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By: Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)

Childhood (English trans.) by Leo Tolstoy Childhood (English trans.)

Childhood, published in 1852, is the first novel in Leo Tolstoy’s autobiographical trilogy, which also includes Boyhood, and Youth. Published when Tolstoy was twenty-three, the book gained immediate notice among Russian writers including Ivan Turgenev, and heralded the young Tolstoy as a major figure in Russian letters. Childhood is an expressionist exploration of the internal life of a young boy, Nikolenka, and was a new form in Russian writing, mixing fact, fiction and emotions to render the moods and reactions of the narrator. Childhood is Tolstoy’s first published work. Translated into English by C. J. Hogarth.

Boyhood by Leo Tolstoy Boyhood

Boyhood is the second in Tolstoy's trilogy of three autobiographical novels, including Childhood and Youth, published in a literary journal during the 1850s. (Introduction by Bill Boerst)

Youth by Leo Tolstoy Youth

Youth is the third in Tolstoy's trilogy of three autobiographical novels, including Childhood and Boyhood, published in a literary journal during the 1850s. (Introduction by Bill Boerst)

By: Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain Life on the Mississippi

A river memoir documenting Twain’s early days as an apprentice steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War. Reminiscing about his happy experiences as a young man under the instruction of an experienced mentor, the autobiographical tale depicts one of the most vivid illustrations of river life. Furthermore, the book captures the author’s nostalgic emotions through his resonant depiction of one of the most notable periods of his life. Twain begins his memoir with a rich historical account of the Mississippi River including its exploration by early explorers, its evolution, and its vastness...

Chapters from my Autobiography by Mark Twain Chapters from my Autobiography

“...if I should talk to a stenographer two hours a day for a hundred years, I should still never be able to set down a tenth part of the things which have interested me in my lifetime.” The words of Mark Twain in his introduction to Chapters from my Autobiography provide a tantalizing glimpse of what is in store for the reader! Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens was still working on his reminiscences when he died in 1910. This book is really only a portion of the complete work...

Roughing It by Mark Twain Roughing It

The semiautobiographical travel memoir records Twain’s, more or less, personal journey across the Wild West in search of adventure while exploring variable locations. Accompanying his brother on what becomes a trip of a lifetime, the young Samuel Clemens finds himself in many different vocational roles as he explores and observes the magnificence of the American West. Not refraining from the usual social commentary, Twain directs criticism on various social and moral issues which he approaches through his sly and witty style...

By: Jack London (1876-1916)

John Barleycorn or Alcoholic Memoirs by Jack London John Barleycorn or Alcoholic Memoirs

Jack London died at the age of forty. In this autobiographical work, London describes his life as seen through the eyes of John Barleycorn (alcohol). There is much controversy about the cause of his death just as there is about alcoholism and addiction. London’s brutally frank and honest analysis of his own struggles and bouts with alcohol was way before its time and more modern theories of addiction. With remarkable candor and insight, London describes the demons and gods he encountered through both friend and enemy, John Barleycorn.

By: Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870)

Celebrated Crimes by Alexandre Dumas Celebrated Crimes

Dumas's 'Celebrated Crimes' was not written for children. The novelist has spared no language -- has minced no words -- to describe the violent scenes of a violent time.In some instances facts appear distorted out of their true perspective, and in others the author makes unwarranted charges. The careful, mature reader, for whom the books are intended, will recognize, and allow for, this fact.The first volume comprises the annals of the Borgias and the Cenci. The name of the noted and notorious Florentine family has become a synonym for intrigue and violence, and yet the Borgias have not been without stanch defenders in history...

By: G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Charles Dickens by G. K. Chesterton Charles Dickens

G. K. Chesterton was a great admirer of Charles Dickens, and wrote a noted critique of Dickens’ works expressing his opinion in his own inimitable style.

George Bernard Shaw by G. K. Chesterton George Bernard Shaw

Chesterton and Shaw were famous friends and enjoyed their arguments and discussions. Although rarely in agreement, they both maintained good-will towards and respect for each other. However, in his writing, Chesterton expressed himself very plainly on where they differed and why. In Heretics he writes of Shaw: “After belabouring a great many people for a great many years for being unprogressive, Mr. Shaw has discovered, with characteristic sense, that it is very doubtful whether any existing human being with two legs can be progressive at all...

By: Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

Hospital Sketches by Louisa May Alcott Hospital Sketches

Alcott in 1862 served as a nurse in Georgetown, D.C during the Civil War. She wrote home what she observed there. Those harrowing and sometimes humorous letters compiled make up Hospital Sketches.

By: Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)

The Life Of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell The Life Of Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë was a British author, the eldest of the three famous Brontë sisters who have become standards of English literature. She is best known for her novel Jane Eyre, one of the greatest classics of all time. Just two years after Charlotte’s death, her friend Elizabeth Gaskell wrote her biography. Want to know more about Charlotte Brontë? If you do, please read this biography.

By: Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)

The Mirror of the Sea by Joseph Conrad The Mirror of the Sea

The Mirror of the Sea is a collection of autobiographical essays first published in various magazines 1904-6. Conrad early in his life earned his bread as a Master Mariner in sailing ships. In his Author’s Note to this work, Conrad states,”Beyond the line of the sea horizon the world for me did not exist….Within these pages I make a full confession not of my sins but of my emotions. It is the best tribute my piety can offer to the ultimate shapers of my character, convictions, and, in a sense, destiny—to the imperishable sea, to the ships that are no more, and to the simple men who have had their day.”

