Born at Ecclefechan in Dumfriesshire. In 1821 he passed through the spiritual crisis described in Sartor Resartus. He married Jane Baillie Welsh in 1826 and the moved at her farm, where Sartor Resartus was written (1836).
His reputation was established with the French Revolution (1837). The series of lectures he gave in 1837-40 included On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in history (1841).
He also wrote the notable Letters and Speeches of Cromwell (1845), and the miniature life of his friend John Sterling (1851). Carlyle then began his History of Frederick the Great (1858-65).
After the death of his wife in 1866 Carlyle devoted his time to editing her letters (1883) and preparing the Remiscences (1881), which shed an unfavorable light on his character and his neglect for her, for which he could not forgive himself.
His house in Cheyne Row, Chelsea, London, is now a museum.