John Maynard Keynes


John Maynard Keynes was a Cambridge-based economist after whom a branch of macroeconomic theory is named. He was educated at Eton and then King's College, Cambridge, where he became a member of the Apostles and became friends with the Bloomsbury circle including Lytton Strachey and Leonard Woolf who had recruited him. Keynes competed for the Indian Civil Service and worked for the India Office in London from 1906 to 1908. He then took up a post lecturing in economics at Cambridge. His first book, published in 1913, was called Indian Currency and Finance. As a Cambridge tutor, Keynes often met and taught Indian students.

During the First World War, Keynes was recruited to the Treasury, through the influence of Edwin Montagu. He assisted with the British war-time economy in this war and the Second World War. During the inter-war period, Keynes wrote prolifically on economic matters. His most influential work was The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, which came out in 1936. Keynes argued that the economy could be stimulated by increased government expenditure in times of falling demand and rising unemployment. He died in 1946.

Published works: 

Indian Currency and Finance (London: Macmillan, 1913)

A Treatise on Probability (1921)

Revision of the Treaty (1922)

A Tract on Monetary Reform (1923)

The Economic Consequences of Mr. Churchill (1925)

Laissez Faire and Communism (1926)

A Treatise on Money, 2 vols. (1930)

The Means to Prosperity (1933)

The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936)

How to Pay for the War: A Radical Plan for the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1940)


Letter to editor of Cambridge Review, 17 May 1909, in JMK/IC/1, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Date of birth: 
05 Jun 1883

A letter in response to an editorial on 'The Indian Student at Cambridge', 13 May 1909, which felt that with the rise of Indians at Cambridge that there were many Indian students who were not prepared for the degree and that they should not be allowed to hold or talk about revolutionary views when in Britain. Keynes contends that there should not be any restrictions on Indian students, but agrees with the plan to distribute Indians evenly among the colleges.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Economic Journal, Nation & Atheneum, Manchester Guardian Commercial, Reconstruction in Europe, The Listener, New Republic, New Statesman and Nation.


Since we fill up the Indian Civil Service and the Indian Medical Service through examinations held in England on the lines of English education, since qualifications for the higher posts in the scientific departments can only be obtained at a European University, and while a call to the English bar is thought to be an advantage in India, it is our duty to give full opportunity to all Indians whose ambitions lie most properly in these directions.

Secondary works: 

Cairncross, Alec, ‘Keynes, John Maynard, Baron Keynes (1883–1946)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008) []

Archive source: 

Correspondence and papers, King's College archive centre, Cambridge

Correspondence, Trinity College Archive, Cambridge

Official correspondence and papers, National Archives, Kew

Correspondence and miscellaneous papers, British Library of Political and Economic Science, London

Correspondence with Vanessa Bell and Kingsley Martin, University of Sussex, Brighton

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

J. M. Keynes

Baron Keynes

Date of death: 
21 Apr 1946
Tags for Making Britain: 

Harold Laski


Harold Joseph Laski was a political theorist and university professor at the London School of Economics. He is remembered as an important political thinker, intellectual and activist, in particular during the 1930s. Through meeting Winifred (Frida) Kerry, Laski became fascinated with eugenics and he published his first article on the topic, ‘The scope of eugenics’, in the Westminster Review (July 1910). Laski began reading history at New College Oxford, before transferring to study eugenics in London under Karl Pearson. On 1 August 1911, he and Frida eloped to Scotland to get married. Laski soon returned to Oxford and took up the study of history again after losing interest in eugenics.

Through Frida, he became a supporter of the Suffragette movement and also developed close links with the labour movement. He graduated from Oxford in 1914 and took up temporary employment at the Daily Herald, for which he wrote editorials. His attempt to join the army during the First World War was rejected on medical grounds. He accepted a junior lectureship at McGill University where he remained until 1916, before moving to Harvard, where in 1917 he became editor of the Harvard Law Review. While in the USA, Laski developed his pluralist theory to refute the notion of the moral superiority of the state. He argued that the state needed to win its citizens' support by acting in a reasonable way. Laski was a keen supporter of decentralization and encouraging political participation at grass-roots level through work-based organizations. His works on pluralist theory established his reputation as a political theorist. He left the US in 1920 and took up a lectureship at the London School of Economics. Back in England he became closely associated and involved with the Labour Party and the Fabian Society, whose executive committee he joined in 1921. In 1926 Laski was promoted to the Graham Wallas Chair of Political Science at the London School of Economics.

