The son of a shopkeeper, Joseph Lancaster (1778-1838) received little formal education himself. In 1798 he set up a school in Southwark, waiving fees for poor children. Originally published in 1803, this work sets out in detail the philosophy and practice of Lancaster's system of education, which relied on peer tutoring. He was always concerned with the education of the underprivileged in industrial cities, lamenting that 'poor children be deprived of even an initiatory share of education, and of almost any attention to their morals'. The early decades of the nineteenth century saw the peak of the popularity of Lancaster's system as his ideas spread and inspired the establishment of schools around the world. His book is still significant in the history of educational methods. This reissue of the revised third edition of 1805 incorporates a brief 1840 biography of Lancaster.