Portrait of Walter Bagehot
3 February 1826|
Langport, Somerset, England
|Died||24 March 1877
Langport, Somerset, England
|Occupation||Businessman, essayist, journalist|
Walter Bagehot (pron.: // BA-jət "Badgett"; 3 February 1826 – 24 March 1877) was a British businessman, essayist, Social Darwinist and journalist who wrote extensively about literature, government, and economic affairs.
Bagehot was born in Langport, Somerset, England, on 3 February 1826. His father, Thomas Walter Bagehot, was managing director and vice-chairman of Stuckey's Banking Company. He attended University College London, where he studied mathematics and in 1848 earned a master's degree in intellectual and moral philosophy. In April 1848, Bagehot was sworn as a Special Constable in anticipation of Chartist riots in London.
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. He wrote for various periodicals, and in 1855 founded the National Review with his friend Richard Holt Hutton. Later becoming editor-in-chief of The Economist, which had been founded by his father-in-law, James Wilson, in 1860, Bagehot expanded The Economist's reporting on the United States and on politics and is considered to have increased its influence among policymakers over the seventeen years he served as editor.
In 1867, he wrote The English Constitution, a book that explored the nature of the constitution of the United Kingdom, specifically the functioning of Parliament and the British monarchy and the contrasts between British and American government. The book 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. The book became an instant classic, has been translated into many languages, and is still available in scholarly editions from Oxford University Press (in its "World's Classics" series) and Cambridge University Press.
Bagehot also wrote Physics and Politics (1872), in which he coined the still-current expression "the cake of custom" to describe the tension between social institutions and innovations. In this book, he also expressed the fundamental ideas of the struggle school and described the historical evolution of social groups into nations. Bagehot argued that "these nations evolved principally by succeeding in conflicts with other groups". For many political scientists, sociologists, and military strategists, this strain of social Darwinism justified overseas expansion by nations (imperialism) during the 1890s. In his contributions to sociological theory within historical studies, Bagehot may be compared to his contemporary, Henry James Sumner Maine.
Lombard Street (1873) explains the world of finance and banking and focuses particularly on issues in the management of financial crises. Bagehot’s observations on finance remain relevant and cited by central bankers, most recently in the wake of the global financial crisis that began in 2007. Of particular importance is "Bagehot's Dictum", oft cited by central bankers, it roughly states that in times of financial crisis banks should lend freely but only to solid firms and only against good collateral and at interest rates that are high enough to dissuade those borrowers that are not genuinely in need.
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.
Selected works 
- 1867 The English Constitution, Chapman and Hall, reprinted by Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-283975-6 (online; online; online).
- 1872 Physics and politics or thoughts on the application of the principles of „natural selection“ and „inheritance“ to political society. King, London
- 1873 Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market. King, London; reprinted Wiley, New York 1999, ISBN 0-471-34499-0 (online).
- The Collected Works of Walter Bagehot: Volumes 1-15, ed. Norman S. John-Stevas, New York, Oxford U. Press, (1986) ISBN 0-85058-039-0
- Emily (Mrs Russell) Barrington, ed., The Works and Life of Walter Bagehot, in 10 vols. London, Longman, Green (1915) On line.
- The Postulates of English Political Economy, with a Preface by Alfred Marshall, London, Longmans Green & Co. (1885); Google Books, online
- Economic Studies, ed. Richard Holt Hutton, London, Bombay and Calcutta, Longmans, Green (1879); New York, Augustus M. Kelley (1998) ISBN 0-678-00852-3
- Richard Holt Hutton, "Memoir" and "Second Memoir" (from Dictionary of National Biography), in Mrs Russell Barrington, ed., The Works and Life of Walter Bagehot, London, Longman, Green (1915)
- Hanley, Brian (2004). ""The Greatest Victorian" in the New Century: The Enduring Relevance of Walter Bagehot's Commentary on Literature, Scholarship, and Public Life". Papers on Language & Literature 40.
- Walter Bagehot by St. Norman John-Stevas THE BRITISH COUNCIL/NATIONAL BOOK LEAGUE/LONGMANS, GREEN & CO. London. (1963)
- Andrew King, John Plunkett (2005). Victorian Print Media: A Reader. Oxford University Press. p. 50. ISBN 0-19-927037-6. "National Review (1855-64) was one of the most prestigious quarterlies of mid-century"
- "Social Darwinism". Retrieved 2012-10-14.
- Paul Tucker, Deputy Governor, Financial Stability, Bank of England, The Repertoire of Official Sector Interventions in the Financial System: Last Resort Lending, Market-Making, and Capital, Bank of Japan 2009 International Conference, 27–28 May 2009, p. 5
- http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/bagehot-kimball-2990 Roger Kimball, "The Greatest Victorian", The New Criterion Oct. 1998.
Further reading 
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Walter Bagehot|
- Brian Hanley, "'The Greatest Victorian' in the New Century: The Enduring Relevance of Walter Bagehot's Commentary on Literature, Scholarship, and Public Life", Papers on Language and Literature, (Spring 2004)
- The Pursuit of Reason: The Economist 1843-1993, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Massachusetts ISBN 0-87584-608-4
- Cousin, John William (1910). " Bagehot, Walter". A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bagehot, Walter". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Works by Walter Bagehot at Project Gutenberg
- Works by Walter Bagehot at Internet Archive
- Works by Walter Bagehot on The Online Library of Liberty
- website about Walter Bagehot