The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Volume 5 (1794-97)
Jeremy Bentham, edited by Alexander Taylor Milne | May 2017
Format: 234 x 156mm
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About the book
The first five volumes of the Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham contain over 1,300 letters written both to and from Bentham over a 50-year period, beginning in 1752 (aged three) with his earliest surviving letter to his grandmother, and ending in 1797 with correspondence concerning his attempts to set up a national scheme for the provision of poor relief. Against the background of the debates on the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789, to which he made significant contributions, Bentham worked first on producing a complete penal code, which involved him in detailed explorations of fundamental legal ideas, and then on his panopticon prison scheme. Despite developing a host of original and ground-breaking ideas, contained in a mass of manuscripts, he published little during these years, and remained, at the close of this period, a relatively obscure individual. Nevertheless, these volumes reveal how the foundations were laid for the remarkable rise of Benthamite utilitarianism in the early nineteenth century.
Bentham’s life in the mid-1790s was dominated by the panopticon, both as a prison and as a network of workhouses for the indigent. The letters in this volume document in excruciating detail Bentham’s attempt to build a panopticon prison in London, and the opposition he faced from local aristocratic landowners. His brother Samuel was appointed as Inspector-General of Naval Works and in September 1796 married Mary Sophia Fordyce.
About the editors
Alexander Taylor Milne (1906–94), scholar and historian, was Secretary and Librarian of the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.
Professor J.H. Burns (1921–2012), historian, Reader in the History of Political Thought 1961–6 and Professor in the History of Political Thought 1966–86 in the Department of History, University College London, was in 1961 appointed as the first General Editor of the authoritative edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, a post he held until 1978.