James Sully

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James Sully
Sully in about 1880
Sully in about 1880
Born(1842-03-03)3 March 1842
Bridgwater, Somerset
Died1 November 1923(1923-11-01) (aged 81)
Richmond, Surrey
Literary movementAssociationism

James Sully (3 March 1842 – 1 November 1923)[1] was an English psychologist.


He was born at Bridgwater, Somerset the son of J.W. Sully, a liberal Baptist merchant and ship-owner.[2] He was educated at the Independent College, Taunton, Regent's Park College, University of Göttingen, where he studied under Lotze, and at Humboldt University, Berlin where he studied under DuBois-Reymond and Helmholtz.[3]

Sully was originally destined for the nonconformist ministry and in 1869 became classical tutor at the Baptist College, Pontypool.[4] In 1871, however, he adopted a literary and philosophic career. Between 1892 and 1903, he was Grote Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic at University College London, where he was succeeded by Carveth Read.[5]

An adherent of the associationist his school of psychology, his views had great affinity with those of Alexander Bain. He wrote monographs on subjects such as pessimism, and psychology textbooks, some of the first in English, including The Human Mind (1892).[5] His 1881 Illusions was commended by both Freud and Wundt.[3]

Sully opened an experimental psychology laboratory at University College London in January 1898. In 1901 he was one of the founder members of the British Psychological Society and in fact personally called the meeting at which the Society was formed.[6]

Sully died in Richmond, Surrey on 1 November 1923.[7]



  • Sensation and Intuition (1874)
  • Pessimism (1877)
  • Illusions (1881; 4th ed., 1895)
  • Outlines of Psychology (1884; many editions)
  • Teacher's Handbook of Psychology (1886)
  • Studies of Childhood (1896)
  • Children's Ways (1897)
  • An Essay on Laughter (1902)
  • Italian Travel Sketches (1912)
  • My Life and Friends (1918)

Selected articles[edit]


  1. ^ "Comings and Goings in the History of Psychology" at gator.uhd.edu
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b Elizabeth Valentine "James Sully". The Psychologist, Vol 14, No 8, 2001, p. 405
  4. ^ Gurjeva 2004.
  5. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  6. ^ Geoff Bunn "Founding Factors". The Psychologist, Vol 14, No 8, 2001, pp. 404–405
  7. ^ [2]


  • Gurjeva, Lyubov G. (2004). "Sully, James (1842–1923)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/38636. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)


External links[edit]