John Keynes, The Economist Who Loved A Dancer

john keynes, TeRra MagazineJohn Maynard Keynes(1883 –  1946), was a British economist whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. He built on and greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles, and was one of the most influential economists of the 20th century and the founder of modern macroeconomic theory. His ideas are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesianeconomics, and its various offshoots.

Keynes’s early romantic and sexual relationships were exclusively with men. Keynes was open about his affairs, and from 1901 to 1915 kept separate diaries in which he tabulated his many sexual encounters. Keynes’s relationship and later close friendship with Macmillan was to be fortunate, as Macmillan’s company first published his tract Economic Consequences of the Peace.

Dancer, Lydia Lopokova

Lydia Lopokova, Baroness Keynes (Russian: 1892 – 1981) was a Russian ballerina famous during the early 20th century. Lopokova was born into a family of ballet dancers, and trained at the Imperial Ballet School. She toured with the Ballets Russes in 1910, and moved to the United States soon after.

Lopokova married the English economist John Maynard Keynes in 1925, and was also known as the Lady Keynes. She largely disappeared from public view after Keynes’s death in 1946, and spent her remaining years in Sussex.

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In 1921, Keynes wrote that he had fallen “very much in love” with Lydia Lopokova, a well-known Russian ballerina and one of the stars of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets RussesIn the early years of his courtship, he maintained an affair with a younger man, Sebastian Sprott, in tandem with Lopokova, but eventually chose Lopokova. They were married in 1925, with Keynes’s former lover Duncan Grant as best man.”What a marriage of beauty and brains, the fair Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes” was said at the time. Keynes later commented to Strachey that beauty and intelligence were rarely found in the same person, and that only in Duncan Grant had he found the combination. 

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Support for the arts

Keynes thought that the pursuit of money for its own sake was a pathological condition, and that the proper aim of work is to provide leisure. He wanted shorter working hours and longer holidays for all.

Keynes was interested in literature in general and drama in particular and supported the Cambridge Arts Theatre financially, which allowed the institution to become one of the major British stages outside London.

Keynes’s personal interest in classical opera and dance led him to support the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden and the Ballet Company at Sadler’s Wells. During the war, as a member of CEMA (Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts), Keynes helped secure government funds to maintain both companies while their venues were shut. Following the war, Keynes was instrumental in establishing the Arts Council of Great Britain and was its founding chairman in 1946. Unsurprisingly, from the start the two organisations that received the largest grants from the new body were the Royal Opera House and Sadler’s Wells.

Like several other notable British authors of his time, Keynes was a member of the Bloomsbury Group. Virginia Woolf’s biographer tells an anecdote on how Virginia Woolf, Keynes, and T. S. Eliot discussed religion at a dinner party, in the context of their struggle against Victorian era morality. Keynes may have been confirmed, but according to Cambridge University he was clearly an agnostic, which he remained until his death. According to one biographer, “he was never able to take religion seriously, regarding it as a strange aberration of the human mind.”

Keynes died of a heart attack at Tilton, his farmhouse home near Firle, East Sussex, England, on 21 April 1946, at the age of 62. Against his wishes (he wanted for his ashes to be deposited in the crypt at King’s), his ashes were scattered on the Downs above Tilton. Keynes had no children, his widow, Lydia Lopokova, died in 1981.


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