Hobbes: A Biography

Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) is recognized as one of the fathers of modern philosophy and political theory. In his own time he was as famous for his work in physics, geometry, and religion. He associated with some of the greatest writers, scientists, and politicians of his age. Martinich has written a complete and accessible biography of Hobbes. The book takes full account of the historical and cultural context in which Hobbes lived, drawing on both published and unpublished sources. It will be a great resource for philosophers, political theorists and historians of ideas. The clear, crisp prose style will also ensure that the book appeals to general readers with an interest in the history of philosophy, the rise of modern science and the English Civil War.

• A complete biography of Hobbes • Written clearly and crisply to interest the general reader


Preface; Introduction; A note on dates; Chronology; 1. Malmesbury and Magdalen Hall, 1588–1608; 2. Tutor and companion, 1608–1620; 3. Secretary and humanist, 1621–1629; 4. Early scientific studies and religious views, 1629–1640; 5. The elements of law, natural and politic, 1640; 6. A decade of exile, 1641–1651 (I); 7. A decade of exile, 1641–1651 (II); 8. Leviathan and the engagement controversy, 1651–1653; 9. Demonstrations and disputations, 1652–1659; 10. Baiting the bear, 1660–1669; 11. The final years, 1670–1679; A bibliographical essay; Abbreviations; Notes; Index.


\'… the best all-round biography of Thomas Hobbes available.\' – David Johnston, Columbia University

‘For students of scholar this is the best modern biography of Hobbes. It is a clear and spirited account of the man, his thoughts, and his surroundings. Martinich brings fascinating facts to life, explores Hobbes’s relations to the exalted and humble, and plausibly reconstructs his views in relation to the events and ideas of the time. The many sharp observations, thoughtful exegeses, and amusing anecdotes allow the reader to appreciate Hobbes in the round.’ – Kinch Hoekstra, Balliol College, Oxford

‘… must reading for any person interested in intellectual history. This is a brilliantly written, witty, accurate and absorbing account of the turbulent period in which Hobbes lived and wrote. It deals with such subjects and the rise of modern science, religious discord, the rejection of political absolutism, and civil war. Its scope is extraordinary … I recommend it enthusiastically’. – Avrom Stroll, University of San Diego, California

‘A lively and richly informative account of Hobbes’s life and thought; ideal background reading for students of Hobbes’s philosophy.’ – Kenneth Winkler, Wellesley College

‘… a bright, breezy and engaging account … introducing the general reader in a refreshingly direct way to some of Hobbes’s central theories and preoccupations.’ – Sunday Telegraph

‘The professor’s prose is as lively as his subject, and he is good at appraising, while paraphrasing, Hobbes’s sometimes absurd, other times prophetic, ideas.\' – Financial Times

‘In this superbly written biography Professor Martinich, already established as an expert authority on Hobbes the philosopher, gives us Hobbes the man and religious ‘iconoclast’, the controversialist, the mathematician and the humanist. The author has succeeded in bringing Hobbes the man to life and in placing him within the context of his age.’ – Contemporary Review

‘I was soon gripped by Professor Martinich’s clear exposition and incisive comments.’ – Expository Times