Joshua Slocum was the first man to sail around the world alone in a small boat. He personally rebuilt an 11.2 metre sloop-rigged fishing boat that he named the Spray. On April 24, 1895, he set sail from Boston, Massachusetts. More than three years later, he returned to Newport, Rhode Island, on June 27, 1898 having circumnavigated the world, a distance of 46,000 miles (74,000 km).
In 1899 he described the voyage in Sailing Alone Around the World now considered a classic of travel literature. It is a wonderful adventure story from the Age of Sail and a book of which Arthur Ransome declared, “boys who do not like this book ought to be drowned at once.”... read more
Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser (1871-1945) was an influential American writer. Born in Indiana to a devoutly Roman Catholic family, Dreiser first worked as journalist for several midwest newspapers before turning to writing novels in 1900. A member of the naturalist school, Dreiser's works often depict deeply or tragically flawed characters who nonetheless succeed, often in the face of strong odds. His frequent portrayal of sexual promiscuity often led to attempts to censor his work.
The Genius is Theodore Dreiser's autobiographical novel about the turn-of-the-century art scene. It explores the multiple conflicts between art and business, art and marriage, and between traditional and modern views of sexual morality. Despite heavy editing, The Genius was deemed so shocking that its sale was immediately prohibited by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. It was not released until... read more
Chesterton’s Saint Francis of Assisi (1181–1226) is the popular biography of a beloved Christian saint and founder of the Franciscans, told by an equally beloved author and storyteller. It is an accessible, interesting and compelling story of a man known more by legend than fact. In this brilliant reflection on the poor friar of Assisi, G. K. Chesterton unfolds the life and times of St. Francis, from his conversion as a young man to his receiving of the stigmata at the end of his life. While many modern biographers stumble in their effort to grasp the essence of the saint, Chesterton shows that Francis’ entire life—his prayer, his poverty, his asceticism, his love of creation, and all his eccentricities—flowed from his profound love for Christ and all men. In Chesterton’s colorful prose, St. Francis shines with the splendor of sanctity and calls each of us to the same intense and animating love for God and His people. The enigma that is St. Francis of Assisi is one with which we should be intimately familiar. Upon first glance our age seems incredibly dissimilar to the time in which Francis lived; however, closer examination will reveal a similar zeitgeist. G. K. Chesterton takes us into the life of St. Francis not by giving us a list of facts, dates, and accomplishments, but rather by taking us into the mind and heart of the man. As with any person, mere facts cannot truly tell the story that only knowing the person can tell. With this book one feels as though he has come to know Francis, rather than just know about... read more
George Augustus Moore (1852-1933) was an Irish novelist, short story writer, poet, art critic, memoirist and dramatist. His first book, a collection of poems called The Flowers of Passion, had appeared in 1878 and a second collection, Pagan Poems, followed in 1881. His first novel, A Modern Lover (1883), was banned in England because of its, for the times, explicit portrayal of the amorous pursuits of its hero. His next book, A Mummer's Wife (1885) is widely recognized as the first major novel in the realist style in the English language. Other realist novels by Moore from this period include Esther Waters (1894), the story of an unmarried housemaid who becomes pregnant and is abandoned by her footman lover, and A Drama in Muslin (1886), a satiric story of the marriage trade in Anglo-Irish society. His 1887 novel A Mere Accident is an attempt to merge his symbolist and realist influences. He also published a collection of short stories: Celibates (1895). In 1913, he traveled to Jerusalem to research background for his novel The Brook Kerith: A Syrian Story (1916).... read more
Jack London was an American novelist and short-story writer whose works deal romantically with elemental struggles for survival. At his peak, he was the highest paid and the most popular of all living writers. Because of early financial difficulties, he was largely self educated past grammar school.
Considered by many to be America's finest author, Jack London, had little formal schooling. Initially, he attended school only through the 8th grade, although he was an avid reader, educating himself at public libraries, especially the Oakland Public Library under the tutelage of Ina Coolbrith, who later became the first poet laureate of California. In later years (mid-1890s), Jack returned to high school in Oakland and graduated. He eventually gained admittance to U.C. Berkeley, but stayed only for six months, finding it to be "not alive enough" and a "passionless pursuit of passionless intelligence".
Once Jack had resolved himself to succeed as an author, his diligent habits and innate skills catapulted him far beyond most of his literary peers in both perspective and content. By following a strict writing regimen of 1,000 words a day, he was able to produce a huge quantity of high quality work over a period of eigh years. Jack had become the best-selling, highest paid and most popular American author of his time.... read more
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a semi-autobiographical novel by James Joyce, first serialised in the magazine The Egoist from 1914 to 1915, and published first in book format in 1916 by B. W. Huebsch, New York. The first British edition was published by the Egoist Press in February 1917. The story describes the formative years of the life of Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce and an allusion to the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology, Daedalus.
How It All Goes Down
To be frank, there’s not a whole lot of conventional "plot" in Portrait of the Artist. An unforgiving reader might just snort and say there’s none, but we prefer the term "plot-challenged." What the book does contain, however, is an intense moment-to-moment narration of the life of its main character, Stephen Dedalus, from early hood to adulthood (approximately ages 5 to 20 – we don’t know exactly, but that’s our educated guess). Basically, Joyce takes us through the everyday events, small and large, of one boy’s life in early 20th century Dublin.
So here’s the quick rundown. The novel drops us straight into Stephen’s early home life; he lives with his mother, father, Aunt Dante, and Uncle Charles. He leaves for a Jesuit boarding school early in the chapter, and we see him struggle with schoolmates and teachers there. He returns after a short and unhappy time away from home. But... read more
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. It was published in London by John Murray as part of The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter.... read more
Gandhi's nonviolent struggles in South Africa and India had already brought him to such a level of notoriety, adulation, and controversy that when asked to write an autobiography midway through his career, he took it as an opportunity to explain himself. Although accepting of his status as a great innovator in the struggle against racism, violence, and colonialism, Gandhi feared that enthusiasm for his ideas tended to exceed a deeper understanding. He says that he was after truth rooted in devotion to God and attributed the turning points, successes, and challenges in his life to the will of God.... read more
Giacomo Girolamo Casanova de Seingalt (2 April 1725 – 4 June 1798) was an Italian adventurer and author from the Republic of Venice. His autobiography, Histoire de ma vie (Story of My Life), is regarded as one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century.
He was so famous as a womanizer that his name remains synonymous with the art of seduction. He associated with European royalty, popes and cardinals, along with luminaries such as Voltaire, Goethe and Mozart. He spent his last years in Bohemia as a librarian in Count Waldstein's household, where he also wrote the story of his life.
The isolation and boredom of Casanova’s last years enabled him to focus without distractions on his Histoire de ma vie, without which his fame would have been considerably diminished, if not blotted out entirely.... read more