John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) is the most important of Britain’s nineteenth-century philosophers. His writings and activities were many and varied. The works reprinted in this volume were first published during a particularly prolific ten-year span, from 1859 to 1869. On Liberty (1859), Considerations on Representative Government (1861), Utilitarianism (1863), and The Subjection of Women (1869) are four of his most famous works; they are central pillars on which Mill’s high reputation rests. Also included for the light they shed on Mill and his times are two of his lesser-known works – ‘The Contest in America’ (1862), written in the context of the American Civil War; and his erudite but accessible Inaugural Address Delivered to the University of St Andrews (1867).
Mill contributed to several contemporary debates, including ones about where to draw the proper boundaries between the ‘liberty of the individual’ on one hand and the ‘security of the state’ on the other. Living as we do in a world where those boundaries continue to be tested and contested, Mill’s timeless writings are of no less value to us today than they were to those who read them when they were first published.