Reverend Frederick Dennison Maurice was born on 29 August 1805 and died on 1 April 1872. He was an intelligent writer and teacher, and was a Church of England vicar.
He believed that all people were equal under the eyes of God. Because of his religious views, he had a deep interest in the lives of the working classes. Ford Madox Brown describes Maurice as a 'brain worker' because he used his intelligence to think about how he could improve the lives of others.
Maurice believed that through learning to read and write, people could better themselves. He opened a Working Men's College in London in 1854 so that the working classes could be educated. Admission to the college was one shilling, and all the teachers gave their services for free.
Ford Madox Brown taught there alongside the artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Ruskin. It was whilst listening to Maurice and Ruskin speaking at the college that Brown decided to ask Maurice to sit for the painting.