Thomas Carlyle biography and quotes

Thomas Carlyle - Toolshero

Thomas Carlyle (4 December 1795 – 5 February 1881) was a Scottish writer, philosopher, mathematician, and historian. Some books of Thomas Carlyle are today still popular among people around the globe, such as ‘The French Revolution: A History.’ He is recognized as one of the most influential people who commented on social issues with the intention of promoting change. His thoughts are expressed in his books, such as ‘On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History.’ This article contains his biography, quotes and publications.


The parents of Thomas Carlyle were both Scottish and they had in total nine children. Thomas’ father was the one who had the final word at home. He was very strict, but at the same time, always fair. The family was additionally dedicated to Christianity, and Tomas Carlyle’s father hoped that Thomas would become a priest in the future.

Thomas Carlyle was first homeschooled before he went to a local school in Ecclefechan, in Scotland. He later went to the Annan Academy, a secondary school in Annan. Tomas Carlyle identified at a young age that he was interested in math.

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This was also since his parents introduced him to mathematics because they knew the potential benefits of mastering this skill. His results in math at Annan Academy were because of his interest remarkable.

After Thomas Carlyle got ready for university, he attended Edinburg University in 1809, where he studied a general course. Choosing a general course was a common thing at that time. As expected, Thomas Carlyle gained exceptional results in mathematics at the university. He graduated in 1813 and continued his educational path by studying theology to satisfy the wish of his father, which was becoming a priest.

However, during the program, Thomas Carlyle decided not the complete the study because he changed his mind. Tomas did not want to become a priest anymore because he was more interested in becoming a writer, and he felt like he should follow his interests and express his thoughts.

He left Edinburg University, but then started his professional career as a lecturer in mathematics at the Annan Academy in 1814. Tomas Carlyle held the position for two years, and next worked again as a math teacher but at a different school in Kirkcaldy.

However, Thomas Carlyle identified that despite his interest in Math, he could not improve his skills if he stays on this path. Therefore, he thought that it is best to quit his job and study another course. Even though Thomas wanted to excel in math, he chose to study law.

Unfortunately, he did not finish the program because Thomas Carlyle later identified that he had more interest in German literature. Carlyle consequently started studying German and wrote numerous articles about his studies, which were also published by well-known publishers such as the London Magazine.

During this time, Thomas Carlyle had much affection for Jane Baillie Welsh, a girl from a wealthy and well-respected family. On the contrary, Thomas had no fixed income yet, and his professional career path was still a bit bumpy. It indicated that he no big chance of marrying the girl for who he had much love.

However, Thomas Carlyle managed in the long run to marry Jane. The couple married in 1826. Two years later, Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane moved to Craigenputtock. They lived there from 1928 to 1934 before the couple decided to move to London.

In the time between, Thomas Carlyle already traveled around and built a professional network that could offer benefits in the future. At the same time, he kept writing about German history and general life. His essays were still published by various publishers such as the Foreign Review and the publications were in high demand. For example, his articles on Voltaire, Richter, and Sartor Resartus are circulated numerous times.

He also applied for various board positions, but these applications were unfortunately unsuccessful. Thomas remained motivated to enhance his career and therefore moved to London. He expected there are more opportunities elsewhere.

Thomas Carlyle received various job positions offers. For instance, he was offered a position as a Mathematical Professor and as an editor at Times. However, Thomas rejected all offers. He was still struggling with paying his bills but instead decided to continue writing about history.

In this time, Thomas Carlyle started his three-volume work about the French revolution. He first gave the first part to his friend to review, but it was accidentally destroyed. However, by 1837, Thomas Carlyle rewrote the first part of the French revolution and immediately continued the work.

Carlyle’s final deliverables were famed because of his extensive research and how he communicated this in his writings. His contributions to the writings about the French revolution and other historical work won him international popularity.

He also wrote about different subjects related to economic theory. Because of all his writings about economic, social, and political issues, Thomas Carlyle attracted public attention. He next pursued his career as a lecturer and started lecturing again, but this time about European literature.

The following publications are some of the famous work of Thomas Carlyle. Still, they are not limited to these alone: ‘The Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell,’ and ‘the History of Friedrich 2nd of Prussia, Called Frederick the Great.’ Carlyle’s work has formed the basis of modern Germany. His writings additionally comprise essays that addressed social and political issues.

He is best known as a writer and is the creator of the Great Man Theory

Despite his fame, Thomas Carlyle became lonely in his life. In his relationship with his wife, Thomas experienced more negativity than positivity. They fought a lot, and unfortunately, Jane died in 1866. Her death had a significant impact on the health of Thomas Carlyle because he became more isolated than he was before.

Thomas was buried behind Hoddom Parish Church, in Ecclefechan Churchyard.

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Thomas Carlyle Quotes

  1. “Do not be embarrassed by your mistakes. Nothing can teach us better than our understanding of them. This is one of the best ways of self-education.”
  2. “Violence does even justice unjustly.”
  3. “The battle that never ends is the battle of belief against disbelief”
  4. “Once the mind has been expanded by a big idea, it will never go back to its original state.”
  5. “Old age is not a matter for sorrow. It is matter for thanks if we have left our work done behind us.”
  6. “Endurance is patience concentrated.”
  7. “A man lives by believing something: not by debating and arguing about many things.”
  8. “Adversity is the diamond dust Heaven polishes its jewels with.”
  9. “Nothing is more terrible than activity without insight.”
  10. “Wonder is the basis of worship.”
  11. “I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.”
  12. “Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see further.”
  13. “A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.”

Books and Publications

  • 1929. The French revolution: a history (Vol. 3). Lulu. com.
  • 1904. New Letters of Thomas Carlyle (Vol. 2). J. Lane.
  • 1901. Complete Works of Thomas Carlyle: Illustrated (Vol. 16). PF Collier.
  • 1901. The Life of Friedrich Schiller (Vol. 20). Collier.
  • 1898. The Works of Thomas Carlyle in Thirty Volumes.
  • 1897. The Hero as Man of letters. G. Bell.
  • 1895. On Heroes (Vol. 13). Chapman and Hall.
  • 1894. The Hero as Poet. V. Kalyanaram Iyer.
  • 1889. Letters of Thomas Carlyle, 1826-1836. Macmillan and Company.
  • 1888. Sartor Resartus, the Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh: On Hero-wors-hip and the Heroic in History Past and Present. Routledge & Sons.
  • 1887. Correspondence Between Goethe and Carlyle. London; New York: Macmillan and Company.
  • 1885. Latter-day pamphlets (Vol. 5). Chapman and Hall, Limited.
  • 1884. The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1834-1872.. (Vol. 2). Houghton, Mifflin.
  • 1882. On Sir Walter Scott. BiblioBytes.
  • 1877. Characteristics. JR Osgood.
  • 1869. Heroes and hero-worship (Vol. 12). Chapman and Hall.
  • 1867. Shooting Niagra: And After?. Chapman and Hall.
  • 1864. The collected works of Thomas Carlyle (Vol. 12). Chapman and Hall.
  • 1858.Sartor Resartus:(1831). Chapman and Hall.
  • 1853. Occasional discourse on the nigger question. Bosworth.
  • 1842. Chartism. Chapman and Hall.
  • 1837. The French Revolution (Vol. 2). J. Fraser.
  • 1827. The State of German Literature. Critical Essays, 4, 67.

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Alexander Zeeman
Article by:

Alexander Zeeman

Alexander Zeeman is Content Manager at ToolsHero where he focuses on Content production, Content management and marketing. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business school. Currently, in his study, working on the development of various management competencies and improving operational business processes.

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