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The Pilgrims Society and Public Diplomacy, 1895–1945

Stephen Bowman

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Explores the Pilgrims Society and its role in pioneering Anglo-American public diplomacy

Labelled by an Irish-American newspaper in 1906 as a ‘nondescript aggregation of degenerate Americans, Britishers and Jews’, the Pilgrims Society has long excited the imaginations of conspiracy theorists. Founded in London in 1902, this upper-class dining club acted to bring Britain and the USA closer together in political, diplomatic and cultural terms. Drawing on rich archival research, this book explores how this elite network – whose members included J. P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie – attempted to influence the Anglo-American relationship in the days before it became ‘special’.

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1. Public Diplomacy Conceptualised
2. The Founding of the Society
3. Earl Grey’s Public Diplomacy
4. The Pilgrims and the First World War
5. The Decline of the Great Rapprochement
6. Public Diplomacy Ascendant

About the Author

Stephen Bowman is Lecturer in the Centre for History at the University of the Highlands and Islands. He holds degrees from Northumbria University and the University of Stirling. His current and future research centres on transatlantic ideological exchange, with a particular focus on the Scottish-American connection. Stephen is a past winner of the Transatlantic Studies Association’s prestigious Donald Cameron Watt Prize. He has taught at the University of Stirling, Durham University, Newcastle University and Northumbria University.


Bowman delves behind the scenes to uncover how the Anglo-American relationship was forged, utilizing a wealth of previously untapped materials. Cleary written, highly accessible, it adds significant depth to our understanding of the complex nature of trans-Atlantic networks.

- Erik Goldstein, Boston University

An absolutely first-rate account of one of the most influential advocacy groups ever in the transatlantic world. Stephen Bowman’s account of the Pilgrims Society’s public diplomacy from the late 1890s to the Second World War is essential reading for anyone trying to understand the origins and evolution of the Anglo-American "special relationship."

- David G. Haglund, Queen’s University, Canada

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