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Lionel Robbins

Part of Historical Perspectives on Modern Economics

  • Date Published: November 2011
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781139142724

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  • By the time of his death the English economist Lionel Robbins (1898–1984) was celebrated as a 'renaissance man'. He made major contributions to his own academic discipline and applied his skills as an economist not only to practical problems of economic policy – with conspicuous success when he served as head of the economists advising the wartime coalition government of Winston Churchill in 1940–45 – and of higher education – the 'Robbins Report' of 1963 – but also to the administration of the visual and performing arts that he loved deeply. He was devoted to the London School of Economics, from his time as an undergraduate following active service as an artillery officer on the Western Front in 1917–18, through his years as Professor of Economics (1929–62), and his stint as chairman of the governors during the 'troubles' of the late 1960s. This comprehensive biography, based on his personal and professional correspondence and other papers, covers all these many and varied activities.

    • First full biography of Lionel Robbins and based on unpublished sources
    • Describes the development of Robbins's economic, political, religious and social views as well as his published work in economics
    • Treats Robbins's service as a government adviser in the Second World War and his extensive work for the arts, especially the National Gallery and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This impressive biography opens a window into the life of the person who was at the centre of the economics profession in Britain for four decades. It will be an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to understand what happened to British economics in the twentieth century.' Roger Backhouse, University of Birmingham

    'Sue Howson has produced the definitive account of the life and work of one the most versatile economists of the twentieth century. An impressive achievement!' William Barber, Wesleyan University

    'The legacy of Lionel Robbins is vast and deep, spanning economic analysis and policymaking, post-World War II reconstruction, the arts, and higher education. Susan Howson brings all of this to life in her painstakingly researched biography. Hers is an amazing achievement, and this book will be the starting point for all future research on this giant of twentieth-century British intellectual and social life.' Steven G. Medema, University of Colorado

    'This biography of a leading figure in twentieth-century British academic and public life is far more than an authoritative account of the career of an exceptional economist. Susan Howson's command over a remarkable combination of personal and public documentation has enabled her to make important contributions to the political and economic history of the period and the institutions and policies with which Lionel Robbins was intimately connected: the London School of Economics, the official conduct of war and post-war economic planning, the future of higher education, and the administration of the British arts scene from the perspective of the National Gallery and the Royal Opera House.' Donald Winch, University of Sussex

    'This is, no doubt, a decisive work on the life of Lionel Robbins, the economist who is probably safe to be viewed as having left a greater legacy on contemporary British society than on the history of economic thought … the book is not exclusively written for an audience of economists. Historians interested in British art policy, for instance, will surely profit from this book, and historians working on the US-UK negotiation during WWII will also gain another window to this high-profile, very complex, international policy-making process … It is, no doubt, a great work by a prominent historian; the scope is broad and the treatment of each issue is even-handed.' Norikazu Takami, Journal of the History of Economic Thought

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2011
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781139142724
    • contains: 30 b/w illus.
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    1. Father and son
    2. The Great War
    3. Postwar
    4. The London School of Economics
    5. Iris Gardiner
    6. New College Oxford
    7. The young professor
    8. Fritz and Lionel
    9. The School in the mid 1930s
    10. The approach of war
    11. The economics of war
    12. Director of the Economic Section
    13. Anglo-American conversations
    14. The Law Mission and the Steering Committee
    15. 1944
    16. The last months of the war
    17. The postwar settlement
    18. Return to the School
    19. The end of the transition
    20. LSE in the early 1950s
    21. Chairman of the National Gallery
    22. Lord Robbins
    23. The Robbins Report
    24. The sixties
    25. The arts
    26. The troubles at LSE
    27. Retirement
    Conclusion.

  • Author

    Susan Howson, University of Toronto
    Susan Howson is Professor of Economics and Fellow of Trinity College, University of Toronto. She was educated at the London School of Economics (1964–1969) and at the University of Cambridge, where she obtained her PhD in 1975. She has held visiting positions in the International Division of the Bank of England (1979–1981); Nuffield College, Oxford (1984–1985); and Wolfson College, Cambridge (1991–1993). Professor Howson is the author of Domestic Monetary Management in Britain 1919–38 (Cambridge University Press, 1975) and British Monetary Policy, 1945–51 (1993) and co-author with Donald Winch of The Economic Advisory Council (Cambridge University Press, 1977). She edited The Collected Papers of James Meade (3 volumes, 1988) and co-edited with Donald Moggridge the wartime diaries of Lionel Robbins and Nobel Laureate James Meade, and the Cabinet Office diary of James Meade (1990). Professor Howson began research on the life and work of Lionel Robbins in the early 1990s. She edited a selection of his major articles in economic theory and economic policy under the title Economic Science and Political Economy (1997). Her work on British economic policy has been published in The Economic Journal, the Economic History Review, History of Political Economy, the Journal of Economic History and Oxford Economic Papers, among other publications. She is also a contributor to the Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain (Structural Change and Growth, Volume III, 2004). The recipient of two prizes for research in economic history, Professor Howson has also held two Connaught Senior Research Fellowships in the Social Sciences, in 2004 and 2007, for her work on Lionel Robbins.

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