John Stuart Mill was born on 20 May 1806 in Pentoville, London. He was the first-born son of James Mill and Harriet Burrow who got married in 1805. His father was born in Scotland but had to move to London to advance his career in economy as well as in philosophy. John’s father and his close friend, Jeremy Bentham, played a pivotal role in equipping him with the knowledge that he would require to lead a successful life.
John began his education at a rather early age. He started learning Greek at the age of three. When he was eight years of age, he began his lessons in Greek. His father acted as his main teacher as well as his mentor. At an early age, he had studied the works of prominent writers such as Thomas Hobbes, Adam Smith, Plato and Smith. He also studied the works of Jeremy Bentham and David Ricardo. By the time he was twelve years old, he had already finished reading the works of the writers. The books of Jeremy Bentham were his favorite. According to Sitiropoulos, in 1823 (when he was fifteen years old), he stopped pursuing his studies in Law (460). He got a job in the British India Company as a clerk. At the age of seventeen, John Stuart Mill became a utilitarian. His passion for utilitarianism moved him to form a group (discussion group) which he later named as the Utilitarian society (Gregg 110). It is important to mention that, he suffered a nervous breakdown at his early twenties, which helped to broaden his understanding of life in a broad sense. However, this did not make him leave his job as a clerk. While working for the British India Company, he rose to the top position of the examiner’s office by 1858. His experience in the company helped him sharpen his writing skills.
Most of his books influenced the British society especially in politics. In 1843, he wrote A System of Logic. In this book, he highlighted the scientific methods essential in enhancing the well-being of the society (Mautner 4). Five years later, he published his second book: Principles of Political Economy. His second book was a philosophical work that earned him the popularity as a writer since it had a great impact on the English radial thought. Additionally, in 1859 he wrote another book, Our Liberty, which is one of his famous works. In 1961, he wrote two books namely Utilitarianism and Considerations on Representative Government. In most of his books, John Stuart Mill sought to persuade people on the necessity of embracing a scientific approach, which would help them understand the economic social and the political changes in the British public (Ekulund and Herbert 170). In his writing career, he also wrote articles that were published in the Westminster Review. His father and Jeremy Bentham, which inspired him greatly, founded this journal. His works also featured in other journals and newspapers such as the Morning Chronicle and the Parliamentary History Review. In the company of his friend William Molesworth, he founded the Radical Journal. It did not take long before purchasing the Westminster Review, which he merged with the Radical. He was indeed successful as a writer.
In 1865, John Mill joined politics. In his campaigns, he spoke in favor of women an aspect that helped him win the support of many voters (Ruggiero 441). Most of his major supporters were women with the prominent supporters being Emily Davies, Barbara Bodichon and Rayner Parks. The massive support from many women made him win the Westminster parliamentarian seat. While in the House of Commons, he campaigned for parliamentarian reforms especially in boosting the political power of women. The Westminster Review was a major campaign tool. He also used it to support other politicians such as Thomas Attwood and Joseph Brotherton among others. He sought for the amendment of the 1867 Reform act with the intention of giving women the same political power as their male counterparts (Ruggiero 445). However, his efforts to bring about the change were all in vain. His political prowess did not last for long since he lost his parliamentary seat during the 1868 general elections.
His personal life had some complications. While still married, he had a female close friend-Harriet Taylor. This formed the basis of a major scandal in his life. The two met in 1930 and while working together as writers, they developed a close relationship. Three years later, Harriet tried to separate from her husband, which was not successful. However, this did not prevent her from relating with John Mill. His wife died in 1849. Two years later, John Mill and Harriet got married. Harriet helped him in writing most of his books and journal articles. To him was not only a friend and a wife but he also considered her as an intellectual equal. However, Harriet did not allow him to mention her as a co-writer in his works/books. The death of Harriet in 1858 affected Mill profoundly.
After he lost the parliamentary seat, John Mill moved to Agnon, France where his wife was buried. He spent most of his time writing the book thus released The Subjection of Women in 1869. He died on 8 May 1873.
Ekulund, Robert and Herbert, Robert. A History of Economic Theory and Method. Illinois:
Waveland Press, 1997. Print.
Gregg, Samuel. The Commercial Society: Foundation and Challenges in a Global age. Lanham,
US: Lexington Books, 2007. Print.
Mautner, Thomas. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). n.d. Web. 23
Ruggiero, Vincenzo. “On Liberty and Crime: Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill.” Crime, Law and
Social Changes 51.4(2009): 435-450. Print.
Sitiropoulos, Dimitris. “Why John Stuart Mill should not be Listed among Neoclassical
Economists.” European Journal of Economic Thought 16.3(2009): 455-473. Print.