Samuel Smiles was born in Haddington, and was one of eleven surviving children. He
studied medicine at Edinburgh University, before turning to journalism and writing,
becoming Editor of the Leeds Times, and author of a number of books on self-help
and social conditions. His magnum opus, however, was a series of books on the ‘Lives
of the Engineers’ - the last volume of this series being that featuring the Lives
of Boulton and Watt. The Preface states that these two Lives have been taken together
because of the impossibility of them being taken separately! Smiles’ biographies
are products of their time, and concentrate on the ‘heroic’ nature of their subjects
and the moral lessons to be drawn, but nonetheless contain much information which
is central to our understanding of Matthew Boulton and James Watt.
Original copies of Smiles’s books are scarce and quite expensive, but new reprints
are coming on to the market. However, Google Books have scanned a copy of an original
edition, and this is available free. Just click on the title page above, and a .pdf
file will download which contains the full text.
Please note, though, that as the original work contains 521 pages, the file size
is an extremely chunky 29MB. Please don’t even think about downloading this unless
you have a broadband connection to the internet.
LIVES OF BOULTON AND WATT: Principally from the Original Soho MSS
By Samuel Smiles
Published 1865 by John Murray, Albemarle Street London.