Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

A Real Companion and Friend:
The diary of William Lyon Mackenzie King

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.

Behind the Diary

A King's Who's Who Biographies

Arnold Toynbee (1852-1883)

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)

Previous | Next