Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)
American statesman, philosopher, and writer, was one of a numerous family. His father was a soap-boiler in Boston, where Franklin was born. He was apprenticed at the age of 13 to his brother, a printer, who treated him harshly. After undergoing many troubles, during which he lived in New York, London, and Philadelphia, he at last succeeded in founding a successful business as a printer. He also founded a newspaper, The Gazette, which was highly popular, Poor Richards Almanac, and the Busy-body Papers, in imitation of the Spectator.
After holding various minor appointments, he was made deputy Postmaster-General for the American Colonies. In 1757 he went to London on some public business and many colonies appointed him their English agent. Among a number of enterprises, he found time for scientific investigation, especially dealing with electricity. He thus became known over the civilised world, and was loaded with honours. In 1762 he returned to America, and took a prominent part in the controversies which led to the Revolutionary War and the independence of the Colonies. In 1776 he was U.S. Minister to France, and in 1782 a signatory of the treaty which confirmed the independence of the States. He returned home in 1785, and, after running several political offices, retired in 1788, and died in 1790. His autobiography is his chief contribution to literature.
From Biographical Dictionary of English Literature - the Everyman Edition of 1910