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Biographies of Working Men

Grant Allen

Book Overview: 

Grant Allen was an anthropologist, scientific writer, novelist and poet, though the biographer and writer Frank Harris has said of him that "He could be described with more 'ists' than anyone else I ever saw. He was an atheist and pacifist and socialist, a botanist and zoologist and optimist, a chemist and physicist, a scientist of scientists, a monist, meliorist and hedonist…". As a novelist, he is noted as a pioneer in both the detective and science fiction genres. He was born in Canada but spent the latter part of his life in England.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .For several years Geordie, as his fellow-colliers affectionately called him, continued to live on at one or other of the Killingworth collieries. In a short time, he entered into a small contract with his employers for "brakeing" the engines; and in the course of this contract, he invented certain improvements in the matter of saving wear and tear of ropes, which were both profitable to himself and also in some small degree pointed the way toward his future plans for the construction of railways. It is true, the two subjects have not, apparently, much in common; but they are connected in this way, that both proceed upon the principle of reducing the friction to the smallest possible quantity. It was this principle that Stephenson was gradually learning to appreciate more and more at its proper value; and it was this which finally led him to the very summit of a great and pre-eminently useful profession. The great advantage, indeed, of a level railway over an up-and-do. . . Read More