Maurice Cranston was born in London in 1920 and was educated at London University and St Catherine's College, Oxford. For twenty-six years he was Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics. He also held a number of visiting professorships and was a former President of the Institut International de Philiosophie Politique.
His 1957 Biography of John Locke remains the definitive study of Locke's life. His many other books include Human Rights Today, The Mask of Politics and Philosophers and Pamphleteers: Political Theorists of the French Enlightenment, as well as two translations of Rousseau's work, The Social Contract and A Discourse on Inequality, both published in Penguin Classics.
More recently his two volumes of biography on Rousseau, Jean-Jacques: the Early Life and Work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712-1754 and The Noble Savage appeared to great critical acclaim. He was working on a third volume at the time of his death in 1993.