Lord Skidelsky is Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick. His three volume biography of the economist John Maynard Keynes (1983, 1992, 2000) received numerous prizes, including the Lionel Gelber Prize for International Relations and the Council on Foreign Relations Prize for International Relations. He is the author of the The World After Communism
(1995) (American edition called The Road from Serfdom
). He was made a life peer in 1991, and was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 1994. He is chairman of the Govenors of Brighton College
Robert Skidelsky was born on 25 April 1939 in Harbin, Manchuria. His parents were British subjects, but of Russian ancestry. His father worked for the family firm, L. S. Skidelsky, which leased the Mulin coalmine from the Chinese government. When war broke out between Britain and Japan in December 1941, he and his parents were interned first in Manchuria then Japan, but released in exchange for Japanese internees in England.
From 1953 to 1958, he was a boarder at Brighton College (of which he is now chairman of the board of governors). He went on to read history at Jesus College, Oxford, and from 1961 to 1969, he was successively research student, senior student, and research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. In 1967, he published his first book, Politicians and the Slump, Labour Government of 1929-31, based on his D.Phil dissertation. The book explores the ways in which British politicians handled the Great Depression.
During a two year research fellowship at the British Academy, he began work in his biography of Sir Oswald Mosley (published in 1975) and published English Progressive Schools (1969). In 1970, he became an Associate Professor at the School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University. But the controversy surrounding the publication of his biography of Sir Oswald Mosley - in which he was felt to have let Mosley off too lightly - led John Hopkins University to refuse him tenure. Oxford University also proved unwilling to give him a permanent post.
In 1978, he was appointed Professor of International Studies at the University of Warwick, where he has since remained, though joining the Economics Department as Professor Political Economy in 1990. He is currently Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University.
The first volume of his biography of John Maynard Keynes, Hopes Betrayed, 1883-1920, was published in 1983. The second volume, The Economist as Saviour, 1920-1937 (1992) won the Wolfson Prize for History. The third volume, Fighting for Britain, 1937-1946 (2000) won the Duff Cooper Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography, the Lionel Gelber Prize for International Relations and the Arthur Ross Council on Foreign Relations Prize for International Relations.
In the 1980s, he began to take a more active interest in politics. He was a founder member of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and remained in the party till its dissolution in 1992. In 1991, he became chairman of the Social Market Foundation, and the same year was made a life peer. Initially, he took the SDP whip but subsequently joined the Conservatives. He was made Chief Opposition Spokesman in the Lords, first for Culture, then for Treasury Affairs (1997-9), but he was sacked by the then Conservative party leader, William Hague, for publicly opposing Nato's bombing of Kosovo. In 2001, he left the Conservative Party for the cross benches. He is currently a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition
Since 2003, he has been a non-executive director of the mutual fund manager, Rusnano Capital
; from 2003-2011 he was a non-executive director of Janus Capital
; and from 2008-10 he sat on the board of Sistema JSC. He is a director of the Moscow School of Political Studies and was the founder and executive secretary of the UK/Russia Round Table. Since 2002, he has been chairman of the Centre for Global Studies. In 2010, he joined the Advisory Board of the Institute of New Economic Thinking
He writes a monthly column for Project Syndicate,
"Against the Current", which is syndicated in newspapers all over the world. His account of the current economic crisis, Keynes: The Return of the Master,
was published by Penguin Allen Lane in September 2009. A short history of twentieth-century Britain was published by Random House in the volume A World by Itself: A History of the British Isles
edited by Jonathan Clark in January 2010. He is now in the process of writing How Much is Enough? The Economics of the Good Life
jointly with his son Edward Skidelsky.
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