Arthur Seldon: A Life for Liberty

A major new biography of one of the founders of the IEA

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Arthur Seldon was one of the most influential economists of the late twentieth century. His ideas were key to the changes in economic policies un Margaret Thatcher’s government – changes that were to spread to many other countries around the world.

Seldon was for thirty years the editorial director of the IEA from the late 1950s until the late 1980s. At the IEA he directed a publishing programme that included some of the world’s most eminent economists, among them Milton Friedman and FA Hayek, as they advocated radical and innovative policies, such as less government intervention, control of inflation by monetary means, and reduced power for trade unions. Seldon was a prolific author, and his Collected Works occupies seven volumes.

This new biography concentrates on Seldon’s intellectual contribution and traces the roots of his work from his childhood in the Jewish East End of London, where self-help and voluntary aid for the disadvantaged were the norm, through his studies at the London School of Economics, where he was influenced by some of the leading economists of the 1930s, to his decades at the IEA, where he worked in partnership with Ralph Harris and changed, with Harris, the perception and influence of classical liberal economics to a previously unimaginable degree.

Written by Colin Robinson, successor to Seldon as the IEA’s Editorial Director, with contributions from friends and former colleagues, and drawing extensively on the recollections of his family and inner circle, this concise but comprehensive study conveys both the power of Seldon’s intellect and the force of his character. It establishes him firmly as a major architect of Thatcher’s economic revolution, and as a shaping hand behind today’s political landscape.

2009, Published by Profile Books, ISBN 978 1 84668 249 0, 220pp, HB