Tuesday, 16 July 2019

The Economic Consequences of the Peace by John Maynard Keynes, 1919 Part III: Maynard and his mother: Florence Ada Keynes by Sue Woods

Florence was devoted to her son, Maynard, and took enormous pride in his achievements. In her collection of family scrapbooks, she carefully stored all the press cuttings and reviews tracing the successful careers of her three children, Maynard, Geoffrey, and Margaret. Bound in these scrapbooks were hundreds of articles featuring Maynard’s publication of the Economic Consequences of the Peace, including his letters to newspapers as well as the reactions of his readers.  Florence and Neville, Maynard's father, set up their home at 6 Harvey Road, Cambridge, where they enjoyed the relatively affluent lifestyle of the Victorian academic family. With three young children, Florence shared her children's interests and ambitions, so that she was always there for them, ready to help. 
Portrait of Florence Ada Keynes, by courtesy of Cambridgeshire Collection

Maynard's friends referred to her as "the good mother Keynes" [1] and although she was committed to so many good causes, her family always came first and she would drop everything to help them.

Florence was immensely proud of Maynard, and in a letter to him in August 1917, when he was serving in the Treasury, Florence wrote:
“How exciting it must be for you to attend the Cabinet meetings.  Indeed, it seems to me that you are having such experiences as will make the whole of life pale afterwards.” [2]

Just 2 years later, when attending the Peace Conference in Paris, Maynard relied on his mother for support.  They corresponded regularly, with Maynard relating his many meetings with the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, as well as his frustrations at the lack of progress.  Despairing of the failure of the Peace Conference, Maynard was on the point of resigning his post at the Treasury, and wrote to his mother regretting that he had been “an accomplice in all this wickedness and folly.[3]  Florence reassured Maynard and tried to console him, writing on 19 May, “… perhaps things are not quite so desperate”[4].  Maynard felt unable to continue and wrote to the Prime Minister on 5 June to resign his position.

Even when working all hours on writing “The Economic Consequences of the Peace”, Maynard took the time to write to his mother, “… managed to keep up my average of 1,000 words fit for the printer every day, seven days a week; but there are still some very difficult bits to do.  I hope to finish by the first week of October and have it actually published before the last day of the month.” [5] By 23 September 1919, Maynard had sent the first five chapters to the printers, but had not yet started the two remaining chapters and reckoned that he was ten days behind schedule.  He wrote again to Florence from Charleston, “They weigh rather heavily as I am stale and should like to take a month off…. But I suppose I must persevere.”[6]

Florence tried to persuade Maynard to tone down the personal passages in "The Economic Consequences of the Peace", as she was concerned about the offence they might cause to Wilson and Lloyd George. She considered his references to Lord Sumner as possibly libellous and hoped that he would remove the "nasty hits at Lloyd George...you owe some loyalty to your Chief, even if you don't agree with him... Also spare the President where you can...Don't call him 'poor'. Broadly speaking it is really important to be careful about international susceptibilities, so don't call the French demands perposterous, or call any 'great' man wicked or wanton. The work will gain, not lose, by restraint."[7]. Maynard heeded some but not all of his mother's advice and removed some of the references. 

[1] Skidelsky, Robert. John Maynard Keynes. Volume 1. London: Macmillan, 1983
[2] Letter: FAK to JMK 1 Aug 1917
[3] Letter: JMK to FAK 14 May 1919
[4] Skidelsky, Robert. John Maynard Keynes. Volume 1. London: Macmillan, 1983
[5] Letter: JMK to FAK 3 Sep 1919
[6] Letter: JMK to FAK 23 Sep 1919
[7] Skidelsky, Robert. John Maynard Keynes. Volume 1. London: Macmillan, 1983

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

The Economic Consequences of the Peace by John Maynard Keynes, 1919 Part II: "written by an economist, it must be dry and dull" by Catherine Piner

The previous blog post addressed the early publication history of Keynes’ Economic Consequences of the Peace. While much can, and should, be said about the quantifiable spread of this work, there is equally as much to say about the qualitative response to it. In his letters to his American publisher, Keynes regularly requested clippings from American reviews of the work.

Alfred Harcourt in 1904, Columbia University Archives, CC-BY-SA 4.0

On February 28, 1920 Alfred Harcourt sent Keynes the following letter: 

The reviews continue uniformly favorable and impressively so, I enclose a fulmination which will appear in to-morrow’s New York Times. You doubtless know that the Times has been very reactionary, but I thought I had it so arranged that Frank Vanderlip was to review the book for them, as a matter of fact, a mutual friend tells me that Vanderlip did write a remarkable article about the book, but so favorable in tone that they refused to print it, and that accounts for their finding Hazen to do the notice enclosed. I have ordered the insertion of an advertisement to occupy about ten inches, three columns wide in the new section of the Times to-morrow and Monday, which shall contain extracts from other reviews. I don’t think they will refuse to print these advertisements and the upshot should be a large increase in demand. You may be sure that the book has had a remarkable effect on public opinion and the course of the treaty in the Senate

That Keynes and his publishers were interested in public response to this work is obvious. Given its sizable print run, it should come as no surprise that the publishers wished to keep the success going, and that Keynes sought information on what in the work so spoke to people. 

In letters to Keynes there are frequent references to clippings from newspaper reviews that have, unfortuanately, been lost. Luckily however, enough information about some reviews remains that they can be found in newspaper archives, like Hazens' article. Unlike other reviews which Keynes and Harcourt both describe as positive, Hazen's work is a true 'fulmination' as Harcourt warned. Headlined as 'FAULTS AND WEAKNESSES OF MR KEYNES'S ATTACK ON TREATY: Expert Analysis of His Criticism of What the Allied Leaders Did at the Paris Peace Conference Shows the Strong and Significant Bias of His Book on 'The Economic Consequences of the Peace' - one can make no mistake on Hazen's viewpoint.

This review, more so than ones lauding Keynes' work, is important to consider. While negative, the vehemence of Hazen's review would have certainly enticed readers. In an attempt to discredit Keynes, Hazen argues that 'Let no one think that, because written by an economist, it must be dry and dull. It is anything but that. It is a very angry book.'Such a review is an advertisement in itself. As Harcourt noted, the book has a 'remarkable' effect, and hearing that it is anything but 'dry and dull' would work wonders at getting Keynes a readership not usually interested in political matters. If nothing else, the spread of an economic and political work through so many levels of society is vital to note. Keynes' ideas have come to define the 'causes' of WWII. Therefore the spread of his work throughout society gives us an insight into how the Treaty of Versailles came to be villainized.

Hazen argues that Keynes' anger precludes him from being able to write a calm and balanced book. Hazen points to Keynes' comparison of the treaty to a Carthaginian Peace as ridiculous, insulting his American audience for assuming that 'the great, classically educated American democracy would be able to detect some quite important differences between that and the Peace of Versailles.' Hazen's arguments cover most of Keynes' book, but can ultimately be summed up in this particular critique, 'Mr. Keynes not only paints his portraits "moles and all" but he makes the moles unusually protruberant and ugly.' Hazen crticises Keynes for being an economist not particularly interested in the politics of the matter and hyperbolising the issues. As Hazen says, 'Mr. Keynes's perspective is not all that a perspective should be. He looks at everything from the economic point of view and economic considerations and values are exclusive and decisive for him.' 

The Big Four: Lloyd-George, Orlando, Clemenceau, Woodrow-Wilson taken by Edward N. Jackson, May 1919, © Public Domain

While overtly and unforgivingly negative, the review could not be more salacious. It paints Keynes' work as a political roman-a-clef,which would undoubtedly interest many. Although adverse, Hazen cannot help but comment, at the end, that 'Mr. Keynes has a great deal to say in his book about justice in this world and the peremptory need of more of it right now. We agree with him on this point.' This statement is perhaps the most poignant from the entire review. the public were emotionally primed to look for a better world after The Treaty of Versailles and the end of WWI. This may explain the reception and interest in Keynes' book, which seems to have come out at the 'right' time.   

Friday, 17 May 2019

The Economic Consequences of the Peace by John Maynard Keynes, 1919 Part I: Early Publication History by Catherine Piner

In anticipation of the Economic Consequences of the Peace Centenary Conference on September 9th and 10th, 2019, the Marshall Library is releasing a series of blog posts on the publication of Keynes’ book. The first in this series focuses on the early publication history of The Economic Consequences of the Peace.

The first print run of The Economic Consequences of the Peace hit London at the end of 1919.

Within six weeks Keynes was working with American publisher Alfred Harcourt of Harcourt, Brace and Howe Inc. on an American edition. In a letter from Keynes to Harcourt on the 29th of January 1920, Keynes explains the unanticipated enormity of the response to his work. By this point, 8,000 copies had been sold in England and 15,000 had been printed in all. Internationally, there was a ‘strong demand’ for the translation rights in ‘French, Italian, German, Dutch, Hungarian, Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, and Russian.’[1] Given the response to his work, Keynes was writing to express his regret at not making the first American print run larger than the planned 4,000 copies.

