An Amazing Life
Napoleon Hill was an amazing man who’s the perfect example of a hero from a rags-to-riches story. He rose from poverty into wealth and went on to influence the most powerful men of his generation. His life story is a lesson of how to be rich.
In 1883, the eventual writer and entrepreneur was born in a two-room cabin in Appalachian Virginia. After his mother’s death in 1893, Hill became increasingly wild and was known to terrorize the county with a six-shooter. Once his father remarried, however, Hill quickly calmed down. His stepmother, Martha, began encouraging him to use his energy for something more worthwhile. Martha educated the young boy and convinced him to become a writer. She even got him to trade his gun for a typewriter.
Humble Beginnings and Encouragement
Thanks to his stepmother’s encouragement, Hill was working for rural newspapers at the age of 15 and just a few years later was writing for a popular periodical that gave advice on how to gain power and wealth. A stroke of luck occurred when Hill was given an interview with Andrew Carnegie, the richest man in America. Carnegie spoke about his accomplishments and gave his theories about personal achievement. He believed the world needed someone to write down a philosophy of achievement that could serve as enlightenment to those younger people who wanted more in life. Hill’s life changed forever when Carnegie asked him to write that book. If Hill would work without compensation for the next 20 years to interview wealthy people and write that book, Carnegie would introduce him to the most successful and wealthy men of their time. Hill took Carnegie up on his offer and fulfilled the pledge over the next 20 years.
A News Man
In 1908, when Hill was living and working in Washington D.C., he placed an ad in the newspaper seeking a young woman to potentially marry. A woman did answer the ad, but Hill ended up marrying her cousin, Florence Elizabeth Hornor. In 1911 the couple had a son named James. Napoleon Blair was born in 1912, and their third son, David, was welcomed in 1918. While Hill did love his family dearly, he believed his fame and fortune was waiting for him. In 1912, Hill moved to Chicago and left his family behind. Over the next 17 years, he spent very little time with his family. Instead, he worked various jobs in Chicago. He finally worked as a propaganda writer for President Wilson during World War I. After that, he began a hit magazine that taught lessons he had learned from his research. Unfortunately, in 1920 his business partner seized the magazine. Hill had to pick himself back up and moved to New York.
Starting Over More than Once
In 1921, he opened another magazine that became even more popular than the last. However, his colleagues caused advertisers to pull out of the magazine and Hill was left without any money or funding. Once again, he had to dust himself off and start over. He went to Ohio and ran a business college. There, he met Don Mellet, who convinced him to write a book about the principles of success Hill had learned over the years. It was also during this time that Hill narrowly avoided an assassination attempt. They learned the local police were ignoring Prohibition gangsters who were distributing drugs and bootleg liquor to schoolchildren in the area. Mellet wrote articles on it while Hill went to the governor and asked for an investigation. In a drastic turn of events, Mellet was gunned down, but Hill’s car luckily broke down; he never went home to where the assassins were waiting.
His First Real Publishing Success
In March of 1928, Hill finally finished the book he had promised Carnegie and published The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons. This became a great seller and gave Hill enough money to bring his entire family to live in a mansion. However, once the Great Depression hit, the money dried up and he had to move on yet again. He divorced his wife so he could take a job in the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt. After this, he returned to lecturing and met another woman. He then wrote and published his Grow Rich book, which is considered his greatest work. He gained over a million dollars but ended up divorcing his wife. She gained all royalties for the book, taking his income. As it had gone along before, Hill had to start over.
In 1943, Hill married Annie Lou Norman and began lecturing again. He met W. Clement Stone and they produced many books, lectures, courses, and television and radio programs. They also co-authored Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, which became a best seller. When Hill died in 1970, Annie Lou Hill made Stone the executive director of the Napoleon Hill Foundation. This foundation ensures that the teachings of Hill live on to inspire future generations.