Profile Major Works Resources

William Smart, 1853-1915.

Scottish businessman, economist and popularizer of the Austrian School

Born into a Glaswegian manufacturing family, William Smart's studies at the University of Glasgow were interrupted at the age of seventeen to take a job in his father's thread-works business.   He would attempt to balance his studies and his business responsibilities, finally taking an MA in 1882.  It was only in 1884, after his father's death and the sale of the firm, that Smart would have the freedom to concentrate on his intellectual interests.

Perhaps as a result of his first hand experience with the industrial mill system, Smart was early drawn to the Victorian romantic critics Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin, carrying on a private correspondence with the latter and serving as the founding president of the Ruskin Society of Glasgow.  But he was soon drawn to teaching economics,  first as an assistant to Edward Caird at Glasgow, and then, in 1886, on his own at University College Dundee and Queen Margaret College, Glasgow. 

It was around this time that Smart came across the Austrian economists and set it upon himself to introduce them to the English-speaking world..  His principal contribution was his famous 1891 monograph on the Austrian theory of value, while simultaneously translating Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk Capital and Interest (1890) and Positive Theory of Capital (1891) and supervising the translation of Friedrich von Wieser's Natural Value (1893).  Smart's own Studies in Economics (1895) demonstrates his own mastery of the theory, applying Austrian perspective to bear on various economic issues of the day.  He would soon move away from strict Austrianism, and in the 1910 edition of his 1891 primer, Smart tacked on an appendix which had a more Marshallian perspective.

Smart had taken up a lectureship at the University of Glasgow in 1892.  In 1896, Smart applied and won the newly-created of the Adam Smith Professorship at the University of Glasgow.  Although a popular teacher, Smart's chances seemed compromised by his opposition of the then-dominant Marshallian school and his peculiar policy ideas (esp. bimetallism).  Nonetheless, Smart prevailed and retained the professorship, which we would retain until his death in 1915.

Outside his Austrian work, Smart's influence was primarily in the classroom and as a popular speaker and writer on policy  issues, from free trade to the poor law reform (he served on the 1905 commission).  His Economic Annals (1910, 1917) provide an excellent overview of the history of economic policy between 1801 and 1830, the formative years of the Classical school.



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Major Works of William Smart

  • John Ruskin: His Life and Works, 1880 (pub. 1883). [bk, av]
  • A Disciple of Plato: A critical study of John Ruskin, 1883. [bk]
  • The Sugar Bounties, 1887 [bk, av]
  • "Factory Industry and Socialism", 1887, Transactions of Phil Soc of Glasgow p.22, [av]
  • "Dislocations of Industry", 1888 Contemporary Rev, p.686
  • "Translator's Preface", 1890, to Eugen v. Böhm-Bawerk's 1884 ed. of Capital and Interest (p.v) [lib]
  • "Translator's Preface", 1891, to Eugen v. Böhm-Bawerk, 1889 ed. of  Positive Theory of Capital, (p.v) [lib]
  • An Introduction to the Theory of Value, on the lines of Menger, Wieser, and Böhm Bawerk  1891 [bk, av] [1910 2nd ed. av] [1914 3rd ed], [prax], [mis]
  • "The Old Economy and the New", 1891 Fortnightly Rev, p.279
  • "The New Theory of Interest", 1891, EJ, p.675
  • "Effects of Consumption of Wealth on Distribution", 1892, Annals of AAPSS [av]
  • "Women's Wages", 1891-92, Proceedings of Philosophical Soc of Glasgow,  p.87
  • Women's  Wages, 1892 [av]
  • "Editor's Preface", 1893, to Wieser's Natural Value, (p.v) [prax]
  • "The Place of Industry in the Social Organism",  1893, IJ Ethics, p.437 [av]
  • "Is Money a Mere Commodity?", 1893, Fortnightly Rev, p.646 [also 1893 Eclectic Rev, p.759]
  • "A Living Wage: presidential address", 1893,  Proceedings of Phil Soc of Glasgow, p.52
  • "New Wealth: A Study of the Source of Income", 1894, PSQ, p.445 [av]
  • Studies in Economics, 1895. [bk, av]
  • "Glasgow and its Municipal Industries", 1895, QJE [av]
  • "Municipal Work and Finance of Glasgow", 1895, EJ
  • "The Report of the Royal Commission on Agricultural Depression", 1897-98,  Proceedings of Phil Soc of Glasgow, p.1
  • The Distribution of Income, 1899 [bk, av] [2nd ed., 1912]
  • The Taxation of Land Values and the Single Tax, 1900 [av]
  • "The Greatness of Adam Smith", 1901, Record of the Ninth Jubilee of the University of Glasgow, p.61
  • "Municipal Industries and the Ratepayer", 1901, EJ
  • "Discussion on Housing Problems", 1901-92,  Proceedings of Phil Soc of Glasgow, p.144
  • The Housing Problem and the Municipality, 1902
  • "Industrial Trusts", 1903, J of Society of Arts (v.51), p.156
  • "The Fiscal Policy", 1903-04, Proceedings of Phil Soc of Glasgow, p.55
  • "The Problem of Housing: Presidential address to Section F", 1904, EJ
  • The Return to Protection, being a re-statement of the case for free trade, 1904. [av]  [1906 ed. av] [mis]
  • "Theory of Value: the Demand Side", 1910, appendix to 2nd ed. of 1891 [prax]
  • Economic Annals of the Nineteenth Century, Vol. I - 1801-20, 1910. [bk, av]
  • Economic Annals of the Nineteenth Century, Vol II - 1821-30, 1917. [bk, av]
  • Second Thoughts of an Economist, 1916 [bk, av]




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Resources on William Smart

  • "Review of Smart's Introduction to the Theory of Value" by F.Y. Edgeworth, 1892, EJ [1925 Papers repr]
  • "Review of Smart's Introduction to the Theory of Value" by R. Zukerkandl, 1892, ZfVSV, p.371
  • "Review of Smart's translation of Wieser's Natural Value", by  E. von Böhm-Bawerk, 1894, ZfVSV, p.327
  • "Review of Smart's Studies in Economics", by  E. von Böhm-Bawerk, 1896, ZfVSV, p.656
  • "Review of Smart's Studies in Economics" by Sidney Sherwood, 1896, AAPSS (Mar), p.149 [js]
  • "Professor Smart and the Single Tax: A Rejoinder" by W.R. Lester, 1906 [bk]
  • "Biographical Sketch", by Thomas Jones, in Second Thoughts, 1916
  • Smart obituary notice in JRSS, 1915, p.489
  • Smart obituary notice in AER, 1915, p.736
  • Smart obituary notice in Annual Register, 1915,  p.142
  • Wikipedia


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