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The Life and Times of J. Neville Keynes

A Beacon in the Tempest

Phyllis Deane

This fascinating biography of an economist who was also a logician and administrator, is based mainly upon his virtually continuous diary. The diary provides an intimate commentary on the academic developments and conflicts in which he was closely involved as well as on his life as undergraduate, bachelor and family man.
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Chapter 3: College fellow in a changing university

Phyllis Deane


1 BACHELOR DON’S FIRST YEAR When Keynes was elected a fellow of Pembroke in August 1876 he became a privileged senior member of a small well-endowed community of scholars comprising twelve fellows and a Master. He thus acquired modestly distinguished professional status, a share in the college dividend (then amounting to between £380 and £400 annually) and valuable rights of residence at one of the two traditionally prestigious English universities. This provided instant access to a congenial life style. It allowed him to eat well, to enjoy spacious comfort in rooms serviced by college staff, and to entertain friends and colleagues in socially agreeable surroundings. At the same time, Pembroke’s claims on his time were minimal. Normally he could expect to be summoned to, at most, one or two meetings a term.1 Apart from that he was absolutely free to decide for himself where to live, how to spend his time and how to supplement his college income from other sources. In short, Neville was ostensibly launched on a career the aims and details of which he could specify (and alter) as external opportunities arose for him. His ambitions were then firmly focused on becoming a university teacher – a role which had been idealized for him by the modern generation of dons who had directly inspired him over the past three years. With this objective in view he could expect to add to a basic college income (assured for life so long as he did not marry) supplemented by regular...

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