Thomas Carlyle

Thomas Carlyle (4 December 1795  5 February 1881) was a British historian, satirical writer, essayist, translator, philosopher, mathematician, and teacher. In his book On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History (1841), he argued that the actions of the "Great Man" play a key role in history, claiming that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men".[1] Other major works include The French Revolution: A History, 3 vols (1837) and The History of Friedrich II of Prussia, Called Frederick the Great, 6 vols (1858–65).[2]

Thomas Carlyle
Photo by Elliott & Fry, c.1860s
Born(1795-12-04)4 December 1795
Died5 February 1881(1881-02-05) (aged 85)
  • Historian
  • satirist
  • essayist
  • translator
  • mathematician
Known for
(m. 1826; died 1866)
Writing career
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
Literary movementVictorian literature
Notable works

His 1837 history of the French Revolution was the inspiration for Charles Dickens's 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities, and remains popular today. The influence on American literature of his 1836 Sartor Resartus, a novel both satirical and philosophical, has been described as "difficult to overstate".[3]

A noted polemicist, Carlyle coined the term "the dismal science" for economics, in his essay "Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question", which satirically advocated for the reintroduction of slavery to the West Indies to highlight his perceived hypocrisy of British abolitionists' indifference to domestic child-labour and slave-like working conditions in contemporary factories.[4][5] He also wrote articles for the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia.[6]

In mathematics, he is known for the Carlyle circle,[7] a method used in quadratic equations and for developing ruler-and-compass constructions of regular polygons.