Sully, James

James Sully (1842–1923) played a key role in the disciplinary and institutional development of psychology in Britain at the turn of the 20th century. He was a leading member of the child study movement and wrote a pioneering book on child development. This entry offers a brief overview of Sully’s life and career and examines his specific contributions to the field of child studies, which include his 1895 book, Studies of Childhood.


Sully was born in Bridgewater, Somerset, England, into a Radical–Liberal nonconformist family in 1842. He was the eldest of the eight children of James Wood Sully, a businessman in shipping and coal mining, and his wife, Elizabeth Fender. After a haphazard schooling, he trained for the Baptist ministry but became disenchanted. There followed two ...

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