Hist/GWST 214/314
Winter, 2004



Women's Autobiographies

Europe & America, 17th-20th centuries



Written by Herself: Autobiographies of American Women, An Anthology, ed. Jill Kerr Conway (Vintage, 1992).  PS647.W6 W75 1992

Written by Herself.  Vol. 2: Women's Memoirs from Britain, Africa, Asia, and the United States, ed. Jill Ker Conway (New York : Vintage Books, 1996).  PS647.W6 W752 1996

Strong-Minded Women and Other Lost Voices from Nineteenth-Century England, ed. Janet Horowitz Murray (NY: Pantheon, 1982)

These Modern Women: Autobiographical Essays from the Twenties, ed. Elaine Showalter. (New York: Feminist Press and CUNY, 1989).  Seventeen brief autobiographical essays printed in The Nation in 1926-27, with comments at the end by three psychologists of the time.  Useful introductory essay by Showalter.  Knox has these issues of The Nation.  (PSG has book)


Individual Autobiographies (Authors born before 1910)

Addams, Jane (1860-1935). Twenty Years at Hull House (1910). HV4196 .C4H7 1910. U.S. social reformer.

Anderson, Marian (b. 1902). My Lord, What a Morning: An Autobiography (1956).  African American singer.

Antin, Mary (1881-1949).  From Plotzk to Boston.  Jewish immigrant to U.S.; written when she was 13 years old.

______. The Promised Land: The Autobiography of a Russian Immigrant (1912) E69.5 .A66 1912  (See also Princeton University Press edition, 1985)

Baker, S. Josephine (1873-1945).  Fighting for Life (New York: Macmillan, 1939). American physician who significantly contributed to public health and child welfare in the U.S.

Balabanoff, Angelica (1878-1965). My Life As a Rebel (1938). (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973) 

Baum, Vicki.  (1888-1960) It Was All Quite Different: The Memoirs of Vicki Baum (NY: Funk and Wagnalls, 1964).  Austrian-born American novelist.

de Beauvoir, Simone (b. 1908).  Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (1959).  Grew up to be an extremely influential French feminist and intellectual.  PQ2603 .E362 Z523

______.  Prime of Life (1963) PQ2603 .E362 Z5153 1962b

______.  All Said and Done (1974) PQ2603 E362 Z52513 1974b

Brittain, Vera (1893-1970). Testament of Youth (a British woman living through World War I).  D640 .B715 1933a.  Two other volumes of her memoir follow: Testament of Friendship (about her friendship with Winifred Holtby; PSG has copy) and Testament of Experience (covering the years 1925-1950) PR6003.R385 Z477

Buck, Pearl (1892-1973). My Several Worlds: A Personal Record (NY: John Day, 1954).  American Nobel Prize author noted for her novels of life in China, where she lived the first half of her life.  PS3503 .U198 Z5

Butler, Josephine G (1828-1906). Autobiography (London, 1911).  British social reformer, especially noted for her work on the reform of prostitution. 

Catherine the Great (1729-1796). The Memoirs of Catherine the Great, ed. Dominique Maroger, trans. Moura Budbert (NY: Collier Books, 1961). DK 170 .A262. Empress of Russia.

Cohen, Rose (1880-1925). Out of the Shadow: A Russian Jewish Girlhood on the Lower East Side (1918)  F128.9 .J5C673 1995

Day, Dorothy. The Long Loneliness (NY: Harper and Row, 1952). Liberal Catholic activist and journalist.  BX 4668 .D32; also BX 4668 .D3 A33 1981

Delany, Sarah (1889-1999), and A.  Elizabeth Delany (1891-1995), with Amy Hill Hearth. Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (NY: Kodansha International, 1993).  Sarah: First African-American home economics teacher in white N.Y. schools and an author.  Bessie: an author. 

Durant, Ariel (b. 1898 as Ida Kaufman) and Will. A Dual Autobiography (1977). Husband-wife team who wrote popular philosophy and history.  D15 .D87A33

Ferber, Edna (1887-1968). A Peculiar Treasure (1939). Pulitzer Prize winning author who wrote about midwestern American life. 813 F346XA

Foakes, Grace (b. 1901). My Part of the River (London: Futura, 1976).  Working-class British woman.

