Arnold J. Toynbee

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Arnold Joseph Toynbee CH (April 14, 1889 – October 22, 1975) was a British historian whose twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, A Study of History, 1934–1961, was a synthesis of world history, a metahistory based on universal rhythms of rise, flowering and decline, which examined history from a global perspective. A religious outlook permeates the Study and made it especially popular in the United States, for Toynbee rejected Greek humanism, the Enlightenment belief in humanity's essential goodness, and what he considered the "false god" of modern nationalism. Toynbee in the 1918-1950 period was a leading British consultant to the government on international affairs, especially regarding the Middle East.



Toynbee was the nephew of the economic historian Arnold Toynbee (1852–1883), with whom he is sometimes confused. Born in London, Arnold J. was educated at Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford. He began his teaching career as a fellow of Balliol College in 1912, and thereafter held positions at King's College London (as Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History), the London School of Economics and the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA) in Chatham House. He was Director of Studies at the RIIA between 1929 and 1956 and from 1920-46 he edited the annual Survey of International Affairs.

His first marriage was to Rosalind Murray (1890–1967), daughter of Gilbert Murray, in 1913; they had three sons, of whom Philip Toynbee was the second. They divorced in 1946, and Toynbee then married his research assistant, Veronica M. Boulter, in the same year.

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