A bio of Thomas Huxley who
"was born on May 4, 1825, in Ealing, near London, the seventh of eight children in a family that was none too affluent. Huxley's only childhood education was two years at Ealing school, where his father taught mathematics; this ended in 1835 when the family moved to Coventry. Despite his lack of formal education, young Huxley read voraciously in science, history, and philosophy, and taught himself German. At the age of 15, Huxley began a medical apprenticeship; soon he won a scholarship to study at Charing Cross Hospital. At 21, Huxley signed on as assistant surgeon on the H.M.S. Rattlesnake, a Royal Navy frigate assigned to chart the seas around Australia and New Guinea."
In those days, the lack of formal education, it seems, posed no obstacle to pursue a noble profession. Definitely wakes up one from the fantasy that formal education, rather than personal initiative, will rid the nation of poverty, if that's even possible at all.