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Arnold Toynbee (Arnold Joseph Toynbee) Biography

(1889–1975), (Arnold Joseph Toynbee), A Study of History, An Historian's Approach to Religion

British historian, born in London, educated at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was a tutor until 1915. He became a professor at London University in 1919 and was Director of the Royal Institute of International Affairs from 1925 until he retired in 1955. A Study of History (10 volumes, 1934 and 1954) took some twenty major civilizations as examples upon which Toynbee based his argument that a cycle of emergence, development, and ultimate dissolution was inevitable in societies and cultures; the onset of the final phase had, he maintained, begun in the modern world. Prolonged controversy arose with regard to the value of his conclusions and the generalizing energies of his methods. The abridgement by D. C. Somervell, published in two parts in 1946 and 1960, commanded a wide popular readership. In its call for a universal spiritual code as the channel for possible cultural regeneration, A Study of History displays the religious sensibility also evident in Toynbee's An Historian's Approach to Religion (1956) and Mankind, Whence and Whither? (1966). Among his works in his original field as a classical historian, which remain highly regarded, are Greek Historical Thought (1950) and Hannibal's Legacy (1965). His prolific career as an author also gave rise to numerous accounts of his travels, the best-known of which is Between Oxus and Jamna (1961). Acquaintances (1967) and Experiences (1969) are volumes of his memoirs. He was the father of Philip Toynbee, with whom he wrote Comparing Notes: A Dialogue across a Generation (1963).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: James Thomson Biography to Hugh [Redwald] Trevor-Roper Baron Dacre Biography