Spencer, Herbert (1820–1903)
Though largely ignored today, Herbert Spencer was one of the most influential scientists and philosophers of the late 19th century. He was born at Derby to a family of Dissenters, and educated at home. As a young man he worked on the London & Birmingham Railway, acquiring considerable practical knowledge of civil engineering and, through his observation of railway cuts, expertise in geology. He had no university training, but read extremely widely in an array of fields.