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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 11: Beacon in retirement

Phyllis Deane


John Neville Keynes was aged 73 when he retired at the end of 1925, after having kept Cambridge University terms continuously since 1872. He could look back on a satisfyingly full working life. Best of all, he knew that most of the administrative, constitutional and educational reforms that he had striven to promote were in process of being systematically embodied in the statutes and ordinances of the university and colleges. His three children were then happily married and steadily achieving laudable personal goals; while his wife was an active, respected, long-term member of Cambridge Town Council of which she was to become the first woman mayor in 1930. More light-hearted than he had been since his 25th birthday,1 Neville was able to indulge freely in a variety of familiar hobbies – acquiring and exchanging stamps among other enthusiasts, playing golf, bridge or chess with old friends and taking holidays abroad with Florence to revisit cities and favourite landscapes or to extend his already remarkable collection of continental butterflies. As Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College and a sociable ex-registrary he could continue to participate in the customary stream of college feasts and other institutional occasions – without any of the oracular responsibilities that might have limited his earlier enjoyment of High Table conversations. Meanwhile, he still drew recurrent pleasure in the company of his extended family, who, with his (and their) friends, enriched the frequent informal mealtime gatherings at Harvey Road. By the time he retired the family had been enlarged...

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