Thomas Hobbes was born in April of 1588, the same year as the famous fight against the Spanish Armada. He was born prematurely and he said that his mother 'gave birth to twins: myself and fear'. His father was a vicar and his uncle was a merchant with no family of his own. Hobbes started studying in Oxford in his middle teens.
While there he struck up a friendship with the son of William Cavendish, the Baron of Hardwick. They went on the Grand Tour of Europe together. There Hobbes was exposed to advanced ideas regarding science and philosophy, ideas which he thought were much better than the Scholastic philosophy taught at Oxford.
Hobbes studied ancient Greek and Latin authors in particular. In 1628 he became the first to translate Thucydides 'History of the Peloponnesian War' into English.
He spent much of the 1630's in Paris, returning in 1637 to a country on the brink of civil war. He wrote about politics and in 1640, he fled back to Paris out of fear over his writings. In 1644, royalists also started taking refuge in Paris and for some time Hobbes became a teacher of mathematics to then Prince of Wales, future king Charles II.
In 1651 he published 'Leviathan' and it had a huge impact. Some cheered him, some wanted him dead. He was ousted from the company of the royalists and went back to England.
After the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II summoned him to court and gave him a pension. His works remained controversial and he lived in fear of being killed as a heretic. A bill was introduced in Parliament against atheism and profaneness. Hobbes defended himself against charges of heresy but he was never able to publish on subjects of human conduct. Instead, he wrote an autobiography and translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Hobbes died in 1679. His last words were 'a great leap in the dark'.
He was one of the earliest and most influential English writers on social contract theory. He's one of the pillars of modern western thought.