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. 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 Suttes on his funeral pyre, it would only be like cutting down an oak after its acorns have sown a forest.' Simon Heffer draws upon previously unavailable papers to reassess a magnificent, defiant and often lonely individualist whose idiosyncratic and passionate books brought him universal fame.

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