By: Jacob Abbott (1803-1879)

Alexander the Great by Jacob Abbott Alexander the Great

Tutored by Aristotle, compelled to ascend the throne at the age of 20 when his illustrious father was assassinated, driven by a passion for expanding the borders of his tiny kingdom, Alexander of Macedon was one of the most towering figures of ancient history. He is brought to vivid life in this gripping volume by the American children's writer Jacob Abbott. In his short but eventful life, the young Macedonian king went on to rule over one of the most powerful and largest empires in the ancient world, breaking the hegemony of the powerful Persian dynasty of Darius...

Cleopatra by Jacob Abbott Cleopatra

The French mathematician and philosopher, Blaise Pascal once remarked, “Cleopatra's nose. Had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed!” Such was the legendary power and attraction of this most famous woman ruler that generations of artists, readers, writers, historians and poets have ensured that she remains immortal and unforgettable. Jacob Abbott's Cleopatra is a work of historical biography, told in a highly dramatic and gripping style. It brings the characters and the circumstances to vivid life, making it an entertaining read for people of all ages...

Queen Elizabeth by Jacob Abbott Queen Elizabeth

The history of a woman who rose above and beyond tragedy, grief and personal loss to become one of the most powerful figures in sixteenth century Europe is wonderfully told in this biography Queen Elizabeth, by Jacob Abbott. Beginning with the tragic circumstances of Elizabeth's mother, the lovely and doomed Anne Boleyn's execution and Henry VIII's dissolution of the English Catholic Church, the story of Elizabeth's rise to power is reflective of the England's domination of world politics as well...

Peter the Great by Jacob Abbott Peter the Great

“There are very few persons who have not heard of the fame of Peter the Great, the founder, as he is generally regarded by mankind, of Russian civilization. The celebrity, however, of the great Muscovite sovereign among young persons is due in a great measure to the circumstance of his having repaired personally to Holland, in the course of his efforts to introduce the industrial arts among his people, in order to study himself the art and mystery of shipbuilding, and of his having worked with his own hands in a ship-yard there...

Hannibal by Jacob Abbott Hannibal

There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been the writer's aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical usefulness...

William the Conqueror by Jacob Abbott William the Conqueror

There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been the writer’s aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical usefulness...

Mary Queen of Scots by Jacob Abbott Mary Queen of Scots

There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been the writer’s aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical usefulness...

History of Julius Caesar by Jacob Abbott History of Julius Caesar

The book chronicles the extraordinary life and leadership of Rome’s Emperor Julius Caesar, from his early years to his assassination.

Richard I by Jacob Abbott Richard I

There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been the writer’s aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical usefulness...

Charles I by Jacob Abbott Charles I

There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous of informing himself of the leading outlines of their history, that he may know, in brief, what it was in their characters or their doings which has given them so widely-extended a fame. Consequently, great historical names alone are selected; and it has been the writer’s aim to present the prominent and leading traits in their characters, and all the important events in their lives, in a bold and free manner, and yet in the plain and simple language which is so obviously required in works which aim at permanent and practical usefulness...

Richard III by Jacob Abbott Richard III

Jacob Abbott chronicles the unspeakably treacherous rise of Richard III to the throne of England in the midst of the war between the Yorks and the Lancasters and his ultimate fall on the Field of Bosworth. (Introduction by Cathy Barratt)

By: Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Walden by Henry David Thoreau Walden

Two years, two months and two days! This is what forms the time line of one man's quest for the simple life and a unique social experiment in complete self reliance and independence. Henry David Thoreau published Walden in 1884. Originally drafted as a series of essays describing a most significant episode in his life, it was finally released in book form with each essay taking on the form of a separate chapter. Thoreau's parents were in financial straights, but rich intellectually and culturally...

By: Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)

The Life of Cicero by Anthony Trollope The Life of Cicero

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43BC) was an orator, statesman, philosopher and prolific correspondent, who rose as a ‘new man’ in Rome in the turbulent last years of its republican government. Anthony Trollope, best known as a novelist, admired Cicero greatly and wrote this biography late in life in order to argue his virtues against authors who had granted him literary greatness but questioned his strength as a politician and as a man. He takes a personal approach, affording us an insight into his own mind and times as well as those of his subject...

Autobiography of Anthony Trollope by Anthony Trollope Autobiography of Anthony Trollope

Anthony Trollope's autobiography will delight you whether or not you've read (or listened to) any of his many works. His honest if self-deprecating tone is at times hilarious and at times piteously moving. His detailed descriptions of his writing process and his philosophy of writing as work rather than art are fascinating. Fans of Trollope will enjoy learning the man's perceptions of his novels' shortcomings and triumphs. Anyone will appreciate learning about his years devoted to churning out literature for profit while working full time with the post office.

By: Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400)

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer The Canterbury Tales

Anyone who has ever been on a package tour with a group of strangers who soon become friends, and passed time swapping stories with them, would instantly identify with this timeless classic of English literature. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer recounts twenty different stories recounted by a diverse group of pilgrims who gather at The Tabard Inn in Southwark, near London, before setting out for the shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury. The Host of the inn proposes that they entertain themselves by telling stories along the route and the one who tells the best tale would win a prize – a meal at Bailey's tavern, sponsored by the losers...

By: Edith Nesbit (1858-1924)

Royal Children of English History by Edith Nesbit Royal Children of English History

From the first chapter: “History is a story, a story of things that happened to real live people in our England years ago; and the things that are happening here and now, and that are put in the newspapers, will be history for little children one of these days. And the people you read about in history were real live people, who were good and bad, and glad and sorry, just as people are now-a-days.” E. Nesbit writes about some of the people behind the names, dates and battles of English History in this lovely book for older children. The original book contains some beautiful illustrations and you can see those by clicking the ‘Gutenberg’ link below.

