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.

Chapter 2: The Making of Francis Ysidro Edgeworth

Lluís Barbé

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought


As one, Who versed in geometric lore, would fain Measure the circle; and, though pondering long And deeply, that beginning, which he needs, Finds not: e’en such was I, intent to scan The novel wonder, and trace out the form, How the circle fitted, and therein How placed: but the flight was not for my wing; Had not a flash darted athwart my mind And, in the spleen, unfolded what it sought. (Paradise, Canto XXXIII, vv. 133–141). Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy. 2.1 1872–76: THE SAVILE AND THE ATHENÆUM After the death of his brother David in October 1871, Francis Edgeworth settled in London. He joined two clubs, the Savile and the Athenæum, and he took rooms in Hampstead. These three places and the Library of the British Museum were the venues where he was to spend most of his time in London over the coming years. Edgeworth joined the Savile Club in 1872 or perhaps in 1871 at the earliest. This club had been founded as the Eclectic Club in 1868. It then changed to the New Club, and when it moved to number 15 Savile Row in 1871 it was renamed the Savile Club. In 1880, the club moved yet again, this time to number 10 Piccadilly, but it kept its name. Although the purpose of the club was simply good fellowship, from the start there were quite a few members interested in literary and scientific pursuits. One of the founders was Edgeworth’s classmate...

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