Samuel Smiles (23 December 1812 - 16 April 1904), was a Scottish author and government reformer. He is most known for writing Self-Help, which "elevated [Smiles] to celebrity status: almost overnight, he became a leading pundit and much-consulted guru".
Born in Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland, Smiles was the son of Janet Wilson of Dalkeith and Samuel Smiles of Haddington. He was one of eleven surviving children. While his family members were strict Cameronians, he did not practice. He studied at a local school, leaving at the age of 14. He apprenticed to be a doctor under Dr. Robert Lewins. This arrangement enabled Smiles to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1829. There he furthered his interest in politics, and become a strong supporter of Joseph Hume. During this time, Samuel junior contracted a lung disease, and his father was advised to send him on a long sea voyage.
His father died in the cholera epidemic of 1832, but Smiles was enabled to continue with his studies because he was supported by his mother. She ran the small family general store firm that the Lord will provide. Her example of working ceaselessly to support herself and his nine younger siblings strongly influenced his future life; although, he developed a more benign and tolerant outlook, which sometimes was at odds with his Cameronian forebears.
In 1837, he wrote articles for the Edinburgh Weekly Chronicle and the Leeds Times, campaigning for parliamentary reform. In November 1838, Smiles was invited to become the editor of the Leeds Times, a position he accepted and filled until 1842. In May 1840, Smiles became secretary to the Leeds Parliamentary Reform Association, an organization that held to the six objectives of Chartism: universal suffrage for all men over the age of 21; equal-sized electoral districts; voting by secret ballot; an end to the need of MPs to qualify for Parliament, other than by winning an election; pay for MPs; and annual Parliaments.