Arnold Toynbee

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Toynbee, Arnold

(toin`bē), 1852–83, English economic historian, philosopher, and reformer. After his graduation in 1878 he was a tutor at Balliol College, Oxford, and was active in reform work outside the university, particularly among the London poor. His influence on his students and contemporaries was great, although he lived to be only 31. Toynbee was interested in applying historical method to the study of economics. He objected to Marxism, believing that the best interests of labor and capital lay in cooperation. His lectures to workingmen were published as Lectures on the Industrial Revolution of the 18th Century in England (1884), a pioneer work in economic history. Toynbee Hall in London, the first settlement house, was named for him.


See biographies by A. Milner (1901) and F. C. Montague (1889, repr. 1973).

Toynbee, Arnold


Born Aug. 23, 1852, in London; died Mar. 9, 1883, in Wimbledon. English economic historian.

Toynbee graduated from Oxford University, where in 1878 he began teaching political economy and economic history. His studies of the capitalist industrialization of England were published under the title The Industrial Revolution (1884; Russian translation, 1898). Toynbee viewed the age of the industrial revolution as the most calamitous period in English history and believed it led to a marked widening of the gulf between the proletariat and the ruling classes. He held that relations between labor and capital should be moderated by government intervention, and to that end he advocated social legislation and arbitration as a means of preventing class conflicts at industrial enterprises. He also helped organize and direct the first education centers in working-class neighborhoods. Objectively, Toynbee’s activities were instrumental in stemming the growing influence of socialist ideas on English workers.


Montague, F. C. Arnold Toynbee. Baltimore, 1889.
Toynbee, A. J. Experiences. London, 1969.