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Portrait of David Hume (detail) by Allan Ramsey (1754)

Sir L.A. Selby-Bigge (1860–1951)

National Portrait
Gallery, London

Lewis Amherst Selby-Bigge was born on 3 April 1860 and died in Lewes on 24 May 1951. The second son of Charles Selby-Bigge of Linden, Northumberland, he was educated at Winchester and Christ Church, Oxford (BA 1883; MA 1886). He was fellow and lecturer in philosophy at University College, Oxford from 1883 (hon. fellow 1930). From 1893 he was a Charity Commissioner before entering the Board of Education in 1902, where he was involved in constituting the foundation managers for voluntary schools and in settling teachers’ salaries. He was promoted to principal assistant secretary in 1908, and to permanent secretary in 1911. He retired in 1925 to his farm near Lewes, also sitting on a number of Public Commissions. He was appointed CB in 1905, advanced KCB in 1913, and was created a baronet in 1919.

Selby-Bigge is now best known for his editorial activities. He produced editions of David Hume’s Treatise (1888) and Enquiries (1894), which have remained standard until very recently. As important was his collection of British Moralists (Oxford, 1897), which printed extracts from many of the hitherto neglected writers of the eighteenth century. This has an important Introduction and, like the Hume editions, a valuable index. A later collection edited by D. D. Raphael (1969) covers a wider chronological range and a different selection of writers; hence the original compilation remains of importance as the most accessible text of many writers of the period.

Selected from John Stephens, The Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Philosophers (2005), ed. Stuart Brown.


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