By: Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin by Charles Darwin The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin is the autobiography of the British naturalist Charles Darwin which was published in 1887, five years after his death. Darwin wrote the book, which he entitled Recollections of the Development of my Mind and Character, for his family. He states that he started writing it on about May 28, 1876 and had finished it by August 3. The book was edited by Charles Darwin’s son Francis Darwin, who removed several passages about Darwin’s critical views of God and Christianity...

By: James Baldwin (1841-1925)

Four Great Americans: Washington, Franklin, Webster, Lincoln. A Book for Young Americans by James Baldwin Four Great Americans: Washington, Franklin, Webster, Lincoln. A Book for Young Americans

Written for children, James Baldwin’s history of Washington, Franklin, Webster, and Lincoln brings these men to life in a way that will be interesting for adults as well. The stories touch on the little humanities of the great men, rather than dwelling on the great works and great events of their lifetimes, without ignoring the latter.

By: John Bunyan (1628-1688)

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

Grace Abounding is the spiritual autobiography of John Bunyan, who also penned Pilgrim’s Progress, perhaps one of the most significant pieces of Christian literature, second only to the Bible. Grace Abounding follows Bunyan’s struggle to find true repentance and forgiveness, his battle with Satan’s temptations of unbelief, his comfort found in the Bible and his overarching victory gotten by the grace of God through Jesus Christ his Son. Readers familiar with Pilgrim’s Progress will recognize...

By: Helen Keller (1888-1968)

Book cover The Story of My Life

An autobiography of Helen Keller published when the author was still in her early 20's. The narrative reveals how her mind developed and matured until she began her studies at Radcliffe College

The World I Live In by Helen Keller The World I Live In

The World I Live In by Helen Keller is a collection of essays that poignantly tells of her impressions of the world, through her sense of touch, smell, her imagination and dreams. My hand is to me what your hearing and sight together are to you. In large measure we travel the same highways, read the same books, speak the same language, yet our experiences are different. All my comings and goings turn on the hand as on a pivot. It is the hand that binds me to the world of men and women. The hand is my feeler with which I reach through isolation and darkness and seize every pleasure, every activity that my fingers encounter...

By: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Inventor, author, printer, scientist, politician, diplomat—all these terms do not even begin to fully describe the amazing and multitalented, Benjamin Franklin who was of course also one of the Founding Fathers of America. At the age of 75, in 1771 he began work on what he called his Memoirs. He was still working on it when he died in 1790 and it was published posthumously, entitled An Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. The book had a complicated and controversial publication history. Strangely enough, the first volume only was first published in French, in Paris in 1791...

By: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Representative Men by Ralph Waldo Emerson Representative Men

A series of biographical lectures originally published in 1850. Each chapter is a philosophical treatment of the life of an intellectual. The six representatives are Plato, Swedenborg, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Napolean and Goethe. (Introduction by S. Kovalchik)

By: John Muir (1838-1914)

My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir My First Summer in the Sierra

The journal of nature-lover John Muir who spent the summer of 1869 walking California’s Sierra Nevada range. From French Bar to Mono Lake and the Yosemite Valley, Muir was awestruck by everything he saw. The antics of the smallest “insect people” amazed him as much as stunted thousand-year old Juniper trees growing with inconceivable tenacity from tiny cracks in the stone. Muir spent the rest of his life working to preserve the high Sierra, believing that “the clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” John Muir (1838-1914) was born in Dunbar, Scotland and grew up in Wisconsin, USA. This recording commemorates the 140th anniversary of that first summer.

The Story of My Boyhood and Youth by John Muir The Story of My Boyhood and Youth

“The only fire for the whole house was the kitchen stove, with a fire box about eighteen inches long and eight inches wide and deep,- scant space for three or four small sticks, around which in hard zero weather all the family of ten shivered, and beneath which in the morning we found our socks and coarse, soggy boots frozen solid.” Thus, with perceptive eye for detail, the American naturalist, John Muir, describes life on a pioneer Wisconsin farm in the 1850’s. Muir was only eleven years old when his father uprooted the family from a relatively comfortable life in Dunbar, Scotland, to settle in the backwoods of North America...

Travels in Alaska by John Muir Travels in Alaska

In 1879 John Muir went to Alaska for the first time. Its stupendous living glaciers aroused his unbounded interest, for they enabled him to verify his theories of glacial action. Again and again he returned to this continental laboratory of landscapes. The greatest of the tide-water glaciers appropriately commemorates his name. Upon this book of Alaska travels, all but finished before his unforeseen departure, John Muir expended the last months of his life.

Steep Trails by John Muir Steep Trails

A collection of Muir's previously unpublished essays, released shortly after his death. "This volume will meet, in every way, the high expectations of Muir's readers. The recital of his experiences during a stormy night on the summit of Mount Shasta will take rank among the most thrilling of his records of adventure. His observations on the dead towns of Nevada, and on the Indians gathering their harvest of pine nuts, recall a phase of Western life that has left few traces in American literature...

By: Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

Confessions by Saint Augustine of Hippo Confessions

Confessions (Latin: Confessiones) is the name of an autobiographical work, consisting of 13 books, by St. Augustine of Hippo, written between AD 397 and AD 398. Modern English translations of it are sometimes published under the title The Confessions of St. Augustine in order to distinguish the book from other books with similar titles, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions.