Foote, Julia (1823-1900). A Brand Plucked from the Fire: An Autobiographical Sketch by Mrs. Julia A. J. Foote, in Sisters of the Spirit: Three Black Women's Autobiographies of the Nineteenth Century, 161-232.  Foote was a free black woman and a preacher.  BV3780 .S57 1986.  Longer version in Spiritual Narratives BR1713 .S65 1988

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins (1860-1935). The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An Autobiography (1935).  American feminist, lecturer, writer and publisher; a leading theorist of the women's movement; author of The Yellow Wallpaper and Women and Economics. PS1744 .G57Z5 1972

Glasgow, Ellen (b. 1873). The Woman Within (NY: Harcourt Brace, 1954)

Glückel of Hameln (1646-1724). The Memoirs of Glückel of Hameln. A 17th-century Jewish woman in Germany. DS 135 .G5 H33813 1977

Goldman, Emma (1869-1940). Living My Life, 2 vols. (1931). Early 20th century immigrant; became a prominent anarchist. HX843 .G6 1970C

Halkett, Anne (1622-1699). The Autobiography of Anne, Lady Halkett, ed. John Gough Nichols (Westminster: Camden Society, 1875).  Royalist author writing in the context of the English Revolution.  DA 447 .A3 L6

Hellman, Lillian (b. 1905). An Unfinished Woman: A Memoir (1969). PS 3515 E343Z5.  American playwright.  Followed by Scoundrel Time (1973) PS 3515 .E343 Z499 and Pentimento (1976) PS 3515 .E343 Z498.

Hepburn, Katharine (b. 1909). Me (NY: Random House, 1991)

Hopkins, Sarah Winnemucca (1844?-1891). Life among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims (1883)  E99 .P2H7  (University of Nevada Press, $14.95, ISBN0874172529)

Hurst, Fannie (1889-1968). Anatomy of Me: A Wonderer in Search of Herself  (1958)

Hurston, Zora Neale (1891-1960). Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography (1942). PS3515 .U789Z5.  African-American anthropologist.

Jacobs, Harriet (1813-1897). Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself (Harvard University Press). A 19th-century slave narrative. E444.J17 A3 2000

Keckley, Elizabeth (1824-1907). Behind the Scenes; or Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House (1868). E457.15 .K26 1988

Keller, Helen (1880-1968). The Story of My Life (1902). (NY: Penguin, 1988).  Blind and deaf American author.

Kohut, Rebekah Bettelheim (b. 1864 in Hungary; d. 1951). My Portion: An Autobiography (1925).  Jewish activist responsible for developing Jewish women's organizations.

______.  More Yesterdays: An Autobiography(1925-1949) (1950)

Kollontai, Alexandra (1872-1952). The Autobiography of a Sexually Emancipated Communist Woman (1926) (PSG has copy)

Leduc, Violette (1907-1972). La Bâtarde. PQ2623 .E3657 B33

Lee, Jarena (b. 1783). The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee in Sisters of the Spirit: Three Black Women's Autobiographies of the Nineteenth Century, pp. 25-48.  Lee was a free black woman and a preacher.  BV3780 .S57 1986.  Longer version (including an account of her preaching to slaves) in Spiritual Narratives BR1713 .S65 1988

Leighton, Caroline. Life at Puget Sound, with Sketches of Travel in Washington Territory, British Columbia, Oregon, and California (1865-1881) (1884)

Lindbergh, Anne Morrow (b. 1906). Gift from the Sea (NY: Random House, 1955) BD 435 .L32 1991

Markham, Beryl (b. 1902) West with the Night (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1983; first. pub. 1942) A pilot, horsetrainer, writer, and adventurer.  TL540 .M345 A3 1983

Martineau, Harriet (1802-1876). Harriet Martineau's Autobiography, ed. Maria Weston (Boston, 1877). English intellectual novelist of history and economics.  HQ 1597 .M375 1985

Mead, Margaret (1901-1978). Blackberry Winter (1972).  Prominent American  anthropologist.  301.2 M47XA

Meysenbug, Malwida von (1816-1903). Memoirs: Rebel in Bombazine, trans. Elsa von Meysenbug Lyons, ed. Mildred Adam (NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1936) 

Michel, Louise (1830-1905). The Red Virgin: Memoirs of Louise Michel, ed. and trans. Bullitt Lowry and Elizabeth Ellington Gunter (University of Alabama Press, 1981).  French anarchist and liberal socialist; participant in the Paris Commune, 1871.  DC 342.8 .M64 A313

Mitchell, Hannah.  The Hard Way Up: The Autobiography of Hannah Mitchell, Suffragette and Rebel, ed. Geoffrey Mitchel (London: Virago, 1977)

Mogador, Céleste (1824-1909), Memoirs of a Courtesan in Nineteenth-Century Paris, trans. Monique Fleury Nagem (University of Nebraska Press, 2001) PN2538.C5 A313 2001

Mother Jones (1843?-1930). The Autobiography of Mother Jones (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1972). Union labor organizer and one of the founders of the Social Democratic Party.  331.092 J78

