David Ricardo, a political economist, was born in 1772 and was the third of 17 children. Although his father was a wealthy merchant banker and stockbroker David had little formal education and at age 14 went to work in his fathers business. He was disinherited at age 21 when he married against his parents’ wishes. He set up his own stockbroking business and moved to Kennington Place. He was so successful that he retired at age 42 to concentrate on his writing and on politics.
He was friends with other classical economists such as Thomas Malthus and Jean-Baptiste Say. His early writings are on the money markets and the Stock Exchange but his key works (Essay on the influence of the low price of corn on the profits of stock (1815) and The principles of political economy and taxation (1817)) were on the long term distribution of wealth and market economics. His labour theory of value influenced Karl Marx.
Ricardo developed many key economic theories still taught today like Distribution theory and International trade theory (comparative advantage). He worked on the the theories of diminishing returns, and economic rent.
For the last four years of his life Ricardo was a Member of Parliament.