Author Samuel Smiles coined the phrase self-help with this bestseller, originally published in 1859. Smiles envisions a world in which the lowliest members of a community can reach the heights of society through merit and hard work. A firm believer in the value of sustained effort, he emphasizes the pleasure of engaging in self-improvement for its own sake rather than strictly as a means to worldly advancement. The capacity of work well done to ennoble the life of any man, however humble, is Smiles' main thesis, illustrated with examples of wisdom gleaned from the biographies of notable self-starters.
Written at the close of the Industrial Revolution, this book was influenced by the technological advances of the previous century, in which new manufacturing processes and scientific advances enabled greater accomplishments by determined, hard-working individuals. Citing incidents from the lives of prominent inventors and entrepreneurs, Smiles exhorts readers to draw upon their internal resources to get ahead in the world. The book celebrates the traits of perseverance and ingenuity, advocating in self-belief despite hardships and failures, with many illustrations of the value of patience and optimism. The founding work of the self-help movement, this volume retains the capacity to inspire.