The Semi-Autobiography of Walter Bagehot

It comes highly recommended. And it now goes on my must-read list. A taste of what one might expect:

The tragedy is that Bagehot, in the vast range of his writings, left no autobiography. But that lacuna has been splendidly filled by an American scholar of Britain, Frank Prochaska, who has taught at Yale and at Oxford, where he was a visiting fellow at All Souls College. He has written on the British monarchy, and on women and philanthropy and Christianity in Victorian England, and has immersed himself so deeply in the life and times of Bagehot that the man’s voice appears to be speaking to us eerily from the grave.

Written in the first person, the book daringly presents itself as Bagehot’s own memoir. Pedants may question this impertinence, particularly when Prochaska writes of such personal matters as the mental illness of Bagehot’s mother. (“Every trouble in life,” Bagehot once remarked, “is a joke compared to madness.”)But Prochaska has delivered a work of extraordinary scholarship and profound human sympathy that is also a pleasure to read. He ranges across his subject’s varied interests—from finance to poetry, from governance to national character, from the science of evolution to the mysteries of religion. And all is peppered with Bagehot’s epigrammatic wit. It is not the real thing, but it comes exceedingly close.

The Amazon link for the book can be found here.