Thomas Carlyle was a social critic and historian born in Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, December 4, 1795, the same year as John Keats, but Carlyle is considered an early Victorian rather than a Romantic. After completing his elementary studies, he went to the University of Edinburgh but left in 1814 without a degree. His parents wanted him to become a minister in the Scottish church, but his independence of spirit made such a life program impossible. In 1816 he fell in love with, and was rejected by, a young woman. His love affair was followed by a period of doubt and uncertainty described vividly in Sartor Resartus, a work published in 1833 that attracted much attention. Carlyle's first literary work reveals his admiration for German thought and philosophy, and especially for the two great German poets Schiller and Goethe. The fictional autobiography of a philosopher deeply impressed Ralph Waldo Emerson who brought it back to the United States to be published there. History of the French Revolution (1837), rewritten after parts of it were mistakenly burned as kindling by John Stuart Mill, cemented Carlyle's reputation. The work brought him fame but no great wealth. As a result of his comparative poverty he was induced to give four series of public lectures. Of these the most famous were those On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic of History delivered in 1840 and published in 1841. Past and Present (1843), and Latter Day Pamphlets (1850) present his economic and industrial theories. With The Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell (1845), The Life of John Sterling (1851), and History of Frederick II of Prussia, Called Frederick the Great (1858-1865) he returned to biography. In 1865, Carlyle was made Lord Rector of Edinburgh.
General Alex Dumas is a man almost unknown today, yet his story is strikingly familiar—because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used his larger-than-life feats as inspiration for such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.
But, hidden behind General Dumas's swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: he was the son of a black slave—who rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time. Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas made his way to Paris, where he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution—until he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.
The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. TIME magazine called The Black Count "one of those quintessentially human stories of strength and courage that sheds light on the historical moment that made it possible." But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.
Carlyle was one of the great figures of his age: thunderous, passionate, irascible, sceptical and idealistic. This selection is representative of all stages of Carlyle's career, and includes 'Sign of the Times', his essay against the mechanization of the age and the rise of the machines; the whole of 'Chartism'; and extracts from The French Revolution, Heroes and Hero-Worship, Sartor Resartus, Past and Present, as well as other pieces. The book also includes an introduction and notes by Alan Shelston.
Thomas Carlyle was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, in 1795. Intended by his family to become a Presbyterian minister, he was influenced by the Scottish Enlightenment while at the University of Edinburgh and became a teacher instead. He later turned to literary work, publishing a life of Schiller and translations of Goethe in the 1820s. His first truly successful book was The French Revolution, which was followed by many others. He died in 1881.
Alan Shelston was Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Manchester until retirement in 2002. He has edited a number of Gaskell's works including The Life of Charlotte Bronte (1975) and North and South (2005), and was joint editor with John Chapple of The Further Letters of Mrs Gaskell (2000). He has published a selection of Hardy's poetry and written on a number of nineteen century authors including Dickens and Henry James.