"Margery Kempe was a self-proclaimed holy woman, visionary, mystic and medieval pilgrim. She is also unique because although she was not proficient at reading and writing, she was determined to record her visions, journeys and spiritual experiences. She dictated her book to a scribe of which only one copy survives, now housed in the British Library. Nearly everything we know about her comes from her book." -- Susan Abernethy writes about a woman we only know about because she wrote a tell-all autobiography
posted by MartinWisse
on Mar 11, 2014 -
"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son
loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf
, which would later be called The Harvard Classics
." (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jul 11, 2013 -
Teenage Diaries Revisited Beginning in 1996, Radio Diaries gave tape recorders to teenagers around the country to create audio diaries about their lives. NPR’s All Things Considered aired intimate portraits of five of these teens: Amanda, Juan, Frankie, Josh and Melissa. They're now in their 30s. Over this past year, the same group has been recording new stories about where life has led them for our series, Teenage Diaries Revisited.
- The conversation at the end of the 2013 update on Josh
is a complete gut-punch - it left me speechless and unable to breathe.
posted by Slap*Happy
on May 10, 2013 -
Minima Moralia: Reflections from the Damaged Life
is a book written by German sociologist and philosopher Theodor W. Adorno during his exile in California in the 1940s. Translator Dennis Redmond has released his translation under creative commons (here is the same translation set up in a more book-like way
). In his essay Promiscuous Reading
, Mark O'Connell talks about his habit of never finishing books, but an exception being "this captivatingly strange and mordant text" Minima Moralia, "a thematically wayward aggregation of a hundred and fifty-three short essays and aphorisms that darts restlessly from one subject matter to the next, its fleeting yet intense engagements rarely spanning more than a page and a half." Among the subject matters Adorno addresses is the ethics of writing, which has reverberated down through the years, and is often set up in opposition to George Orwell's thought, as recounted by James Miller in the essay Lingua Franca
. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus
on Dec 28, 2012 -
A liquor store in Amsterdam. A veteran in Bagdad. A family in Rome. A WWII veterans memorial in Berlin. A house in Oxford. Edouard Levé
photographed towns in the United States that shared names with famous cities. He photographed fully-clothed actors reenacting scenes from rugby
[nsfw]. He also wrote some novels, influenced by Oulipo
, describes his life in 120 pages of unordered vignettes and brief, declarative sentences—"The girl whom I loved the most left me. [...] I am uneasy in rooms with small windows." and so on
. His fourth novel, Suicide,
is a one-sided conversation between an anonymous narrator ("I") and his friend ("you"), who committed suicide twenty years ago. It's a painfully intimate meditation on the act and its fallout on its own merits—"Your life was hypothesis. Those who die old are made of the past. Thinking of them, one thinks of what they have done. Thinking of you, one thinks of what you could have become. You were, and you will remain, made up of possibilities."
—but few will read Suicide
unburdened with the knowledge that Edouard Levé killed himself several days after completing it, at the age of 47. [more inside]
posted by spanishbombs
on Jul 7, 2012 -
Even people who would normally never care about something Judy Garland-related marvel at the incredible pathos and dark insanity of these tapes, which come off like Garland performing in a one-woman show written by Samuel Beckett.
posted by Trurl
on Dec 28, 2011 -
's autobiographical works such as I Never Liked You (1.3 MB PDF)
placed #38 on The Comics Journal
of the 100 Best Comics of the 20th Century. In his new graphic novel, Paying For It
, he "calmly lays out the facts of how he became not only a willing participant in but also a vocal proponent of one of the world's most hot-button topics--prostitution
posted by Trurl
on May 16, 2011 -
Still Life with Animated Dogs
is a witty and candid cartoon by Paul Fierlinger, animator of Sesame Street's Teeny Little Super Guy
, recounting his life from being a dissident artist in 1960s Czechoslovakia to being a successful animator in the US. He tells his lifestory by talking about the dogs he's owned over the years, Roosevelt, Ike, Johnson and Spinnaker. Warning: Something may get stuck in your eye.
posted by Kattullus
on Dec 27, 2010 -
This is Mark Twain.
In preparation for the long awaited release of the uncensored Autobiography of Mark Twain *
, the University of California Press and the Bancroft Library *
have put together an informative site about Twain's life. It features two interactive timelines (one in chronological order and one using the order of events as written in the autobiography) with audio excerpts from the autobiography, video of the editors of the Twain Papers offering context, and historic images documenting his life. Also on the site, though confusingly linked as "more about the autobiography", is a short documentary about the Twain archives at the Bancroft. Worth a visit at the very least for this image of Sexy Sam.
posted by Toekneesan
on Oct 8, 2010 -
Perhaps following the original Stig
, the current masked driver on Top Gear announced they would write an autobiography. Un/fortunately the secrecy clause of his contract has been brought up, and the lawyers
rear their heads. There is talk-talk of 'human rights
' issues. British radio talk shows seem to be amused (no links fellows, alas)
posted by LD Feral
on Aug 19, 2010 -
: “I wanted to call my father and tell him that a white man thought my brain was beautiful”.
