Napoleon Hill was born in 1883 in a cabin on the Pound River in Wise County, Virginia. Hill’s mother died when he was 10 years old, and Napoleon’s father, James Hill, had difficulty taming his son’s wild nature. Napoleon, enamored of the outlaw Jesse James, carried a six-shooter on his hip and went about the county pretending to terrorize its citizens.
James Hill soon remarried, and his new wife Martha established herself as a force in the home. Martha saw Napoleon’s potential and encouraged him. She suggested he use his overactive imagination to become a writer. At age 13, Hill began working as a reporter for local newspapers.
In 1908, as part of a series of magazine articles about famous and successful people, Hill interviewed the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Hill learned that Carnegie believed the process of success could be outlined in a simple formula that anyone would be able to understand and achieve.