Keynes was certainly right about the American market. His royalty statements for the first six months of American publication reveal incredible success. By the 30th of June, 38,403 copies had been sold in America. In terms of royalties, Keynes earned $16,401.31.[2] His publisher, Alfred Harcourt, clearly anticipated the continuation of this success; in a letter on May 5th, 1920 Harcourt informs Keynes that they just had another 50,000 printed with 4,000 bound initially.[3]

While not as robust in terms of total copies as the publication’s American success, the work continued to do exceedingly well in England. Within weeks of the book’s publication, friends, organizations, and strangers were writing to Keynes asking him to publish a cheaper edition of the work. On January 16, 1920 the secretary of the Women’s International League, K.E. Royds, wrote to Keynes asking him to ‘arrange to have a cheap edition […] brought out at the earliest possible moment.’[4] Thomas F. Tweed of the Manchester Liberal Federation wrote asking for a cheaper and shortened edition. On January 27, 1920 he wrote:

‘It is fair to assume that you wrote the book with a more or less propaganda purpose. Its price, however, makes the matter of popular circulation almost prohibitive, and I am instructed in this first instance, in quite an informal way, to suggest to you the writing of an abridged version of the “Economic Consequences” which might be about half its length and published at a popular price.’[5]

Others, such as Archibald Rowntree, wrote offering to help finance a cheaper edition, saying that if ‘any help is needed by way of guarantee in order to get it at a really low price, I think two or three of us here would be only too glad to help in this way.’[6] Harold Storey of the Liberal Publication Department similarly offered financial assistance should it be necessary, explaining that ‘Many of us regard your book as so much the mouthpiece of a great cause, that I do not think there would be any difficulty in spending money in order to get it quickly before a larger public.’[7]

On the subject of a cheaper edition, Keynes eventually worked with G.D.H. Cole of the Labour Research Department to release a special cheaper edition of 10,000 copies. By September 1st of 1920, there remained only 170 copies of the 10,000 unsold.[8] A photograph of the Marshall Library’s copy from this edition is below. The book is on display at the entrance of the Marshall Library for the next few months for those interested in a closer look.

Within a year of publication, the spread of Keynes’ work was so broad that he had to cancel plans for 2,000 copies of a Czech translated edition. At this time, the spread of the German edition throughout Czechoslovakia made it unprofitable to translate further.[9] Clearly, neither Keynes nor his publishers predicted this work’s universal popularity.

It is important to keep in mind that these publication figures give just a glimmer of the work’s popularity; for every book sold it is impossible to say how many times it was read and passed between individuals. While the publication figures certainly tell a story of the work’s unanticipated popularity, the reasons for and nature of that popularity cannot been seen in these figures. Future blog posts will begin to address just this.

Special thanks to the Archive Centre and King’s College, Cambridge for use of and help with their collection of Keynes’ correspondence.

[1] Cambridge, King’s College Archive Centre, EC/5/1/29 & 30. 
[2] EC/5/1/49 & 50 & 51.
[3] EC/5/1/44.
[4] EC/4/6 & 7.
[5] EC/4/13 & 14.
[6] EC/4/1.
[7] EC/4/10 & 11.
[8] EC/4/48.
[9] EC/5/2/10.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Inside the Marshall Library by Barbara Heindl, Work Experience Student from Berlin State Library

When I first applied for an internship at the UL Cambridge, I didn’t expect to get a glimpse into such a diverse landscape of libraries which is part of a university that is at the least just as diverse! Having studied Literature at the University of Tübingen in southern Germany, having started my PhD in Cultural Studies in Frankfurt/Oder and working now in the Berlin State Library while getting another master’s degree in Library- and Information Sciences from the Humboldt-University in Berlin, I thought I knew what to expect. But Cambridge doesn’t work like most other universities. Here, there’s not only the UL, the faculty and departmental libraries but also quite a few college libraries: That means that the entire system works differently and whilst in Germany more or less every person working in a library is called “librarian”, Cambridge offers that title but to the heads of libraries. 

cc-by-sa Martin McCormick https://bit.ly/2CQpI5V

However, after two weeks in varied departments of the UL, I got the chance to spend one week in the Marshall Library and that was quite distinct from what I am used to!

© Marshall Library

The day starts off rather calm in the Marshall Library but that changes around 10 a.m. when a wave of students arrives. Most of them try to spend about an hour working in between classes and take the chance to return or borrow books. As library staff, it’s easy to see which books have been recommended in the previous class because the corresponding copies are in a very high demand. 

Both in the Berlin State Library and in the UL library life follows other rules and is a little less dependent on the schedules of students. Most of the readers come in during the morning, find their preferred desks and then stay until the evening, working on a paper or some kind of book etc.
Being above all a place for students also implicates special tasks – some of which might also be a little special to Cambridge. Libraries around Cambridge University try to get hold of as many reading lists as possible in order to provide students with whatever they might need. That means that library staff is checking each and every list to make sure that enough copies are available and that no one has to check different libraries to get that one book you’ll desperately need for your essay. That service is by no means standard in other universities where either students have to figure out how to get their books or teaching staff is scanning page after page – usually poorly paid.
But it’s not all about books, e-books and journals: The Marshall Library also offers training about finding literature and data searching. The Library also provides access to databases and economic data. 

