Philosophers and Kings examines how the theme of 'education for leadership' has developed, changed and declined in English secondary education during the twentieth century. Once celebrated as an authentic and distinctive English tradition, education for leadership has fallen into decline and disrepute, usurped by the ideals of equality and competitive individualism and discredited by its own inherent limitations and implications. There have, however, been important attempts during the present century to revive and reassert education for leadership by adapting it to a rapidly changing social and political context. These efforts at rehabilitation originally centred on the elite public schools, but increasingly involved state secondary schools that catered for larger groups of the population: the classic tradition began to mutate in directions that allowed it to support the claims of industry and science. Indeed, education for leadership could prove attractive to radical and even socialist educational initiatives, but the perceived failure of the latter, and the deepening of other forms of educational and social inequality, rendered the concept increasingly suspect in the changing educational and political climate of the 1980s.