David Hume, Scottish philosopher and historian, c 18th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by A Smith after a painting by Allan Ramsay of David Hume (1711-1776). Hume studied at Edinburgh University, after which he took up law. In 1734 he went to La Fleche, in Anjou, France where he studied for three years and produced his first and most important work 'A Treatise of Human Nature'. Hume achieved real fame and international recognition with his 'Political Discourses' (1752) and his monumental 'History of England' (1754-1762). From 1763 he acted as secretary to the ambasador in Paris and was received with great enthusiasm by the French court and literary society. He returned to London in 1766 and became Under-Secretary of State for the Northern Department in 1767. He died shortly after returning to Scotland in 1768.