Edinburgh World Heritage - Learn more about Adam Smith and his work


Learn more about Adam Smith and his work

Adam Smith was a philosopher and economist, best known as the author of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth Of Nations, one of the most influential books ever written. He was born around 1723 in Kirkcaldy, Fife and studied at Glasgow and Oxford Universities.

In 1748 he was asked to give a series of public lectures in Edinburgh, which established his reputation.  In 1751 he was appointed professor of logic at Glasgow University and a year later professor of moral philosophy. He became part of a brilliant intellectual circle that included David Hume, John Home, Lord Hailes and William Robertson.

In 1764, Smith left Glasgow to travel on the Continent as a tutor to Henry, the future Duke of Buccleuch. While travelling, Smith met a number of leading European intellectuals including Voltaire and Rousseau.

In 1776, he published the Wealth of Nations a volume which he intended to be the first part of a complete theory of society, covering theology, ethics, politics and law. This was the first major work of political economy. Smith argued forcefully against the regulation of commerce and trade, and wrote that if people were set free to better themselves, it would produce economic prosperity for all.

In the last years of his life Adam Smith lived at Panmure House, just off the Canongate.  He died there in 1790.

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