Who was Samuel Smiles?

Samuel Smiles

Samuel Smiles (1812-1904), was an author and biographer born in Haddington, East Lothian. His book, 'Self-Help: with Illustrations of Character, Conduct and Perseverance' was published by John Murray III in 1859.

With its mix of inspiring advice and stories of people, 'Self-Help' became very popular – it sold 20,000 copies when it was first published in 1859 and over 250,000 copies by 1900.

'Self-Help' promotes what Smiles felt were important personal characteristics: perseverance, or the determination to overcome adversity and obstacles, hard work and self-improvement.

Though his definition of self-help is very different to what we understand the term to mean today, Smiles is sometimes seen as the father of the self-help genre.