The Fascinating Story of Michael Faraday.

The Bookbinding Apprentice Who became a Remarkable Scientist.

Niall Leah
7 min readAug 8, 2022


The man who would later be considered one of the greatest scientific minds of the nineteenth century started his professional life as an apprentice bookbinder.

He was born in 1791 into a poor family in Britain. His Father, a blacksmith was often unwell and unable to work. Faraday’s family was so poor he once recalled being given a single piece of bread to last for a week.

The family was a very fragile line away from abject poverty.

Because of this, Faraday received only a basic education. Although he managed to learn to write and read, his prospects looked limited. If you could travel backward in time and tell a neighbor of Faraday that he would one day be a renowned scientist, they might have thought you were insane.

Faraday didn’t have the family connections or education for that to seem even remotely possible.

Due to the family’s struggles, he left school and started work early. By 14, he delivered newspapers and books for the local bookbinder George Riebau. He was a hard and diligent worker so before long was offered a full apprenticeship.

As destiny would have it, within this simple manual work lay the key to his fate, and Faraday, with a curious mind and the ambition to better himself, didn’t miss it. Instead of accepting his lot in life, shrugging, and getting lost in life’s distractions, he reached for something that, as a bookbinder’s apprentice, he was surrounded by…books.

His choice to do that would set him on the path that would change his life forever.

Faraday completes his education solo…

Faraday didn’t allow his situation to stunt his hope or stagnate his mind. He transformed his immediate surroundings into his library and classroom. Faraday read as often and as deeply as he could, expanding his mind and absorbing knowledge. He would finish his work to high quality, but during any free time, he would read and read and read.

Then after a short break for lunch, he would read some more.



Niall Leah

An ex-pat from the UK living in Chengdu, China. I satisfy my endless curiosity about the incredible journey of humanity by reading, traveling, and writing.