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Walter Bagehot

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Nationality  British
Name  Walter Bagehot

Role  Journalist
Walter Bagehot Walter Bagehot Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Born  3 February 1826 (1826-02-03) Langport, Somerset, England
Occupation  Businessman, essayist, journalist
Died  March 24, 1877, Langport, United Kingdom
Books  The English Constitution, Lombard Street: A Descripti, Physics and politics, The Postulates of English, Biographical Studies
Similar People  Matthew Arnold, Norman St John‑Stevas, John Ruskin, William Makepeace Thackeray, Thomas Henry Huxley

Education  University College London

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Walter Bagehot ( ; 3 February 1826 – 24 March 1877) was a British journalist, businessman, and essayist, who wrote extensively about government, economics, and literature.


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Bagehot was born in Langport, Somerset, England, on 3 February 1826. His father, Thomas Watson Bagehot, was managing director and vice-chairman of Stuckey's Banking Company. He attended University College London (UCL), where he studied mathematics, and in 1848 earned a master's degree in moral philosophy. Bagehot was called to the bar by Lincoln's Inn, but preferred to join his father in 1852 in his family's shipping and banking business.

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In 1858, Bagehot married Elizabeth (Eliza) Wilson (1832–1921), whose father, James Wilson, was the founder and owner of The Economist; the couple were happily married until Bagehot's untimely death at age 51, but had no children. A collection of their love-letters was published in 1933.


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In 1855, Bagehot founded the National Review with his friend Richard Holt Hutton. In 1860, he became editor-in-chief of The Economist. In the 17 years he served as its editor, Bagehot expanded The Economist's reporting on politics and increased its influence among policymakers.


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In 1867, Bagehot wrote The English Constitution, a book that explores the nature of the constitution of the United Kingdom, specifically its Parliament and monarchy. It appeared at the same time that Parliament enacted the Reform Act of 1867, requiring Bagehot to write an extended introduction to the second edition which appeared in 1872.

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Bagehot also wrote Physics and Politics (1872), in which he examines how civilisations sustain themselves, arguing that in their earliest phase civilisations are very much in opposition to the values of modern liberalism, insofar as they are sustained by conformism and military success, but once they are secured it is possible for them to mature into systems which allow for greater diversity and freedom.

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In Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market (1873) Bagehot seeks to explain the world of finance and banking. His observations on finance are often cited by central bankers, most recently in the wake of the global financial crisis which began in 2007. Of particular importance is "Bagehot's Dictum" that in times of financial crisis central banks should lend freely to solvent depository institutions, yet only against sound collateral and at interest rates high enough to dissuade those borrowers that are not genuinely in need.


Bagehot never fully recovered from a bout of pneumonia he suffered in 1867, and he died in 1877 from complications of what was said to be a cold. 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. In honour of his contributions, The Economist's weekly commentary on current affairs in the UK is entitled "Bagehot". Every year, the British Political Studies Association awards the Walter Bagehot Prize for the best dissertation in the field of government and public administration.

Major publications

  • Bagehot, Walter (1848). "Principles of Political Economy," The Prospective Review, Vol. 4, No. 16, pp. 460–502.
  • Bagehot, Walter (1858). Estimates of Some Englishmen and Scotchmen.
  • Bagehot, Walter (1867). The English Constitution.
  • Bagehot, Walter (1872). Physics and Politics.
  • Bagehot, Walter (1873). Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market.
  • Bagehot, Walter (1875). "A New Standard of Value," The Economist, Vol. 33, No. 1682, pp. 1361–63.
  • Bagehot, Walter (1877). Some Articles on the Depreciation of Silver and on Topics Connected with It.
  • Bagehot, Walter (1879). Literary Studies.
  • Bagehot, Walter (1880). Economic Studies.
  • Bagehot, Walter (1881). Biographical Studies.
  • Bagehot, Walter (1885). The Postulates of English Political Economy.
  • Bagehot, Walter (1889). The Works of Walter Bagehot.
  • References

    Walter Bagehot Wikipedia