Napoleon Hill – Life Journey, Major works, Controversies, Marriage

Napoleon Hill - Life Journey, Major works, Controversies, Marriage

Most commonly known as the ‘Psychologist Of Success’, Oliver Napoleon Hill has dwelt a rather tendentious life. Born in the 1883s, on October 26th, Hill’s life has been a tough row to hoe. Despite all the challenges, he brought his name to the fame book. He was a writer of the self-help genre, journalist and also a lawyer. Writing worked out the best for him. He also worked as the advisor for then presidents, Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

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He was born in a shanty cabin, merely of 4 walls. His grandfather migrated from the UK to Pound, his birthplace. He has been a non-quitter throughout his life and has always worked with dedication. He has written around eleven books. ‘The Law Of Success’and ‘Think And Grow Rich’, being the most popular.


Journey to the right path


Hill was just 10 when he lost his mother. It was a very young age, perhaps a time which is very crucial for a young mind’s development. Due to her absence and his father’s lack of knowledge and negligence, he went on the wrong track and got distracted. It was his stepmother Martha, who identified his talents and made him realize his inner strengths and abilities. She was educated and it showed in the way how Hill changed within such a short duration. He was living his life as a bandit, in a society where the fittest survive. As a kid, he was always on the streets, with his other rough peers. Martha, who had to take charge of him when he was 12, contributed a lot to his overall development, be it spiritual, or the whole outlook that he had towards life.

It has come across, that he always wanted to be rich, which considering his living conditions was understandable. Due to Martha’s teaching, he realized that robbery, violence, and power are not the only ways to become wealthy. She discovered that he can persuasively extract information from people and has a good hold over language and could perhaps become a journalist. So from being a thug, he switched to becoming a newsboy and she pursued him to discard his revolver and get a typewriter. He was working as a news reporter for the farmers when Robert Tylor, the then governor of Tennessee got his eyes on him and took him under.

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Life-changing interview


After Hill started working for Governor Robert Taylor, who also owned Bob Taylor’s Magazines, he got a golden opportunity to interview Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie, a Scottish American, was the reason for the USA’s steel industry expansion during the 19th century, hence the name ‘steel magnet’. He was the richest man of the states back then. Interviewing him was pure luck for Hill. Carnegie wanted to give Hill a chance, as he saw potential in him. So he advised him to look for the foundations, on which business is built upon and the reasons that lie behind its success, basically some kind of a law which can be accepted worldwide, universally by anyone who wants to build a business and become successful. He also promised him to introduce Hill to successful and influential businessmen and entrepreneurs, which would help complete the book.  It took Hill 20 years to finally come up with this book titled, ‘Think And Grow Rich’. It’s assumed, that he interviewed almost 500 people for this and the book was a huge success.

Major works


  1. The Law Of Success

This was the first book by Hill. It was first published in the year 1925 and was a set of fifteen books but later, in the year 1928, a consolidated and edited version of this book was released titled, ‘The law of success in sixteen lessons’. Even this was written in volumes earlier in the year 1928 itself before the combined version was released.


  1. The Magic Ladder To Success

Published in the year 1930, this book is similar to ‘The Laws Of Success’, except the fact, that it states 17 factors of success philosophy.


  1. Think And Grow Rich

This book of the self-help guru remains his largest hit of all times. This book got its name in the ‘A lifetime must-reads books’ list of John C. Maxwell and he wrote it upon the advice of Andrew Carnegie. Its structure and content are very much similar to his first book. This book provides its readers with a philosophy of achievement.


  1. Outwitting The Devil

Written in 1938, this book was considered controversial enough to not be published but despite all the wrangles and dissension, it was released in 1938 and later in June, 2011. It imparts wisdom on how to ‘not’ limit success, which most people do by creating certain unknown barriers and it also apprises the seven principles of hill.


  1. How to sell your way to life

Published in 1939, this book, hill divulges about sales techniques and how to conquer the art of selling in this book.


  1. The master key to riches

Like other books of Hill, this book imparts knowledge on how to become rich and successful in life. It’s more about improving the self in order to become successful. It also focuses on mental happiness, spiritual vitality, etc.



  • Other books include:

How to raise your own salary, Success through a positive mental attitude, Grow rich with peace of mind, Succeed and grow rich through persuasion, You can also work your own miracles, etc.

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Hill’s life has been immensely controversial and debatable. Controversies like accusations of fraud and using false titles like that of attorney have always been in his life. People have accused him of even kidnapping, which was bizarre. Almost all of his claims were not accepted by many and raised doubts. So much so, that his meeting with Carnegie was also thought as fake as Carnegie’s biographer claimed that there have been no records or evidence of their meeting.

Hill was accused of falsely using the title of attorney because his biographer revealed that he never acquired the title, as there are no supporting evidences. His claim of having aided Wilson, the president in WW1 was also proven fake. Apart from these, there have been no evidences found of Hill interviewing the famous people, whose accounts he used in his books.



Familial setting

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Hill first married when he was fifteen. The girl was local and pregnant. She claimed that the child was his but when it was found out, that Hill wasn’t the father she asked for a divorce and the marriage was annulled. Later in the year 1910, he found a wife in his cousin and married Florence Elizabeth Horner, had three children with her but later abandoned them, as he went to Chicago in search of success. Later in 1929, he reunited with them as he was earning very well but later, went bankrupt. It was during this time that he started working the president Roosevelt but working with him required total detachment from family. This time he did not get his wife’s support and she demanded a divorce. He resided in Washington DC and worked under the president.

Soon Hill found someone to love again, it was in 1937, that he met Rosa lee, fell for her and married her. She was very smart and helped him a lot in his career. But the happiness didn’t last long, they separated in 1940. At that time, Hill was a millionaire but because of the divorce contract the money went to Rosa and bankruptcy hit Hill yet again but this didn’t make him lose hope. He shifted to South Carolina and planned to start all over again.

In 1943, he married again, to Anna Lou Norman, a journalist. This time the wedding lasted and he finally settled down with her.


Mental dynamite – A failed plan


After moving to South Carolina in 1940, he planned to design a course called the mental dynamite which would have 16 volumes and would target self-development. Here, his luck didn’t play well as WW2 broke in and the use of paper became restricted. The aftermath of this was mental dynamite’s failure, the publishing stopped.


A reflection


If we look closely at Hill’s life, it has been undoubtedly topsy turvy and full of hurdles but being a philosopher and a self-made genre writer, he used all his principles well. He faced all the accusations of the world but didn’t let it affect him. He also went into depression but overcame it. Despite being bankrupt twice, he rose to fame again and again and made his name. through his life journey, he has shown everyone that having a ‘never give up’ attitude can make you go a long way. Hill definitely wasn’t the richest man but he earned more fame and respect than Carnegie. His contribution to the world of writing has been tremendous and extraordinary. He literally rose from the ashes. Carnegie must be given some credit along with Martha as he told hill to believe in his abilities when Hill was unsure of his caliber, Carnegie made him believe in himself and write.  His books are read by many and have helped built careers and businesses. Being born in a four-wall cabin, he made exemplary success and has set an example for many.


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