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Michael Faraday's Biography

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Michael Faraday was born in Newington in Surrey on 22 September 1791.

This biography of Michael Faraday concentrates on the angle of Samuel Smiles in his book 'Self Help', published in 1859.

Michael Faraday crops up in two places. Firstly a short mention early on:

"Michael Faraday, the son of a blacksmith, was in early life apprenticed to a bookbinder, and worked at that trade until he reached his twenty-second year: he now occupies the very first rank as a philosopher, excelling even his master, Sir Humphry Davy, in the art of lucidly expounding the most difficult and abstruse points in natural science."

Then, in the Chapter on 'Helps and Opportunities - Scientific Pursuits':

"In like manner, Professor Faraday, Sir Humphry Davy's scientific successor, made his first experiments in electricity by means of an old bottle, while he was still working as a bookbinder.

"And it is a curious fact that Faraday was first attracted to the study of chemistry by hearing one of Sir Humphry Davy's lectures on the subject at the Royal Institution.

"A gentleman, who was a member, calling one day at the shop where Faraday was employed in binding books, found him poring over the article 'Electricity' in an encyclopaedia placed in his hands to bind. The gentleman, having made inquiries, found that the young bookbinder was curious about such subjects, and gave him an order of admission to the Royal Institution, where he attended a course of four lectures delivered by Sir Humphry. He took notes on them, which he showed to the lecturer, who acknowledged their scientific accuracy, and was surprised when informed of the humble position of the reporter.

"Faraday then expressed his desire to devote himself to the prosecution of chemical studies, from which Sir Humphry at first endeavoured to dissuade him: but the young man persisting, he was at length taken into the Royal Institution as an assistant; and eventually the mantle of the brilliant apothecary's boy fell upon the worthy shoulders of the equally brilliant bookbinder's apprentice."

Michael Faraday was the discoverer of benzene and the inventor of the dynamo. He discovered electromagnetic induction in 1831.

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