Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Austin Robinson : World War One pilot display in the Marshall Library

Most people are probably unaware that Sir Austin Robinson, described by Geoffrey Harcourt, as one of the unsung heroes of Cambridge economics, flew flying boats with the Royal Naval Air Service during World War One. This involved undertaking long exhausting patrols out over the North Sea in search of the German submarines and Zeppelins that were menacing British coastal convoys. He also went on to work as a test pilot for Shorts Brothers.

Austin was an ardent photographer and many of the photographs he took during his RNAS career, plus numerous original documents, are now held in the archives of the Marshall Library. As we are now in the midst of 100th anniversary commemerations relating to World War One we decided to use some fo these rare and unpublished photographs to illustrate the flying career of this prominent Cambridge economist.

On Monday we were delighted to host a visit from Catherine Jeffrey, Austin and Joan Robinson's granddaughter. She really enjoyed viewing the display.

The Austin Robinson display is located in the Marshall Library social areas and contains photographs of Austin at Marlborough School in 1916 shortly before enlisting in the RNAS, of the many aircraft he flew and of the flying boat production lines at Shorts Brothers in Rochester. The display will last until the end of November.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Austin Robinson Goes 'Solo'

To commemorate Austin Robinson's first solo flight exactly one hundred years ago today his grandson David Jeffrey has kindly contributed the following post using information gained from Austin's RNAS flying log book.

"Austin was up early on Wednesday, 30th May 1917 for this was the day he had dreamed of since joining the Royal Naval Air Service some four months previously ... the day he was going to fly solo.

At the time, he was based at RNAS Chingford and the plane he was going to fly was Grahame White 8785, the type of bread and butter machine used by the RNAS for the first-time trainee pilots.

Austin Robinson around 1917

A Grahame White trainer aircraft of around 1916

Austin had first reported for training as a pilot officer at RNAS Crystal Palace on 4th Feburary 1917 and after three weeks of induction training moved on to RNAS Chingford to be taught to fly.

RNAS Crystal Palace which gave basic training on the
naval air service and the rudiments of flying

RNAS Chingford around 1916
For the first three weeks at Chingford he received ground-based training and then first took to the air on 31st March with Flt. Cmdr. Jackson, an experienced trainer, at the controls. Over the next few weeks, he flew 23 sorties, on various Grahame White aircraft, gradually building up his flying competence. Then on 22nd May, for the first time, he flew alone but just hopping off the ground and back again, all in a straight line. On 27th and 28th he continued practising this in preparation for his first solo flight.

His big day, Wednesday 30th May, began at 5.15 am when he practised straight hops on his own. In his pilot's log, see below, he wrote '... rather bad drift. Landing very poor.' He had another practice at 5.55 am and remarked '... lost prop which could not be started' ... perhaps meaning that he had dug the propeller into the grass. There was then a gap, maybe to sort out the damage, till another practise at 7.46 pm after which he remarked '... much better. With F.C. Jackson for 1/2 circuit before solo'.

Everything was now ready and at 8.00 pm he took off solo and flew for 50 minutes (by far the longest time he had ever been in the air) and getting up to 2500 feet (more than twice the height he had every experienced before).

He must have been totally elated but his log book remarks are typically Austin, analytical and reflective 'First solo. Bumpy till 1500 feet. Rather rough on controls.'

Robin Jeffrey
17th April 2017

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Return of Alfred Marshall’s Book V, Ch.VII of Principles of Economics (annotated) from Japan

Prof. Shoichiro Uemiya visited the Marshall Library Archive on 9 March, 2017 to return a book that belonged to Alfred Marshall. The book appears to have been in Japan for some time and possibly since the 1920s. 

