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‘Re-interpreting Blackstone’s Commentaries: the Evolution and Influence of a Seminal Text in National and International Context’

A Symposium at the University of Adelaide, Thursday 6 December, 2012
Convened by Wilfrid Prest and David Lemmings


Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, first published in Oxford in 1765-69, ran to eight editions in the author’s lifetime (he died in 1780), and has never since been out of print on either side of the Atlantic. Indeed it is arguable that the Commentaries is the most influential law book in the Anglo-American legal tradition. Now an international group of scholars (David Lemmings and Wilfrid Prest, University of Adelaide, Simon Stern, University of Toronto, T.P. Gallanis, University of Iowa, and Ruth Paley, History of Parliament Trust, London) has undertaken to produce a new edition of this seminal work.

As part of this project, which is also the starting point for a new history of law in eighteenth-century England, a one-day Symposium at the University of Adelaide will seek the views of international experts on the evolution and influence of Blackstone’s Commentaries in national and international context. The premise of this Symposium is that for understanding English law and governance in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world, the Commentaries is a central text, and Blackstone a pivotal figure.

The Organisers

David Lemmings, History and Politics, University of Adelaide.
Wilfrid Prest, Law/ History and Politics, University of Adelaide.

Keynote speakers:

John Cairns, University of Edinburgh
Paul Halliday, University of Virginia
Kathryn Temple, Georgetown University


The registration fee is AUS$75.00 for the salaried and AUS$50.00 for students and the unwaged (register via  Registration Form) to Janet Hart.



Registration Form


Important Dates
Registration opens: 
09 May 2012

Deadline for Abstracts: 
31 July 2012

Registration extended 

6 December 2012

For Further Information
All enquiries can be forwarded to:

Professor David Lemmings
or Janet Hart