William Temple, the son of Frederick Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was born on 15th October, 1881. He was educated at Rugby (1894-1900) and Balliol College, Oxford (1900-1904), where he was president of the student union.
Along with his friend, A. D. Lindsay, he became a tutor at the Workers' Educational Association (WEA). He was later to serve as the organization's president (1908-1924). Influenced by the ideas of Henry Scott Holland Temple decided to enter the Church and he was ordained on 19th December, 1909. The following year he became headmaster of Repton School.
During the First World War Temple he became the honorary chaplain to George V. He also edited the Challenge (1915-1918) and became the leader of the Life and Liberty Movement. A socialist, Temple joined the Labour Party in 1918.
In November 1920 David Lloyd George offered Temple the bishopric of Manchester. Temple became a national figure in 1926 when he joined with A. D. Lindsay in urging the government to seek a negotiated agreement to the General Strike.
Temple also served as the Archbishop of York (1929-40) and the Archbishop of Canterbury (1942-44). In these posts he became an outspoken advocate of social reform and became involved in the campaign against unemployment, poverty and poor housing. George Bernard Shaw wrote: "to a man of my generation an archbishop of Temple's enlightenment was a realized impossibility".
In the 1930s United Christian Front gained the support of several church leaders. However, it soon became clear that it was a front for extreme right-wing politicians. In November 1937 William Temple and Donald Soper, a Methodist minister, wrote to The Times to condemn the United Christian Front: "We regret that so admirable an inspiration as the union of all Christians in resistance to the enemies of the Gospel should be bound up with judgments on contemporary events which are certainly precarious and to us appear mistaken."
Books by Temple include Church and Nation (1915), Personal Religion and the Life of Fellowship (1926), Christianity and the State (1928), Nature, Man and God (1934), Men Without Work (1938), Christianity and the Social Order (1942) and The Church Looks Forward (1944).
William Temple died at Westgate-on-Sea, Kent on 26th October, 1944.