The memoirs of six “scholarship boys”—Richard Hoggart, Frank Kermode, Eric Hobsbawm, Harold Perkin, A. H. Halsey, and Brian Magee—reveal the deeply varied experience of academically gifted working- and lower-middle-class males in the twentieth century. The arc from social outsider to cultural prominence drew upon a commitment to humanism acquired in their youth. Scholarship boys navigated the crosscurrents of post-industrial culture in many ways but shared an unwillingness to accept uncritically the sophisticated reductions of postmodern theory and the “creative destruction” of neoliberal practice. The life writing of these figures reveals the often-concealed subjectivities behind academic success, including the desire in old age to honor the lived worlds of their youth. Humanism remained a continuing though not always dominant strain in post-industrial culture.