Nor is the Library exclusively about students, the Marshall Library also supports researchers in Economics.  More and more funders expect researchers to publish open access and to provide open data. Researchers might be happy to learn that the Marshall Library knows what makes a good Data Management Plan and how to deposit works in Apollo. What is more: Did you ever think about the impact factor of your paper or the H-index? As that is part of bibliometrics, the library can help understanding these – controversial – measurements and can tell researchers about other possibilities, i.e. about Altmetrics. That might not sound too fascinating and certainly isn’t idealistic research. But it might help to demonstrate the importance and potential impact of one’s work.

As for me, I really enjoyed helping at the lending desk because I usually don’t get to meet the people for whom I’m actually working. In Berlin I’d only spend two hours twice a month at an information desk in the reading room and so it was quite a pleasure to be in touch with the students! 

As the Marshall Lectures take place in November, I was able to get to know somebody else: Robert Shiller. He will lecture on two occasions and the Marshall Library will put on an exhibition about his life, his works as well as books held in the Library. There will even be a video.  http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/Marshall_Lecture

Monday, 9 July 2018

Austin Robinson's 'Heart of Darkness'

The Marshall Library is fortunate in that it possesses the published output of many prominent Cambridge economists together with their archives. The latter often given an insight into the efforts - and sometimes hardships - that were involved in the production of certain works. This is the case with 'Modern industry and the African' published in 1933 by the International Missionary Council. Austin Robinson authored several of its chapters following extensive travels in Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo in 1932 as part of a Commission charged with undertaking research into the effects of industrialization on native African society.

In order to accomplish this fieldwork Austin was often confined in a car with his fellow Commission members, whose backgrounds, views and approaches to fieldwork were very different, while they travelled 12,000 miles slowly and uncomfortably over rough dirt roads in an inhospitable climate. The letters that Austin sent home to Joan at this time - plus the numerous photographs he took while in Africa - are all preserved in the Marshall Library archives and  will be used in this and subsequent blogs to illustrate what was involved in producing 'Modern industry and the African.' Austin records all the personality clashes among the Commission members, the contrasting approaches to fieldwork and the arduous travelling conditions with his characteristic dry wit and humour.

The first part of this blog series will examine the background and composition of the Commission followed by a description of the route and travelling condition and finally an examination of Austin's chapters in 'Modern industry and the African.'

Background and composition of the Commission

The  main objective of the Commission of Enquiry sent to Africa in 1932 by the International Missionary Council was to prepare a report on the impact of copper mining in Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo on native society. To complete this work six individuals - including Austin - were recruited from a variety of different backgrounds and nationalities. The Reverend J. Merle Davis, an American missionary with considerable practical and administrative experience, led the group. It is obvious from Austin's letters that he had great respect for Davis and his abilities. Comparing him to his fellow commission members Austin wrote "... he is not an academic ... but his judgement is in many respects the soundest" (EAGR 2/2/2/6)

The  other Commission members were Leo Marquard (Dutch history master at Bloemfontain School), Charles Coulter (Professor of Sociology, Ohio Western Univesity), Ray Phillips (Johannesburg missionary) and Mabel Shaw (Principal of a girl's school in Northern Rhodesia).

With the exception of Davis and Marquard Austin considered the other Commission members to be 'second-raters' (EAGR 2/2/2/30). Although 'a kindly soul' Austin doubted that Phillips could operate impartially due to the fact he was 'financed by the Chamber of Mines' (EAGR 2/2/2/29). 

However it was for Coulter, '... the raw middle west American ... capable of being dogmatically irritating beyond all description' that Austin reserved his most acerbic comments. (EAGR 2/2/2/8). According to Austin Coulter '... knows his subject backwards without ... having the faintest glimmering of what it is all about (EAGR 2/2/2/7). In particular Austin was '... afraid of him bogging us [the Commission] in a mire of semi-technical, half-digested anthropological-sociological-psychological-physiological-semi-logical bunk' (EAGR 2/2/25)

  In his letters home Austin delighted in deriving humour from the apparent naivety of Coulter's approach to fieldwork. He sent Joan a copy of one of Coulter's questionnaires '... in which every African native within sight is to be asked to write his life history '... pointing out that everyone who later saw it [the questionnaire] in Cambridge thought it so ridiculous that they believed it was nothing more than a 'jeu d'esprit' by Austin! (EAGR 2/2/2/11). A copy of the questionnaire may be viewed by clicking the image below:


These were Austin's colleagues on a car journal that would cover 12,000 miles, in a hostile climate, on mostly unpaved African roads.

The next blog in this series will examine the route that the Commission took through South Africa, Northern Rhodesia and the Belgian Congo and the travelling conditions that they endured.