Walter Bagehot

Walter Bagehot

Walter Bagehot (pronounced BAD-jit, IPAEng|ˈbædʒət) (3 February, 1826 – 24 March, 1877) was a British businessman, essayist, and journalist who wrote extensively about literature, government, and economic affairs.

Formative years

Bagehot was born in Langport, Somerset, England on 3 February 1826. His father, Thomas Walter Bagehot, was managing director and vice-chairman of Stuckey's Banking Company. He attended University College London, where he studied mathematics and in 1848 earned a master's degree in intellectual and moral philosophy. [ [ Richard Holt Hutton, "Memoir" and "Second Memoir" (from "Dictionary of National Biography"), in Mrs Russell Barrington, ed., "The Works and Life of Walter Bagehot," London, Longman, Green (1915)] ] .


Bagehot was called to the bar but preferred to join his father in 1852 in his family's shipping and banking business. He wrote for various periodicals, then for seventeen years edited "The Economist" newspaper which had been founded by his father-in-law, James Wilson. Becoming editor-in-chief in 1860, Bagehot expanded "The Economist"'s reporting on the United States and on politics and is considered to have increased its influence among policymakers. In honour of his contributions, the paper's "Britain" section retains a column named for him.

In 1867, he wrote a book called "The English Constitution" that explored the nature of the constitution of the United Kingdom, specifically the functioning of Parliament and the British monarchy and the contrasts between British and American government. The book is considered a classic and has been translated into many languages.

Bagehot also wrote "Physics and Politics" (1872), in which he coined the still-current expression, "the cake of custom," to describe the tension between social institutions and innovations. "Lombard Street" (1873), explains the world of finance and banking and focuses particularly on issues in the management of financial crises. In his contributions to sociological theory within historical studies, Bagehot may be compared to his contemporary, Henry James Sumner Maine.

Collections of Bagehot's literary, political, and economic essays were published after his death. Their subjects ranged from Shakespeare and Disraeli to the price of silver.

Every year, the British Political Studies Association awards the Walter Bagehot Prize for the best dissertation in the field of government and public administration. "The Economist" regularly publishes a commentary on current affairs in the UK, entitled "Bagehot," just as its "Lexington" addresses the US and "Charlemagne" Europe.


* "The Collected Works of Walter Bagehot: Volumes 1-15," ed. Norman S. John-Stevas, New York, Oxford U. Press, (1986) ISBN 0850580390
* [ Emily (Mrs Russell) Barrington, ed., "The Works and Life of Walter Bagehot," in 10 vols. London, Longman, Green (1915) On line.]
* [ "The Postulates of English Political Economy, with a Preface by Alfred Marshall," London, Longmans Green & Co. (1885); Google Books, online]
* [,M1 "Economic Studies," ed. Richard Holt Hutton, London, Bombay and Calcutta, Longmans, Green (1879)] ; New York, Augustus M. Kelley (1998) ISBN 0678008523


"The greatest pleasure in life is doing what other people say you cannot do."



* [ Brian Hanley, "'The Greatest Victorian' in the New Century: The Enduring Relevance of Walter Bagehot's Commentary on Literature, Scholarship, and Public Life", "Papers on Language and Literature," (Spring 2004)]
* "The Pursuit of Reason:" The Economist "1843-1993", Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Massachusetts ISBN 0-87584-608-4

External links

*gutenberg author|id=Walter_Bagehot|name=Walter Bagehot
* [ Works by Walter Bagehot] at Internet Archive

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