The Memoirs of Walter Bagehot by Frank Prochaska - review by Roger Kimball

Roger Kimball

The Greatest Victorian?

The Memoirs of Walter Bagehot


Yale University Press 207pp £18.99

The Memoirs of Walter Bagehot? How in heavens did I miss that? I pottered over to my edition of The Collected Works of Walter Bagehot: literary essays, check; historical essays, got it; four volumes of political essays, three on economics, all present and accounted for. Perhaps I had somehow missed a memoir in the two volumes that Norman St John-Stevas, the indefatigable editor of that great 15-volume edition of Bagehotiana, called ‘Miscellany’? Nope. Could Bagehot’s memoir have remained unpublished? Why hadn’t someone told me? There was no mention of a memoir in St John-Stevas’s biography of the great man, or in Ruth Dudley Edwards’s charming chrestomathy, The Best of Bagehot.

It wasn’t until I received galleys of this absorbing volume that the mystery was solved. The Memoirs of Walter Bagehot wasn’t edited by Frank Prochaska, a scholar of Victorian England, it was written by him. Or rather, it was assembled and massaged by him out of literary building blocks provided

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