Hobson was born in Belfast to an Ulster Quaker family in 1864. After working as a technical journalist and merchant, he joined the Fabian Society and the Independent Labour Party in the early 1890s, standing unsuccessfully for Parliament as a Labour candidate for East Bristol in 1895 and for Rochdale in 1906. By 1910 he had left the ILP and the Fabians, feeling that they had lost the revolutionary vision of socialism, and contributed a series of articles to the influential periodical, New Age. These were collected and published in book form as National Guilds: An Inquiry into the Wage System and the Way Out in 1914. Hobson protested when the first edition appeared under the name of A.P. Orage, the New Age's editor, and the second edition appeared under Hobson's name; in fact Hobson drafted and Orage revised the text, and both were responsible for its final form. Hobson's book ran through three editions between 1914 and 1920, and was translated into several languages; it proved to be extremely influential on the intellectual formation of the Guild Socialist movement in Britain through the writings and activities of G.D.H. cole. His ‘personal life was not invariably impeccable’ (Cole 1971) and some of his business enterprises in Latin America seem to have been shady. He died in 1940, probably in London.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.