Every noble work is at first impossible.

Thomas Carlyle

Few writers were more influential during the 19th century than Thomas Carlyle; the Scotsman’s essays, histories, and other works had a profound effect on Victorian literature and beyond. In 1855, four years after Carlyle’s death, Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pen name George Eliot, wrote that “there has hardly been an English book written for the last ten or twelve years that would not have been different if Carlyle had not lived.” Charles Darwin, meanwhile, called Carlyle “the most worth listening to, of any man I know.” The sheer scope of Carlyle’s literary endeavors — including his three-volume “French Revolution” and his epic six-volume “History of Frederick the Great” — may well have appeared impossible to lesser writers. Carlyle’s love of literature, however, seemingly made no task too great, as he once called the art of writing “the most miraculous of all things man has devised.”