Lit2Go

Memoir

A memoir is a work written about the life of a real person by that person.

Books

Behind the Scenes

by Elizabeth Keckley

Behind the Scenes Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House is an autobiographical narrative by Elizabeth Keckley. In it she tells the story of her life as a slave and her time as a seamstress for Mrs. Lincoln in the White House.

The Colored Cadet at West Point

by Henry O. Flipper

The Colored Cadet at West Point is an autobiographical novel detailing the events leading up to Henry O. Flipper's groundbreaking appointment to the West Point Military Academy, and his active service in the U.S. Army that followed graduation.

My Bondage and My Freedom

by Frederick Douglass

My Bondage and My Freedom is an autobiographical slave narrative written by Frederick Douglass and published in 1855. It is the second of three autobiographies written by Douglass, and is mainly an expansion of his first (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass), discussing in greater detail his transition from bondage to liberty. Douglass, a former slave, following his liberation went on to become a prominent abolitionist, speaker, author, and publisher.

Up From Slavery

by Booker T. Washington

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 helping 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.

Walden; or, Life in the Woods

by Henry David Thoreau

Walden (also known as Walden; or, Life in the Woods) by Henry David Thoreau is one of the best-known non-fiction books written by an American. Published in 1854, it details Thoreau’s life for two years, two months, and two days in second-growth forest around the shores of Walden Pond, on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, not far from his friends and family in Concord, Massachusetts. Walden was written so that the stay appears to be a year, with expressed seasonal divisions. Thoreau called it an experiment in simple living. Thoreau lived in close geographical proximity to the town Concord: “living a mile from any neighbor,” should be taken literally; he lived about a mile from his neighbors. He did not go into the woods to become a hermit, but to isolate himself from civil society in order to gain a more objective understanding of it. Walden is neither a novel nor a true autobiography, but a social critique of much of the contemporary Western World, with its consumerist attitudes and its distance from and destruction of nature.

Passages

Part 1, Chapter 20: Joe Green

Black Beauty

by Anna Sewell

Joe Green continues to gain the confidence and respect of John and the master, and is eventually allowed to take charge of Black Beauty. Joe attempts to intervene on the behalf of two mistreated horses.

Part 2, Chapter 22: Earlshall

Black Beauty

by Anna Sewell

Merrylegs and Black Beauty are taken to their new home in Earlshall Park, where they are introduced to Mr. York. John Manley says his final farewell to the pair. Gradually, Black Beauty and Merrylegs are reintroduced to the check rein.

Part 2, Chapter 29: Cockneys

Black Beauty

by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty tells of another type of driver, the steam-engine style, who's irresponsible handling of a carriage can have grave consequences for a horse. Black Beauty spends some time with the good-natured mare, Peggy, before meeting his new master.