Thomas Carlyle

A painting by James Archer at Carlyles House

Thomas Carlyle (1795 - 1881) was a writer and historian and was the leading literary lion of the 1840s - 50s. Today, Carlyle is not a well known figure, but at the time, he was an immensely influential social commentator and historian. He helped shape the way the Victorians thought about themselves.

The Victorian literati flocked to Carlyle's house in Chelsea. His followers included Charles Dickens, Robert Browning and John Ruskin.
" We have passed an evening with Carlyle; he is one of the most interesting men I could imagine, one of the great sights in England to my mind. I am a Carlyle adorer!"
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

His ideas were also much discussed in the United States and across the English speaking world.

Carlyle was brought up in a Calvinist household by his parents, who hoped he would go on to be a minister. However he soon became disenchanted with organised religion, instead putting his trust in work.