Thomas Carlyle: History of the French Revolution

(1352 words)
  • Nathan Uglow (Trinity All Saints, Leeds)

In 1834, John Stuart Mill found himself too busy to write the history of the French Revolution promised to his publisher and he passed it over to a 40-year-old Scot, whom he currently idolised as a writer of potentially great significance. Thomas Carlyle accepted the commission for two main reasons: he had just moved down to London, hoping to start writing books rather than essays, and, having written recent articles on Voltaire and Diderot, he had already begun to study the Revolution. For two long years Carlyle slaved over the process of composition, frequently walking to the British Library (an 8-mile round trip) to read pamphlets and newspaper reports. Mill lent him mountains of books, offered advice, read through manuscripts and, …

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Uglow, Nathan. "History of the French Revolution". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 October 2000
[, accessed 27 November 2015.]