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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 10: The impact of war

Phyllis Deane


1 THE PRELUDE When war broke out on 4 August 1914, Neville Keynes had reached the peak of his personal ambitions. His election in November 1910 to the post of registrary had elevated him to the top of the university’s small paid bureaucracy. For over a century the registrary had been a fellow of Trinity – the largest and academically most eminent of Cambridge colleges. To be returned unopposed to this office was striking evidence of the high esteem in which Dr Keynes – not then a fellow of any college – was held by senior members of the university. It is therefore not surprising that Pembroke hastily elected its ex-fellow into an honorary fellowship. Neville was genuinely gratified by this unexpected honour. More important to his future, however, was the fact that he could retain his unpaid secretaryship on the Council of the Senate, a role which had, within the previous twenty years, become politically far more weighty and challenging than the formalized office of registrary. By holding both posts, Neville Keynes became the most pivotal individual member of the university bureaucracy in a period of radical, difficult and painfully contentious reform. That the two offices could most conveniently and efficiently be held by one individual was later formalized by adding the Council secretary’s duties to the statutory obligations of the registrary. Inevitably Neville was obliged to vacate his administrative post as chief secretary for Local examinations at the end of 1910 (when he was in...

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