Francis Ysidro Edgeworth

Francis Ysidro Edgeworth

A Portrait with Family and Friends

Lluís Barbé

Lluís Barbé has recreated the background and life of Francis Ysidro Edgeworth through a fascinating exercise of reconstruction that succeeds in shaping the first detailed biography ever published of this major economist and statistician. Originating from previously unexplored letters and documents kept in archives and registers of Ireland, England and Catalonia, Edgeworth’s relationships with his academic fellows – including Sully, Jevons, Marshall, Galton, Pearson, Walras, Pantaleoni, I. Fisher, Pareto, Keynes – are thoroughly depicted. Stemming from undiscovered primary sources, this book also reveals a close insight into the academic world of the period 1875–1925 in the fields of economics and statistics.

Preface

John Creedy

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought

Extract

John Creedy Francis Ysidro Edgeworth was a leading figure in the rapid development of economics during the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century, by which time it was firmly established as an academic subject. He held the Drummond Chair at Oxford and was regarded as second only to the great Cambridge economist Alfred Marshall. He was a prolific and highly original author who, in a cosmopolitan age, had probably the widest correspondence with economists all over the world. He was a man of enormously wide reading and considerable linguistic skills. He was the first editor of the Economic Journal, published by the newly formed Royal Economic Society. He was President of Section F of the British Association in 1889 and 1922. He achieved eminence as a statistician as well as an economist, becoming a Guy Medallist (Gold) of the Royal Statistical Society in 1907, and was President of the Society in 1912–14. His name is familiar to all students of economics, if only from learning about the ‘Edgeworth box’, one of the most widely used analytical devices in the subject. This diagrammatic tool was first introduced by Edgeworth in 1881 in his first publication in economics, Mathematical Psychics: An Essay on the Application of Mathematics to the Moral Sciences. This small book is remarkable for its highly original and far-reaching contributions to economics; indeed Marshall began his review with the statement: ‘This book shows clear signs of genius’. However, it was...