The reputation of philanthropy since 1750

Britain and beyond

By Hugh Cunningham

The reputation of philanthropy since 1750


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4638-0
  • Pages: 232
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: March 2020
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / Victorian Era (1837-1901), HISTORY / Social History, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Society & social sciences / Charities, voluntary services & philanthropy, Humanities / Social & cultural history, History, Modern History, Social & cultural history


Most people now associate philanthropy with donations of money by the rich to good causes. It has not always been so. The Reputation of Philanthropy explores how our modern definition came about and asks why praise for philanthropy and philanthropists has always been matched by criticism. Were we really capable of loving all of humankind? Was it possible that what was thought of as philanthropy might create a dependency class and do more harm than good? Was it sensible to focus so much on far away places to the neglect of the poor at home?

Deeply researched, timely and accessible, this book will inform today's thinking about the role that philanthropy should play in British society. The criticisms of philanthropy in the past have telling echoes in the present.


'Cunningham's historiography is a departure from traditionally written histories of individual philanthropists and offers the reader a more thorough contemplation of how contemporaries of their time viewed philanthropy. [...] Readers will do well to use this book as an opportunity to consider modern treatment of the terms of philanthropy, through news outlets and primarily, now through social media. What will historians of the future glean from Twitter feeds on modern discourses of philanthropy? Readers may be challenged by how little the conversation has changed since 1750: both a frustration and a curiosity. Cunningham's historiography forces this reflection, sorely needed in a field often suffering a short memory.'


1.Writing the History of Philanthropy
2.The Profile of Philanthropy
3.The Genesis of Philanthropy
4.John Howard, the Philanthropist
5.Howard's Legacy: Philanthropy and Crime
6.Universalism versus Patriotism: Philanthropy and the French Revolution,1789-1815
7.The Times and the telescope: Philanthropy 1815-50
8.Mid-Victorian Philanthropy, 1850-80
9.The Failure of Philanthropy? 1880-1914
10.Philanthropy since 1914


Hugh Cunningham is Emeritus Professor of Social History at the University of Kent

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