Victorian virtues

Author: Samuel Smiles

Title: Self-Help (1859)

Keywords:

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Introduction

Scottish author and reformer Samuel Smiles, born in East Lothian in 1812, is best known today as the writer of books extolling the virtues of self-help. Self-Help; with Illustrations of Character and Conduct, from which these two extracts are taken, was originally published in 1859 and features additional chapters covering subjects such as Application and Perseverance, Money - Its Use and Abuse and Character - the True Gentleman. While redolent of the materialism of the age, it also drew upon the moral instruction of Smilesí Calvinist upbringing and anti-Corn Law radicalism. It had sold over a quarter of a million copies by the time of Smilesí death, in Kensington, London, in 1904. The title itself became a catchphrase, and the book was translated into numerous European and Asian languages. A prolific author, Smiles also penned numerous biographical works.

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