James Allen was a British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry and as a pioneer of the self-help movement. His best known work, As a Man Thinketh, has been mass produced since its publication in 1903. It has been a source of inspiration to motivational and self-help authors. Born in Leicester, England, into a working class family, Allen was the eldest of two brothers. His mother could neither read nor write while his father, William, was a factory knitter. In 1903, the Allen family retired to the town of Ilfracombe where Allen would spend the rest of his life.