Waldorf Astor was born in New York on May 19 1879. His father settled in England in 1889 and was created Viscount Astor in 1917. Waldorf Astor was educated at Eton and Oxford. In 1906 he married Mrs Nancy Witcher Shaw and received the house called Cliveden, near Taplow, Bucks., as a wedding present from his father
In 1910 Waldorf Astor became Conservative MP for Plymouth. He was also involved in public affairs through The Observer (owned by his father), and through membership of the Round Table Group. Prevented by poor health from serving in the armed forces during the First World War, he became an inspector of ordinance factories and held office as Parliamentary Secretary to Lloyd George (1917), at the Ministry of Food (1918) and at the Ministry of Health (1919-1921). On the death of his father in 1919 he succeeded to the title and resigned his seat in the House of Commons. His wife stood for the seat in his place and on winning the election became the first woman to sit in Parliament. The new Viscount Astor became a founder member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and an active supporter of the League of Nations. He also developed a keen interest in agriculture. The Astors hosted frequent gatherings of politicians, journalists and academics, and in the later thirties the 'Cliveden set' were known mainly for their advocacy of a policy of appeasement towards Hitler's Germany.
Lord Astor continued his association with Plymouth, holding the office of Lord Mayor from 1939 to 1944. He was the author or part author of several books, including Land and Life (1932), The Planning of Agriculture (1933), British Agriculture (1938), and Mixed Farming and Muddled Thinking (1946). Both he and his wife were Christian Scientists. He died at Cliveden on September 30 1952.
From the guide to the Papers of Waldorf Astor, 2nd Viscount Astor, 1893-1952, (Reading University: Special Collections Services)