Albert Mansbridge (1876-1952): An Introduction – Writing Lives

Albert Mansbridge (1876-1952): An Introduction

Albert Mansbridge was massively influential in the world of education. His autobiography The Trodden Road (first published in 1940) discusses his life between 1876-1939 and offers an insight into working class life in the late 19th-early 20th century. According to Mansbridge, the writing of his autobiography was intended to clear and steady his mind. He states:

It was suggested to me in September 1938 – a time of crisis in international affairs – that I should write a testament of my beliefs. In the hope that it would steady and clear my own mind, I endeavoured to do so. Moreover, the testimony of any man is not without value, provided that those who receive it know what sort of a man it is who makes it, and what his experiences have been.

Albert Mansbridge as painted by his son (John) in 1947.

(1940, xi)

Albert, who left school at the young age of fourteen was largely self-educated and, with his wife Frances Jane Pringle, co-founded  the Workers’ Educational Association (1903), the World Association for Adult Education (1918), and many others. These organizations provided routes for working class people into higher education and created major changes to the adult education system. For a self-educated son of a carpenter, Albert is, perhaps, one of the most influential people in the world of adult education.

After suffering from cerebrospinal meningitis in 1914 (a disease which threatened not only his life, but his very ability to be a functioning member of society), Mansbridge was rejected from entry into the army as, though he had made a full recovery, the after-effects of his illness rendered him incapable of active combat. Instead, he joined the Board of Education and ‘served continuously for nine months in their war-time quarters at the South Kensington Museum’ (1940,85).

After the war, Mansbridge published further literature  such as An Adventure in Working Class Education (1920) and quickly became revered as an expert on the matter, touring with his lectures on his theories regarding the further education of adults and establishing himself as a respected friend of Queen Mary.

Mansbridge retired in 1945 to Paignton, Devon and died at the ripe old age of 76 in 1952 at the Mount Stuart Nursing home, Torquay. Albert was buried in Gloucester Cathedral shortly after and since then, his legacy has lived on. Mansbridge’s family looked back at his memory with great fondness and pride for their revolutionary relative who had, from his hardly educated teenage self, built an educational empire which spanned the globe and fought for the right to a good and free education for all.

In the future posts regarding Albert, we will explore his memoir’s intended audience and its purpose, his education and his education of others, his reading and writing, his home and family, life and labour, war, habits, politics, and much more. Mansbridge was a very interesting and influential person.



  • Image reference – Fig. 1, Albert Mansbridge, English Educator, accessed October 19th 2015,
  • Jennings, Bernard. “Mansbridge, Albert (1876–1952).” Bernard Jennings In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online ed., edited by Lawrence Goldman. Oxford: OUP, 2004,  accessed October 19, 2015,
  • Mansbridge, Albert, The Trodden Road, Temple Press, Letchworth, 1940, accessed October 15th 2015


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