Goodreads often asks its members, ‘What are you currently reading?’ I just finished reading Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn. There is nothing like an autobiography. No one says it better than the person who actually lived the life!
I always admired Katharine Hepburn when I was growing up. She was one of my role models and I liked her spunk, her pants outfits and her self-assured knowingness. She had her own unique style.
In the book Me, she talked about her childhood years in Fenwick, CT on through her college days at Bryn Mawr. She showed the great influence her loving family had on building her strong self-esteem.
She was often in the midst of famous people as she climbed the ladder to fame as an actor. Her father managed her money. He never believed that she could really make a living in the field, but fate proved him wrong.
It was a great journey as she shared many highlights of her life and bared her soul. She added a host of photographs that helped the reader feel even closer to her, her friends and her business associates.
And then, she devoted a couple of chapters to her beloved Spence, Spencer Tracy. He seemed to draw out the best in her and they enjoyed each other’s company immensely.
Autobiographies, like poems, give readers a peek into a writer or poet’s soul. Poems do it quickly and in a few words, whereas autobiographies take us on a long, slow walk through the woods. We eventually arrive at various destinations with the narrator guiding the way.
In elementary school, I often visited the biography section of the library. There was a series of little blue books on the lives of great people. I liked to read their stories and discover what events shaped them.
Yet, nothing can touch the fascinating autobiography itself. There are no battles over whether it is Authorized or Unauthorized. It is a bonafide account and the story just rolls along like a river.
Here are a few memorable ones:
In The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Franklin shared his humble beginnings in Boston, his move to Philadelphia and later on to England. As life would have it, he came back to the States and did his greatest work in Philly. He assisted in the founding of public libraries, fire departments, and in the wording of the Constitution along with many other accomplishments.
Ida B. Wells’ autobiography, Crusade for Justice, showed how she fought for other’s rights in the Deep South. I felt as if I was in a room with her, witnessing what she felt, saw and experienced through those challenging times.
And then there is Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. He wrote a touching account about his childhood as a Jackson, his musical journey and his savvy business acumen at the young age of 19. Reading it was like reading a long tender-hearted letter.
Autobiographies are truly personable. It takes the candid voice of the owners of the shoes to walk us down their paths of splendor!
Lynn M. March 25, 2017
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