For some the process of dying offers a welcome opportunity to obliterate the past. Adam Smith insisted that all his private papers should be destroyed, and personally supervised the conflagration that consumed them. It was his dearest wish that he should be known exclusively from what he had left behind on the printed page.
None of this is very helpful to a future biographer, but then Smith was someone who preferred a quiet life. An academic by trade and a bachelor who relied on the care offered by female relations, he was not made for the limelight. As one of his earliest