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Thomas Arnold

Arnold, Thomas, 1795–1842, English educator, b. Isle of Wight, educated at Winchester school and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He was a fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, from 1815 to 1819, was ordained deacon in 1818, and was from 1827 to 1842 headmaster of Rugby school, where he brought about many changes. Mathematics, modern languages, and modern history were added to the traditional classical curriculum, the monitorial system was introduced, and independent thought was encouraged. Arnold's reforms were influential beyond Rugby itself; his changes were adopted by most of the English secondary schools. Through the medium of his weekly sermons to his students in Rugby Chapel, Arnold inculcated the Christian principles and ideals that formed the core of his own religious convictions. An effective preacher, Arnold was an excellent classical scholar and historian as well. An edition of Thucydides (1835), History of Rome (3 vol., 1838–43; to the Punic Wars), and History of the Later Roman Commonwealth (pub. posthumously, 1845) are among the products of a lifetime of study. Arnold's expression of liberal political and theological views made him unpopular, however, and general recognition was not accorded him until 1841, when he was appointed regius professor of modern history at Oxford. Matthew Arnold was his son and Mary Augusta (Mrs. Humphry) Ward his granddaughter. Thomas Arnold is portrayed in Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857), a novel about life at Rugby by Thomas Hughes.

See A. F. Stanley, The Life and Correspondence of Thomas Arnold, D.D. (1844); A. Whitridge, Dr. Arnold of Rugby (1928); N. G. Wymer, Dr. Arnold of Rugby (1953, repr. 1970); T. W. Bamford, Thomas Arnold (1960); M. Trevor, The Arnolds (1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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