By: John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

Book cover Auguste Comte and Positivism

Part 1 lays out the framework for Positivism as originated in France by Auguste Comte in his Cours de Philosophie Positive. Mill examines the tenets of Comte's movement and alerts us to defects. Part 2 concerns all Comte's writings except the Cours de Philosophie Positive. During Comte's later years he gave up reading newspapers and periodicals to keep his mind pure for higher study. He also became enamored of a certain woman who changed his view of life. Comte turned his philosophy into a religion, with morality the supreme guide. Mill finds that Comte learned to despise science and the intellect, instead substituting his frantic need for the regulation of change.

By: William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Book cover The Prelude

Among monuments of narrative poetry, The Prelude; or, Growth of a Poet's Mind, by William Wordsworth, occupies a unique place. Wordsworth published the first version of the poem in 1798, but continued to work on it for the rest of his life. The final version, which is the subject of this recording, was published posthumously in 1850, by Wordworth’s widow, Mary. The Prelude is the first major narrative poem in European literature which deals solely with the spiritual journey of the author. In this respect the only predecessor to which it can be compared in Dante’s Divine Comedy, which is similarly a journey from personal confusion to certitude, from ignorance to realization...

By: Nellie Bly (1864-1922)

Ten Days in a Madhouse by Nellie Bly Ten Days in a Madhouse

Long before Christiane Amanpour, Frances Fitzgerald and Martha Gellhorn blazed a trail in courageous investigative journalism, a pioneering and intrepid writer and journalist whose pen name was Nellie Bly opened up a whole new field in what had previously been a strictly male domain. Ten Days in a Madhouse was published as a series of articles in the New York World during 1887. Nellie Bly was given the assignment by her editor to have herself committed to an insane asylum in New York with a “view to writing a plain and unvarnished narrative of the treatment of patients therein and the methods of management...

Around the World in Seventy-Two Days by Nellie Bly Around the World in Seventy-Two Days

This is a true account by American woman journalist who, in 1889, set out to see whether she could beat the fictional journey in Jules Verne’s 1873 novel, Around the World in Eighty Days. Wearing one dress and carrying one handbag, Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman (pen name “Nellie Bly”), reported her travels back to avid readers in America.

By: Susanna Moodie (1803-1885)

Book cover Roughing It in the Bush

'Roughing It In the Bush' is Susanna Moodie's account of how she coped with the harshness of life in the woods of Upper Canada, as an Englishwoman homesteading abroad. Her narrative was constructed partly as a response to the glowing falsehoods European land-agents were circulating about life in the New World. Her chronicle is frank and humorous, and was a popular sensation at the time of its publication in 1852.

By: Sinclair Lewis

The Trail of the Hawk by Sinclair Lewis The Trail of the Hawk

By: Publius Cornelius Tacitus

Agricola by Publius Cornelius Tacitus Agricola

The Agricola (Latin: De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae, lit. On the life and character of Julius Agricola) is a book by the Roman historian Tacitus, written c 98, which recounts the life of his father-in-law Gnaeus Julius Agricola, an eminent Roman general. It also covers, briefly, the geography and ethnography of ancient Britain. As in the Germania, Tacitus favorably contrasts the liberty of the native Britons to the corruption and tyranny of the Empire; the book also contains eloquent and vicious polemics against the rapacity and greed of Rome. This translation by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb, was first published in 1877.

By: Joshua Slocum (1844-1909)

Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum Sailing Alone Around the World

A sailing memoir written by seaman and adventurer Joshua Slocum, who was the first person to sail around the world alone, documents his epic solo circumnavigation. An international best-seller, the book became a great influence and inspiration to travelers from each corner of the globe. Additionally, Slocum is an example that through determination, courage and hard work any dream can easily become a reality. Written in a modern and conversational tone, the autobiographical account begins with Slocum’s description of his hometown of Nova Scotia and its maritime history...

By: John H. Haaren (1855-1916)

Famous Men of the Middle Ages by John H. Haaren Famous Men of the Middle Ages

“THE study of history, like the study of a landscape, should begin with the most conspicuous features. Not until these have been fixed in memory will the lesser features fall into their appropriate places and assume their right proportions. The famous men of ancient and modern times are the mountain peaks of history. It is logical then that the study of history should begin with the biographies of these men. Not only is it logical; it is also pedagogical. Experience has proven that in order to attract and hold the child’s attention each conspicuous feature of history presented to him should have an individual for its center...

Famous Men of Greece by John H. Haaren Famous Men of Greece

Famous Men of Greece is a series of biographical sketches written for the purpose of making the study of history lively and interesting by giving insight into the men who lived during this time.

Famous Men of Rome by John H. Haaren Famous Men of Rome

Famous Men of Rome is a series of biographical sketches written for the purpose of making the study of history lively and interesting by giving insight into the men who lived during this time.

By: Flavius Josephus (37 - c.100)

Minor Works of Josephus by Flavius Josephus Minor Works of Josephus

There are 3 parts to this collection.(1) Against Apion is a two-volume defense of Judaism as classical religion and philosophy, stressing its antiquity, as opposed to what Josephus claimed was the relatively more recent tradition of the Greeks. Some anti-Judean allegations ascribed by Josephus to the Greek writer Apion, and myths accredited to Manetho are also addressed.(2) Discourse To The Greeks Concerning Hades describes the author's views on the afterlife against the prevailing view of the "Greeks" (i...

By: Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was born into slavery on a Maryland plantation. He faced hardship as a child, but later encountered owners who were relatively liberal and allowed him to learn to read, write and be in contact with freed slaves. At the age of 20, he escaped from the plantation and made his way to New York. Though he remained a fugitive, he married and changed his name to avoid being caught. He continued his education and became involved in the Abolitionist Movement. He began touring the country, speaking passionately about the unjust, cruel and inhuman practice of slavery...

