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The Glasgow Edition of the Collected Works of Adam Smith

At the University of Glasgow in 1961, a committee of senior members of the academic staff in economics and allied social sciences began thinking of a suitable way to celebrate the bicentenary in 1976 of the first publication of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Their plans did not at first include any project for a new edition of Collected Works. The initial impulse for that came from Professor G. J. Stigler of the University of Chicago in October 1961. Sir Laurence Hunter, now Emeritus Professor of Applied Economics at Glasgow, was at that time a newly graduated student of the Department of Political Economy. He went to Chicago for a year’s postgraduate study, and soon after his arrival Professor Stigler asked him whether the University of Glasgow was going to produce a new edition of Adam Smith’s works. Stigler thought this would be a highly appropriate way to celebrate the bicentenary of the Wealth of Nations. Hunter communicated this information in a letter to Professor A. L. Macfie, Emeritus Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy at Glasgow. He added that there was a Professor of some seniority at Chicago who might be ready to undertake an edition of the Collected Works. ‘But,’ he went on, ‘I fancy Stigler would not want to intrude on other plans provided the work was done, and he asked me if I knew of anything in that direction.’