Although Samuel Smiles grew up with radical surroundings, the message that he teaches seemed to be conservative for that time. Smiles was a preacher of Self Help and in his book he promoted thrift, industry and personal discipline to improve one's own life. The message that he gave was criticised by many people, but it was regarded as a guide to prosperity for many working class citizens who needed to be encouraged in their individual efforts. He approved the laissez-faire style of government, and felt that there was a necessity in class distinction. His words are remembered and are used as an inspiration, rather than a text-book guide on how one can attain wealth. He shared the success stories of others to support the possibility of social mobility to an audience who, at times, felt hopelessly lost in the Victorian age.
Samuel Smiles was the oldest son of 11 children and was born on the 23rd of December in 1812. His parents owned and operated a small general store in the Scottish city of Haddington. He attended the public school, but at the age of 14 he changed his career path and began to apprentice under Dr. Robert Lewins. He later went on to medical school and graduated in 1832 to pursue a profession in practising medicine. His father died when Smiles was 20 years old, and already then he was furthering his career in medicine. While his practice prospered, Samuel Smiles was becoming attracted to the political discussions and arguments of people, namely Joseph Hume. Hume was a radical politician who was very influential, however Hume was met with opposition for his views on universal suffrage and religious freedoms.1 Smiles was intrigued by the words of Hume for he and Smiles had both studied medicine at Edinburgh University. 2 In 1837, Smiles abandoned the practice of medicine to become an editor in the Leeds Times, a newspaper known for its support of radical ideas. He used his work at the newspaper to promote ideas of political change.