Arnold, Thomas

known as Doctor Arnold

born June 13, 1795, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, Eng.
died June 12, 1842, Rugby, Warwickshire

British educator.

A classical scholar, he became headmaster in 1828 of Rugby School, which was in a state of decline. He revived Rugby by reforming its curriculum, athletics program, and social structure (in the prefect system he introduced, older boys served as house monitors to keep discipline among younger boys), becoming in the process the preeminent figure in British education. In 1841 he was named Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford. In addition to several volumes of sermons, he wrote a three-volume History of Rome (1838–43). He was the father of Matthew Arnold and grandfather of the novelist Mrs. Humphry Ward (1851–1920).

Thomas Arnold, detail of an engraving by H. Cousins, 1840, after an oil painting by Thomas Philips

By courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.

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▪ British educator
born June 13, 1795, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, Eng.
died June 12, 1842, Rugby, Warwickshire
 educator who, as headmaster of Rugby School, had much influence on public school education in England. He was the father of the poet and critic Matthew Arnold.

      Thomas Arnold was educated at Winchester and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He was elected a fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, in 1815. After ordination and marriage he settled at Laleham, Middlesex, in 1819, becoming a tutor to university entrants. During his tenure as Rugby School's headmaster (from 1828 until his death), Arnold gradually raised Rugby to the rank of a great public school.

      Arnold was not an innovator in teaching method; his aim was to reform Rugby by making it a school for gentlemen. He used prefects more fully than any previous headmaster. Under the prefect system the older boys served as house monitors to keep discipline among the younger boys; this system was adopted in most English secondary schools. The Arnold tradition spread to other schools through Rugby pupils and masters, and many schools established after Arnold's death were modeled on Rugby.

      Arnold was the author of five volumes of sermons, an edition of Thucydides, and a three-volume history of Rome.

Additional Reading
Biographies include Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, The Life and Correspondence of Thomas Arnold, 2 vol. (1840, reprinted 1978); and Joshua Fitch, Thomas and Matthew Arnold and Their Influence on English Education (1897). A sketch of Arnold is included in Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians (1918, reissued 1989).

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Universalium. 2010.

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