Cyril Northcote Parkinson, 1909 - 1993

portrait of C. Northcote Parkinson


Born: 30 July 1909, Barnard Castle, County Durham, England
Died: 9 March 1993, Canterbury, Kent, England

The son of the principal at the York School of Arts and Crafts, Parkinson was educated at St Peter's School, York where he won a scholarship to study history at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. After writing his first book of naval history he earned a PhD at King's College, London. He alternated between teaching and the artillery through WW II, leaving with the rank of major, disappointed that he never saw combat although he saw a lot of bureaucracy. Parkinson lectured at the University of Liverpool and in 1950 was appointed Raffles professor of history at the University of Malaya, Singapore. It was there that he wrote "Parkinson's Law", first as an essay in The Economist and then expanded into a small book. After three years as a visiting professor at Harvard, the University of Illinois, and the University of California at Berkeley he left the classroom to focus on writing and speaking. Parkinson is best known for his biting, and devastatingly accurate, observations of bureaucracy and administration. He also wrote several novels, as well as the definitive biographies not only of P. G. Wodehouse's fictional butler, Jeeves, but C. S. Forrester's fictional naval officer Horatio Hornblower. His work is droll, footnoted as befits a scholar, and hilarious.

Biography from Wikipedia and New York Times obituary

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