Christopher Dawson


Christopher Dawson (1889–1970), cultural historian. An independent and erudite scholar of private means (he would inherit estates in Yorkshire in 1933), he taught for a while, part-time, at the University College of Exeter, 1925–33; and, though not a professional academic, was to be appointed at the age of sixty-eight to a Chair of Roman Catholic Studies at Harvard, 1958–62. A convert to Roman Catholicism, he devoted much of his research to the idea of religion as the driver of social culture. His works include Progress and Religion (1929), The Making of Europe (1932), and Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (1950); as well as a series entitled Essays in Order, which he edited from the 1930s for the Catholic publishers Sheed and Ward: his own contributions were Enquiries into Religion and Culture (1934), Medieval Religion (1934), The Judgement of Nations (1943). For TSE he wrote Criterion Miscellany pamphlet no. 13: Christianity and Sex (1930). See Christina Scott – Dawson’s daughter – An Historian and His World: A Life of Christopher Dawson 1889–1970 (1984); Bradley H. Birzer, Sanctifying the World: The Augustinian Life and Mind of Christopher Dawson (2007); James R. Lothian, The Making and Unmaking of the English Catholic Intellectual Community, 1910–1950 (2009); Christopher McVey, ‘Backgrounds to The Idea of a Christian Society: Charles Maurras, Christopher Dawson, and Jacques Maritain’, and Benjamin G. Lockerd, ‘T. S. Eliot and Christopher Dawson on Religion and Culture’, in T. S. Eliot and Christian Tradition, ed. Benjamin G. Lockerd (2014). See too Dawson, ‘Mr T. S. Eliot and the Meaning of Culture’, The Month, ns 1: 3 (Mar. 1949), 151–7.