Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse

Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse

Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse, the youngest son of Rev. Reginald Hobhouse and Caroline Trelawny, and the brother of Emily Hobhouse, was born in St. Ives, Cornwall on 8th September, 1864.

Educated at Marlborough and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he gained a first in Classics. In 1890 he was appointed assistant tutor at Corpus Christi and four years later was elected fellow of the college. He initially taught philosophy but a study of trade unionism gave him a strong interest in sociology. His first book, The Labour Movement, was published in 1893. This was followed by The Theory of Knowledge (1896).

In 1897 C. P. Scott invited Hobhouse to join the staff of the Manchester Guardian. While Scott was a member of the House of Commons, Hobhouse shared the task of writing leading articles with Charles Montague. He also managed to write two important books, Mind in Evolution (1901) and Democracy and Reaction (1904).

Hobhouse left the Manchester Guardian became the editor of the Sociological Review and in 1906 joined with J. L. Hammond, Henry Brailsford and Philip Gibbs to start a new Liberal newspaper called the Tribune. He was also an active member of the Adult Suffrage Society.

In 1907 Hobhouse became Professor of Sociology at London University. He continued to contribute articles to the Manchester Guardian and in 1911 became a director of the paper. In 1914 Hobhouse, like the two other important figures at the newspaper, C. P. Scott and Charles Montague, called for Britain to remain neutral in the growing conflict in Europe. However, once war was declared, Hobhouse gave his support to the government. By 1917 Hobhouse had become disillusioned by the growing number of casualties and urged a negotiated peace.

As well as continuing to write for the Manchester Guardian, Hobhouse produced a large number of books after the war, including The Rational Good (1921), The Elements of Social Justice (1922) and Social Development, Its Nature and Conditions (1924).

Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse died on 21st June, 1929.