James Sully

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James Sully
James Sully b1842.jpg
Sully in about 1880
Born (1842-03-03)3 March 1842
Whitton, London
Died 1 November 1923(1923-11-01) (aged 81)
Richmond, Surrey
Occupation Psychologist
Nationality British
Genre Non-fiction
Literary movement Associationism


James Sully (3 March 1842 – 1 November 1923)[1] was an English psychologist.


He was born at Bridgwater, Somerset the son of J.W. Sully, a liberal Baptist merchant and ship-owner.[2] He was educated at the Independent College, Taunton, Regent's Park College, University of Göttingen, where he studied under Lotze, and at Humboldt University, Berlin where he studied under DuBois-Reymond and Helmholtz.[3]

Sully was originally destined for the nonconformist ministry and in 1869 became classical tutor at the Baptist College, Pontypool.[4] In 1871, however, he adopted a literary and philosophic career. Between 1892 and 1903, he was Grote Professor of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic at University College London, where he was succeeded by Carveth Read.[5]

An adherent of the associationist his school of psychology, his views had great affinity with those of Alexander Bain. He wrote monographs on subjects such as pessimism, and psychology textbooks, some of the first in English, including The Human Mind (1892).[5] His 1881 Illusions was commended by both Freud and Wundt.[3]

Sully opened an experimental psychology laboratory at University College London in January 1889. In 1901 he was one of the founder members of the British Psychological Society and in fact personally called the meeting at which the Society was formed.[6]

Sully died in Richmond, Surrey on 1 November 1923.[2]



  • Sensation and Intuition (1874)[7]
  • Pessimism (1877)
  • Illusions (1881; 4th ed., 1895)
  • Outlines of Psychology (1884; many editions)
  • Teacher's Handbook of Psychology (1886)[8]
  • Studies of Childhood (1895)[9]
  • Children's Ways (1897)
  • An Essay on Laughter (1902)
  • Italian Travel Sketches (1912)
  • My Life and Friends (1918)

Selected articles




  1. "Comings and Goings in the History of Psychology," University of Houston-Downtown. Retrived 19 January 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "James Sully," The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Valentine 2001, 405
  4. Gurjeva 2004
  5. 5.0 5.1 Chisholm 1911.
  6. Bunn 2001
  7. Bain, Alexander (1874). "Sensation and Intuition". The Fortnightly Review. XXII (91): 146–48.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Read, Carveth (1886). "Sully's Hand-Book of Psychology". The Popular Science Monthly. XXX: 256–59.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Woods, Alice (1896). "James Sully: Studies in Childhood". Mind. V (18): 256–61.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Rpt. in The Popular Science Monthly, Vol. XXVII, 1885.
  11. Anon. (1886). "Mr. James Sully on the Precocity of Genius". Science. VIII (180): 62–63.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


Block, Jr., Ed (1982), "James Sully, Evolutionist Psychology, and Late Victorian Gothic Fiction", Victorian Studies, XXV (4): 443–67<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Block, Jr., Ed (1984), "Evolutionist Psychology and Aesthetics: The Cornhill Magazine, 1875-1880", Journal of the History of Ideas, XLV (3): 465–75<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Block, Jr., Ed (1986), "James Sully (1842-1923); Victorian Psychologist: A Bibliography, 1871-1917", Bulletin of Bibliography, XLIII: 17–23<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Bunn, Geoff (2001), "Founding Factors", The Psychologist, XIV (8): 404–5<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Groth, Helen (2014), "The Mind as Palimpsest: Art, Dreaming and James Sully's Aesthetics of Latency", in Danta, Chris; Groth, Helen (eds.), Mindful Aesthetics: Literature and the Science of Mind, New York: Bloomsbury, pp. 107–21, ISBN 9781441162526<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Gurjeva, Lyubov G. (2001), "James Sully and Scientific Psychology, 1870–1910", in Bunn, G.C; Lovie, A.D.; Richards, G.D. (eds.), Psychology in Britain: Historical Essays and Personal Reflections, Leicester: British Psychological Society, pp. 72–94<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Gurjeva, Lyubov G. (2002), "Sully, James (1842-1923)", in Mander, W.J.; Sell, A. (eds.), The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Philosophers, 2, Bristol: Thoemmes Press, pp. 1088–93<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Hearnshaw, L.S. (1964), A Short History of British Psychology, 1840–1940, London: Methuen & Co<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Hone, Penelope (2014), "Muted Literary Minds: James Sully, George Eliot and Psychologized Aesthetics in the Nineteenth Century", in Danta, Chris; Groth, Helen (eds.), Mindful Aesthetics: Literature and the Science of Mind, New York: Bloomsbury, pp. 91–106, ISBN 9781441162526<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Ryan, Vanessa L. (2009), "Reading the Mind: From George Eliot's Fiction to James Sully's Psychology", Journal of the History of Ideas, LXX (4): 615–35<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Shuttleworth, Sally (2010), The Mind of the Child: Child Development in Literature, Science, and Medicine, 1840-1900, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780199582563<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Smith, Roger (2016), "Shaping the Science of Psychology", Free Will and the Human Sciences in Britain, 1870-1910, Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, pp. 35–56, ISBN 9781848933590<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Soffer, Reba N. (1970), "The Revolution in English Social Thought, 1880-1914", The American Historical Review, LXXV (7): 1938–64<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Sully, James (1918), My Life & Friends: A Psychologists's Memories, London: T. Fisher Unwin<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Valentine, Elizabeth R. (1999), "The Founding of the Psychological Laboratory, University College London: 'Dear Galton... Yours truly, J. Sully'", History of Psychology, II (3): 204–18, PMID 11623922<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.
Valentine, Elizabeth (2001), "James Sully", The Psychologist, XIV (8): 405<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.


  • Gurjeva, Lyubov G. (2004). "Sully, James (1842–1923)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2F1911_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica%2FSully%2C_James "Sully, James" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links