By: Eugene Field (1850-1895)

The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac by Eugene Field The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac

Do you love books? No, I mean REALLY love books? These series of sketches on the delights, adventures, and misadventures connected with bibliomania (bibliomania is characterized by the collecting of books which have no use to the collector nor any great intrinsic value to a genuine book collector. The purchase of multiple copies of the same book and edition and the accumulation of books beyond possible capacity of use or enjoyment are frequent symptoms of bibliomania.). The author wholeheartedly enjoyed this pursuit all his life and his descriptions are delightful to read...

By: Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

Book cover My Reminiscences

These Reminiscences were written and published by the Author in his fiftieth year, shortly before he started on a trip to Europe and America for his failing health in 1912. It was in the course of this trip that he wrote for the first time in the English language for publication. (from preface)

By: Charles Morris (1833-1922)

The San Francisco Calamity by Earthquake and Fire by Charles Morris The San Francisco Calamity by Earthquake and Fire

The first half of this book describes the devastating earthquake that hit San Francisco in 1906, and the subsequent destruction caused by fire. Various eyewitnesses and victims give their account on the tragedy. In the second half, a number of different other earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are retold, like the eruption of the Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeij or the explosion of the Krakatoa, together with scientific explanations for the causes of earthquakes and the eruption of volcanos.

By: Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus

Parallel Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, translated by Bernadotte Perrin (1847-1920) by Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus Parallel Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, translated by Bernadotte Perrin (1847-1920)

Plutarch’s “Parallel Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans Volume 1, translated by Bernadotte Perrin.

By: Santa Teresa de Jesus (1515-1582)

The Life of St. Teresa by Santa Teresa de Jesus The Life of St. Teresa

Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, (March 28, 1515, at Gotarrendura (Ávila), Old Castile, Spain – October 4, 1582, at Alba de Tormes, Salamanca, Spain) was a prominent Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun, and writer of the Counter Reformation. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be, along with John of the Cross, a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. In 1970 she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.

By: Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774)

The Life of Richard Nash, Esq., Late Master of the Ceremonies at Bath by Oliver Goldsmith The Life of Richard Nash, Esq., Late Master of the Ceremonies at Bath

Beau Nash (1674–1762), born Richard Nash, was a celebrated dandy and leader of fashion in 18th-century Britain. He is best remembered as the Master of Ceremonies at the spa town of Bath. (Wikipedia)This, the best of Goldsmith's Biographies, was published the year after Nash's death. It was at once popular, and went through two editions in the same year in which it was published. To the second edition (it never reached a third), Goldsmith made many important additions. Yet strange to say none of these have been attended to by the editors of his Works...

By: L. A. Abbott (1813-??)

Seven Wives and Seven Prisons by L. A. Abbott Seven Wives and Seven Prisons

This work the author claims is indeed a true story of how he happened to be married seven times to seven different women and the rollicking, hilarious events that led (or stumbled) to the marriages and the ah–disassembling/failing/failures of each said marriage which happened oftentimes to land him in prison. The summarist finds the work a very tongue-in-cheek diatribe/lament/account of his obsessive zeal in ‘marrying the right one’, but is also the mirthful chronicle of said author’s very unconventional adventures.

By: Mrs. Cecil Hall

A Lady's Life on a Farm in Manitoba by Mrs. Cecil Hall A Lady's Life on a Farm in Manitoba

The nineteenth century was marked by intense colonization by countries like Britain, France, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands. Initially, the pioneering efforts were made by men who battled unfamiliar terrain to create territories that they marked out as their own, while their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters kept the home and hearth in their native land. However, with travel becoming more common and family life assuming more importance, the women too began to travel to the four corners of the earth...

By: Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

In his vital, illustrative and dynamic autobiography, Theodore Roosevelt let us into the life that formed one of the greatest and outspoken presidents in American history. Not only are we privy to the formation of his political ideals, but also to his love of the frontier and the great outdoors.

By: Mary Harris Jones (1830 or 1837-1930)

The Autobiography of Mother Jones by Mary Harris Jones The Autobiography of Mother Jones

Mother Jones (Mary Harris Jones) was a legendary labor organizer. She was a founding member of the International Workers of the World (the IWW, or the Wobblies), and was active in the United Mine Workers and the Socialist Party of America.

By: M. B. Synge (d.1939)

Great Englishwomen by M. B. Synge Great Englishwomen

Great Englishwomen is a collection of biographies of some of the greatest women in England’s history. Women who were leaders of their country in troubled times, women who were reformers in prison conditions, and those who sought improvement in the education and living conditions of the poor. Some were great painters, poets, and writers.

By: Nat Love (1854-1921)

The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Also Known As Deadwood Dick by Nat Love The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Also Known As Deadwood Dick

Nat Love was born a slave, emancipated into abject poverty, grew up riding the range as a cowboy and spent his maturity riding the rails as a Pullman Porter. For me, the most amazing thing about him is that despite the circumstances of his life, which included being owned like a farm animal solely because of the color of his skin and spending later decades living and working as an equal with white coworkers, he was an unrepentant racist! Convinced that the only good Indian was a dead one, and that...

By: Frank Lewis Dyer and Thomas Commerford Martin

Edison, His Life and Inventions by Frank Lewis Dyer and Thomas Commerford Martin Edison, His Life and Inventions

One of the most prolific and multi-talented geniuses the world has ever seen, Thomas Alva Edison's life is indeed an inspiration for each new generation. Today we live in a world that would not have been possible if not for several of his important inventions – the electric light bulb, the motion picture camera, electric power distribution, the phonograph, and a host of other things that we take for granted today. In fact, he still holds the world record for the maximum number of patents, numbering 1093 in all! Edison – His Life and Inventions by Frank Lewis Dyer and Thomas Commerford Martin, published in 1910 was in fact a biography commissioned by Edison himself...

