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MAGNUS , English family. sir philip magnus (1842–1933) was an educator and politican. Born in London, he was a minister of the West London Synagogue of British Jews (Reform) from 1866 to 1880, and lectured in applied mathematics at University College, London. In 1880 Magnus was appointed organizing secretary and director of the newly established City and Guilds of London Institute. He served on the Royal Commission whose report led to the Technical Education Act of 1884. Magnus was responsible for inclusion of a faculty of engineering at the reconstructed London University in 1889. From 1906 to 1922, he was the university's member of parliament, the first Jew to be elected for a university seat. He was knighted in 1886 and created a baronet in 1917. Magnus played a leading part in Anglo-Jewish affairs, as chairman of the council of the West London Synagogue and as a vice president of the *Board of Deputies of British Jews and the *Anglo-Jewish Association. He was violently opposed to Zionism and was one of the founders of the anti-Zionist League of British Jews. Sir Philip's wife KATIE MAGNUS (1844–1924) was a writer. The daughter of the Portsmouth goldsmith and communal figure Emanuel Emanuel, she published traditional and historical tales for young readers and her often reprinted Outlines of Jewish History (1886) was an especially successful evocation of the past. Her Jewish Portraits (1888) included studies of *Judah Halevi, *Heine, and Moses *Mendelssohn. Sir Philip and Lady Magnus' son, LAURIE MAGNUS (1872–1933), began his writing career mainly with studies of English poetry. In 1902 he wrote Aspects of the Jewish Question, which revealed him to be an anti-Zionist like his father. Four years later, in Religio Laici Judaici ("The Faith of a Jewish Layman"), he again propounded the view that Judaism was a religion and not a nationality. For 14 years, from its inception in 1917 to its suspension, he edited the anti-Zionist Jewish Guardian. He was active in Jewish communal life as a warden of the West London Reform Synagogue, a member of the council of Jews' College, London, and president of the Union of Jewish Literary Societies. His most important books were Dictionary of European Literature (1926) and The Jews in the Christian Era and their Contribution to its Civilization (1929). He was also a director of Routledge, the publishers. He married Dora (c. 1882–1972), the daughter of Sir Isidore *Spielmann. As Laurie Magnus shortly predeceased his father, the baronetcy devolved directly upon his son sir philip montefiore magnus (1906–1988). Educated at Westminster school and Oxford, he was originally a civil servant before becoming a full-time writer. He was the author of a number of successful and highly regarded biographies: Edmund Burke (1939), Sir Walter Raleigh (1952), Gladstone (1954), Kitchener (1958), and King Edward vii (1964). He severed his connections with Judaism, and in 1951 formally added his wife's family name to his own, becoming Sir Philip Magnus-Allcroft. His best-selling biography of Gladstone is credited with restoring the reputation of the Victorians after its decline following World War i.


F. Foden, Philip Magnus, Victorian Educational Pioneer (1970). add. bibliography: odnb online; R. Sebag-Montefiore, "A Quest for a Grandfather: Sir Philip Magnus, 1st Bt., Victorian Educationalist," in: jhset, 34 (1994–96), 141–59.

[Vivian David Lipman /

William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]

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