311. Harrod to Joan Robinson , 1 July 1933 [a]

[Answered by 312 ]

51 Campden Hill Square, W.8. #

1 July 1933

Dear Joan

I havent yet read the great work. In fact I am just about setting out to do so. But first I should like to thank you for your very generous references to me in the preface. [1]

As a matter of history it might interest you to know that I devised and wrote an article about the M[arginal]. R[evenue]. curve which I sent in to the Journal in the summer of 1928. [2] Unfortunately the article contained some other matter [3] with which Maynard didnt agree and he handed it over to Ramsey to refute. I became ill about that time and didnt bother about it for a year or so. When I looked it up again, I wrote to Ramsey replying to his refutation, and he replied in a letter, which I have got, entirely surrendering and indeed providing a rather elaborate mathematical demonstration of my points--these were points other than those connected with the M R curve. Meanwhile I became dissatisfied with the article on other grounds and did not press for its publication. I scrapped it; and in 1930 wrote quite a different article but embodied in it my original construction of the M.R. curve. [4]



  1. 1. J. Robinson, The Economics of Imperfect Competition (1933). In the foreword (pp. vi-vii), Robinson acknowledged Harrod's role in the discovery of the notion of "marginal revenue".

    2. Harrod, "Notes on Monopoly and Quasi-Competition", here reproduced as essay 6 . This was submitted to the Economic Journal in July 1928 (see letters 149 and 150 ). Keynes's comments and Harrod's defence are reproduced here as letters 151 , 153 , 154 , 155 , 156 . Ramsey's note is reproduced as attachment to letter 154 . Harrod suffered of a nervous breakdown, which disabled him from effective work for several months. His letter in reply to Ramsey's note does not survive; Ramsey's admission of misunderstanding is reproduced as letter 168 . For further details see note 1 to essay 6 .

    3. Harrod thought that the original point of his article was the argument in favour of cartels in conditions of imperfect competition (see letters 149 and 150 ); Keynes and Ramsey, however, immediately appreciated the importance of the marginal revenue curve (see letters 151 and 154 ).

    4. Harrod, "Notes on Supply" ( 1930:3 ); part I of "Notes on Monopoly and Quasi-Competition" was incorporated as part II of the 1930 article, on pp. 238-39.

    1. a. ALS, two pages on one leaf, in JVR vii/191/9-10.

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