William Blackstone: Law and Letters in the Eighteenth Century

Paperback | February 25, 2012

byWilfrid Prest

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Lawyer, judge, politician, poet, teacher, and architect, William Blackstone was a major figure in eighteenth century public life. Over his varied and brilliant career he made profound contributions to English politics, law, education, and culture through involvements in legal practice,Parliament, and the University of Oxford. Throughout he also remained engaged in his society's literary and spiritual life. Despite the breadth and influence of his work, Blackstone the man remains little known and poorly understood, the lack of engagement with his public and private life standingin stark contrast to the scale of his influence, particularly on the development and teaching of the law.Blackstone's 'Commentaries on the Laws of England' remains the most celebrated and influential text in the Anglo-American common-law tradition. This great book has inevitably overshadowed its author, while the dispersal of his personal and professional papers further complicates the task ofunderstanding the man behind the work. The lack of a thorough account of Blackstone's life has fuelled controversy surrounding his intellectual background and political views. Was he the deeply reactionary conservative painted by Bentham, or rather a committed reformer and early champion of humanrights?The present biography makes full use of a considerable body of new evidence that has emerged in recent years to shed light on the life, work, and times of this neglected figure in English and American history. Exploring Blackstone's family upbringing and private life, his political activities andideology, his religious outlook, and championing of the enlightenment, this book weaves together the threads of an extraordinary mind and career.

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Lawyer, judge, politician, poet, teacher, and architect, William Blackstone was a major figure in eighteenth century public life. Over his varied and brilliant career he made profound contributions to English politics, law, education, and culture through involvements in legal practice,Parliament, and the University of Oxford. Throughou...

Born in Melbourne of English parents, Wilfrid Prest was educated at the universities of Melbourne and Oxford; after a brief spell as a publishing trainee he returned to a lectureship in history at the University of Adelaide, where he has spent most of his academic career, apart from two years as Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins Un...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:376 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.01 inPublished:February 25, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199652015

ISBN - 13:9780199652013

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. A Young Man of Brilliant Parts3. Removed to the University4. Between the University and the Temple5. Advancing the Interests of the College6. The General Benefit of the University at Large7. An Active, Enterprising Genius8. A More Public Scene9. Hope of Advancement10. A Great and Able Lawyer11. The Temper of the Times12. At the Point He Always Wished For13. Useful and Agreeable14. ConclusionAppendixesAcknowledgementsBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"Prest reminds us in his conclusion that the aim of his book was "to tell the story of Blackstone's life and work in his own time, while recognizing the Commentaries as still his major claim to fame"...Wilfred Prest accomplished his objective, and did so very well indeed." --James Oldham, The Journal of Law and History Review