Maurice Dobb was born in London and admitted to Pembroke College in 1919 as an exhibitioner to study history. However after his first year in Cambridge he changed the subject of his studies to economics and gained firsts in both parts of the tripos in 1921 and 1922. After two years at the London School of Economics in a research post and producing his PhD he returned to Cambridge to take up a post as University lecturer in 1924, also teaching at his old college.
The controversy surrounding his divorce from his first wife Phyllis, whom he had married in 1923, and his devotion to Marxian economics contributed to his losing his dining rights and his students. However, Dobb soon found a position at Trinity College, keeping his connection with the college for 50 years, although he was not to be offered a fellowship until 1948. He did not receive a University readership until 1959.
Dobb published widely. Interest in his work from eastern Europe, Italy and Japan meant that his works were often translated into a number of languages. Political Economy and Capitalism (1937) and Studies in the Development of Capitalism (1946) are, perhaps, his best known works. After their completion, he collaborated for many years with Piero Sraffa on the latter's comprehensive edition of the works of David Ricardo.