Shonfield was born in Tadworth, Surrey, 10 August 1917, the fifth of seven children to Rabbi Victor Schonfeld and his wife Rachel Lea (née Sternberg). He died in London 23 January 1981. Both his parents were Hungarian-born, and his early education combined orthodox Judaism and Talmudic study, albeit leavened with a central European cosmopolitanism. He then won a foundation scholarship to St Paul's School and from there proceeded to Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating in the second class in philosophy, politics and economics in 1939, a result in no sense reflecting his emerging gifts as an economist but much more the inevitable consequence of time so assiduously spent in Oxford left-of-centre student politics. He made a number of close friendships during this period, including with some such as Tony crosland who would go on to become leading figures in the Labour Party. It was here too that he began to forge his own distinctive Brand of internationalism and his dirigiste but non-partisan approach to government in the economy.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.