The Historical Journal

Research Article

THE DEATH OF JOHN STUART MILL

DAVID STACKa1 c1

a1 University of Reading

ABSTRACT

This article surveys the fiercely contested posthumous assessments of John Stuart Mill in the newspaper and periodical press, in the months following his death in May 1873, and elicits the broader intellectual context. Judgements made in the immediate wake of Mill's death influence biographers and historians to this day and provide an illuminating aperture into the politics and shifting ideological forces of the period. The article considers how Mill's failure to control his posthumous reputation demonstrates both the inextricable intertwining of politics and character in the 1870s, and the difficulties his allies faced. In particular, it shows the sharp division between Mill's middle and working class admirers; the use of James Mill's name as a rebuke to his son; the redefinition of Malthusianism in the 1870s; and how publication of Mill's Autobiography damaged his reputation. Finally, the article considers the relative absence of both theological and Darwinian critiques of Mill.

(Online publication January 31 2011)

Correspondence:

c1 Department of History, University of Reading, RG6 6AA d.a.stack@reading.ac.uk