelist Henry Williamson, military theorist J. F. C. Fuller, and the future "Lord Haw Haw", William Joyce.

Mosley had found problems with disruption of New Party meetings, and instituted a corps of black-uniformed paramilitary stewards, the Fascist Defence Force, nicknamed blackshirts. The party was frequently involved in violent confrontations and riots, particularly with Communist and Jewish groups and especially in London.[27] At a large Mosley rally at Olympia on 7 June 1934, his bodyguards' violence caused bad publicity.[26] This and the Night of the Long Knives in Germany led to the loss of most of the BUF's mass support. Nevertheless, Mosley continued espousing anti-Semitism. At one of his New Party meetings in Leicester in April 1935, he stated, "For the first time I openly and publicly challenge the Jewish interests of this country, commanding commerce, commanding the Press, commanding the cinema, dominating the City of London, killing industry with their sweat-shops. These great interests are not intimidating, and will not intimidate, the Fascist movement of the modern age."[28] The party was unable to fight the 1935 general election.

In October 1936, Mosley and the BUF attempted to march through an area with a high proportion of Jewish residents. Violence, since called the Battle of Cable Street, resulted between protesters trying to block the march and police trying to force it through,. At length Sir Philip Game the Police Commissioner disallowed the march from going ahead and the BUF abandoned it.

Mosley continued to organise marches policed by the Blackshirts, and the government was sufficiently concerned to pass the Public Order Act 1936, which, amongst other things, banned political uniforms and quasi-military style organisations and came into effect on 1 January 1937. In the London County Council elections in 1937, the BUF stood in three wards in East London (some former New Party seats), its strongest areas, polling up to a quarter of the vote. Mosley made most of the Blackshirt employees redundant, some of whom then defected from the party with William Joyce. As the European situation moved towards war, the BUF began to nominate Parliamentary by-election candidates and launched campaigns on the theme of Mind Britain's Business. Mosley remained popular as late as summer 1939. His Britain First rally at the Earls Court Exhibition Hall on 16 July 1939 was the biggest indoor political rally in British history, with a reported 30,000 attendees.

After the outbreak of war, Mosley led the campaign for a negotiated peace, but after the Fall of France and the commencement of aerial bombardment (see the Blitz) overall public opinion of him turned to hostility. In mid-May 1940, Mosley was nearly wounded by assault.[29]


Unbeknownst to Mosley, the British Security Service and Special Branch had deeply penetrated the BUF and were also monitoring him through listening devices. Beginning in 1934, they were increasingly worried that Mosley's noted oratory skills would convince the public to provide financial support to the BUF, enabling it to challenge the political establishment.[30] His agitation was officially tolerated until the events of the Battle of France in May 1940 made the government consider him too dangerous. Mosley, who at that time was focused on pleading for the British to accept Hitler's peace offer of March, was detained on 23 May 1940, less than a fortnight after Winston Churchill became Prime Minister.[1] Mosley was interrogated for 16 hours by Lord Birkett[30] but never formally charged with a crime, and was instead interned under Defence Regulation 18B. The same fate met the other most active fascists in Britain, resulting in the BUF's practical removal at an organized level from the United Kingdom's political stage.[1] Mosley's wife, Diana, was also interned in June,[31] shortly after the birth of their son (Max Mosley); the Mosleys lived together for most of the war in a house in the grounds of Holloway prison. The BUF was proscribed by the British Government later that year.

Mosley used the time in confinement to read extensively in Classics, particularly regarding politics and war, with a focus upon key historical figures. He refused visits from most BUF members, but on 18 March 1943, Dudley and Norah Elam (who had been released by then) accompanied Unity Mitford to see her sister Diana. Mosley agreed to be present because he mistakenly believed that it was Lady Redesdale, Diana and Unity's mother, who was accompanying Unity.[32] The internment, particularly that of Lady Mosley, resulted in significant public debate in the press, although most of the public supported the Government's actions. Others demanded a trial, either in the hope it would end the detention or in the hope of a conviction.[1]

In November 1943, Home Secretary Herbert Morrison ordered the release of the Mosleys. After a fierce debate in the House of Commons, Morrison's action was upheld by a vote of 327–26.[1] Mosley, who was suffering with phlebitis, spent the rest of the war confined under house arrest and police supervision. On his release from prison, he first stayed with his sister-in-law Pamela Mitford, followed shortly by a stay at the Shaven Crown Hotel in Shipton-under-Wychwood. He then purchased Crux Easton House, near Newbury, with Diana.[33] He and his wife remained the subject of much press attention.[34] The war ended what remained of Mosley's political reputation.

