Allen, James (1864–1912)
British writer of self-improvement books that present a very
individual blend of mysticism and New Thought. Like his contemporary
Ralph Waldo Trine in America, Allen helped popularize
New Thought in Great Britain with his numerous popular
inspirational 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.’’
Born in Leicester, England, on November 28, 1864, he suffered
much ill-health as a child. His father died when he was
14, and he had to earn his living and help support his mother.
He worked hard at various jobs and studied poetry, drama, philosophy,
and religion in his spare time. At the age of 24, he experienced
what he described as ‘‘the Cosmic Vision’’ after reading
Sir Edwin Arnold’s Light of Asia (1879), a famous poem
based on the teaching of Buddha. This transient illumination
returned in a more permanent form ten years later and led to
the writing of his first book, From Poverty to Power (1901), which
went into seven editions. After the success of this book, Allen
found it possible to live by his writings. With his wife, Lily, he
moved to Ilfracombe, Devon.
Allen was not ambitious, avoided publicity, and lived simply
on a modest income from his writings. He derived inspiration
for his books from solitary meditation. He published 19 books
and edited two journals The Epoch and The Light of Reason.
Some of his books were quite short in length but influential in
their succinct inspiration. His best-known work, As a Man Thinketh,
went into six editions and influenced many thousands of
readers. It remains a classic of its kind and has been frequently
reprinted. Allen died January 24, 1912.
Allen, James. As a Man Thinketh. 1890. Reprint, Philadelphia
David O. McKay, n.d.
———. By-Ways of Blessedness. Libertyville, Ill. Sheldon University
Press, 1909.
———. From Poverty to Power. New York R. F. Fenno, 1907.
———. The Life Triumphant. Libertyville, Ill. Sheldon University
Press, 1908.

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