After education at Blundell's School Bartlett was invalided out of the Army in World War I. As a journalist he worked for the Daily Mail, and was a foreign correspondent for The Times. In 1922 he was appointed director of the London office of the League of Nations. In 1933 he joined the News Chronicle, and was its diplomatic correspondent for 20 years.
In 1942 Vernon Bartlett, Richard Acland, J. B. Priestley and others established the socialist Common Wealth Party. At the 1945 election, he kept his Bridgwater seat, standing as an independent. He joined the Labour Party in 1950 and retired from parliament.