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Muggeridge, Malcolm (1903-1990) | Archival Collections at Wheaton College

Name: Muggeridge, Malcolm (1903-1990)


Historical Note:

Born in 1903, Malcolm Muggeridge has become one of the notable figures of the twentieth century. He is well-known as an author, journalist, media personality, and in his later years, a leading spokesman for Christianity. Malcolm Muggeridge experienced a life of tension and seeking. Beginning with his socialist upbringing, his father was involved in politics and served as a member of Parliament, his search for satisfaction and justice continued until it culminated in his finally embracing Christianity.

Following his graduation from Cambridge University in 1924, Malcolm taught in India for a few years. This time was formative for him as he experienced India's caste system, likely influencing his iconoclastic nature exhibited so often in later years. After leaving India, he returned to England, married Katherine (Kitty) Dobbs and the couple settled in Egypt for a time. Here Malcolm began his journalism career, fulfilling his one ambition in life by writing pieces for the Manchester Guardian, Calcutta Statesman, Evening Standard, Daily Telegraph and other newspapers.

Malcolm and Kitty moved again, this time to Moscow (1932-1933) to become a part of what they considered the perfect society. Both Malcolm and Kitty had been raised in socialist ideology and longed for a government that truly met the needs of the people. However, while reporting from there for the Manchester Guardian, Malcolm quickly became disillusioned with the Soviet system. He saw first-hand how the peasant population was subjected to starvation and ill treatment by Stalin's regime. Malcolm's reports were rejected; both by leaders in Moscow and also by Western journalists who chose to believe Soviet propaganda.

During his career Malcolm spent many years away from his family, some of these as he became deeply involved in the Second World War that he had predicted. Though his children missed him, his son Leonard said Malcolm's spy involvement gave him opportunity to say with pride, "My Dad's in hush-hush work abroad!"

Muggeridge's wit and style endeared him to many as he became a popular (and controversial) figure on radio and television. From 1953-57 he served as editor of the British humor magazine Punch. During the 1960s this former Socialist and vocal agnostic gradually modified his positions on religion and became a Christian. This journey is recorded in his book Jesus Rediscovered. Attesting to the spiritual changes that had occurred in his life, Muggeridge emerged a strong voice for moral and ethical issues, following his earlier life of indulging in sensual pleasures. Malcolm used the printed word, television and invitations to address attentive groups to oppose abortion and euthanasia, support the rights of the mentally and physically handicapped or boldly disagree with governments and society. Public reaction to the controversial Malcolm Muggeridge was strong, though not always favorable. In spite of this, those close to Malcolm knew him for seeing the humor in life, even in the serious and solemn things.

Malcolm's journey to faith encompassed much of his life. In spite of his concern about the drift of the Christian church via liberalism and permissive morality into moral chaos, he eventually joined the Catholic Church because of their strong stand against abortion and birth control. The dedication and compassion of Mother Teresa and Fr. Paul Bidone were instrumental in Malcolm joining the Church. In 1983 Malcolm and Kitty Muggeridge became members of the Roman Catholic Church.

Malcolm's one relaxation was walking--alone, with Kitty, with family--walking and conversing. And at home he was always ready for visitors. He would break his routine willingly to entertain people from all over the world, from different walks of life--invited or not. And Kitty would serve tea. Malcolm's myriad letters from those who had been guests confirm that they felt greatly honored. Malcolm and Kitty had a way of making everyone feel they were special friends.

Malcolm was first and foremost a writer and thinker, who contributed greatly to the literature and thought of the twentieth century. As Canon David Winter stated, the true value of having Malcolm's papers at Wheaton College comes through being able to preserve "the voice of a craftsman of the English language--and a Christian voice which speaks with all the more splendor because it was born from a seed that was full of doubt, cynicism and self-promotion."

Malcolm Muggeridge, after a fruitful life of constant interaction and tension with life, entered eternal rest November 14, 1990.

Note Author: Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections staff






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