A select list of autobiographies

This list goes along with the syllabus for that autobiography class, just posted.  It pertains to one of the class assignments.  (Students are to pick three of these.)  Reading about cool people is cool…


(Film) Artists:

Bergman, The Magic Lantern

Bresson, Notes on Cinematography

Buñuel, My Last Sigh

Renoir, My Life and My Films

Truffaut, Hitchcock

Wenders, Emotion Pictures



Franklin, My Brilliant Career

Gorky, My Apprenticeship

Hesse, Demian

Isherwood, Mr. Norris Changes Trains

Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Mann, Tonio Kröger

Myers, Bad Boy

Muir, The Story of My Boyhood & Youth

Thomas, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog

Tolstoy, Youth


Childhood memoir:

Coetzee, Boyhood: Scenes from a Provincial Life

Dahl, Boy

Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Grahame, The Golden Age

Himmel, A Girl Named Zippy

Hunter, The Sound of Chariots

Jansson, The Summer Book

Mowat, Owls in the Family

Orwell, Such, Such Were the Joys

Soyinka, Aké: the Years of Childhood

Tolstoy, Boyhood



Douglas, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas

Dylan, Chronicles, vol. 1

Facey, A Fortunate Life

Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Gorky, My Childhood

Keller, The Story of My Life

Mahfouz, Echoes of an Autobiography

Orr, Bobby Orr

Pepys, Diary (Abridged)

Pilkington, Under the Wintamarra Tree

Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

White, One Man’s Meat


Family, or community:

Agee, A Death in the Family

Bergman, Sunday’s Children

Coppola, Notes

Dryden, The Game

Gosse, Father and Son

Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road

Khalid, Kampung Boy

Larsson, A Home

Mikita, I Play to Win

Singer, A Day of Pleasure

Wilder, By the Shores of Silver Lake



Barthes, Roland Barthes

Brown, My Left Foot

Freud, On Dreams

Goethe, Maxims and Reflections (Penguin)

Koestler, Darkness at Noon

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Orwell, A Collection of Essays

Washington, Up from Slavery

Woolf, A Room of One’s Own


Oral history:

Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl

Broadfoot: Ten Lost Years, The Pioneer Years, Six War Years

Brownlow: The Parade’s Gone By

Cannon: Growing Up in Zion

Cook, Japan at War

Frazer, The Blood of Spain

Harrisson, Living Through the Blitz

Jennings, Pandaemonium

LeBaron, All Are Alike Unto God

McNeil/McCain, Please Kill Me

Metzger, The Bintel Brief

Terkel, Working, Hard Times, Race, The Good War



Dante, Inferno (try trans. Ciardi)

Dinesen, Out of Africa

Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London

Pagnol, My Father’s Glory, My Mother’s Castle

Robinson, I Never Had it Made

St. Exupery, Wind, Sand, and Stars

Thoreau, Walden

Whitman, Song of Myself

Wordsworth, The Prelude


Spiritual autobiography and moral history:

Augustine, Confessions

Bunyan, Grace Abounding Unto the Chief of Sinners

Confucius, The Analects

Dalai Lama, My Land & My People

Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

Luther, On Christian Liberty

Neibuhr, Black Elk Speaks

Pascal, Pensées

St. Thérèse, Story of a Soul



Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

B., Epileptic

De Quincey, Confessions of an Opium Eater

Frame, An Angel at My Table

Herr, Dispatches

Kincaid, A Small Place

Rilke, Duino Elegies

Rushdie, Haroun & the Sea of Stories

Wiesel, Night

Wilder, The Long Winter

Wilde, De Profundis



Bagnold, A Diary Without Dates

Beliveau, My Life in Hockey

Bouton, Ball Four

Herriott, If Only They Could Talk

Marco Polo, Travels

Markham, West with the Night

Muir, My First Summer in the Sierras

Nabokov, Speak, Memory

Peet, Bill Peet: an Autobiography


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