‘Benevolence was not some kind of adjunct to ordinary life.’

Did George Cadbury’s philanthropy achieve what he hoped? Paul Vallely shares some findings from his much-anticipated new book

‘For George Cadbury his whole life was an adventure in philanthropy. That is clear from the breadth of his interests.’ | Photo: George Cadbury (centre) with his wife and grandchildren.

Before Quakerism, business and benevolence were largely seen as parallel, compartmentalised activities. Other philanthropists had spent the first part of their life making money, and the second part working out the most productive ways to give it away. With Friends, that changed: business and philanthropy worked hand in hand. This was perhaps the most profound shift in thinking on philanthropy in the nineteenth century. Quaker ways of doing business did not influence their philanthropy; instead, their philanthropy changed the way their businesses operated.

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