As Prof. Uemiya  explains in his own words:
“I am an Emeritus Professor of Kobe University in Japan. My major field is the history of economic thought. I studied for a year (1977-78) as an Honorary Research Fellow under the late Prof. R.D.C.Black at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Just before my retirement in March 2012 Mrs. Taeko Minakata, the wife of my supervisor the late Prof. Kanichi Minakata (1923-1985), asked me to return this book, which is part of Marshall’s Principles of Economics. The book contains pages with bound-in pages of written script – possibly in the handwriting of Marshall himself. Her husband told her that he received this particular book from his old-time supervisor Prof. Yasaburo Sakamoto (1894-1981). Prof. Minakata’s major field was Marshall’s Economic Theory. He came to Cambridge for a year (1962-63) to study and stayed at St. Edmund’s House. However, Mrs. Minakata has no idea when or where Prof. Sakamoto got the book. He did travel between 1919-1927 in England, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.”

The book comprises Book V, Ch. VII  pp. 449-610 of Principles of Economics. Many of the pages include handwritten insertions in coloured pencils and ink. There is also a stamp showing 15 Jan. 90, University Press, Cambridge. Clare Trowell, Marshall Librarian and Simon Frost, Deputy Librarian can confirm that the inserted pages are in Marshall’s handwriting as the Library Rare Books collections contain many examples of Marshall’s handwriting and it is clearly recognisable.

The Marshall Library Archive contains several photographs, including an intriguing picture of Mrs Mary Paley Marshall entertaining a Japanese visitor and his wife at her house, Balliol Croft, in 1928. This visitor is Prof. Tsunao Miyajima (1884-1965) who translated the Memoirs of Alfred Marshall (1925) into Japanese. Between 1919-1928 Prof. Miyajima was Prof. at the Kansai University, Osaka. In 1928 he also visited France. Between 1948-1952 he was Chief Director of Kansai University. There does not appear to be a link between Prof. Miyajima , Prof. Sakamoto and the mysterious annotated book that has just been returned to the Marshall Library Archives.

We plan to catalogue the returned book as a Rare Book and make it available to scholars of Alfred Marshall as soon as possible.

Prof. Uemiya also kindly donated a copy of his translation of the work:

The Scope and Method of Political Economy / J.N. Keynes    Marshall Library   20 F 18

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Encyclopedia of political thought

Users of the Marshall Library may be interested in the:

Encyclopedia of political thought

The University of Cambridge now has access to the Encyclopedia of political thought.  The Encyclopedia can be accessed via this link:
The Encyclopedia examines the history of political thought, contemporary political theory, and political philosophy. The entries range in size from shorter definitions and biographies to extended treatments of major topics and traditions. Tracing the evolution of political thinking from antiquity to the present, the scope of this unprecedented resource emphasizes the richness and diversity of the field’s traditions.
  • Offers over 900 A-Z entries including shorter definitions and biographies as well as extended treatments of major topics from over 700 contributors from around the world.
  • Examines the history of political thought from antiquity to contemporary political theory and political philosophy
  • Reflects diverse traditions in the evolution of political theory and political science
  • Addresses the theorists, their key theories and methods from within the western canon as well as from non-western perspectives
“A central problem for constitutionalism is the enforcement of constitutional norms. In the USA, there is no effective dissent from the practice, established in 1803 by Chief Justice Marshall in Marbury v. Madison, that courts in appropriate cases may overturn statutes as unconstitutional. But the idea of a constitutional court, though gaining ground around the world, is not a necessary component of constitutionalism. Legislatures and executives may feel bound by constitutional norms, even though they have the formal power to disregard them. Not since 1707 have British monarchs vetoed legislation enacted by parliament, though they have the “legal” authority to do so. In the USA, decisions to impeach and convict federal officials, such as the president and judges, are wholly in the hands of Congress under the constitution itself, but the impeachment power has been used only sparingly and when, occasionally, it was misused, the Senate refused to convict. That said, it is also indisputable that constitutional norms can change so that what was once thought to be perfectly plain and acceptable to one generation becomes unthinkable, as a matter of constitutional law, to another. The most spectacular example in American history is the Supreme Court’s change of mind on the question of racial segregation from its 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson to its decision in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education.”
— Lieberman, J. K. 2014. Constitutionalism. The Encyclopedia of Political Thought. 730–732

Inscription on the wall of the Supreme Court Building from Marbury v. Madison, in which Chief Justice John Marshall outlined the concept of judicial review