Maurice Herbert Dobb


1900-76.  Emeritus Professor of Economics.  DobbLecturer in Russian Economic Studies.

Dobb was admitted to Pembroke College as an exhibitioner to study history. However after his first year he changed the subject of his studies to economics and gaineda double first . After two years at the London School of Economics in a research post and producing his PhD he returned to Cambridge to take up a post as University lecturer.

Controversy surrounding his divorce and his devotion to Marxism contributed to his losing his dining rights at Pembroke and his students. However, he soon found a position at Trinity, and kept his connection with the College, where he collaborated with Piero Sraffa, for fifty years.

In 1920 he joined the Communist Party and in the 1930s was central to the burgeoning Communist movement at the university; one of his recruits was Kim Philby.

Dobb was primarily involved in the interpretation of neoclassical economic theory from a Marxist point of view. He assessed the central economic challenges for socialism as relating to production and investment in their dynamic aspects. He identified three major advantages of planned economies: antecedent coordination, external effects and variables in planning.


Memorial inscription Translation


Huius collegii per XXVIII annos socius et lector.
Inter viros artis oeconomicae peritos quasi
signifer novarum partium videbatur.  Doctrinas enim
Caroli Marx adhuc apud Britannos non satis intellectas
rebus cum praeteritis tum praesentibus feliciter
attulit.  Ut in scriptis ita in vita cotidiana neminem
comiorem tibi fingere possis, neminem humaniorem.
Obiit A.D.MDCCCCLXXVI, aetatis suae LXXVII

Fellow and Lecturer in the College for twenty-eight years, Maurice Herbert Dobb seemed to be standard-bearer for a new school of economists: he successfully applied the theories of Karl Marx, at that time little understood in Britain, to both past and contemporary events.  It would be impossible to imagine a more delightful or more cultured personality than that which he displayed both in his writings and in his life.  He died in 1976 at the age of seventy-six.

Maurice Herbert Dobb

Brass located on the north wall of the Ante-Chapel. 
Inscription text by R.D. Dawe.



Dobb brass.  Click for enlarged view




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