This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for December 4, 2016: A Snap Quiz in Body Language

Dec. 4, 2016: birthday: Thomas Carlyle

It’s the birthday of British essayist, philosopher, and historian Thomas Carlyle (books by this author) born in Ecclefachan, Scotland (1795), and best known for writing The French Revolution: A History (1837), which was Charles Dickens inspiration for writing A Tale of Two Cities (1859).

It was as a philosopher and social historian that Carlyle found his calling. He wrote The French Revolution, an immense tome, only to lend it to fellow philosopher John Stuart Mill, whose maid accidentally tossed it into the fire. Undeterred, Carlyle rewrote the entire manuscript from scratch.

He found a wife, Jane Baillie Welsh, but she was still partly in love with a minister, and made no secret of not loving Carlyle. They lived in farmhouse in Scotland for the first six years of their marriage, during which he wrote madly and she did housework. Over the course of their courtship and marriage, they exchanged more than 9,000 letters. They were intensely unhappy, often infatuated with others, but they remained together. A friend once said, “It was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle marry one another, and so make only two people miserable and not four.”