Richard Henry [Harry] Tawney

Richard Henry [Harry] Tawney
Birth and death
1880 - 1962
Profession details
Historian, Political Thinker
Related place
Alistair Grant

Richard Henry ['Harry'] Tawney (1880-1962), historian and political thinker. His family returned to England from India when Tawney was a young boy, and settled in Weybridge, Surrey. He is both an important scholar of the early modern period, notably the 'transition from feudalism to capitalism', and the emergence of modern capitalism in Britain. His contemporary historians used to call the decades between the Reformation and the English Civil War as 'Tawney's century'. His influential books include The Agrarian Problem in the Sixteenth Century (1912), The Acquisitive Society (1921), Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1922), Tudor Economic Documents (1924), Equality (1929), and Business and Politics under James 1st (1958), as well as a posthumous collection of essays: History and Society (1978). His interest in agrarian economics and social history led to a visit to China in the early 1930s, which led to the classic study Land and Labour in China (1932). He taught with the Workers' Educational Association (WEA) and University of Oxford, Glasgow University, becoming Professor of Economic History at London School of Economics (LSE) in 1931, making him the leading economic historian of his generation. He joined the Fabian Society in 1906, was one of the most important influences on the socialist and progressive politics of the Labour Party in Britain in the twentieth century, and inspired the formation of the Social Democratic Party in the early 1980s.

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