W. Arthur Lewis was one of the foremost intellectuals, economists, and political activists of the twentieth century. In this book, the first intellectual biography of Lewis, Robert Tignor traces Lewis’s life from its beginnings on the small island of St. Lucia to Lewis’s arrival at Princeton University in the early 1960s. A chronicle of Lewis’s unfailing efforts to promote racial justice and decolonization, it provides a history of development economics as seen through the life of one of its most important founders.
If there were a record for the number of “firsts” achieved by one man during his lifetime, Lewis would be a contender. He was the first black professor in a British university and also at Princeton University and the first person of African descent to win a Nobel Prize in a field other than literature or peace. His writings, which included his book The Theory of Economic Growth, were among the first to describe the field of development economics.
Quickly gaining the attention of the leadership of colonized territories, he helped develop blueprints for the changing relationship between the former colonies and their former rulers. He made significant contributions to Ghana’s quest for economic growth and the West Indies’ desire to create a first-class institution of higher learning serving all of the Anglophone territories in the Caribbean.
This book, based on Lewis’s personal papers, provides a new view of this renowned economist and his impact on economic growth in the twentieth century. It will intrigue not only students of development economics but also anyone interested in colonialism and decolonization, and justice for the poor in third-world countries.