In 1926 he met Krishna Menon who studied with him at LSE. Through his friendship with Menon Laski became closely involved with the India League. Laski was a staunch supporter of India’s move towards independence and argued for India’s right to self-determination. After his return from the US, he and Bertrand Russell spoke at election rallies for Shapurji Saklatvala. Laski’s commitment to India is derived from the case O’Dwyer v. Nair, a libel case O’Dwyer brought against Sankaran Nair, where he sat on the jury.

Laski’s influence on Menon was huge. Indeed heprobably learnt his socialism from his professor. Their relationship went beyond the teacher-student connection, as Laski and his wife took an interest in the welfare of Menon who was prone to depression. Laski met Gandhi and Nehru through Menon and the India League. In turn, Menon could always count on Laski’s support, and he would often give speeches in front of students, or speak at rallies or lobbied the Labour Party. In spring 1930, Laski was asked by Sankey to help with the planning for the Round Table Conference which would deal with the principles of a federal constitution. During the 1931 second Round Table Conference, Laski was closely involved in negotiations, especially on constitutional questions relating to political control of a possible federal Indian army; he also worked on a criminal code and its implementation. Sankey also asked Laski to negotiate with Gandhi and the Agha Khan on the future constitutional status of religion. Yet these efforts failed. Gandhi admired Laski’s commitment to Indian freedom and he often recommended students to study with him. Together with Victor Gollancz and John Strachey he launched the Left Book Club, with which many South Asian writers and activists, such as Mulk Raj Anand, Indira Nehru (Gandhi), and Jawaharlal Nehru also became involved. Laski was elected to the constituency section of the Labour Party national executive committee in 1937, on which he served for 12 consecutive years. He died in 1950.

Published works: 

Authority in the Modern State (London: Oxford University Press, 1919)

Political Thought in England: Locke to Bentham (London: Oxford University Press, 1920)

The Foundations of Sovereignty, and Other Essays (London: Allen and Unwin, 1922)

A Grammar of Politics (London: Allen and Unwin,1925)

Communism (Williams and Norgate, 1927)

Democracy in Crisis (London: Allen and Unwin, 1933)

The State in Theory and Practice (London: Allen and Unwin,1935)

The Rise of European Liberalism: An Essay in Interpretation (London: Allen and Unwin, 1936)

Parliamentary Government in England: A Commentary (London: Allen and Unwin, 1938)

The Danger of Being a Gentleman, and Other Essays (London: Allen and Unwin, 1939)

The American Presidency: An Interpretation (London: Allen and Unwin, 1940)

Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time (London: Allen and Unwin,1943)

Faith, Reason, and Civilization: An Essay in Historical Analysis (London: Gollancz, 1944)

The Secret Battalion: An Examination of the Communist Attitude to the Labour Party (London: Labour Publications Department, 1946)

American Democracy: A Commentary and Interpretation (London: Allen and Unwin, 1948)



Laski’s speech to the Indian independence anniversary celebration in London in 1949.

Date of birth: 
30 Jun 1893
Contributions to periodicals: 

‘The India Report’, Nation 140 (2 January 1935)

‘India at the Crossroads’, Yale Review (21 March 1932)

‘The Labour Party and the Left Book Club’, Left News (August 1937)

The Listener


I do not know how many times I have gone to meetings that I did not want to attend, have made speeches that I did not want to make, have written articles that I had no time to write, because I was under the grim control of the irrepressible embodiment of the will of India to be free, and I look back and what I owe Krishna Menon for having made me attend as a member of his army is a debt that I can never repay.

Secondary works: 

Deane, Herbert A., The Political Ideas of Harold J. Laski (New York: Columbia Uiversty Press, 1955)

Kramnick, Isaac and Sheerman, Barry, Harold Laski: A Life on the Left (New York: Allen Lane/Penguin, 1993)

Newman, Michael, Harold Laski: A Political Biography (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1993)

Martin, Kingsley, Harold Laski, 1893–1950: A Biographical Memoir (London: Gollancz, 1953)

Archive source: 

General correspondence and sundry materials, papers presented by Granville Eastwood in 1978 and 1981, correspondence between Harold and Frida Laski, University of Hull

3 Folders of Laski correspondence, drafts of manuscripts by Laski, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam 

File of correspondence between Laski and the Labour Party, 1938-50, file on India, 1935-41, National Executive Committee Minutes and association papers, 1937-49, National Museum of Labour History, Manchester

L/I/1/1439, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
24 Mar 1950
Location of death: 
St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London

Dadabhai Naoroji


Dadabhai Naoroji, of Bombay Parsee origin, was the first Indian to be elected to Parliament in Britain. Naoroji travelled to Britain in 1885 as a business partner of Cama and Company. A member of several businesses, he became Professor of Gujarati at University College, London (1856-65). He had also been founder-editor of the journal Rast Goftar in Bombay in 1851. He founded the London Zoroastrian Association in 1861. He was also founding member of the East India Association and London Indian Society, and became vocal in promoting Indian rights in regard to the ICS and trade. Naoroji was an economist and proponent of the 'drain theory', building up a detailed economic critique of British imperialism in India. He also established links with Irish MPs and was one of the founders of the Indian National Congress in 1885 in Bombay.

