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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 7: Academic administration

Phyllis Deane


1 LOCAL EXAMINATIONS AND LECTURES Neville Keynes’s first administrative appointment in the university was as assistant secretary to the Local Examinations and Lectures Syndicate, which had organized examinations throughout England for schoolboys (since 1858) and schoolgirls (since 1865). It also arranged associated extension lectures in some of the localities from which candidates were drawn and operated a schools inspection service. The schoolchildren’s examinations, held annually in December, represented the Syndicate’s most important and onerous responsibility. In June 1869 it ran its first ‘Examination for Women’ (later called the Higher Local examination) which had been promoted by Henry Sidgwick (among others) with a view to ‘improving female education by providing examinations for governesses’.1 When Newnhamites and Girtonians were first allowed to be examined and classed at Cambridge tripos exams the Higher Local examination served them as a qualifying test, analogous to the Previous or ‘Little-Go’ which undergraduate males had to pass before taking a tripos examination. Better still, a first class in the Higher Locals virtually guaranteed a scholarship in a women’s college. Keynes was himself an experienced examiner at college and university level and had both examined and invigilated in the school-leaver examinations in 1878, 1879 and 1880 and in the Higher Locals in 1879 and 1880. He was therefore familiar with the operational details of the Syndicate’s examination system, and enthused by its extra-mural objectives, before he applied to join its responsible staff. When Keynes succeeded William Cunningham2 as assistant secretary for examinations in March 1881, the Syndicate’s of...

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