By: Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797)

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African by Olaudah Equiano The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, written in 1789, is the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano. It discusses his time spent in slavery, serving primarily on galleys, documents his attempts at becoming an independent man through his study of the Bible, and his eventual success in gaining his own freedom and in business thereafter. The book contains an interesting discussion of slavery in West Africa and illustrates how the experience differs from the dehumanising slavery of the Americas...

By: Henry Fielding (1707-1754)

Book cover Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon

Sailing voyage from England to Portugal in the mid Eighteenth Century, by one of the premier humorists, satirists, novelists and playwrights of his age. It was to be his last work, as his failing health proved unable to persevere much longer after the voyage.

By: Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859)

Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas de Quincey Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

“Thou hast the keys of Paradise, O just, subtle, and mighty Opium!” Though apparently presenting the reader with a collage of poignant memories, temporal digressions and random anecdotes, the Confessions is a work of immense sophistication and certainly one of the most impressive and influential of all autobiographies. The work is of great appeal to the contemporary reader, displaying a nervous (postmodern?) self-awareness, a spiralling obsession with the enigmas of its own composition and significance...

By: Catharine Parr Traill (1802-1899)

The Backwoods of Canada by Catharine Parr Traill The Backwoods of Canada

The writer is as earnest in recommending ladies who belong to the higher class of settlers to cultivate all the mental resources of a superior education, as she is to induce them to discard all irrational and artificial wants and mere useless pursuits. She would willingly direct their attention to the natural history and botany of this new country, in which they will find a never-failing source of amusement and instruction, at once enlightening and elevating the mind, and serving to fill up the void left by the absence of those lighter feminine accomplishments, the practice of which are necessarily superseded by imperative domestic duties...

By: James Boswell (1740-1795)

The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell The Life of Samuel Johnson

Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson is widely considered to be the greatest English-language biography ever written. It was revolutionary in its efforts to represent Johnson as he was, celebrating his flaws as well as his genius, and in Boswell’s decision to represent Johnson primarily by quoting his writings and relating personal anecdotes rather than relying on matters of public record. From the time of its publication till now, The Life of Johnson has been one of the most popular and influential books ever written.

By: William Dean Howells (1837-1920)

My Mark Twain by William Dean Howells My Mark Twain

William Dean Howells (1837-1920) became fast friends with Mark Twain from the moment in 1869 when Twain strode into the office of The Atlantic Monthly in Boston to thank Howells, then its assistant editor, for his favorable review of Innocents Abroad. When Howells became editor a few years later, The Atlantic Monthly began serializing many of Twain’s works, among them his non-fiction masterpiece, Life on the Mississippi. In My Mark Twain, Howells pens a literary memoir that includes such fascinating scenes as their meetings with former president Ulysses Grant who was then writing the classic autobiography that Twain would underwrite in the largest publishing deal until that time...

By: Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Book cover Case of Wagner / Nietzsche Contra Wagner / Selected Aphorisms

A collection of three of Nietzsche's writings concerning the music of Wagner. In particular, he relates Wagner's music as degenerate, unrefined and unintelligent and relates it to a gradually degenerating German culture and society. The translator provides a detailed introduction.

By: Richard Jefferies (1848-1887)

The Gamekeeper at Home by Richard Jefferies The Gamekeeper at Home

Richard Jefferies (1848 – 1887) was born and spent his childhood on a farm at Coate,Wiltshire. He joined the ‘Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard’ in 1868 and also started to write articles and pamphlets on various agricultural issues and local history topics. He is best known for his depiction of English rural life in essays, books of natural history, and novels. This classic of English nature writing gives an idea of the life of a gamekeeper in southern England in the second half of the nineteenth century.

By: Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798)

The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova by Giacomo Casanova The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova

This is the first of five volumes. – Giacomo Casanova (1725 in Venice – 1798 in Dux, Bohemia, now Duchcov, Czech Republic) was a famous Venetian adventurer, writer, and womanizer. He used charm, guile, threats, intimidation, and aggression, when necessary, to conquer women, sometimes leaving behind children or debt. In his autobiography Histoire de ma vie (Story of My Life), regarded as one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century, he mentions 122 women with whom he had sex...

By: Peter Abelard (1079-1142)

The Story of My Misfortunes by Peter Abelard The Story of My Misfortunes

Autobiographies from remote historical periods can be especially fascinating. Modes of self-presentation vary greatly across the centuries, as of course does the very concept of Self. Peter Abelard, the medieval philosopher and composer, here gives a concise but vivid survey of his notoriously calamitous life. The work is couched in the form of a letter to an afflicted friend. Abelard’s abrasively competitive, often arrogant personality emerges at once in the brief Foreword, where he informs his correspondent: “(I)n comparing your sorrows with mine, you may discover that yours are in truth nought.. and so shall you come to bear them the more easily.”

By: Princess Der Ling

Two Years in the Forbidden City by Princess Der Ling Two Years in the Forbidden City

THE author of the following narrative has peculiar qualifications for her task. She is a daughter of Lord Yu Keng, a member of the Manchu White Banner Corps, and one of the most advanced and progressive Chinese officials of his generation. she became First Lady-in-Waiting to the Empress Dowager, and while serving at the Court in that capacity she received the impressions which provide the subject-matter of this book. Her opportunity to observe and estimate the characteristics of the remarkable woman who ruled China for so long was unique, and her narrative throws a new light on one of the most extraordinary personalities of modern times...

