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James Allen
(1864 - 1912)
   
 
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Who was this man who believed in the power of thought to bring fame, fortune and happiness? Was he, as some say, not only a contemporary of Leo Tolstoy but also a kindred spirit? Or did he, in the words of Henry David Thoreau" march to the beat of a different drummer?" Allen was a quiet, unrewarded genius never gaining fame or fortune, yet in contrast to Tolstoy, who died two years before he did, he lived out the end of his days happily married. He retired to Ilfracombe, on England's southwest coast, a little resort town with seafront Victorian hotels, rolling hills and winding lanes which offered a quiet atmosphere that facilitated his pursuit of New Thought philosophical studies.

Unfortunately, Allen's literary career was short, lasting approximately ten years, until his death, two years after Tolstoy in 1912. During this brief period he wrote twenty-two books, the most famous being As A Man Thinketh. Today, Allen's treasury of thought is inspiring more people than he may have thought possible. His ideas are quoted and expounded upon throughout the world.

After the completion of his first book, From Poverty To Power, Allen moved to Ilfracombe and began work on As A Man Thinketh, his second book. Despite its subsequent popularity he was dissatisfied with it. Even though many feel that it his most concise and eloquent work embodying the finest ideas and highest values he somehow failed to recognize its importance. Upon its completion, his wife Lily had to persuade him to publish it.

As previously stated, some say that Allen strove to live the ascetic life idealized by Russia¹s great novelist and mystic Count Leo Tolstoy - a life of voluntary poverty, manual labor and ascetic self-discipline, but whereas Tolstoy renounced his early work in 1879 writing Conversion to explain his doctrines. Allen advocated a simpler approach through self improvement, happiness and mastery of core virtues.


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