The mistress of Joseph Chamberlain's Highbury - Mary Endicott Chamberlain
Joseph Chamberlain was one of the dominant figures of political life in Britain and its Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, famously described by a young Winston Churchill as ‘the man who made the political weather’.
But less attention has been given to Chamberlain’s personal life which was scarred by tragedy when his first two wives died in childbirth. Then, after more than a decade, Joe surprised everyone when he met and proposed to the beautiful American Mary Endicott, the much younger daughter of a member of the US cabinet.
Mary became Joe’s third wife and the step mother of his children including Austen and Neville who would later become Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minster respectively.
At Chamberlain’s homes at Highbury in Birmingham and in London, Mary was a famous hostess who, for more than two decades, was at the very centre of the country’s political and social life. Then after Joe suffered a stroke in 1906 she remained at his side until he died in 1914.
Intrigued by Mary, historian Justine Pick spent more than a year researching her voluminous correspondence to uncover the life this charismatic woman and her marriage to Chamberlain. In this programme Justine talks to History West Midlands publisher Mike Gibbs.
Keywords: Mary Endicott, Justine Pick, Joseph Chamberlain, Highbury, Birmingham
Picture courtesy of: CCO – Birmingham Museums Trust