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Napoleon Hill (October 26, 1883-November 8, 1970) was an American author who was one of the earliest producers of the modern genre of personal-success literature. His most famous work, Think and Grow Rich, is one of the best-selling books of all time.
With the exception of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Think and Grow Rich has been called the "Granddaddy of All Motivational Literature." and most widely circulated book of the 20th century on the topic of personal success.
According to his official biographer, Hill was born into poverty in a two-room cabin in the town of Pound in rural Wise County, Virginia. His mother died when he was ten years old. His father remarried two years later.
At the age of thirteen he began writing as a "mountain reporter" for small-town newspapers. He used his earnings as a reporter to enter law school, but soon had to withdraw for financial reasons. The turning point in his career is considered to have been in 1908 with his assignment, as part of a series of biographies of famous men, to interview industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who at the time was one of the richest men in the world. Hill discovered that Carnegie believed that the process of success could be elaborated in a simple formula that could be duplicated by the average person. Impressed with Hill, Carnegie commissioned him (without pay and only offering to provide him with letters of reference) to interview over 500 successful men and women, many of them millionaires, in order to discover and publish this formula for success.
As part of his research, Hill interviewed many of the most famous people of the time, including Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, George Eastman, Henry Ford, Elmer Gates, John D. Rockefeller, Charles M. Schwab, F.W. Woolworth, William Wrigley Jr., John Wanamaker, William Jennings Bryan, Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and Jennings Randolph. The project lasted over twenty years, during which Hill became an advisor to Carnegie. The formula for rags-to-riches success that Hill and Carnegie formulated was published initially in 1928 in his book The Law of Success. The formula was later published in home-study courses, including the seventeen-volume "Mental Dynamite" series until 1941.