New Arrival

First Edition in English of Franklin's Autobiography

The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin, LL.D ... originally written by himself, and now Translated from the French.

London: Printed for J. Parsons, No. 21, Pater-noster Row, 1793.

Price: $7,500.00


About the item

First edition in English. xvi, 324 pp. 1 vols. 8vo. First Edition in English of Franklin's Autobiography. Contemporary calf-backed boards, minor wear at top of spine. Housed in a morocco backed clamshell box. Howes F323, "aa"; Sabin 25573; Grolier American 100, 21; Reese & Osborn, Struggle for North America 91 (ref).

Item #367004

First English translation of Franklin's Mémoires de la Vie Privée (Paris, 1791), with material added, containing many vivid descriptions of his early life in the two great cities of colonial English America, Boston and Philadelphia. There is a wealth of detail of daily life and characters, as well as Franklin's role in founding some of the first great civic institutions in America.

Franklin wrote the first five chapters of his autobiography in England in 1771 covering his life from 1706 to 1731, resumed again 13 years later in Paris and again in 1788 when he returned to the United States. A draft of the first part was obtained by a French publisher and printed in Paris in 1791. That work would be translated into English and printed in London in 1793, with a continuation by the editor added. The complete version with all parts as written by Franklin would be published in 1818 by his grandson and literary heir William Temple Franklin.

"The most widely read of all American autobiographies ... this book holds the essence of the American way of life" (Grolier American). A classic piece of Americana.