It promoted the inspirational characteristics that were valued by Smiles, including hard work, perseverance and determination to overcome adversity and obstacles.
Published in 1859 by John Murray, it became somewhat of a Victorian blockbuster, selling 20,000 copies within the first year. By the time of his death in 1904, the book had sold more than a quarter of a million copies.
This new online education resource has been developed by the National Library of Scotland, with images from its collection and those of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the National Maritime Museum. It celebrates six of Smiles's "heroes" through a series of comic-book style screens that illustrate their stories in a vivid way.
The heroes include: Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish author, historian and social critic; Ralph Abercromby, the British lieutenant general who was noted for his services during the Napoleonic Wars; David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer; James Watt, the Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer; and nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale.
These specially-commissioned animated interactives complement a series of drama lesson plans produced by Scottish Youth Theatre. They have been designed to support the teaching of history and social well-being through the medium of drama in primary and secondary schools.