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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)

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...

The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain The Innocents Abroad

When you dive into Mark Twain’s (Samuel Clemens’) The Innocents Abroad, you have to be ready to learn more about the unadorned, ungilded reality of 19th century “touring” than you might think you want to learn. This is a tough, literary journey. It was tough for Twain and his fellow “pilgrims”, both religious and otherwise. They set out, on a June day in 1867, to visit major tourist sites in Europe and the near east, including Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, “the Holy Land”, and Egypt...

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...

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Volumes 1 & 2 by Mark Twain Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, Volumes 1 & 2

Mark Twain’s work on Joan of Arc is titled in full “Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, by the Sieur Louis de Conte.” De Conte is identified as Joan’s page and secretary. For those who’ve always wanted to “get behind” the Joan of Arc story and to better understand just what happened, Twain’s narrative makes the story personal and very accessible. The work is fictionally presented as a translation from the manuscript by Jean Francois Alden, or, in the words of the published book, “Freely Translated out of the Ancient French into Modern English from the Original Unpublished Manuscript in the National Archives of France...

By: Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

American Notes for General Circulation by Charles Dickens American Notes for General Circulation

American Notes for General Circulation is a travelogue by Charles Dickens detailing his trip to North America from January to June, 1842. While there he acted as a critical observer of these societies almost as if returning a status report on their progress. This can be compared to the style of his Pictures from Italy written four years later, where he wrote far more like a tourist. His American journey was also an inspiration for his novel Martin Chuzzlewit.

The Uncommercial Traveller by Charles Dickens The Uncommercial Traveller

The Uncommercial Traveller is a collection of literary sketches and reminiscences written by Charles Dickens. In 1859 Dickens founded a new journal called All the Year Round and the Uncommercial Traveller articles would be among his main contributions. He seems to have chosen the title and persona of the Uncommercial Traveller as a result of a speech he gave on the 22 December 1859 to the Commercial Travellers' School London in his role as honorary chairman and treasurer. The persona sits well with a writer who liked to travel, not only as a tourist, but also to research and report what he found; visiting Europe, America and giving book readings throughout Britain...

By: Robert Louis Stevenson

The Amateur Emigrant by Robert Louis Stevenson The Amateur Emigrant

In July 1879, Robert Louis Stevenson left Scotland to meet his future wife in her native California. Leaving by ship from Glasgow, Scotland, he determined to travel in steerage class to see how the working classes fared. At the last minute he was convinced by friends to purchase a ticket one grade above the lowest price, for which he was later thankful after seeing the conditions in steerage, but he still lived among the ‘lower’ classes. His comments on the experience make interesting reading. His father however was so shocked at the thought of his son associating with people ‘beneath him’ that the work was not published for a number of years,

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.

The Cruise of the Snark by Jack London The Cruise of the Snark

The Cruise of the Snark (1913) is a memoir of Jack and Charmian London’s 1907-1909 voyage across the Pacific. His descriptions of “surf-riding”, which he dubbed a “royal sport”, helped introduce it to and popularize it with the mainland. London writes: Through the white crest of a breaker suddenly appears a dark figure, erect, a man-fish or a sea-god, on the very forward face of the crest where the top falls over and down, driving in toward shore, buried to his loins in smoking spray, caught up by the sea and flung landward, bodily, a quarter of a mile...

The People of the Abyss by Jack London The People of the Abyss

Jack London lived for a time within the grim and grimy world of the East End of London, where half a million people scraped together hardly enough on which to survive. Even if they were able to work, they were paid only enough to allow them a pitiful existence. He grew to know and empathise with these forgotten (or ignored) people as he spoke with them and tasted the workhouse, life on the streets, … and the food, which was cheap, barely nutritious, and foul.He writes about his experiences in...

Book cover Road

Jack London credited his skill of story-telling to the days he spent as a hobo learning to fabricate tales to get meals from sympathetic strangers. In The Road, he relates the tales and memories of his days on the hobo road, including how the hobos would elude train crews and his travels with Kelly’s Army.

By: Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932)

The Golden Age by Kenneth Grahame The Golden Age

If you've loved and cherished The Wind in The Willows, you'll be delighted to read The Golden Age. In this book of reminiscences by Kenneth Grahame, the much loved creator of Winnie The Pooh, readers are granted an insight into the writer's childhood. The opening lines of the Prologue provide a poignant reminder of Grahame's childhood. When he was just five, his mother died in childbirth and his father who had a long standing problem with alcoholism consigned his four children, including the newborn baby, to the care of their grandmother in Berkshire...