Mountain Wolf Woman (1884-1960), Mountain Wolf Woman, Sister of Crashing Thunder; The Autobiography of a Winnebago Indian.  Univ. of Michigan, 1961. E90 .M6 A3

Mourning Dove (1888-1936).  Mourning Dove: A Salishan Autobiography, ed. Jay Miller (University of Nebraska Press, 1990).  Life at the turn of the 20th-century in the northwest, by a woman who was brought up in traditional native America culture but was also educated in and worked in white society. E99.S21 M68 1990

Oliphant, Margaret (1828-1897).  The Autobiography and Letters of Mrs. M. O. W. Oliphant, ed. Mrs. Harry Coghill (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1899)

Ossoli, Margaret Fuller (1810-1850). Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli, 2 vols. (Boston: Phillips, Sampson, 1852).  American critic, teacher, and social reformer.

Pankhurst, Emmeline (1858-1928). My Own Story (London: E. Nash, 1914).  Prominent British suffragist.  JN979 .P26 1985

Pilkington, Laetitia. Memoirs of Mrs. Laetitia Pilkington, 1712-1750, Written by Herself (London, 1928)

Pesotta, Rose (b. 1896 in Russia). Bread upon the Waters (1944).  A labor organizer.  HB8072 .P375 1987

Qoyawayma, Polingqysi (Elizabeth Q. White).  No Turning Back; a true account of a Hopi Indian girl's struggle to bridge the gap between the world of her people and the world of the white man (University of New Mexico Pres, 1964). E90 .Q6 A3

Rich, Mary.  The Autobiography of Mary Rich, Countess of Warwick, vol. XXII, ed. Thomas Crofton Croker (London: Percy Society, 1848). 

Roosevelt, Eleanor (1884-1962). This Is My Story (1937)  E807.1 .R44; This I Remember (1949) E807.1 R428 Prominent social & political activist ; wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Rowlandson, Mrs. Mary. A True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (1682), in Journeys in New Worlds: Early American Women's Narratives, ed. William L. Andrews (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1990).  E187.5 .J68 1990.  (Also in Classic American Autobiographies, CT214.C53 1992)

Sand, George (1804-1876). The Story of My Life: The Autobiography of George Sand.  Knox has an abridged version:  My Life, PQ 2412 .A2 E5 a979.  Nineteenth-century French novelist.

Sanger, Margaret (1879-1966). Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography (1938).  HQ 764 .S3 A3. American birth control activist.

Sarraute, Nathalie (b. 1900). Childhood, trans. Barbara Wright. (NY: G. Brazilier, 1983) PQ2637 .A783 Z46413 1984

Shaw, Anna Howard (1847-1919). The Story of a Pioneer (1915) American preacher, temperance lecturer, and suffrragist. JK1899.S6 A3

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady (1815-1902). Eighty Years and More (1815-1897): Reminiscences of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1898).  [on order at Knox]

Stein, Edith (1892-9142). Life in a Jewish Family, vol. 1 of the Collected Works of Edith Stein (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1986). PSG has copy.  Very interesting for what it leaves out—the author's conversion to Catholicism.  She died in Auschwitz and has since been declared a saint by the church.  [See critical essay in Hampl, I Could Tell You Stories.  BX 4705 .S814 L5]

Stein, Gertrude (1874-1946). The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933).  The life of Stein, a prominent American author who lived much of her life in Europe, as though written by her companion Alice B. Toklas.  PS3537 .T323Z5 1933

Tarbell, Ida (1857-1944). All in the Day's Work:  An Autobiography (1939).  Social reformer and "muckraking" journalist; Knox graduate.  813 .T179 XT

Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897).  Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. A woman very influential on 20th-century Catholic spirituality.  BX4700 .T5A5 1976

Thornton, Alice (1627-1707). The Autobiography of Mrs. Alice Thornton, of East Newton Co., York.

Trupin, Sophie.  Dakota Diaspora: Memoirs of a Jewish Homesteader

Vigée-le-Brun, Elisabeth Louise (1755-1842). The Memoirs of Mme. Elisabeth Louise Vigée-le-Brun, 1755-1789, trans. Gerard Shelley. (London: John Hamilton, n.d.). Successful French painter.

Wald, Lillian (1867-1940). The House on Henry Street (1915); Windows on Henry Street (1937). 331.85 .W157.  Political and social reformer.

Watson, Rachel.  The Life of My Family, Or, the Log-House in the Wilderness, A True Story (1871)

Webb, Beatrice (1858-1943). My Apprenticeship (1926).  Prominent British socialist.

