Sir William Arthur Lewis (23 January 1915—15 June 1991) was a Saint Lucian economist well known for his contributions in the field of economic development. In 1979 he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, becoming the first black person to win a Nobel Prize in a category other than peace.
The fourth of five children of George and Ida Lewis, who had migrated from Antigua shortly after the turn of the century. His father George died when Arthur turned seven and consequently all five Lewis children were raised by the mother. Arthur was a gifted student and was promoted two classes ahead of his age. After finishing school at the age of fourteen, Lewis worked as a clerk, while waiting to take his university entrance exam. During this time he met Eric Williams, the future first prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and the two were to remain lifelong friends.
After gaining his Bachelor of Science degree in 1937 and a Ph.D. degree in 1940 at the London School of Economics he was a member of the staff at the LSE until 1948. Lewis lectured at the University of Manchester from 1948 until 1957. When Ghana gained independence in 1957, Lewis became the country's first economic advisor, helping to draw up its first Five Year Development Plan (1959–1963). In 1959 he was appointed Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. In 1963 he was knighted, and was also appointed a University Professor at Princeton University, a position he retained until his retirement in 1983. In 1970 Lewis became director of the Caribbean Development Bank.
Lewis' achievements have been recognised by the naming of "The Arthur Lewis Building" (opened in 2007) at the University of Manchester where he once lectured. He received the Nobel prize in Economics in 1979.
He died on 15 June 1991 in Bridgetown, Barbados and was buried in the grounds of the St Lucian community college named in his honour.