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Targeting J.M. Keynes

Contrary to popular opinion not all material in the supplementary catalogue is purely of literary interest. Local economist, J.M Keynes is one of the more famous non-literary figures and is of particular interest because of his Cambridge connections and connections to other academics in the online catalogue.  John Maynard Keynes was born in Cambridge on the 5th June 1883 to an upper-middle class family. His father John Neville Keynes was also an economist, John Maynard was the eldest of 3 children, having a sister and brother – His brother Sir Geoffrey Keynes, a surgeon, also had a strong connection with Cambridge having graduated from Pembroke College. He also has a room named after him in the University Library which houses a vast collection of some 8000 volumes which he donated to the Library.  John Maynard’s education took him from kindergarten at the Perse School for Girls, through a Scholarship at Eton College to King’s College, Cambridge. His early inclinations drew him towards philosophy, although influential economist Alfred Marshall tried to persuade and even begged Keynes to be an economist, By 1909 he had finally accepted a lectureship in economics, funded personally by Marshall. He had also published his first professional economics article in the ‘Economics Journal’ about the effect of a recent global economic downturn on India. He had published his first book ‘Indian currency and finance’ by 1913, using his preferred professional identity J.M. Keynes – amongst his family and friends he was simply known as ‘Maynard’.

Keynes analysis on the predicted damaging effects of the Treaty of Versailles appeared in the highly influential book, The economic consequences of the peace, published in 1919. This work was described as Keynes’s best book.

Keynesian economics gets its name, theories, and principles from John Maynard, who is regarded as the founder of modern macroeconomics. His most famous work, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, was published in 1936. But its 1930 precursor, A Treatise on Money, is often regarded as more important to economic thought. Until then economics analyzed only static conditions—essentially doing a detailed examination of a snapshot of a rapidly moving process. Keynes, in Treatise, created a dynamic approach that converted economics into a study of the flow of incomes and expenditures. He opened up new vistas for economic analysis.

Keynes had a keen interest in literature and drama.  He was a member of the Bloomsbury Group, whose most famous members also included Virginia Woolf and E.M. Forster.  More locally he was a supporter of the Cambridge Arts Theatre, which he helped finance, and was the founding chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain.  Keynes was a proponent of eugenics and a supporter of women’s rights who also campaigned against job discrimination, unequal pay and for reform of the law on homosexuality.

Keynes’s final book was ‘How To Pay For The War’  published in 1940.  Following the outbreak of war his policy recommendations were accepted and used by Western governments.  In addition to being an economist, Keynes served as a civil servant holding the position of Director of the Bank of England.

Maynard suffered ill health throughout his life-time, and suffered a series of heart attacks which ultimately proved fatal. He died at the age of 62.  He was outlived by both his parents.