Wengeroff, Pauline (b. early 1830s). Rememberings: The World of a Russian-Jewish Woman in the Nineteenth Century DS135 .R95 W46 2000

Zitkala-Sä (Gertrude Bonnin).  "An Indian Teacher among Indians," "Impressions of an Indian Girlhood," "The School Days of an Indian Girl," "Why I Am a Pagan," (1900-1902) in Classic American Autobiographies. CT214.C53 1992


Recent Memoirs and Autobiographies  (Authors born 1910 and later)


N.B. Some of these are autobiographical novels, and sometimes it's difficult to distinguish  fiction from memoir.


Angelou, Maya (b. 1928).  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (NY: Random House, 1969).  African-American poet & writer. E185.97 .A56 A3 1970

Aubrac, Lucie (b. 1912).  Outwitting the Gestapo (University of Nebraska Press, 1993). A Catholic woman in the French resistance during WWII. D802.F8 A7913 1993

Bauman, Janina. Winter in the Morning : A Young Girl's Life in the Warsaw Ghetto and Beyond, 1939-1945 (NY: Free Press, 1986). DS135.P63 B383 1986

Bell, Susan.  Between Worlds: In Czechoslovakia, England, and America: A Memoir (Dutton, 1991).  A WWII girlhood. PSG has copy.

Bornstein, Kate (b. 1948). Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us (NY: Routledge, 1994).  Male-to-female transsexual. HQ77.9 .B67 1995

Cardinal, Marie. The Words to Say It: An Autobiographical Novel (1975), trans. Pat Goodheart (Cambridge, MA: VanVactor &Goodheart, 1983).  Narrative of a psychoanalysis. PQ2663 .A7 M613 1983

Carey, Lorene. Black Ice (NY: Random House, 1991).  Story of a young black girl's experience at an elite prep school. F44 .C7 C44 1991

Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street (NY: Random House, 1989) PS 3553.178 .H68 1988

Conway, Jill Kerr (b. 1934). The Road from Coorain (NY: Vintage Books, 1989).  Growing up in the outback of Australia and Sydney, by a woman who later became president of Smith College (Massachusetts).  HQ1397 .C66 1989

______.  True North.  Continuation of Conway's story, from her beginning graduate school in the U.S. to being named president of Smith.

Crowdog, Marg. Lakota Woman (NY: G. Weidenfeld, 1990) E99 .D1 M425 1990

Davis, Angela (b. 1944). Angela Davis: An Autobiography  (NY: International Publisher, 1988).

Duras, Marguerite (b. 1914), The War: A Memoir (NY: Pantheon, 1986). PQ2607 .U8245 A62613 1986b

         E185.97.D23 A3 1988.  Philosopher and black activist.

Ehrlich, Elizabeth.  Miriam's Kitchen: A Memoir (Penguin, 1998).  Food, gender, generations, and Jewish identity. PSG has copy.

Frame, Janet. To the is-land: An Autobiography (NY:  G. Braziller, 1992). PR9639.3 .F7Z477 1982

Ginsburg, Debra. Waiting: True Confessions of a Waitress (Perennial, 2001).  Your restaurant experience may never be the same again.

Giovanni, Nikki. Gemini: An Extended Autobiographical Statement on My First Tewnty-Five Years of Being a Black Poet (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971)  PS 3557 .I55 Z5 1972

Gornick, Vivian. Fierce Attachments (NY: Farray, Straus & Giroux, 1987). HQ755.85 .G67 1988.  Growing up in a Bronx tenement in the 1940s and beyond; much on relationship between Gornick and her mother. Background of eastern European Jewish immigration to the U.S.

Graham, Katherine (b. 1917) A Personal History (Knopf, 1997.  By the woman who eventually became editor-in-chief of the Washington Post, with the first half the book on her life as daughter and wife. Z473.G7 A3 1997

Greenberg, Joanne. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (Hold, Rinehart & Winston, 1964). Autobiographical novel about time in a mental institution. PS3557.R378 I5 1964

Hampl, Patricia. A Romantic Education (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981).  A midwestern childhood, coming of age in a time of protest, and a journey to Prague, the place of her family's origin. 1992 edition has an update based on a 1991 return trip to Prague. DB2614 .H35 1981

______. Virgin Time: In Search of the Contemplative Life. Coming to terms with her Catholic upbringing.  (PSG has copy).

Hansberry, Lorraine. To Be Young, Gifted, and Black (Prentice-Hall, 1969).  By the playwright who wrote A Raisin in the Sun. PS3515.A515 Z8

Heilbrun, Carolyn. The Last Gift of Time (Ballantine, 1998) Prominent feminist scholar reflects on life in her 60s, after retirement.