In 1886, Naoroji campaigned as Liberal Party candidate for the strongly Conservative seat of Holborn. In 1888, referring to Naoroji's defeat, the Conservative Party Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, remarked that an English constituency was not ready to elect a 'Blackman', drawing greater notoriety to Naoroji. In 1892, he contested the seat of Central Finsbury, campaigning on Gladstone's platform of Liberalism, and was successfully elected with a majority of five. He lost his seat in the General Election of 1895. In 1906, Naoroji stood as a candidate at Lambeth North but was again unsuccessful. In 1907, Naoroji left England to retire at Versova in Bombay, where he died in 1917.

Published works: 

Poverty of India (1876)

Mr D. Naoroji and Mr Schnadhorst (London: Chant & Co., 1892)

Poverty and Un-British Rule in India (1901)

Date of birth: 
04 Sep 1825

Syed Ameer Ali, John Archer (Naoroji encouraged him to go into politics), Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree, W. C. Bonnerjee, Charles Bradlaugh, Josephine Butler, Madame Bhikaiji Cama, William Digby, Lalmohan Ghose, H. M. Hyndman, Mohammed Ali Jinnah (helped out in campaign), Frank Hugh O'Donnell, Elizabeth Adelaide Manning (through NIA), Florence Nightingale, Badruddin Tyabji, Alfred Webb, William Wedderburn, Henry Sylvester Wiliams (Naoroji encouraged him to go into politics).


The First Indian Member of the Imperial Parliament (Madras: Addison & Co., 1892)

Fair Play, India and Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji MP (Madras: Higginbotham & Co., 1893)

For press reaction to Naoroji's election as MP in 1892 see Biographical Magazine, Evening News and Post, Punch, Pall Mall Gazette, among others

Secondary works: 

Burton, Antoinette, 'Tongues Untied: Lord Salisbury's "Black Man" and the Boundaries of Imperial Democracy', Society for Comparative Study of Society and History (2000), pp. 632-61

Hinnells, John R., Zoroastrians in Britain (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996)

Masani, R. P., Dadabhai Naoroji. The Grand Old Man of India (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1939)

Monk, C. J. , ‘“Member for India?” The Parliamentary Lives of Dadabhai Naoroji (MP: 1892-1895) and Mancherjee Bhownaggree (MP: 1895-1906)’, unpublished MPhil thesis (University of Manchester, 1985)

Mukherjee, Sumita, ‘‘Narrow-majority’ and ‘Bow-and-agree’: Public Attitudes Towards the Elections of the First Asian MPs in Britain, Dadabhai Naoroji and Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree, 1885-1906’ Journal of the Oxford University History Society 2 (Michaelmas 2004)

Ralph, Omar, Naoroji. The First Asian MP. A Biography of Dadabhai Naoroji: India's Patriot and Britain's MP (St John's Antigua: Hansib, 1997)

Schneer, Jonathan, London 1900: The Imperial Metropolis (London: Yale University Press, 1999)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)

Parekh, C. L. (ed.), Essays, Speeches, Addresses and Writings of the Honourable Dadabhai Naoroji (Bombay: Caxton, 1887)

Patwardhan, R. P. (ed.), Dadabhai Naoroji Correspondence (Bombay: n.p., 1977)

Archive source: 

Dadabhai Naoroji Parliamentary Centenary Celebrations, Mss Eur F279, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Letters in William Digby Collection, Mss Eur D767, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Minute books of East India Association, Mss Eur F147/27, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Papers and correspondence, National Archives of India, New Delhi

Notes relating to possible candidature in 1903-1910, Labour History Archive, Central Lancashire

Involved in events: 

General Elections, 1886, 1892, 1895, 1906

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Other names: 

The Grand Old Man of India


Central Finsbury
London, EC1R 4QT
United Kingdom
51° 31' 42.618" N, 0° 6' 3.7512" W
Date of death: 
30 Jun 1917
Location of death: 
Bombay, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1855
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

On and off between 1855 and 1907

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