Bear Smiles

There was an entertaining segment on Celebrity Gogglebox the other night which featured Bear Grylls.

On the whole the Gogglebox panel didn’t appear to be members of the Bear Grylls fan club.

But I wonder if the panel knew that this intrepid adventurer is the great-great-grandson of Samuel Smiles.

Hmmm. Possibly not.

A few days ago I shared this fascinating information about Bear  Grylls with my sister. “Who’s Samuel Smiles?” she said.

Well, that surprised me. I thought everyone knew Samuel Smiles!

In case you’ve never heard of him either, Samuel Smiles is the author of “Self-Help”, the bible of mid-Victorian liberalism.

This quote gives a flavour of his thinking:

I would not have any one here think that, because I have mentioned individuals who have raised themselves by self-education from poverty to social eminence, and even wealth, these are the chief marks to be aimed at. That would be a great fallacy. Knowledge is of itself one of the highest enjoyments. The ignorant man passes through the world dead to all pleasures, save those of the senses … Every human being has a great mission to perform, noble faculties to cultivate, a vast destiny to accomplish. He should have the means of education, and of exerting freely all the powers of his godlike nature.

In 1855, Smiles asked Routledge to publish “Self-Help”. His request was declined. Smiles approached another publisher without success. In 1859, Smiles self-published the book.  It sold 20,000 copies within one year of its publication. By the time of Smiles’ death in 1904 over a quarter of a million copies of “Self-Help” had been sold.

You can get a free download of “Self-Help” for Kindle from Amazon if you’d like to read more!

I wonder if Bear Grylls has read his great-great-grandfather’s book. His can-do attitude rather suggests to me that he has!

Thanks for reading my blog today.


  1. That’s a great story, thanks for sharing, I love those “can do, will do” attitudes. We’ve got our own self-starter in my family – my football mad brother couldn’t get into a team. So dad, who already worked six days a week, started up his own Sunday league team, just so his son & his mates could play footie once a week.

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