Baden-Powell (book)

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Timjeal bpbook cover.jpg
Cover of the Yale edition
Author Tim Jeal
Language English
Subject Biography
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Hutchinson (first edition)
Publication date
Media type Print
ISBN ISBN 0-09-170670-X (Hutchinson edition)
OCLC 20850522
369.43/092 B 20
LC Class DA68.32.B2 J43 1989

Baden-Powell is a 1989 biography of Robert Baden-Powell by Tim Jeal. Tim Jeal's work, researched over five years, was first published by Hutchinson in the UK and Yale University Press . It was reviewed by the New York Times.[1] As James Casada writes in his review for Library Journal, it is "a balanced, definitive assessment which so far transcends previous treatments as to make them almost meaningless."[2]

Although Jeal's Baden-Powell "transcends previous treatments" and is exceptionally well referenced, as a "balanced, definitive assessment" it has come under criticism. Academic books and articles on Baden-Powell had become critical and negative since the 1960s culminating in Michael Rosenthal's 1986 The Character Factory. Jeal's biographies restored the reputations of British imperial era figures such as David Livingstone and so Jeal did with Baden-Powell. Jeal relied predominantly on material from the established scout organizations and from Baden-Powell's own writings, diaries and correspondence. The people and organizations behind the commissioning, editing and publishing of Jeal's Baden-Powell are also of interest in the balance of the book.

Particular attention in reviews has been given to Jeal's analysis of whether Baden-Powell was a suppressed homosexual. Nelson Block states "While the professional history community generally considers Jeal's conclusions on this topic to be speculative, the mainstream press seems to have taken them as fact". He then notes that there has been no published scholarly critique of Jeal.[3]


The book comprises 18 introductory pages, and 670 editorial pages. It has 19 chapters, covering Baden-Powell's life from birth and home, to his Indian and African periods, the work he did on Scouting for boys, and his marriage. The text is encyclopedically referenced with over 1000 notes.



  1. ^ Steiner, Zara (1 April 1990). "There Is a Brotherhood of Boys". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Casada, James A. (1 March 1990). "The Boy-Man: The Life of Lord Baden-Powell (review)". Library Journal. 
  3. ^ Block, Nelson R.; Proctor, Tammy M., eds. (2009). Scouting Frontiers: Youth and the Scout Movement’s First Century. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 1-4438-0450-9. However,in the almost twenty years since he presented his case, not a single published scholarly critique of his argument has been presented, though it begs for one.