Economists' Lives: Biography and Autobiography in the History of Economics
This collection of essays, a supplement to History of Political Economy, brings together prominent scholars from economics, sociology, literature, and history to examine the role of biography and autobiography in the history of economics. The first of its kind, this volume looks at the relevance of first-person accounts to narrative histories of economics. The essays consider both the potential and the limits of life writing, which has traditionally been used sparingly by historians of economics, and examine types of biographies, the relationship between autobiography and identity, and the writing of biography.
Contributors to this collection question whether biography is essential to understanding the history of economic ideas and consider how autobiographical materials should be read and interpreted by historians. Articles consider the treatment of autobiographical materials such as conversations and testimonies, the construction of heroes and villains, the relationship between scientific biography and literary biography, and concerns related to living subjects. Several essays address the role of biography and autobiography in the study of economists such as F. A. Hayek, Harry Johnson, Alfred Marshall, John Maynard Keynes, Oskar Morgenstern, and François Quesnay, concluding with several accounts of the interconnection of the historians' projects with their own autobiographies.
All 2007 subscribers to History of Political Economy will receive a copy of "Economists' Lives: Biography and Autobiography in the History of Economics" as part of their subscription.
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The insidiousness of autobiography is demonstrated, of course, by the fact that in
1985 Stigler himself capitulated to it, becoming the author of a volume titled
Memoirs of an Unregulated Economist. Reading Stigler's memoir, however,
In his lifetime Galbraith, who died in 2006 at age 97, published a lengthy
autobiography (1981), a childhood-family memoir (1964), and several fragments
of memoirs (1971, 1979), as well as a journal from his period as ambassador to
One could go on to smaller details in the Cambridge memoirs. One could also
point out similar problems in his memoirs of his London years. But other
discrepancies in the various memoirs are more substantial. For the purposes of
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Is Autobiography Antiacademic and Uneconomical?
The Production and Use
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