[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 13:35 GMT
What you should know about Adam Smith
Adam Smith in an illustration drawn in approximately 1765
Adam Smith already appears on some Scottish 50 notes

Economist and philosopher Dr Adam Smith has become the first Scotsman to appear on a Bank of England note.

He is the "face" of the Bank's new 20 notes, issued for the first time on Tuesday.

Adam Smith, who replaces composer Edward Elgar on the notes, is best known for his book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.

Many regard the treatise, published in 1776, as almost inventing the concept of competition and market forces.

But what else should one know about one of Scotland's most revered thinkers?

1) Adam Smith was born in 1723 in Kirkcaldy, a town in Fife for which Gordon Brown is currently the MP.

2) As a baby, Adam Smith was briefly kidnapped by a group of tinkers before being rescued by his uncle.

3) While some people have complained about a Scot being on an English banknote, the Bank of England itself was founded by a Scot, Sir William Paterson, in 1694.

4) Adam Smith was widely believed to have abandoned Christianity in favour of deism, a religious philosophy that rejects miracles and other supernatural events - although some believe he was closer to being an atheist.

5) Adam Smith came up with the widely-used term "the invisible hand of the market".

6) Adam Smith was an abolitionist and questioned the long-term economic benefits of slavery, whose abolition he did not live to see: "Whatever work he does beyond what is sufficient to purchase his own maintenance can be squeezed out of him by violence only, and not by any interest of his own," he wrote on the subject.

7) Adam Smith never married and lived with his mother until she died, only six years before he passed away in 1790.

8) The Wealth of Nations has been cited by many people as their favourite book. Journalist Andrew Neil and businessman Sir Stanley Kalms are among those to have chosen to take it with them to a desert island.

9) The poet Robert Burns was a huge admirer of Adam Smith, writing of The Wealth of Nations that "I could not have given any mere man credit for half the intelligence Mr Smith discovers in his book".

10) Although The Wealth of Nations is by far the best-known of Adam Smith's works today, it was an earlier work - The Theory of Moral Sentiments - which made his name during his lifetime. A treatise which argued that people were born with a sense of right and wrong, and of how to behave towards others, it sold out in weeks.

New Adam Smith 20 note launched
13 Mar 07 |  Business
March launch for Smith 20 note
21 Feb 07 |  Business
Smith replaces Elgar on 20 note
29 Oct 06 |  Business

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific