ROBBINS, Lionel Charles, 1898-1984, Baron Robbins of Clare Market, Professor, economist

Scope and Content

Contains professional and personal papers collected by Lionel Robbins. This includes his lecture notes; speeches and papers; notebooks and poetry written when he was a young man; correspondence with family and friends; correspondence with other economists; materials relating to the work of the Economics department at LSE; materials relating to the Troubles at LSE; material relating to the LSE Library Appeal; the work of the Court of Governors; Economic Advisory Council (EAC) papers; correspondence , diaries and reports from his time working for the Economic Section of the War Cabinet during the Second World War; proofs, drafts and reviews of his publications; records of Honorary degrees and other memberships and awards held or granted to Lionel Robbins; correspondence and papers regarding the work resulting in the Robbins Report (1963); correspondence and papers regarding his work for York University and the University of Stirling; correspondence, minutes and reports from his time on the Board of the Royal Opera House, National Gallery, Committee on the Export of Works of Art, Courtauld Institute and other arts organisations; correspondence, programmes and other materials produced for conferences attended by Lionel Robbins; drafts and proofs of articles and publications by Lionel Robbins; records of his travels abroad including correspondence and some photographs; appointment diaries ; press cuttings reporting on statements, activity and publications by Lionel Robbins; some photographs; and family materials including documents relating to his brother in law Clive Gardiner and father-in-law A G Gardiner.

Administrative / Biographical History

Lionel Charles Robbins, Baron Robbins (1898 - 1984) was an economist whose legacy has been described as covering three main areas: 'the academic discipline of economics; UK domestic and international economic policy, especially in the Second World War; and the arts in Britain' (p1 of 'Lionel Robbins', Susan Howson, Cambridge University press, 2011).

Lionel Robbins was educated at Southall County School, University College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science. He served in the First World War in the Royal Field Artillery, initially in training in England then on active duty in France, until he was wounded and sent home in the spring of 1918. He initially studied arts at University College London before the First World War. After returning from the war he changed his course of study to economics, starting at LSE in 1920.

He worked as a lecturer at New College Oxford University (1924), as a lecturer at LSE (1925-1927), as a Fellow and lecturer, again at New College (1927-1929) and then returning to be Professor of Economics at LSE, 1929 - 1961, where he continued to work part-time until 1981-1982. During his time at LSE he sat on the Court of Governors (1968 - 1974) and headed up the LSE Library Appeal in the early 1970s.

His most highly regarded book on economics is 'An Essay on the Nature and Significance of Economic Science' (1932).

During the Second World War Lionel Robbins worked for the Economic Section of the War Cabinet and was Chair of the section from 1941 - 1945. As such he was heavily involved in the creation of the British total war economy. He was also very involved in the direction of post war international economics. He was part of the British delegation at Bretton Woods in 1944 and after the war was part of an Advisory Council for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), 1948 - 1949.

He was President of the Royal Economic Society from 1954 - 1955. He had a strong interest in the arts and held a number of positions: member of the Committee on the Export of Works of Art, 1950 - 1952; Trustee of the National Gallery, 1952 - 1974; Trustee at the Tate Gallery, 1953 - 1967; and a Director on the Board of the Royal Opera House, 1955 - 1981.

From 1961 - 1970 he was Chairman of the Financial Times. In 1960 he was invited to head up a Committee on Higher Education 'to review the pattern of full-time higher education in Great Britain and in the light of national needs and resources to advise Her Majesty's Government on what principles its long-term development should be based.' The report of the committee, which became known as the Robbins Report, advocated the benefits of higher education for all and the expansion of higher education to ensure everyone has access. This led to further involvement in higher education including a position as first Chancellor of Stirling University from 1968 - 1978.

Lionel Robbins died in 1984.

Publications: Liberty and equality (1977); Political economy past and present (1976); Against inflation (1979); Higher education revisited (1980); (ed) Studies in Economics and Commerce (London, 1933-1948); Aspects of post-war economy (Institute of economic Affairs, London, 1974); Autobiography of an economist (Macmillan, London, 1971); The balance of payments (Athlone Press, London, 1951); Bentham in the twentieth century (Athlone Press, London, 1965); Economic aspects of federation (Macmillan, London, 1941); The economic basis of class conflict (Macmillan, London, 1939); The economic causes of war (Jonathan Cape, London, 1939); Economic planning and international order (Macmillan, London, 1937); The economic problem in peace and war (Macmillan, London, 1947); The economist in the twentieth century (Macmillan, London, 1954); An essay on the nature and significance of economic science (Macmillan, London, 1932); The evolution of modern economic theory (Macmillan, London, 1970); The Great Depression (Macmillan, London, 1934); The international monetary problem (Oxford University Press, London, 1973); Money, trade and international relations (Macmillan, London, 1971); Politics and economics (Macmillan, London, 1963); Robert Torrens and the evolution of classical economics (Macmillan, London, 1958); The theory of economic policy in English classical political economy (Macmillan, London, 1952); The university in the modern world, and other papers on education (Macmillan, London, 1966); Wages (Jarrolds, London, 1926).


The Papers have been arranged into 14 series:

  • 1. Lecture notes/speeches
  • 2. Notebooks/poetry
  • 3. Correspondence
  • 3.1. General correspondence
  • 3.2. Correspondence with economists
  • 3.3. Personal correspondence
  • 4. LSE
  • 4.1. Economics Department
  • 4.2. The Troubles
  • 4.3. Library Appeal
  • 4.4. Court of Governors
  • 5. Economic Advisory Council (EAC)
  • 6. War work between 1939 - 1950
  • 7. Publications by Lionel Robbins
  • 8. Education
  • 8.1. General
  • 8.2. Robbins Report
  • 9. The Arts
  • 9.1. Royal Opera House
  • 9.2. National Gallery
  • 9.3. Committee on the Export of Works of Art
  • 9.4. Other arts work
  • 10. Travels and conferences
  • 11. Other committees and memberships
  • 12. Appointment diaries
  • 13. Press cuttings and photographs
  • 14. Personal/family papers

Access Information

Mainly open, some items are closed.

Other Finding Aids

There is an on-line catalogue for the Lionel Robbins Papers.

Archivist's Note

The following works have been used in the compiling of this catalogue Lionel Robbins, Susan Howson, Cambridge University Press, 2011

Conditions Governing Use

No material may be published without the prior permission of both the copyright holder and the Library. All applications for publication must be made to the Archivist in the first instance, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user.

Most items can be photocopied, subject to handling and copyright restrictions.

Custodial History

These papers were left to LSE by Lionel Robbins and arrived at LSE Library in 2011.

There have been some accruals to the collection and it is possible there may be more in the future.



Related Material

The British Library of Political and Economic Science also holds material relating to Robbins in the papers of Edwin Cannan (Ref: Cannan), Evan Frank Mottram Durbin (Ref: Durbin), the Fabian Society (Ref: Fabian Society), Alfred George Gardiner (Ref: Gardiner), Alistair Hetherington (Ref: Hetherington), Imre Lakatos (Ref: Lakatos), the LSE (Ref: London School of Economics and Political Science Archives), James Edward Meade (Ref: Meade), John Primatt Redcliffe Redcliffe-Maud (Ref: Redcliffe-Maud), the Royal Economic Society (Ref: RES), Lady Juliet Evangeline Rhys-Williams (Ref: Rhys-Williams J), and Richard Morris Titmuss (Ref: Titmuss). A collection of Robbins' lectures on the history of economic thought is in Coll Misc 0863.