The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Lardner, Dionysius (1793–1859)

  • Robert B. EkelundJr.
Reference work entry


Scientific popularizer and railway economist, Lardner was born in Dublin on 3 April 1793 and died on 29 April 1859. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, between 1817 and 1827 and is probably best known for his Cabinet Cyclopaedia of 133 volumes, published between 1829 and 1849. Although Lardner’s series was graced by a number of distinguished contributors, he was satirized in the scientific community as ‘Dionysius Diddler’. An astronomer as well as an essayist on numerous scientific topics, Lardner often took side trips into other fields. He studied railway engineering in Paris, and was probably well acquainted with the econo- engineering work at the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées at a time when Jules Dupuit was actively pursuing economic topics. His sole work relating to economics, Railway Economy (1850), was filled with the kind of factual work and analysis being undertaken by the French engineers and by an American pupil of the Ecole, Charles Ellet. Lardner’s work caught the eye of W.S. Jevons, who claimed that a reading of Railway Economy in 1857 led him to investigate economics in mathematical terms.


Jevons, W. S. Lardner, D. Mathematical economics Price discrimination Profit maximization Spatial economics 

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  1. Ekelund, R.B. Jr., E.G. Furubotn, and W.P. Gramm. 1972. The evolution of modern demand theory. Lexington: Heath.Google Scholar
  2. Hooks, D.L. 1971. Monopoly price discrimination in 1850: Dionysius Lardner. History of Political Economy 3: 208–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Robertson, R.M. 1951. Jevons and his precursors. Econometrica 19: 229–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert B. EkelundJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.