Grant Allen was an anthropologist, scientific writer, novelist and poet, though the biographer and writer Frank Harris has said of him that «He could be described with more 'ists' than anyone else I ever saw. He was an atheist and pacifist and socialist, a botanist and zoologist and optimist, a chemist and physicist, a scientist of scientists, a monist, meliorist and hedonist…». As a novelist, he is noted as a pioneer in both the detective and science fiction genres. He was born in Canada but spent the latter part of his life in England.
«Biographies of Working Men» is a volume containing brief biographies of seven men from working class backgrounds who went on to excel in their chosen fields. They are: Thomas Telford, George Stephenson, John Gibson, William Herschel, Jean François Millet, James Garfield and Thomas Edward.
— Summary by Noel Badrian