James Allen is a literary mystery man. His
inspirational writings have influenced millions for good. Yet today he
remains almost unknown...... None of his nineteen books give a clue to
his life other than to mention his place of residence - Ilfracombe,
England. His name cannot be found in a major reference work. Not even
the Library of Congress or the British Museum has much to say about him.
Who was this man who believed
in the power of thought to bring fame, fortune and happiness? Or did he,
as Henry David Thoreau says, hear a different drummer?...... James Allen
never gained fame or fortune. That much is true. His was a quiet,
unrewarded genius. He seldom made enough money from his writings to
Allen was born in Leicester,
Central England, November 28, 1864. The family business failed within a
few years, and in 1879 his father left for America in an effort to
recoup his losses. The elder Allen had hoped to settle in the United
States, but was robbed and murdered before he could send for his family.
The financial crisis that
resulted forced James to leave school at fifteen. He eventually became a
private secretary, a position that would be called administrative
assistant today. He worked in this capacity for several British
manufacturers until 1902, when he decided to devote all his time to
literary career was short, lasting only nine years, until his death in
1912. During that period he wrote nineteen books, a rich outpouring of
ideas that have lived on to inspire later generations.
Soon after finishing his
first book, From Poverty To Power, Allen moved to Ilfracombe, on
England's southwest coast. The little resort town with its seafront
Victorian hotels and its rolling hills and winding lanes offered him the
quiet atmosphere he needed to pursue his philosophical studies.
As A Man Thinketh was Allen's
second book. Despite its subsequent popularity he was dissatisfied with
it. Even though it was his most concise and eloquent work, the book that
best embodied his thought, he somehow failed to recognize its value. His
wife Lily had to persuade him to publish it.
James Allen strove to live
the ideal life described by Russiašs great novelist and mystic Count
Leo Tolstoy - the life of voluntary poverty, manual labor and ascetic
self-discipline. Like Tolstoy, Allen sought to improve himself, be
happy, and master all of the virtues. His search for felicity for man on
earth was typically Tolstoyan.
His day in Ilfracombe began
with a predawn walk up to the Cairn, a stony spot on the hillside
overlooking his home and the sea. He would remain there for an hour in
meditation. Then he would return to the house and spend the morning
writing. The afternoons were devoted to gardening, a pastime he enjoyed.
His evenings were spent in conversation with those who were interested
in his work.
A friend described Allen as a
frail-looking little man, Christ-like, with a mass of flowing black
hair...... I think of him especially in the black velvet suit he always
wore in the evenings, the friend wrote. He would talk quietly to a small
group of us then - English, French, Austrian and Indian - of meditation,
of philosophy, of Tolstoy or Buddha, and of killing nothing, not even a
mouse in the garden.
He overawed us all a little
because of his appearance, his gentle conversation, and especially
because he went out to commune with God on the hills before dawn.
James Allen's philosophy
became possible when liberal Protestantism discarded the stern dogma
that man is sinful by nature. It substituted for that dogma an
optimistic belief in man's innate goodness and divine rationality.
This reversal of doctrine
was, as William James said, the greatest revolution of the 19th Century.
It was part of a move toward a reconciliation of science and religion
following Darwin's publication The Origin of Species.
Charles Darwin himself hinted
at the change in belief in The Descent of Man. In that book he wrote,
the highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we
ought to control our thoughts..
Allen's work embodies the
influence of Protestant liberalism on the one hand and of Buddhist
thought on the other. For example, the Buddha teaches, All that we are
is the result of what we have thought. Allenšs Biblical text says, As a
man thinketh in his heart, so is he.
Allen insists upon the power
of the individual to form his own character and to create his own
happiness. Thought and character are one, he says, and as character can
only manifest and discover itself through environment and circumstance,
the outer conditions of a person's life will always be found to be
harmoniously related to his inner state. This does not mean that a man's
circumstances at any given time are an indication of his entire
character, but that those circumstances are so intimately connected with
some vital thought element within him that, for the time being, they are
indispensable to his development.
Allen starts us thinking -
even when we would rather be doing something else. He tells us how
thought leads to action. He shows us how to turn our dreams into
realities...... His is a philosophy that has brought success to
millions. It is the philosophy of Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of
Positive Thinking and of Joshua Liebman's Peace of Mind.
We become spiritually rich,
Allen writes, when we discover the adventure within; when we are
conscious of the oneness of all life; when we know the power of
meditation; when we experience kinship with nature.
Allen's message is one of
hope even in the midst of confusion. Yes, he says, humanity surges with
uncontrolled passion, is tumultuous with ungoverned grief, is blown
about by anxiety and doubt. Only the wise man, only he whose thoughts
are controlled and purified, makes the winds and the storms of the soul
Tempest-tossed souls, Allen
continues, wherever you may be, under whatsoever conditions you may
life, know this - in the ocean of life the isles of blessedness are
smiling and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming.
And thus Allen teaches two
essential truths: today we are where our thoughts have taken us, and we
are the architects - for better or worse - of our futures.
The works of James
eminently practical. He never wrote theories, or for the sake of
writing, or to add another to the existing books. According to his wife,
Allen wrote when he had a message, and it became a message only when he
had lived it in his own life, and knew that it was good. Thus he wrote
facts, which he had proven by practice.
James Allen Collection
"As a Man Thinketh"
by James Allen - A
set of philosophical musings on the power of our thoughts. One of the
best-known books of this kind.
"Above Life's Turmoil"
by James Allen - In this book Allen dissects the human condition
and like a master physician, he offers solutions in his haunting and
"Byways to Blessedness" by James
- A very inspirational and
popular title. Right Beginnings; Small Duties and Tasks; Standing Alone;
Understanding the Simple Laws of Life; and much more.
"The Way of Peace" by James Allen - As the effect is related to the cause, so is prosperity and power
related to the inward good, and poverty and weakness to the inward evil.
"Love Does Not Judge" quote..
"The Path of Prosperity" by James Allen
- Contents: Lesson of Evil; Way out of undesirable conditions; silent
power of thought; Realization of prosperity; Secret of abounding
happiness; Secret of health, success, and happiness; and much more.
(5 eBooks) FOR JUST $9.95
(That's a $60.00 Value)
of 5 stars
"The James Allen Collection" Now
Man Thinketh, Also Available in the Masters Collection,
with 7 other Famous Authors, like Napoleon Hill,
Russelll Conwell, Charles Haanel, Wallace D. Wattles and
More James Allen
I have recently discovered the titles of several other
books by James Allen and fortunately for all of us, they are still in
print. All of these may be purchased directly from, or ordered through
your normal book retailer. In addition, there is a "Wisdom of James
Allen" collection available from Amazon.Com.
All These Things Added
As A Man Thinketh
The Divine Companion
Eight Pillars of
Entering the Kingdom
Foundation Stones To
Happiness and Success
From Passion to
From Poverty to Power
The Heavenly Life
Light on Life's Difficulties
Man: King of Mind,
The Master of Destiny
Meditations, A Year
Morning and Evening Thoughts
Out From the Heart
Through the Gate of Good
The Way of