Born in London, England, in 1842, Alfred Marshall grew up in the borough of Clapham before going to Cambridge University on a scholarship. There, he studied mathematics and then metaphysics, concentrating on ethics. His studies led him to see economics as a practical means of implementing his ethical beliefs. In 1868, Marshall took up a lectureship specially created for him in moral science. His interest in this continued until a visit to the US in 1875 made him focus more on political economy. Marshall married Mary Paley, his former student, in 1877 and became principal of University College, Bristol, UK. In 1885, he returned to Cambridge as professor of political economy, a post he held until his retirement in 1908. From about 1890 until his death in 1924, Marshall was considered the dominant figure in British economics.

Marshall is considered as one of the founders of neoclassical economics. His book, Principles of Economics (1890), was the dominant economics textbook in England for many years. It brings the ideas of supply and demand, marginal utility, and costs of production into a coherent whole. Although he took economics to a more mathematically rigorous level, he did not want mathematics to overshadow economics and thus make economics irrelevant to the layman.

Key works: 1879 The Economics of Industry (with Mary Paley Marshall), 1890 Principles of Economics, 1919 Industry and Trade

Link to History of Economic Thought Website