Post-war politics

After the war, Mosley was contacted by his former supporters and persuaded to return to participation in politics. He formed the Union Movement, which called for a single nation-state to cover the continent of Europe (known as Europe a Nation) and later attempted to launch a National Party of Europe to this end. The Union Movement's meetings were often physically disrupted, as Mosley's meetings had been before the war, and largely by the same opponents. This led to Mosley's decision, in 1951, to leave Britain and live in Ireland.[35] He later moved to Paris. Of his decision to leave, he said, "You don't clear up a dungheap from underneath it."[36]

Shortly after the 1958 Notting Hill race riots, Mosley briefly returned to Britain to stand in the 1959 general election at Kensington North. Mosley led his campaign stridently on an anti-immigration platform, calling for forced repatriation of Caribbean immigrants as well as a prohibition upon mixed marriages. Mosley's final share of the vote was 7.6%.[37]

In 1961, he took part in a debate at University College London about Commonwealth immigration, seconded by a young David Irving.[38] He returned to politics one last time, contesting the 1966 general election at Shoreditch and Finsbury, and received 4.6% of the vote.[37] After this, Mosley retired and moved back to France,[37] where he wrote his autobiography, My Life (1968).

In 1977, by which time he was suffering from Parkinson's disease, he was nominated as a candidate for Rector of the University of Glasgow in which election he polled over 100 votes but finished bottom of the poll.

Personal life

Mosley had three children with his first wife Lady Cynthia Curzon.[5]

  • Vivien Elisabeth Mosley (1921–2002); she married Desmond Francis Forbes Adam (1926–58) on 15 January 1949. Adam had been educated at Eton College and at King's College, Cambridge. The couple had two daughters.
  • Nicholas Mosley (1923–2017) (later 3rd Baron Ravensdale a title inherited from his mother's family), and 7th Baronet of Ancoats; he was a successful novelist who wrote a biography of his father and edited his memoirs for publication.
  • Michael Mosley (1932–2012), unmarried and without issue.

In 1924, Lady Cynthia Curzon joined the Labour Party, and was elected as the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent in 1929. She later joined Oswald's New Party and lost the 1931 election in Stoke.[39] She died in 1933 at 34 after an operation for peritonitis following acute appendicitis, in London.[40]

Mosley had two children with his second wife, Diana Mitford (1910–2003):[5]


Oswald Mosley died on December 3, 1980 at Orsay outside Paris, France. His body was cremated in a ceremony held at the Père Lachaise Cemetery, and his ashes were scattered on the pond at Orsay. His son Alexander stated that they had received many messages of condolence but no abusive words. "All that was a very long time ago," he said.[41]


Mosley's personal papers are held at the University of Birmingham's Special Collections Archive.

Alternative history fiction

  • In the Doctor Who Virgin New Adventures novel Timewyrm: Exodus, Prime Minister Mosley is shown addressing Britain's first National Socialist Parliament.
  • In Kim Newman's The Bloody Red Baron, Mosley is shot down and killed in 1918 by Erich von Stalhein (from the Biggles series by W. E. Johns) and a character later comments that "a career has been ended before it was begun."
  • In Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, a secret pact between Charles Lindbergh who has become President of the United States and Hitler includes an agreement to impose Mosley as the ruler of a German-occupied Britain with America's blessing after a ruse in which Lindbergh convinces Churchill to negotiate peace with Hitler, which deliberately fails – mirroring the dishonesty and repudiation of key Hitler-signed treaties, the Munich Conference Accord and Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
  • In C. J. Sansom's novel Dominion, the Second World War ends in June 1940, when the British government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Lord Halifax, signs a peace treaty with Nazi Germany in Berlin. By November 1952, Mosley is serving as Home Secretary in the cabinet of Lord Beaverbrook, who leads a coalition government consisting of the pro-Treaty factions of the Conservatives and Labour as well as the BUF. The government works closely and sympathises with the Nazi regime in Germany. Under Mosley's leadership, the police have become a feared force and an "Auxiliary Police" consisting mainly of British Union of Fascists thugs that has been set up to deal with political crime.
  • In Lavie Tidhar's A Man Lies Dreaming (2014), Mosley is running for (and eventually becomes) Prime Minister, in a world where the Communists, rather than the Nazis, rose to power in Germany in 1933.
  • Works of Harry Turtledove:
  • In Guy Walters' The Leader, Mosley has taken power as "The Leader" of Great Britain in 1937. King Edward VIII is still on the throne after his marriage, Winston Churchill is a prisoner on the Isle of Man, and Prime Minister Mosley is conspiring with Adolf Hitler about the fate of Britain's Jewish population.
  • In the sixth book in Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series, Among the Mad, Maisie's investigation takes her to a meeting of Oswald Mosley followers where violence ensues.



