Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
The childhood of Thomas Carlyle was spent in the village of Ecclefechan, in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, where his father, James Carlyle, was a stonemason. From the age of ten, Thomas Carlyle attended the grammar school at Annan, and at fourteen he was sent, on foot, to enroll in the University of Edinburgh. There he remained until 1814, when he left without a degree and became a teacher of mathematics at his old school. Subsequently, he held the mastership of a school at Kirkcaldy. His parents, who were devout Calvinists, had wanted him to study divinity and become a minister, but in 1817 he rejected this course of life. For a time, he lived in Edinburgh and desultorily read law, but he was unable to interest himself in any profession. Weakened by digestive problems and much troubled in mind by his inability to achieve philosophical or religious certitude, he underwent a period of acute strain, which culminated during the summer of 1822 in a spiritual crisis that he recorded in Sartor Resartus. By now greatly under the influence of the German philosophers, especially Johann Gottlieb Fichte, he was beginning to devise a set of beliefs acceptable to himself and was coming to realize that his vocation was literature and philosophy. Carlyle became absorbed in the poetry of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, with whom he corresponded after the publication of his English translation of Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship.
In 1826, Carlyle married Jane...
(The entire section is 551 words.)
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Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: As the most eminent man of letters in the Victorian age, Carlyle thundered against what he saw as the materialism and moral decadence of the age. The uniqueness of his vivid and emphatic style, and his ability to re-create the flavor and feeling of historical events, have earned for him a place among the masters of English prose.
Thomas Carlyle was born in the Scottish village of Ecclefachan on December 4, 1795. His father was a stonemason who later became a small farmer, and Thomas was the eldest child of a large, close-knit family. The influence of his early upbringing, in an atmosphere of stern piety and moral rectitude, was to remain with him all of his life.
Carlyle was educated at the local Annan Academy, as a preparation for his entry into Edinburgh University in November, 1809, at the age of thirteen. He was an able student, reading widely in English literature and excelling in the study of mathematics. He also developed the habit of supplementing his formal studies with long periods of solitary reading. In 1814, he became a tutor of mathematics at Annan School, and in the following year accepted a teaching post at Kirkcaldy. Carlyle disliked teaching, however, and resigned his position in 1818. With no clear vocation (he rejected the career which was expected of him, in the Church), he faced an uncertain future. For several difficult and frustrating years, during which...
(The entire section is 1944 words.)