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Lipson, Ephraim


LIPSON, EPHRAIM (1888–1960), English economic historian. Born in Sheffield, and educated at Cambridge, Lipson was a reader in economic history at Oxford from 1921 to 1931. He was instrumental in founding the Economic History Society, and the Economic History Review, serving as editor until his resignation in 1934. His major works, some of which went through numerous editions, were Economic History of England (3 vols., 1915–31; 195912); Europe in the Nineteenth Century (1916, rev. ed. 1962); The History of the Woollen and Worsted Industries (1921); Europe 19141939 (19402); The Growth of English SocietyA Short Economic History (1949). In A Planned Economy or Free Enterprise: The Lessons of History (1944), he pleaded for a policy aiming "to preserve best in our present economic system, the spirit of enterprise, and fuse it with the team spirit, so that self-interest was held in check by the ideal of public service and devotion to the Commonweal." Lipson was left badly deformed by severe injuries in childhood; in adulthood, he was an extremely sensitive, solitary man. His failure, in 1931, to be appointed to the chair of economic history at Oxford (in part, it is said, because of unwise claims he made about himself in his application) left him permanently embittered. Lipson's view that the industrial revolution did not mark a sharp break in Britain's economic evolution was echoed by a number of more recent economic historians, and his contribution to the field seemed overdue for a reevaluation. His brother daniel lipson (1886–1963) was house-master of the Jewish House at Cheltenham College, one of England's leading boarding schools. He served as mayor of Cheltenham from 1935 to 1937 and was Independent member of Parliament for Cheltenham from 1937 to 1950. He was an opponent of Zionism and frequently expressed his anti-Zionist views in parliamentary debates.

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