Another book I picked up on holiday was Andrew Carnegie’s autobiography ‘My Own Story’. What a remarkable story of the man born in Dunfermline in 1835 of ‘poor but honest parents, of good kith and kin’ who becomes one of the richest people in history (a good story in itself) and then gives it all away.
After his father’s home based steam weaving business collapsed the family emigrated to the USA in 1848. Andrew started off working as a bobbin boy in factory then delivered telegraphs before building investments in a range of industries including the railways, bridge building, oil, iron and most significantly steel.
In 1901 he sold his steel mills and ‘resolved to stop accumulating’ and start ‘the infinitely more serious and difficult task of wise distribution’. By the time of his death 18 years later he had endowed 3,000 libraries, 30,000 church organs, provided funds for scholarships and pensions, created the Temple of Peace in The Hague and famously bought Pittencrieff Park for the people of his home town and much more.
I am mindful that autobiography does not always provide the best source of historical record and his Wikipedia entry covers a number of controversies from his life. Some may say that all he did was give back what he gained from the labour of others. A remarkable man and a remarkable life nonetheless.