Sherman Alexie doing his thing in The New Yorker, excerpted from his upcoming book (early review
; interview 1
posted by Non Prosequitur
on Oct 5, 2009 -
was a pimp
. "I got out of it because I was old
. I did not want to be teased, tormented and brutalized by young whores
." While working as an insecticide salesman, one of his customers suggested he write an autobiography. "Iceberg Slim" wrote Pimp: The Story Of My Life
in 3 months. It was the beginning of a literary career
that made him one of the largest selling African-American authors of all time. He died
on April 30, 1992 - one day after the start of the Los Angeles riots. (previously)
posted by Joe Beese
on Apr 2, 2009 -
Shantaram is the story of a violent man's search for the man of peace within himself
. Gregory David Roberts, clip 1
, clip 2
, is an ex-junkie, former gun runner; drugs, forged passports and black market currency dealer; was a member of the Bombay Mafia and close with a Mafia don there; acted in Bollywood movies; fought with the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan; imprisoned in an Australian maximum security prison with a 19 year sentence and escaped to the Bombay slums, where he set up a free clinic. His semi-autobiography
is called Shantaram, which means man pf peace. Review on Shunya
. His website
due out in 2009. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye
on Oct 21, 2008 -
When Jamaican-born Mary Seacole
, an experienced nurse, volunteered her services to the British Army during the Crimean War, she was rejected. Undaunted, she travelled to Crimea at her own expense and built a "mess-table and comfortable quarters," which she called the "British Hotel," and began taking care of soldiers. Her work was snubbed by Florence Nightingale, who called Seacole "a woman of bad character" and insinuated that the convalescent hotel was little more than a bordello, but Mary was beloved by the men in her care who called her "Mother Seacole." Her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands [link goes to full text and illustrations]
, was published a year after the war ended. Mary, who was feted by high-ranking military men and high-born civilians, went on to other nursing-related pursuits, including a stint as personal masseuse to Alexandra, Princess of Wales. Her work in Crimea was but one highlight in a very interesting life. [more inside]
posted by amyms
on Aug 12, 2008 -
is a site that lets people who are refugess within their
own countries tell their life stories
– in their own words. "The narratives in these pages are valuable complements to the official information on conflicts which governments and international organisations offer. These stories deal with the real lives of real people. The narrators share their personal experiences, their sensations, hopes and dreams, and the impact for them of being forced from their homes. The first IDP Voices oral testimonies project took place in Colombia
. IDP Voices from further countries will be added as the projects progress." The life stories are in English and Spanish and can either be read or listened to. You can download the whole book of life stories here
posted by Kattullus
on Nov 8, 2007 -
Kid Congo Powers
, noted guitar stylist, teenage president of The Ramones
Fan Club, erstwhile member of The Cramps
, The Gun Club
, and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
(also known for his collaborations with Julee Cruise
, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy
and others) has produced a two part
online autobiography of sorts for New York Night Train
. It includes oral histories
, available as transcriptions or MP3s, pages from his Cramps scrapbook
, a vintage Creem article
, free MP3s
from his back catalogue, and, of course, his recipe for enchiladas
posted by jack_mo
on Feb 12, 2006 -
Excerpt from Bob Dylan's autobiographical book, Chronicles, Volume One.
posted by semmi
on Oct 20, 2004 -
"It was surprising how thick the smoke had become.
It seems like the world has always needed a scapegoat --someone to lead the charge against the Roman Empire. But America wasn't the Roman Empire and someone else would have to step up and volunteer. I really was never any more than what I was -- a folk musician who gazed into the gray mist with tear-blinded eyes and made up songs that floated in a luminous haze. Now it had blown up in my face and was hanging over me." -- from Bob Dylan's
new autobiography, Chronicles
, with a brief interview
, via Newsweek
posted by digaman
on Sep 26, 2004 -
A million lives.
Links to thousands of biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, letters, narratives, oral histories and more.
posted by pooligan
on Aug 25, 2003 -
Olaudah Equiano, or, Gustavus Vassa, the African.
'According to his famous autobiography, written in 1789, Olaudah Equiano (c.1745-1797) was born in what is now Nigeria. Kidnapped and sold into slavery in childhood, he was taken as a slave to the New World. As a slave to a captain in the Royal Navy, and later to a Quaker merchant, he eventually earned the price of his own freedom by careful trading and saving. As a seaman, he travelled the world, from the Mediterranean to the North Pole. Coming to London, he became involved in the movement to abolish the slave trade, an involvement which led to him writing and publishing The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African (1789) a strongly abolitionist autobiography ... '
Of interest :- Ignatius Sancho: African Man of Letters
; Quobna Ottabah Cugoano: a Former Slave Speaks Out
; American Slave Narratives
('From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration'); Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938
; Excerpts from Slave Narratives.
posted by plep
on Jul 17, 2003 -
is the homepage of cartoonist Carol Lay, creator of the strip Story Minute. In addition to being one of the few places one can view the strip
without going through Salon's obnoxious free pass system. The site has the best autobiography
I've seen for an artist site and images of earlier bizarre parodies
of Salvador Dali and the Shroud of Turin.
posted by KirkJobSluder
on Apr 24, 2003 -
America's greatest quadrapelegic, recovering alcoholic cartoonist has a home online
. John Callahan may be the most hilariously truthful people alive. This page
contains animated versions of some of his best. The collection of hate mail
he's recieved is a hoot as well, if you enjoy laughing at the sanctimonious. This
is one of his best and also the title of his excellent autobiography.
posted by jonmc
on Mar 14, 2002 -
The Nash equilibrium
So at the present time I seem to be thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists. However this is not entirely a matter of joy as if someone returned from physical disability to good physical health. One aspect of this is that rationality of thought imposes a limit on a person's concept of his relation to the cosmos....from John F. Nash Jr.'s autobiography for the 1994 Nobel Prize for Economics.
posted by riley370
on Dec 12, 2001 -