The ‘Vera Anstey South Asia Essay Competition’ is established by the LSE South Asia Centre in honour of LSE alumnus and Reader Vera Anstey (1889–1967).
British economist, LSE alumnus and former LSE Lecturer and Reader Vera Anstey née Powell had a lifelong connection with South Asia, particularly the Indian subcontinent.
A year after graduating from LSE in 1913 with a first class honours degree in Economic History, and where she was a founding member of the LSE Hockey team, Vera moved to Bombay with her husband Percy Anstey (LSE graduate and former President of the LSE Students’ Union), which ignited her interest in the country’s economy. Whilst there, she worked as an examiner in Economic Theory for the B Commerce degree at the Sydenham College for Commerce and Economics.
However, Vera had to return to England in 1920 after Percy, and their youngest son Arthur, died of cholera. Back in London, Vera took up a regular teaching position at LSE in 1922; she published The Trade of the Indian Ocean, and The Economic Development of India (both in 1929), the latter dealing comprehensively with the Indian subcontinent’s economy, and offering an analysis of, as Vera wrote, ‘the great material potentiality of India and the meagre economic achievements of the bulk of the population’.
In 1941, Vera was recommended for promotion to the Sir Ernest Cassel Readership in Commerce by the renowned LSE Economist Friedrich Hayek. She retired from LSE in 1954, but remained a part-time member of staff until 1964, having also served as Dean of Faculty of Economics for University of London (1950–54), and on the Royal Commission on the Taxation of Profits and Income (1950–55). Upon her retirement, she published Introduction to Economics for Students in India and Pakistan (1964).
While an academic at LSE, Vera played an active role with students. She was Chair of the Admissions Committee for Undergraduates (1939–59), Chairman of First Year Advisers, and Lodgings Officer during LSE’s wartime exile in Cambridge. In this latter role, she cycled around Cambridge persuading local landlords to take in LSE students – not always an easy task for the School’s many overseas students. Throughout her career at LSE, she focussed on teaching and supporting students, particularly those from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In 1976 the Vera Anstey Suite in the Old Building was named in Vera’s honour to celebrate her long and dedicated service to the School.