A quest for a grandfather: Sir Philip Magnus, ist Bart., Victorian educationalist*

The subject of this Magnus lecture is the eponymous founder of the series, my grandfather Sir Philip Magnus, a distinguished Victorian educationalist. He was a man of sharp contradictions. Behind an outwardly autocratic manner beat a tender Jewish heart. He was kind but contentious, opinionated but vulnerable to what others thought of him. His friends held him in high esteem but he was disliked by his colleagues at work. He cared passionately for the educational needs of the nation’s young people but was a hard father to his own children. Was it nature or nurture that produced so complex a character? This is what I set out to discover in my quest for a grandfather I can only recall as a white-bearded, kindly but unapproachable old man.

Among a plethora of family papers the most intriguing item to emerge was a letter written to me by my mother in i960.

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