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Arnold Toynbee, a British economist and writer, was born in London and was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, where he became a lecturer. Toynbee believed that economics and religion should be practical. He thought that underprivileged people needed education, religious faith, and a desire for self-improvement, just as much as they needed money. He urged university students to settle in financially disadvantaged areas, where they could study local conditions and work to improve them.
Because of ill health, Toynbee died at the young age of 31. In 1884, a "settlement" called Toynbee Hall was founded in a working-class district of London, England, as a memorial to him. This settlement was based on Toynbee's ideals; the staff identified themselves with the neighbourhood and its problems. They organized clubs, lectures, study groups and concerts for the underprivileged.
Mackenzie King was greatly inspired by Toynbee's philosophy and by his book Lectures on the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century in England. Many passages in King's diary express his admiration of Toynbee. As late as 1939, King mentions how "overcome with emotion" he was when he first read Toynbee's book, and "I recall kneeling down and praying very earnestly that I might be like him." (Diary, December 2, 1939)