The creation of a British Academy 'for the Promotion of Historical, Philosophical and Philological Studies' was first proposed in 1899 in order that Britain could be represented at a meeting of European and American academies. The organisation, which became known simply as the British Academy, received its Royal Charter from King Edward VII in 1902.
Since then, many of Britain's most distinguished scholars in the humanities and social sciences have been involved in the life of the Academy. The roll call of past Fellows includes many of the greatest British names of the twentieth century, such as the influential economists John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek and William Beveridge; the eminent thinkers Karl Popper and Isaiah Berlin, Louis and Mary Leakey, who made pioneering discoveries on the origins of man; A. J. P. Taylor, Kenneth Clark and Mortimer Wheeler, scholars who were also great communicators; and C. S. Lewis and Henry Moore, Fellows who combined learning with creativity.
In 1998, the Academy moved to its present headquarters at 10 Carlton House Terrace. One of London's finest Georgian treasures, the Terrace, overlooking St James's Park, was designed by John Nash and built in the 1820s and 1830s. Number 10 was formerly the London residence of the Ridley family and number 11 (most of which is also occupied by the Academy) was from 1856 to 1875 the home of former Prime Minister William Gladstone.
A brief account of the Foundation is reproduced from Proceedings of the British Academy volume 1.