Orison Swett Marden

Before personal success author, Napoleon Hill, there was Orison Swett Marden.

No matter how much you may know about a subject, if it does not happen to interest those to whom you are talking, your efforts will be largely lost.

“No matter how much you may know about a subject, if it does not happen to interest those to whom you are talking, your efforts will be largely lost.”

Financial set-backs, no sweat. Fires burning his hotels to the ground, no sweat. Earning four degrees from well known universities while working full time, no sweat.

Born in 1848, his early years marked by tragedy. His mother died when he was three, his father died when he was seven. He and his sisters were passed from guardian to guardian. Orison eventually working for five different families as a hired boy to earn his way.

It was a discovery in the attic of one of his guardian’s homes when he was a teenager that changed his life. He found a tattered copy of a book entitled “Self-Help” by the fabulously names Scottish author, Samuel Smiles. All right I have to say it, “Smiles everyone, SMILES.”

Orison memorized the book.

From then on, he overcame every obstacle in his path.

By the time he reached his thirties he’d earned degrees in the arts, sciences, medicine and law—both Boston University and Harvard Medical School. He put himself through school working for and eventually owning several hotels and resorts.

By his mid-forties, he changed careers becoming an author. He wrote his first book, a 5,000 page manuscript—his dream book. He lost it when his hotel burned down, nearly loosing his own life. The only thing he possessed—the night shirt he wore to bed.

While the hotel still smoldered, he got himself some new cloths, bought a notebook and re-wrote the book from memory, renaming it, “Pushing to the Front”.

He not only finished he dream book, but a second book, “Architects of Fate”.

Three publishers fought for “Pushing to the Front”, ultimately Houghton, Mifflin, and Company published it in December 1894. It became a run-away best seller and instant classic for personal self-help. It is still in print.

He authored more than 50 books in his lifetime.

By 1897, he founded Success magazine in New York. The magazine grew to 500,000 subscribers.

Eventually the thought of having a family must have crossed his mind. He married Clair Evans in 1905 when he was 55. Then got busy fathering three kids.

In 1912, Success magazine suffered a financial loss and closed.

With the help of a friend and prominent businessman, Fredrick C. Lowrey, Orison revived Success Magazine in 1917. Orison worked for the magazine until a few months before his death in 1924. Success magazine is still in print today, currently produced in Dallas, Texas.

“Very few people ever rise to their greatest possibilities or ever know their entire power unless confronted by some great occasion. We are as much amazed as others are when, in some great emergency, we out-do ourselves. Somehow the power that stands behind us in the silence, in the depths of our natures, comes to our relief, intensifies our faculties a thousandfold and enables us to do things which before we thought impossible.” ~ Orison Swett Marden

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

Image credit: Project Gutenberg


About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
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15 Responses to Orison Swett Marden

  1. wdydfae says:

    “. . . help yourself to some self-help as Fannie presents one of the greatest and most enduring masters of the genre . . .”

    “. . . you might work up a Swett reading Orison’s bio, but you’ll get plenty of inspiration with the perspiration . . .”

    “. . . Fannie’s informative thumbnail of the remarkable self-made Marden teaches us to persevere against all odds, and strive for greatness . . .”

    “. . . a rags to riches tale that could just change your life . . .”

  2. ksbeth says:

    some names just point you straight to your path in life –

  3. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:

    In the words of Wdydfae’s blurb generator, “. . . a rags to riches tale that could just change your life . . .”. This month’s contribution to the Blog of Funny Names.

  4. aplscruf says:

    Fascinating. And I love the inspirational quote at the end. SO true.

  5. kerbey says:

    Well, I’m having to block out little Tattoo, Herve Villechaize, right now to focus on Orison. I’m glad that the Success magazine was revived; otherwise, what irony. I think for myself, I would prefer just to keep that power silent behind me. I wouldn’t want to lose my parents in childhood and be passed to guardians and then have my home burned down, along with my pre-Microsoft Word manuscript! Lord, spare me the overcoming, and let me be blessed with comfortable mediocrity!

    BTW, Orison (I want to say Welles, you know that, even with an extra vowel) looks very distinguished in his picture. I think he was proud of himself for fathering children post-50. That’s a luxury us ladies do not have. Or maybe we should buckle down and “push to the front” to get it done. I’ll start tonight!

    • lol. Trying to block your inner Tattoo.

      I wouldn’t want to have to overcome as much either. However, “Push to the front” to birth children after fifty, I’ll let that ship sail.

      And the comparison to Orson Welles is now stuck in my head . . . 🙂

  6. Arto says:

    Seems like everything about the man was a self-fulfilling prophecy, like you said. Naming your magazine “Success” is a surefire way of making it just that!

    Man, that’s a lot of schooling. Dude must have enjoyed his reading.

  7. Pingback: Earl Nightingale, the Fifth | The Blog of Funny Names

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