He was born in Derby. Educated mostly at home, Spencer worked first as a railways civil engineer beginning at age 16, writing in his spare time. In 1848, Spencer became a subeditor on The Economist, then as now an important financial newspaper.
From that time onwards, he was a professional writer. In 1852 Spencer published The Developmental Hypothesis, and in 1855 produced Principles of Psychology. Spencer published a number of such works devoted to different domains, including Principles of Sociology and Principles of Ethics. They included, among other things, his ideas on evolution. The concept of "social Darwinism" sprang from these works. Spencer's book First Principles is an exposition of the evolutionary principles underlying all domains of reality.
Many may not be aware that it was Spencer, and not Darwin who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest", as well as popularizing the term "evolution." Spencer is also acknowledged as one of the founders of the science of Sociology.