Foreign News: Woman of the Year

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Normally a courageous feminist, Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt is accustomed to name annually "The Ten Women of the Year." This week she not only did not name Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson as one of her ten women of 1936 but emphasized her attitude by announcing that she is not going to name any more women of the years. In past years Mrs. Catt has named such women as Mrs. Lindbergh, Miss Perkins, Miss Earhart, with President Roosevelt's wife heading the list year after year.

In the entire history of Great Britain there has been only one voluntary royal abdication and it came about in 1936 solely because of one woman, Mrs. Simpson. In 1935 she was quite as intimate with Edward as she was later but he was then only Prince of Wales, and there was no reason to think she was not going to remain the wife of Mr. Simpson, just as in the days of King Edward VII his female intimates generally had husbands and stayed at Buckingham Palace ostensibly on the invitation of Queen Alexandra as "her friends." Two years ago Mrs. Simpson was hardly known as Edward's friend outside the most limited Mayfair set. Three years ago their friendship was furtive: she would "just happen" to be in a London nightclub with her own party, the Prince of Wales would also "just happen" to be there with his, and an equerry would go over to her table and ask if she would care to dance with H.R.H.

Edward of Wales had had many another friend on the same terms, and Mrs. Simpson was an ordinary divorcee of the international set, definitely not rich and seldom or never mentioned in society columns. In the single year 1936 she became the most-talked-about, written-about, headlined and interest-compelling person in the world. In these respects no woman in history has ever equaled Mrs. Simpson, for no press or radio existed to spread the world news they made.

In England the news that the King, as King, wanted to marry Mrs. Simpson was the final culmination of a tide of events sweeping the United Kingdom out of its cozy past and into a more or less hectic and "American" future. Against this trend the spirit of John Bull resolutely set himself, and the flesh was that of the Rt. Hon. Stanley Baldwin. The Prime Minister provoked the entire crisis, which otherwise might never have arisen as a crisis, by making publicly in the House of Commons the first official statement that King Edward was actually resolved to marry Mrs. Simpson (TIME, Dec. 14). This fact had been ascertained as a "scoop" personally by William Randolph Hearst, but had it not been made official. Edward VIII might simply have done nothing until after he was crowned May 12, and then (Mrs. Simpson having meanwhile obtained her absolute divorce on April 27), His Majesty had only to marry her and she would have been Queen.

By turning the course of Britain's history back into its traditional channel, Stanley Baldwin certainly rose to a stature equaled by few other candidates for Man of the Year. Indeed so impressive was his handling of the Simpson Crisis that his popularity in England reached an all-time high and evoked one of the most extraordinary gestures of public acclaim ever accorded to a modern politician: a gift of $10,000,000 to implement the new era brought about by Mr. Baldwin.*

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