Hellman, Lillian. An Unfinished Woman (Boston: Little, Brown, 1969).  First in a trilogy of memoirs by this prominent American playwright. Focuses on her upbringing in New Orleans and her adult relationships, including with the mystery writer Dashiell Hammett. PS3515.E343 Z5

______. Pentimento (Boston: Little, Brown, 1976) PS3515.E343 Z498

______. Scoundrel Time (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973). Focuses on the McCarthy era (1950s) and its impact on her circle. PS3515.E343 Z499

Holiday, Billie, with William F. Dufty. Lady Sings the Blues (NY: Doubleday, 1956). African-American blues singer. ML420.H58 A3 1984

Jameson, Kay Redfield. An Unquiet Mind (NY: Knopf, 1995). On growing up with autism.

Kaplan, Alice. French Lessons. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993).  A memoir about language learning.

Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts (NY: Knopf, 1976). Chinese-American. CT275.K5764 A33 1989

Lessing, Doris (b. 1919). The Memoirs of a Survivor (London: Octagon, 1974). 826 L639, Om

Lorde, Audre. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (Crossing Press, 1982). African-American poet; lesbian. PS3562.O75 Z23 1982b

Mairs, Nancy. Carnal Acts (NY: Harper & Row, 1990) (and several other collections of autobiographical essays).  Mairs deals with a wide variety of essays, including disability (her own from multiple sclerosis). PS3563.A386 Z464 1990

McCarthy, Mary. Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (NY: Harcourt Brace, 1957).  Memoir focused on the very difficult childhood of someone who became a leading American intellectual. PS3525.A1435 Z55 1993

McCloskey, Deirdre. Crossing: A Memoir (University of Chicago Press, 1999). A prominent economist; male-to-female transsexual. HQ77.8 M39 A3 1999

McDonnell, Jane. News from the Border.  A mother (and English professor at Carleton) writes about bringing up her autistic son.

McNaron, Toni. I Dwell in Possibility: A Memoir.  A lesbian growing up in Alabama; also deals with issues of alcoholism. PE64.M38 A3 1991

Miller, Sue. The Story of My Father.  A novelist writes a memoir about her relationship with her father, who died of Alzheimer's disease.

Moraga, Cherríe. Loving in the War Years: lo que nunca pasó por sus labios  (Boston: South End Press, 1983).  A collection of poetry, prose, and personal stories written by a Chicana lesbian. PS3563.O753 L6 2000

Norris, Kathleen. Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993). A collection of essays about place and this person's place in it.

______. Cloister Walk.  Another essay collection, focusing more extensively on issues of spirituality. BX2435.N57 1997

O'Faolain, Nuala. Are You Somebody? The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman (NY: Holt, 1998). Irish woman on family, love, and work. PN5146.O39 A3 1998

Reichl, Ruth, Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table.

Rhys, Jean. Smile, Please: An Unfinished Autobiography (NY: Harper & Row, 1989).  An unfinished, posthumously published autobiography by the author of Wide Sargasso Sea and other novels. PR6035.H96 Z474 1980

Sarton, May. I Knew a Phoenix: Sketches for an Autobiography (NY: W. W. Norton, 1959). Sarton was a poet and novelist, but is probably best known for her extensive autobiographical writings, in memoir and journal form. 813 S251, XA

______. Journal of a Solitude (New York: Norton, 1973).

______.  Plant Dreaming Deep. (New York: Norton, 1968)

Segal, Lore.  Other  People's Houses (orig. pub. 1964). WWII memoir; a Jewish girl's dislocation from a privileged family in Europe to domestic service in England. T275.S4286 A3 1986

Simon, Kate (b. 1912). Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood (NY: Harper & Row, 1982) F128.9 .J5 S57

Steedman, Carolyn K. Landscape for a Good Woman (1986) (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1987).  A working class childhood in London, analyzed with help from Freud and Marx. HQ1599.E5 S74 1987

Tompkins, Jane. A Life in School: What the Teacher Learned (NR, acad. autobiog) FacDevCollection LA2317 .T65 A3 1996

Volk, Patricia, Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family

Williams, Donna. Nobody Nowhere (New York: Times Books, 1992).  Autism. RC553.A88 W55 1992

______. Somebody Somewhere: Breaking Free from the World of Autism (NY: Times Books, 1994)

Williams, Patricia J. The Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991). Williams is a lawyer, a professor, and the great-great-granddaughter of a slave and a white southern lawyer.  This collection of autobiographical essays reflect on race, gender, class, and more. KF4757.W53 1991