135. J. M. Keynes to Harrod , 4 February 1927 [a]



[Replies to 134 ]

King's College, Cambridge #

4 February 1927

I do not think that the question of time need be an obstacle. How long would you want? [1]


  1. 1. Keynes seems to have taken Harrod's letter of 3 February 1927 as "a more or less definite acceptance", though he did not think the volume to be ready for publication before "October [next] year" (Keynes to Christian, 16 February 1927, in JMK CEB/1/14). Bertram Christian (director of Nisbet & Co., the publisher of the Cambridge Economic Handbooks series together with the Cambridge University Press) hoped that Harrod understood that the manuscript had to be ready two or three months before that (Christian to Keynes, 23 February 1927, in JMK CEB/1/15). Accordingly, a publication agreement between Harrod and Nisbet & Co., dated 26 July 1927, stipulated that International Economics (about 50,000 words) had to be delivered not later than August 1928 (TD, two pages, in HPBL Add. 72747/1-2).

    Harrod's memorandum for the General Federation of Trade Unions on "Foreign Exchanges in their Relation to Unemployment" ( 1928:2 ; see note 1 to letter 133 ), for the writing of which Harrod took great pains, may have been a first attempt to get to grips with the subject. Soon, however, Harrod did not feel up to the task. In an autobiographical statement written late in summer 1928, Harrod wrote: "Nearly two years ago I was commissioned to write a book in a good series. I found myself unequal to the task. I couldnt bring myself to concentrate on it." (AD, not signed, seven pages, in HPBL Add. 72775/11-17). He added: "I suppose I didnt write it (i) because too tired (ii) economics not really congenial (iii) back of my mind feeling that dont want to remain in profession. Not worth writing a book to no purpose." (another draft of the same statement, in HPBL Add. 72775/20). At that point, Harrod suffered of a nervous breakdown (see, for further details, note 1 to letter 156 ), and seems to have set the project aside for some time. He started working at it late in 1931 or early in 1932 (he may have been stimulated by the political situation in October 1931: see Harrod's pamphlet on "[Tariffs and Development Policy]", here as essay 7 , in particular note 1 , [jump to page] ), as in March 1932 he corresponded with Kahn on what later became the foreign trade multiplier (letters 229 and 235 ) and by April 1932 he could send to Robertson a draft of the book (letter 231 ).

    1. a. APcI, addressed to Christ Church, in KHLM 8.

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