‘Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.’
John Stuart Mill: one of the most important intellectual figures of the nineteenth century – and one of the most radical too! Mill was an English philosopher, political economist and social reformer. With the formative intellectual influence of his father James Mill and godfather, Jeremy Bentham (two early utilitarians), Mill was a strong proponent of utilitarianism, developing his distinctive socio-political doctrine on liberty and happiness. Mill championed individual liberty against the authority of the state. He believed that an action was right provided it maximised the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people.
In 1859, he published a paper which he had written with his wife, Harriet Taylor, titled On Liberty – his most famous work, and one of the most important articulations of liberal philosophy in the history of political thought. Here, he wrote about the capacity of human improvement. This was an ethos he applied in his actions too, striving for progress in ways that were radical in his time: a member of the Liberal Party, he was the first MP to call for women's suffrage, as well as supporting compulsory education, birth control and land reform in Ireland.
This richly political and historical tea towel is certainly not your usual run-of-the-Mill gift!