Herbert Spencer

Early Background

Origin: Derby, Derbyshire, England

Schooling: Did not attend school because he was sick most of the time. Was homeschooled by his father and a school teacher, then later by his uncle who he went to live with at the age of 13

Socioeconomic Status: Upper-middle class once he became a writer, struggled with money as a teen and young adult


Herbert Spencer created the saying "survival of the fittest" and applied it to biological evolution years before Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species". He also wrote a number of books that include;

  1. Social Statics (1850)
  2. First Principles (1862)
  3. The Study of Sociology (1873)
  4. The Principles of Sociology in three volumes (1876-96)
  5. The Man versus the State (1884)

Extra Info

  • Spencer had 8 siblings and all 8 of them died at a young age
  • Suffered from chronic insomnia
  • Suffered from nervous breakdowns
  • Wore earplugs while working to avoid nervous breakdowns and to ignore sounds he didn't want to listen to