Facts about Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle Biography
Thomas Carlyle was most famous in the Victorian era, when he was known for his dense, thoughtful books on history and philosophy.
The son of a strict Calvinist, Carlyle became a divinity student at Edinburgh University but eventually left school and turned to writing instead. He also developed a stomach ailment — possibly gastric ulcers — which stayed with him all his life and helped give him a reputation as a cranky and somewhat disagreeable personality.
His prose style, famously quirky and sometimes savage, helped cement that reputation. His made a splash in 1833 with the publication of the semi-autobiographical Sartor Resartus (“The Tailor Re-Tailored”).
Other major works included his three-part history The French Revolution (1837), the six-volume History of Frederick the Great (1858-65), and his 1847 collection of Oliver Cromwell‘s letters and speeches.
He also devised a series of public lectures culminating in his book Heroes and Hero-Worship, which still is regarded as a key text on the subject. (His fascination with heroes and strong leaders has given him an reputation as anti-democratic.)
In 1827 he married Jane Baille Welsh — herself brilliant and difficult — and their 40-year marriage is remembered as a tempestuous affair.
Carlyle was the victim of a famous misfortune after writing the first volume of The French Revolution. He entrusted the manuscript to his friend John Stuart Mill for review; shortly afterwards, Mill’s maid mistook the manuscript for trash paper and burned it. Carlyle was forced to rewrite the entire volume from scratch.