By: Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (c75 - c160 AD)

The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus The Lives of the Twelve Caesars

The Twelve Caesars is a set of twelve biographies of Julius Caesar and the first 11 emperors of the Roman Empire. The work was written in 121 during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, while Suetonius was Hadrian’s personal secretary. On the Life of the Caesars concentrates on the acts and personalities of the Julio-Claudians and their immediate successors. Together with Tacitus’ Annals, this work is a major source for the historical details in Robert Graves’ novels “I Claudius” and “Claudius the God”.

By: Thomas Carlyle

Early Kings of Norway by Thomas Carlyle Early Kings of Norway

“The Icelanders, in their long winter, had a great habit of writing; and were, and still are, excellent in penmanship. It is to this fact, that any little history there is of the Norse Kings and their old tragedies, crimes and heroisms, is almost all due. The Icelanders, it seems, not only made beautiful letters on their paper or parchment, but were laudably observant and desirous of accuracy; and have left us such a collection of narratives (Sagas, literally “Says”) as, for quantity and quality, is unexampled among rude nations...

By: Leander Stillwell (1843-1934)

The Story of a Common Soldier of Army Life in the Civil War, 1861-1865 by Leander Stillwell The Story of a Common Soldier of Army Life in the Civil War, 1861-1865

Leander Stillwell was an 18-year-old Illinois farm boy, living with his family in a log cabin, when the U.S. Civil War broke out. Stillwell felt a duty “to help save the Nation;” but, as with many other young men, his Patriotism was tinged with bravura: “the idea of staying at home and turning over senseless clods on the farm with the cannon thundering so close at hand . . . was simply intolerable.” Stillwell volunteered for the 61st Illinois Infantry in January 1861. His youthful enthusiasm for the soldier’s life was soon tempered at Shiloh, where he first “saw a gun fired in anger,” and “saw a man die a violent death...

By: Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Army Life in a Black Regiment by Thomas Wentworth Higginson Army Life in a Black Regiment

These pages record some of the adventures of the First South Carolina Volunteers, the first slave regiment mustered into the service of the United States during the late civil war. It was, indeed, the first colored regiment of any kind so mustered, except a portion of the troops raised by Major-General Butler at New Orleans. These scarcely belonged to the same class, however, being recruited from the free colored population of that city, a comparatively self-reliant and educated race. (From the text)

By: Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington Up From Slavery

Up From Slavery is the 1901 autobiography of Booker T. Washington detailing his slow and steady rise from a slave child during the Civil War, to the difficulties and obstacles he overcame to get an education at the new Hampton University, to his work establishing vocational schools—most notably the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama—to help black people and other disadvantaged minorities learn useful, marketable skills and work to pull themselves, as a race, up by the bootstraps. He reflects on the generosity of both teachers and philanthropists who helped in educating blacks and native Americans...

By: James Edward Austen-Leigh (1798-1874)

Memoir of Jane Austen by James Edward Austen-Leigh Memoir of Jane Austen

“The Memoir of my Aunt, Jane Austen, has been received with more favour than I had ventured to expect. The notices taken of it in the periodical press, as well as letters addressed to me by many with whom I am not personally acquainted, show that an unabated interest is still taken in every particular that can be told about her. I am thus encouraged not only to offer a Second Edition of the Memoir, but also to enlarge it with some additional matter which I might have scrupled to intrude on the public if they had not thus seemed to call for it...

By: John Burroughs (1837-1921)

John James Audubon by John Burroughs John James Audubon

Audubon’s life naturally divides itself into three periods: his youth, which was on the whole a gay and happy one, and which lasted till the time of his marriage at the age of twenty-eight; his business career which followed, lasting ten or more years, and consisting mainly in getting rid of the fortune his father had left him; and his career as an ornithologist which, though attended with great hardships and privations, brought him much happiness and, long before the end, substantial pecuniary rewards.

By: Eva March Tappan (1854-1930)

Heroes of the Middle Ages by Eva March Tappan Heroes of the Middle Ages

“The object of this book is to bring together stories of the most important movements in the history of Europe during the Middle Ages, and to make familiar the names of the most important figures in those scenes. I have endeavoured to weave a tapestry in which, with due colour, may be traced the history of the rise and fall of the various nationalities and the circumstances and mode of life of each—in short, to give the young reader an approximation to the background for the study of his country’s history which a wide reading gives to a man.”

By: Benvenuto Cellini ((1500-1571))

The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini by Benvenuto Cellini The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini

Cellini’s autobiographical memoirs, which he began writing in Florence in 1558, give a detailed account of his singular career, as well as his loves, hatreds, passions, and delights, written in an energetic, direct, and racy style. They show a great self-regard and self-assertion, sometimes running into extravagances which are impossible to credit. He even writes in a complacent way of how he contemplated his murders before carrying them out. He writes of his time in Paris: Parts of his tale recount...

By: William H. Hudson (1841-1922)

Far Away and Long Ago by William H. Hudson Far Away and Long Ago

William Henry Hudson (August 1841 – 1922) was an author, naturalist and ornithologist. Hudson was born of U.S. parents living in the Quilmes Partido in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, where he spent his youth studying the local flora and fauna and observing both natural and human dramas on what was then a lawless frontier. ‘Far Away and Long Ago’ is a classic memoir of a boy, fascinated by nature, on the Pampas in the 19th century.

