The Northcote/Trevelyan report of 1854 is cited frequently, but it is not always properly understood in the context of its time. Various myths have grown up that have become entrenched in textbooks. Among them are the views that it founded the modem civil service; that it called for a unified civil service; that it established the cult of the generalist all rounder; that it aimed to promote the interests of the middle class as opposed to the aristocracy; and that it envisaged a clear distinction between political and administrative careers. This article seeks to dispel these myths by looking at the intentions of the reformers of the 1854. However, it is argued that Northcote/Trevelyan remains important in so far as its ideas dovetailed with many of the developments of the following decades.