By: Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870)

Marguerite de Valois by Alexandre Dumas Marguerite de Valois

A historical fiction novel set in Paris (1572) during Charles IX's reign and the French Wars of Religion. Marguerite de Valois, daughter of deceased Henry II, is the novel's protagonist set against the infamous schemes of the Catholic power player, Catherine de Medici.

Book cover Chicot the Jester

This sequel to Dumas' “Marguerite de Valois” begins four years after the sudden death of King Charles IX and succession of his brother Henry III. The reign of King Henry III was plagued with rebellion and political intrigue due to the War of the Three Henries, where his regency was challenged by King Henry of Navarre (leader of the Huguenots) and Henry I, Duke of Guise (leader of the Catholic League). Dumas weaves two main storylines through this turbulent backdrop: one of the love ignited between le Comte de Bussy and la Dame de Monsoreau, and another of the friendship between King Henry III and his truly unique jester, Chicot (Jean-Antoine d'Anglerais).

By: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

De Profundis by Oscar Wilde De Profundis

This is a letter written from prison in 1897 by Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas, in which he recounts how he came to be in prison and charts his spiritual development.

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)

Book cover My Lady Ludlow

This novella by the acclaimed Elizabeth Gaskell follows the reminiscences and life of aristocratic Lady Ludlow, told through the eyes of one of her charges, the young Margaret Dawson. Lady Ludlow epitomizes the unwillingness of the old English gentry to accept the progression of social reform and technology, such as education for the poor and religious leniency. She reminisces about her friends in the French revolution and tries to protect and guide the numerous young ladies she has taken under her care.

By: Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

Fighting France, from Dunkerque to Belfort by Edith Wharton Fighting France, from Dunkerque to Belfort

American novelist Edith Wharton was living in Paris when World War I broke out in 1914. She obtained permission to visit sites behind the lines, including hospitals, ravaged villages, and trenches. Fighting France records her travels along the front in 1914 and 1915, and celebrates the indomitable spirit of the French people.

By: Henry James (1843-1916)

A Small Boy and Others by Henry James A Small Boy and Others

A Small Boy and Others is a book of autobiography by Henry James published in 1913. The book covers James’s earliest years and discusses his intellectually active family, his intermittent schooling, and his first trips to Europe.

By: Walt Whitman

Specimen Days by Walt Whitman Specimen Days

Specimen Days is essentially the great American poet Walt Whitman’s scrap book. It documents most of his life’s adventures, espeically his experience serving as a nurse during the Civil War and travelling around America.

The Wound Dresser by Walt Whitman The Wound Dresser

The Wound Dresser is a series of letters written from the hospitals in Washington by Walt Whitman during the War of the Rebellion to The New York Times, the Brooklyn Eagle and his mother, edited by Richard Maurice Burke, M.D., one of Whitman's literary executors.

By: Edith Nesbit (1858-1924)

Book cover My School Days

A short memoir about the author's school days, serialised in The Girl's Own Paper from October 1896 to September 1897. It includes stories about teachers, fellow pupils, the things that scared her most as a child (and even as an adult) and a vivid account of the best summer of her childhood.Summary by Cori Samuel.

By: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau Confessions

Considered to mark the emergence of a new literary form, the unvarnished autobiography, Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau was first published in 1782, four years after his death. The philosopher and educationist whose political philosophy is credited with having inspired the French Revolution, Rousseau was a man of immense wit, talent and depth of thinking. His skill in art, music, literature and cooking along with his magnificent body of work in philosophy, politics, education and sociology have made him a legendary figure...

By: Wilkie Collins (1824-1889)

Book cover Rogue's Life

"[T]he story offers the faithful reflection of a very happy time in my past life. It was written at Paris, when I had Charles Dickens for a near neighbor and a daily companion, and when my leisure hours were joyously passed with many other friends, all associated with literature and art, of whom the admirable comedian, Regnier, is now the only survivor. The revising of these pages has been to me a melancholy task. I can only hope that they may cheer the sad moments of others. The Rogue may surely claim two merits, at least, in the eyes of the new generation—he is never serious for two moments together; and he "doesn't take long to read." W. C."

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

By: Washington Irving (1783-1859)

Book cover Old Christmas: From the Sketch Book of Washington Irving

Washington Irving's Old Christmas tells of an American's travels through England during the Christmas season. Through a chance meeting with an old friend he is able to experience Christmas in a stately manor house. Through his eyes as a houseguest he glimpses the uniquely British customs and celebrations of Christmas as it would have been experienced during the Middle Ages, rather than in the early 19th century.

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...


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