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FAMOUS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHOR SERIES: Napoleon Hill, What Do We Know About Him?

Updated: May 16

FAMOUS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHOR SERIES: Napoleon Hill, What Do We Know About Him?


Oliver Napoleon Hill (born October 26, 1883 --- November 8, 1970) was an American self-help author. He is best known for his book THINK AND GROW RICH 1937 which is among the 10 best selling self-help books of all time. Hill’s works insisted that fervid expectations are essential to improving one’s life. Most of his books were promoted as expounding principles to achieve “success”.

Hill is, in modern times, a controversial figure. Accused of fraud, modern historians also doubt many of his claims, such as that he met Andrew Carnegie and that he was an attorney. Gizmodo has called him “the most famous conman you’ve probably never heard of. (Matt Novak.* Paleofuture(Gizmodo). Retrieved August 13, 2019).*

CHILDHOOD

Hill was born in a one-room cabin near the Appalachian town of Pound in southwest Virginia. His parents were James Monroe Hill and Sarah Sylvania (Blair) and he was the grandson of James Madison Hill and Elizabeth (Jones). His grandfather came to the United States from England and settled in southwestern Virginia during 1847.

Hill’s mother died when he was nine years old, and his father remarried two years later to Martha. His stepmother was a good influence for him, she was the daughter of a school principal, and civilized the “wild-child”, making him go to school and attend church. At the age of 13, he began writing as a “mountain reporter” for his father’s newspaper. At the age of 15, he married a local girl who has accused him of fathering her child; the girl later recanted the claim, and the marriage was annulled.

EARLY CAREER

At the age of 17, Hill graduated from high school and went to Tazewell, Virginia to attend business school. In 1901, he accepted a job working for the lawyer Rufus A Ayers, a coal magnate and former Virginia attorney general. The author Richard Lingeman said that Hill received this job after arranging to keep confidential the death of a black bellhop, whom the previous manager had accidentally shot while drunk.

Hill left his coal mine management job to attend law school before withdrawing for lack of funds. Later in life, Hill would use the title “Attorney at Law”, although Hill’s biography notes that there was no record of performing legal services for anyone.

EARLY VENTURES

In Mobile, Alabama, Hill co-founded the Acree-Hill Lumber Company. The company folded amid mail fraud and bankruptcy proceedings.

During May 1909, Hill relocated to Washington, D.C. and initiated the “Automobile College Of Washington”, where he instructed students to build, chauffeur and sell motorcars. The college assembled cars for the Carter Motor Corporation, which declared bankruptcy during early 1912. After the magazine, Motor World accused the college of being a scam, his automobile college ended its business later that year.

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY

In June 1910, Hill married his first wife, Florence Elizabeth Horner. The couple had their first child together, James, in 1911, a second child named Napoleon Blair in 1912, and a third son, David in 1918.

HIS WORKS (AND MISFORTUNES)

THE LAW OF SUCCESS

In 1928, Hill relocated to Philadelphia and convinced a Connecticut-based publisher to publish his eight-volume work THE LAW OF SUCCESS. The book was Hill’s first major success, allowing him to adopt an opulent lifestyle. By 1929, he had bought a Rolls-Royce and a six-hundred acre property in the Catskill Mountains with the aid of some investors.

However, the beginning of the Great Depression affected his finances adversely, forcing his Catskills property into foreclosure before the end of 1929. His next published work, THE MAGIC LADDER TO SUCCESS, proved to be a commercial failure.

In 1935, Hill’s wife Florence filed for a divorce in Florida.

THINK AND GROW RICH


During 1937, Hill published the best-selling book THINK AND GROW RICH, which became Hill’s best-known work. His new wife, Rosa Lee Beeland contributed substantially to the authoring of the book. Hill’s biographers would later say this book sold 20 million copies over 50 years, although as Richard Lingeman remarks in his brief biography, “Alice Payne Hackett’s ’70 years of Best Sellers’ suggests the amount was considerably less.

Wealthy once more, Hill re-initiated his lavish lifestyle and purchased a new estate in Mount Dora, Florida. The couple divorced around 1940, with much of the wealth going to his new wife Rosa Lee Hill, leaving him to start his pursuit of success once again.

STARTING AGAIN

Hill met Annie Lou Norman, who was 47 years old, where he rented a room. They married in 1943, and relocated to California. Hill went on the lecture circuit once again.

LEGACY

Hill’s works were inspired by the philosophy of New Thought and the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and are listed as New Thought and reading.

Hill has been seen as inspiring later self help works, such as Rhonda Byrne’s THE SECRET.

OTHER WORKS


In addition to the titles previously mentioned, he also authored the following titles:

OUTWITTING THE DEVIL (1938)

HOW TO SELL YOUR WAY THROUGH LIFE (1939)

THE MASTER KEY TO RICHES (1945)

HOW TO RAISE YOUR OWN SALARY (1953)

SUCCESS THROUGH A POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE (With W. Clement Stone, (1959)

GROW RICH!: WITH PEACE OF MIND (1967)

SUCCEED AND GROW RICH THROUGH PERSUASION (1970)

YOU CAN WORK YOUR OWN MIRACLES (1971)

DEATH

Napoleon Hill died at age 87 on November 8, 1970.

This information was retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=NapoleonHill&oldid=953954384

I really enjoyed learning about this very interesting man! I have read a number of his books but certainly not all. I am curious to know more about the contents of these books. One thing I learned about him was that he was very resilient and seemed to recover and bounce back from the setbacks and adversity that he experienced. He seemed to be the trendsetter and trailblazer of other authors we have featured in our series of FAMOUS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORS. I certainly didn’t want to leave him out. There seems to be very significantly lessons we can learn from the works of these self-help, personal development authors.

We hope you have enjoyed this article. As always we are ENCOURAGING LITERACY, LEARNING AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT!


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Michael Inman

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