History and Society: Essays by R.H. Tawney

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R. H. Tawney believed that the subject of economic history raises questions which touch the fundamental concerns of all thinking people. By setting economic development firmly within the framework of cultural and political life, he provided an alternative to the recent fragmentation of economic history into a number of increasingly technical specialisms. For this reason, his work has appealed to Marxists and non-Marxists alike, and still remains controversial. First published in 1978, the introduction by J. M. Winter to this edition of ten of Tawney's essays affords the first full evaluation and significance of his approach to economic history. Among the essays included in this volume are the indispensible studies of `The Rise of the Gentry' and `Harrington's Interpretation of His Age', as well as `The Abolition of Economic Controls, 1918-1921', here published in full for the first time. Other selections, such as Tawney's celebrated inaugural lecture as Professor of Economic History at the London School of Economics in 1933, `the Study of Economic History', offer a representative sample of the range and sweep of Tawney's historical imagination. Taken together, these essays demonstrate the validity of Tawney's conviction that economic historians must confront not only the creation of wealth, but also the moral questions surrounding its distribution.