Sunday, December 23, 2012

200th Birth Anniversary of Samuel Smiles, "Self-Help" Guru

Samuel Smiles
Samuel Smiles - public domain img.
"A place for everything, and everything in its place," is the quote made famous by Samuel Smiles in his book Thrift. While he did not originate the concept of  self-help books, which have been around for centuries, he did, however, write a book in 1859 entitled, "Self-Help; with Illustrations of Character and Conduct." This is often considered the prototype for the modern day examples of self-help books and perhaps lead to the current glut of these. The term "self-help" has a long history as well, as a legal and literary term; however, Smiles was successful in his bid to influence readers with his ideas of self-improvement - he sold a quarter of a million copies by time of his death in 1904. It did have its share of detractors, though. The Irish author, Robert Tressell, wrote in one his books, that "Self-Help" was "suitable for perusal by persons suffering from almost complete obliteration of the mental faculties". Smiles, finding a need within the human psyche to become better people, filled it with his hopeful and encouraging instructional books. More didactic quotes by Smiles are available at BrainyQuote.

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