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Author photo. Mark Benney, from 1961 Shimer College Acropolis yearbook.

Mark Benney, from 1961 Shimer College Acropolis yearbook.

Mark Benney (1910–1973)

Author of Low Company: Describing the Evolution of a Burglar

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Mark Benney (1910–1973), born Henry Ernest Degras, was an influential writer and sociologist in the mid-20th century. Almost entirely self-taught, he may have been the only University of Chicago professor ever to have no degrees at all. Born in the slums of Soho in London, Benney began his adult life as a burglar, but rocketed to fame with the publication of his first book, the memoir Low Company, in 1936. On the strength of his writing and analysis, Benney rose to prominence as a sociologist, and in the early 1950s he crossed to the US to work with prominent researcher David Riesman. With Riesman's support, he was hired by the University of Chicago, where he taught the social sciences component of the U of C's radical Great Books curriculum. After he was ousted from the U of C in the late 1950s, Benney was hired at Shimer College, where he taught until 1963. (from Shimer College Wiki)
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