By: Noah Davis (b. 1804)

A Narrative of the Life of Rev. Noah Davis, A Colored Man by Noah Davis A Narrative of the Life of Rev. Noah Davis, A Colored Man

The object of the writer, in preparing this account of himself, is to RAISE SUFFICIENT MEANS TO FREE HIS LAST TWO CHILDREN FROM SLAVERY. Having already, within twelve years past, purchased himself, his wife, and five of his children, at a cost, altogether, of over four thousand dollars, he now earnestly desires a humane and Christian public to AID HIM IN THE SALE OF THIS BOOK, for the purpose of finishing the task in which he has so long and anxiously labored. God has blessed him in an extraordinary...

By: Lytton Strachey (1880-1932)

Queen Victoria by Lytton Strachey Queen Victoria

Lytton Strachey’s first great success, and his most famous achievement, was “Eminent Victorians” (1918), a collection of four short biographies of Victorian heroes. With a dry wit, he exposed the human failings of his subjects and what he saw as the hypocrisy at the centre of Victorian morality. This work was followed in the same style by “Queen Victoria” (1921).

By: Giles Lytton Strachey (1880-1932)

Book cover Eminent Victorians

On Modern Library's list of 100 Best Non-Fiction books, "Eminent Victorians" marked an epoch in the art of biography; it also helped to crack the old myths of high Victorianism and to usher in a new spirit by which chauvinism, hypocrisy and the stiff upper lip were debunked. In it, Strachey cleverly exposes the self-seeking ambitions of Cardinal Manning and the manipulative, neurotic Florence Nightingale; and in his essays on Dr Arnold and General Gordon, his quarries are not only his subjects but also the public-school system and the whole structure of nineteenth-century liberal values.

By: Amy Steedman

In  God's Garden by Amy Steedman In God's Garden

“In this book you will not find the stories of all God’s saints. I have gathered a few together, just as one gathers a little posy from a garden full of roses. But the stories I have chosen to tell are those that I hope children will love best to hear.” (excerpt from In God’s Garden by Amy Steedman)

Book cover Knights of Art - Stories of the Italian Painters

A children's version of the Lives of Artists by Vassari with many Illustrations. Of course we won't be able to show the paintings but the descriptions and the anecdotes are interesting and may lead a child to further interest.

By: Irwin Leslie Gordon (1888-1954)

Who Was Who: 5000 BC – 1914 by Irwin Leslie Gordon Who Was Who: 5000 BC – 1914

A short, humorous biography of famous people from 5000 BC to 1914. — S. McGaughey From the Introduction, “The editor begs leave to inform the public that only persons who can produce proper evidence of their demise will be admitted to Who Was Who. Press Agent notices or complimentary comments are absolutely excluded, and those offering to pay for the insertion of names will be prosecuted. As persons become eligible they will be included without solicitation, while the pages will be expurgated of others should good luck warrant.”

By: Mary A. Hamilton

The Story of Abraham Lincoln by Mary A. Hamilton The Story of Abraham Lincoln

In this biography for young adults, Mary A. Hamilton gives a British person’s perspective on the 16th President of the United States. A glowing tribute to “Honest Abe”, the author traces Lincoln’s ancestral roots and recounts his birth in Kentucky, his youth in Indiana, his adult life in Illinois and his years in the White House. She also provides a good background on the causes and course of the American Civil War. Hamilton is not always historically precise. For example, she erroneously names Jefferson Davis as the Southern Democratic candidate for president running against Lincoln and Douglas in 1860 rather than John C...

By: Albert Bigelow Pain

The Boys' Life of Mark Twain by Albert Bigelow Pain The Boys' Life of Mark Twain

Albert Bigelow Paine was Samuel Langhorne Clemens’ (Mark Twain’s) biographer. He lived with Twain, collecting ideas and material for a biography, for a few years before Twain’s death in 1910. Six years later Paine published this “story of a man who made the world laugh and love him.” For those who have read or listened to Mark Twain’s works, Paine’s work is an invaluable resource to better understand Twain, the stories behind his stories and his life with those he loved and with whom he worked.

By: Sir Wilfred Grenfell (1865-1940)

Adrift on an Ice-Pan by Sir Wilfred Grenfell Adrift on an Ice-Pan

This autobiographical work describes the author’s harrowing experience caught on a small drifting piece of ice, while crossing a frozen bay by dog team on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland.

By: John George Nicolay

A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln by John George Nicolay A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln

John G. Nicolay was Abraham Lincoln’s private White House secretary. With assistant secretary, John Hay, he wrote the two volume definitive biography of Lincoln, “Abraham Lincoln, a Biography.” Although this is a condensation by Nicolay of that biography, it is still a sizable work and a fairly thorough treatment of the life of the 16th president of the United States.

By: Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924)

Hero Tales from American History by Henry Cabot Lodge Hero Tales from American History

Its purpose … is to tell in simple fashion the story of some Americans who showed that they knew how to live and how to die; who proved their truth by their endeavor; and who joined to the stern and manly qualities which are essential to the well-being of a masterful race the virtues of gentleness, of patriotism, and of lofty adherence to an ideal. It is a good thing for all Americans … to remember the men who have given their lives in war and peace to the service of their fellow-countrymen, and to keep in mind the feats of daring and personal prowess done in time past by some of the many champions of the nation in the various crises of her history.

By: Isabella L. Bird (1831-1904)

A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella L. Bird A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

Isabella Bird began travelling while in her early twenties to help alleviate illness that had plagued her since childhood. She was a single woman in her early forties when she made her treck through the Rocky Mountains. A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains details this fascinating account of her travels through a series of letters written to her sister, Henrietta. These letters are filled with beautiful, vivid descriptions of the scenery, the people she encountered, the way of life, and a mountain man named Jim Nugent, that was as rough as they come, but a complete gentleman with Ms...


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