Born in London in 1806, John Stuart Mill grew up in
a wealthy family that was to become a great intellectual dynasty. His father was an overdemanding parent, who educated Mill at home on a difficult and accelerated program that included Greek from the age of three. The aim was for Mill to carry on and develop his father’s work on philosophy. The pressure of his upbringing was at least partly responsible for the mental health problems Mill suffered in his early 20s. One of the great minds of the day, he was willing to speak out in defense of difficult and unpopular causes such as the French Revolution and women’s rights. He was also an eloquent opponent of slavery. A 20-year affair with Harriet Taylor, whom he credited with inspiring much of his written work, caused scandal in his own private life. He died in 1873, aged 66.
Key works: 1848 Principles of Political Economy, 1861 Utilitarianism, 1869 The Subjection of Women