Moral Desperado: A Life of Thomas Carlyle

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on 23rd March 1995

Thomas Carlyle was the most influential man of letters of his day, and his vivid account of the French Revolution remains one of the classic histories of all time. Even George Eliot, no admirer, wrote: “It is an idle question to ask whether his books will be read a century hence; if they were all burnt as the grandest of Suuttes on his funeral pyre, it would only be like cutting down an oak after its acorns have sown a forest”.

In this absorbing portrait Simon Heffer uses newly available material to reassess a magnificent, defiant and often lonely individualist whose idiosyncratic and passionate books brought him universal fame. He examines Carlyle’s own works, his influence on Victorian culture and ideas, and his relationship with the leading thinkers and writers of the day – from John Stuart Mill and Dickens to Ruskin, Browning and Emerson.