A leading figure in the age of revolutions, Paine was born in Norfolk but emigrated to America in 1774. This was a time of civil unrest between the United States and Britain and the following year conflict broke out. Paine began to write a pamphlet that promoted the cause for independence. Titled ‘Common Sense’ it became the most widely distributed pamphlet of the American War of Independence. In 1787 Paine travelled to France and, in 1790, began an account of the French Revolution. ‘Rights of Man’ was a response to Edmund Burke’s ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’. In 1793 he wrote ‘Age of Reason’, an assault on formal religion. This caused much hostility and following his return to America he was ostracised until his death.