Table of Contents

Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.

Chapter 73: John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946)

Victoria Chick and Jesper Jespersen

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought


Life John Maynard Keynes was born in Cambridge, England, the eldest of three children. His father, John Neville Keynes, was a Cambridge don (and later Registrary of the University) who lectured in logic and political economy. His Scope and Method of Political Economy (1891) remains an important text in economic methodology. Maynard’s mother, Florence Ada Keynes, was the daughter of a Congregationalist minister. She was educated at Newnham College in the pioneering days of women’s education at Cambridge. She was active in progressive social projects and became a magistrate and the first woman mayor of Cambridge. Maynard’s father supervised his early studies; they worked together in the father’s study. Maynard was perceived as exceptionally intelligent from an early age and was pushed rather hard, but where a lesser child might have found this onerous or have rebelled, he revelled in the work and excelled. He won a scholarship to Eton, where he developed his knowledge of philosophy and began to collect rare books. (He later made a substantial contribution to the history of science by collecting Newton’s alchemical papers.) He went from there to King’s College, Cambridge, where philosophy and ethics claimed his attention more than the subject he was reading: mathematics. He and those in his circle were much influenced by the philosophy of G.E. Moore, for whom the contemplation of beauty and the enjoyment of friendship were the true purposes of life, a view deeply subversive of Victorian values of duty and convention. Keynes took a first class...

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