  • In the film Darkest Hour (2017), Churchill, played by Gary Oldman, discusses with his Outer Cabinet the possibility of Britain's becoming a slave state of Nazi Germany under Mosley if the decision is made to pursue peace talks right before his "We Shall Never Surrender" speech.[43]
  • In the film Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982), during the "In the Flesh" segment, the character Pink is dressed in a fashion similar to that of Mosley's.
  • In the film The Remains of the Day film (1993), the character Sir Geoffrey Wren is based loosely on Sir Oswald Mosley.
  • In the film It Happened Here (1964), which depicts a Nazi-occupied Britain in the mid-1940s, Mosley is never mentioned by name, but a British fascist leader strongly resembling Mosley is shown in faux documentary footage from the 1930s, and Mosley's portrait can be seen alongside Hitler's in government offices. The fictional "Immediate Action Organisation" in the film also seems to be inspired by Mosley's British Union of Fascists, with members referred to as "blackshirts" and the symbol of the BUF appearing on their uniforms.[44]


  • Amanda K. Hale's novel Mad Hatter (2019) features Mosley as her father James Larratt Battersby's leader in the BUF.
  • Aldous Huxley's novel Point Counter Point (1928) features Everard Webley, a character who is similar to Mosley in the 1920s, before Mosley left the Labour Party.
  • In H. G. Wells's novel The Holy Terror (1939), the Mosley-like character Lord Horatio Bohun is the leader of an organisation called the Popular Socialist Party. The character is principally motivated by vanity, and is removed from leadership and sent packing to Argentina.
  • P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves short-story and novel series includes the character Sir Roderick Spode from 1938 to 1971, who is a parody of Mosley.[45][46]


  • The original version of the Elvis Costello song "Less Than Zero" (1977) is an attack on Mosley and his politics. Listeners in the United States had assumed that the "Mr. Oswald" in the lyrics was Lee Harvey Oswald, so Costello wrote an alternative lyric to refer to Kennedy's assassin.[47]:74, 84
  • On Mosley's release from prison in 1943, Ewan MacColl wrote the song "The Leader's a Bleeder", set to the tune of the Irish song "The Old Orange Flute". The song suggests that Mosley had been treated relatively well in prison owing to his aristocratic background.[48]


  • In 2006, BBC History magazine selected Mosley as the 20th century's worst Briton.[49]


  • In the Foyle's War episode "The White Feather" (2002), Mosley is referred to as a fascist and Nazi sympathiser, and his detention is noted.
  • The Channel 4 biographical mini-series Mosley (1997) stars Jonathan Cake.
  • The satirical television programme Not the Nine O'Clock News lampooned the British media's favourable 1980 obituaries of Mosley in a comedic music video, "Baronet Oswald Ernald Mosley". The actors, dressed as Nazi punks, performed a punk rock eulogy to Mosley, interweaving some of the positive remarks by newspapers from all sides of the political spectrum, including The Times and The Guardian.[50]
  • In Peaky Blinders series 5 Mosley, portrayed by Sam Claflin, appears as a fellow Labour MP to Tommy Shelby OBE MP. Their relationship develops as the main driver of the series.
  • The BBC Wales-produced 2010 revival of Upstairs Downstairs includes a semi-fictional dramatisation of Mosley, the BUF and the Battle of Cable Street, set in 1936.

