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Darwin’s Clever Neighbour

George Warde Norman and his Circle

D. P. O’Brien and John Creedy

George Warde Norman, 1793–1882, a Director of the Bank of England 1821–72, was an important figure in both the development and the implementation of the theory of monetary control, embodied in the Bank Charter Act of 1844. Norman wrote an Autobiography covering his first 54 years, and this provides a remarkable portrait not only of Norman himself but of the social and intellectual network in which he lived. He was an intimate of the Utilitarians, especially George Grote with whom there was ultimately a quarrel which has never been made public before. He was a businessman, at first in the timber trade, in which connection he spent time in Norway, and made the acquaintance of Napoleon’s Marshall, Bernadotte, by then King of Sweden and Norway, and then in fire insurance. He also wrote on economic matters, not only on monetary issues but also on trade theory and taxation. The Autobiography, which has survived fire and flood, was rediscovered in the 1960s by D.P. O’Brien who at that time prepared a typescript which has been used by scholars. With the release of this edition, the work is now available for the first time in a fully edited and corrected version. It should be of interest to historians of economic thought, economic historians, and students of nineteenth century intellectual history and society.

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