Who Was James Allen?

James Allen
(1864-1912)

Finding information about James Allen’s life and background, is not an easy task… both the Library of Congress and the British Museum, don’t have much to say about this unrewarded genius.

With the help of a few well put-together websites like www.sunbooks.com, we were able to come up with the brief summary - which follows…

Even though James Allen’s inspirational writings have touched the hearts, and influenced millions, around the world - he still remains almost unknown, to the vast majority of people! 

It is said that…

James Allen never gained much fame or fortune… and this unrewarded genius rarely made enough money from his writings, to even cover his expenses.

More than just essays on positive thinking, Allen’s books walk the reader through all applications, from personal growth to putting thought into action… Allen has led millions of listeners to self-empowerment through his inspiring and simple message:

“You Are What You Think

All Allen’s books are surprisingly straight-forward and practical. He never wrote for the sake of just writing, and he never dealt with theories!

“Allen wrote when he had a message, and it became a message only when he had lived it in his own life, and knew that it was good. Thus he wrote facts, which he had proven by practice”

- Lily, James Allen’s wife.

Allen’s parents ran a small family business in Leicester, England, which sadly went bankrupt in 1878, just a few short years after Allen was born (in November 28, 1864).

So in an effort to recoup his losses the elder Allen ( James Allen’s father) set off for America… he had very much hoped to settle in the United States - make his fortune, and then send for the rest of his family.

But tragically Allen’s father was robbed and murdered before he had time to do so…

The effect of this… for the young James Allen, and the rest of his family was financial crisis - and also resulted in young Allen having to leave school at the tender age of just 15!

It is also said…

He eventually landed the job as a private secretary, and did this line of work for about several British manufacturers until the year 1902, when he finally decided to devote all his time to writing…

Soon after finishing his first book, From Poverty To Power, Allen moved to Ilfracombe, on England 's southwest coast. The little resort town with its seafront Victorian hotels and its rolling hills, offered Allen just the right kind of peace and quiet - that he needed to pursue his writings.

As a Man Thinketh, was actually Allen's second book... and has been translated into five major languages, inspiring millions of readers. He also went on to write more books, it is apparent that Allen had a great deal more to say about how to live a life of prosperity, peace, and success!

Despite As a Man Thinketh’s popularity Allen was dissatisfied with it.

Even though it was one of his most compact and clear works - the book which best concentrated his thought, he still somehow failed to recognize its immediate value.

Allen didn’t want to publish it and his loving wife Lily had to persuade him to do so…

To this day As a Man Thinketh still outshines all Allen’s other work... even to the point where most people assume, it’s the only book he ever wrote!

Allen's writing career was unfortunately only short (lasting only nine years), until his death in 1912 at the age of 48, a virtual unknown - untouched by fame and unrewarded by fortune. During that period he wrote over 20 books, a rich outpouring of ideas which have lived on to inspire later generations.

The Vision of James Allen

“I looked around upon the world and saw that it was shadowed
by sorrow and scorched by the fierce fires of suffering. And
I looked for the cause. I looked around, but I could not find
it. I looked in books, but I could not find it. I looked within,
and found there both the cause and the self-made nature of that
cause. I looked again, and deeper, and found the remedy. I found
one Law, the Law of Love; one Life, the life of adjustment to
that Law; one Truth, the Truth of a conquered mind and a quiet
and obedient heart.

“And I dreamed of writing books which would help men and women, whether rich or poor, learned or unlearned, worldly or unworldly to find within themselves the source of all success, all happiness, accomplishment, all truth. And the dream remained with me, and at last became substantial; and now I send forth these books into the world on a mission of healing and blessedness, knowing that they cannot fail to reach the homes and hearts of those who are waiting and ready to receive them.”

- James Allen

Allen's day in Ilfracombe was said to began with a predawn walk up to the Cairn, a stony spot on the hillside overlooking his home and the sea. He would often remain there for up to an hour in meditation. Then he would return to his house and spend the morning writing.

Allen's afternoons were mainly devoted to gardening, a pastime he enjoyed… and his evenings were spent in conversation with those who were interested in his work.

“Allen was a frail-looking little man, Christ-like, with a mass of
flowing black hair… I think of him especially in the black
velvet suit he always wore in the evenings...

... He would talk quietly to a small group of us then - English,
French, Austrian and Indian - of meditation, of philosophy,
of Tolstoy or Buddha, and of killing nothing, not even a
mouse in the garden...

He overawed us all a little because of his appearance,
his gentle conversation, and especially because he
went out to commune with God on the hills before dawn”

- A Close Friend, of James Allen.

And thus Allen teaches us two essential truths: today we are where our thoughts have taken us, and we are the architects - for better or worse - of our futures…

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