Video games

  • In the strategy video game Hearts of Iron 4, Mosley appears as leader of the United Kingdom should the player or AI turn the country towards the fascist ideology.

See also


Informational notes

  1. Arrested in the sense of stunned or gripped


  1. "Sir Oswald Mosley – Meteoric rise and fall of a controversial politician". The Times. London. 4 December 1980. p. 19.
  2. "Life and Times of Sir Oswald Mosley & the British Union of Fascists". Holocaust Research Project. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  3. Skidelsky, Robert. "Mosley, Sir Oswald Ernald, sixth baronet (1896–1980)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31477.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. General Register Office Index of Births in England and Wales for October, November and December 1896 (Registration district: St George, Hanover Square, Middlesex), p. 399
  5. "Mosley, Charles". Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knighthood (107 ed.). Burke's Peerage & Gentry. 2003. pp. 3283–3287. ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
  6. Rees, Philip. Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890. Cambridge University Press.
  7. Jones, Nigel (September 2004). Mosley. Haus Publishing. p. 21. ISBN 1-904341-09-8.
  8. Dalley, Jan (11 June 2000). "Tea With Hitler". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  9. Mosley, Oswald (1968). My Life. London: Black House Publishing. ISBN 978-1-908476-69-2.
  10. Robinson, Abby. "Peaky Blinders' Oswald Mosley – the real story behind Tommy Shelby's new foe". Digital Spy. Hearst UK Entertainment. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  11. Amato quotes national archive document HO 283/11, which states that among the property seized following Mosley's arrest by the British government in 1940 was correspondence between Mosley and Beaumont dating from 1937. Amato, Joseph Anthony (2002). Rethinking Home: A Case for Writing Local History. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 278–79. ISBN 978-0-520-23293-8. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  12. Barnes, James J.; Patience P. Barnes (2005). Nazis in Pre-War London, 1930–1939: The Fate and Role of German Party Members and British Sympathizers. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-84519-053-8. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  13. "No. 31147". The London Gazette. 28 January 1919. p. 1361.
  14. Alter, Peter (2017). "Das britische Schwarzhemd". Damals (in German). Vol. 49 no. 4. pp. 58–63.
  15. Mosley, Diana (1977). A Life of Contrasts. Hamish Hamilton.
  16. Macklin 2006, p. 24.
  17. Macklin 2006, p. 25.
  18. Sihvonen, Maija (2008). "Modern and Anti-Modern Elements in the Discourse of the British Union of Fascists" (PDF). p. 14.
  19. Rubin, Bret (Autumn 2010). "The Rise and Fall of British Fascism: Sir Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists" (PDF). Intersections Online. 11: 17.
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Primary sources

  • Mosley, Nicholas (1982). Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley, 1896–1933. Secker & Warburg. ISBN 978-0-436-28849-4.
  • Mosley, Nicholas (1983). Beyond the Pale: Sir Oswald Mosley and Family, 1933–1980. Secker & Warburg. ISBN 978-0-436-28852-4.
  • Mosley, Oswald (1968). My Life. Arlington House. ISBN 978-0-87000-160-4.

Further reading

  • Dorril, Stephen (2006). Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism. Viking Publishing. ISBN 0-670-86999-6.
  • Farndale, Nigel (2005). Haw-Haw: The Tragedy of William and Margaret Joyce. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-333-98992-0.
  • Macklin, Graham (2006). Chamberlain. Haus Books. ISBN 978-1-904950-62-2.
  • Pugh, Martin (2005). Hurrah for the Blackshirts!: Fascists and Fascism in Britain between the Wars. Random House. ISBN 0-224-06439-8.
  • Skidelsky, Robert (1975). Oswald Mosley. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 978-0-03-086580-0.
  • Skidelsky, Robert (1969). "The Problem of Mosley: Why a Fascist Failed". Encounter. 33 (192). pp. 77–88.
  • Worley, Matthew (2010). Oswald Mosley and the New Party. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-20697-7.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Harry Deeley
Member of Parliament for Harrow
Succeeded by
Isidore Salmon
Preceded by
John Davison
Member of Parliament for Smethwick
Succeeded by
Roy Wise
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Cushendun
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Clement Attlee
Baronetage of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir Oswald Mosley, 5th Baronet
(of Ancoats)
Succeeded by
Nicholas Mosley
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