What are your all time favourite autobiographies?

(127 Posts)
GetOrfMo1Land Wed 28-Sep-11 18:53:50

I want to find something new to read, I love autobiogs.

Mine (off the top of my head, after not too much thought)

Biography of Gayatri Devi (last Maharani of Jaipur) - a brilliant story about a rich Maharani and her life pre war.

Chance Witness by Matthew Parris - I would not normally say I would rate the autobiography of a Tory boy but this is brilliant, he is really engaging and has lived a fascinating life.

Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford - it's just so funny. Also, whislt not strictly an autobiog, The Letters of Decca Mitford is brilliant as well.

Ricky by Ricky Tomlinson - not normally my cup of tea, would not choose a sleb autobiography, but he is very honest about his ups and downs and being imprisoned as a political prisoner in the 70s.

Louise1956 Wed 05-Jun-13 07:09:26

An Autobiography by Agatha Christie is my favourite. A fascinating book, especially the part about her childhood and youth pre WW1, a fascinating picture of a vanished world.

DuchessofMalfi Sat 16-Mar-13 15:06:01

I got Elizabeth Jane Howard's autobiography recently, on my kindle hackmum. Can't wait to read it now. Sounds fascinating smile

hackmum Fri 15-Mar-13 17:21:01

Having just read back through the thread, I'm also going to second Clive James, Humphrey Lyttelton, Martin Amis and the Joe Orton Diaries, which are fabulous.

Oh, and here's one that hasn't been mentioned - Elizabeth Jane Howard's autobiography. An absolutely eye-opening read, because large chunks of it are just accounts of affairs she had with various famous men: Laurie Lee, Cecil Day-Lewis etc.

hackmum Fri 15-Mar-13 17:17:40

I would second loads of these - Bill Bryson, Lorna Sage, Jessica Mitford, Rupert Everett, Vera Brittain and Diana Athill.

The Maya Angelou series of memoirs, starting with I know why the caged bird sings, are fantastic, though it's years since I've read them.

I also several years ago really enjoyed the autobiography of Jill Tweedie, a Guardian journalist who died of motorneurone disease.

Dirk Bogarde's memoirs are quite good too.

Binkybix Thu 14-Mar-13 18:03:26

Good thread. Lots of ideas for maternity leave reading. Not exactly autobiography, but I love David Sedaris's books - they really make me laugh. We used a quote from one of them at our wedding. They're just anecdotes from his life really.

YouBloodyWolf Sun 05-Aug-12 03:11:06

Who on Earth is Tom Baker is fantastic, particularly as an audiobook read by him. Mad as a stoat but a very honest and funny account of growing up in the poorest part of Liverpool and where he went from there.

Moab is my Washpot and The Liar by Stephen Fry.

Stalin Ate My Homework by Alexei Sayle.

judybart Wed 11-Apr-12 22:18:13

I just loved Michael McIntyre's autobiography especially the audio version with him reading it.

henrysmama2012 Fri 16-Mar-12 06:08:36

Asking for Trouble (Diary of a Banned Journalist) by Donald Woods - unbelievably great guy and very inspirational.

suburbandream Tue 15-Nov-11 18:37:27

Great thread, I second the anthony kedis one and also The Dirt, just finished it - shocking but brilliant. I'm now reading Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries which covers a year or so that's also in The Dirt. Another great rock book is Danny Sugerman's No-One Here Gets Out Alive about his time with the Doors.

In a completely different tone I loved Toast smile

This is my favourite autobiography though Bad Blood, Lorna Sage although I'd never heard of her I just picked it up at the library and was hooked.

LottieJenkins Tue 15-Nov-11 18:26:35

Whoops, have just looked down this thread and realised i have posted on it previously!! blush

LottieJenkins Tue 15-Nov-11 18:25:26

Michael Crawford's is very good.
So is Johnnie Walkers. Peter Kays are hysterical!!

12thmonkey Tue 15-Nov-11 18:09:43

if your into your music Anthony Kedis (sp?) of the RedHotChilliPeppers is one of my personal favourites. An interesting life and a massive insight into the lyrics of their songs.

Slash from Guns 'n' Roses just for how crazy his life was / is.

Currently reading Steve Job's biography. Guys is a douche but a successful one.

gazzalw Tue 15-Nov-11 12:29:18

John McEnroe's one did it for me!

Hopstheduck Wed 12-Oct-11 10:02:02

Through thick and thin by Gok Wan was surprisingly good.

Int eh Land of Invisible Women by Qanta Ahmed was a fascinating insight into a different culture.

tartanfrump Wed 12-Oct-11 09:44:50

Coming to this thread a bit late - but I loved Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth - her life during the First World War and beyond.
Also absolutely loved Jane Shilling's recent memoir, The Stranger in the Mirror - struck a chord on every page.
Diana Athill's different volumes of memoirs are all wonderful reading - wry, honest and fascinating about the publishing world

Jux Wed 12-Oct-11 08:57:58

Kate Adie, The Kindness of Strangers. Well written, good humour and very interesting.

dooler Tue 11-Oct-11 22:20:05

Try 'Moab is my washpot' by Stephen Fry - Hilarious in parts -cringeworthy in others.

pollywollydoodle Tue 11-Oct-11 22:03:59

bill brysons thunderbolt kid is "don't read it without clean pants funny" as is the first frank skinner autobiography...it goes well beyond his lad persona(tho there is a fair whack of "did i tell you i had a much younger girlfriend" at the beginning) and i really warmed to him...so much so that i'm now hooked on his absolute radio podcasts...

MummyandMimi Tue 11-Oct-11 21:49:16

I would highly recommend A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown. A brilliant book. Very inspirational.

SilverSarah Tue 11-Oct-11 20:16:58

Not an autobiography, but I was totally inspired by a biography of Bjork's life. Her attitude of total freedom sort of rubbed off on me, and when I finished reading it, I suddenly got the muse and wrote one of my best ever pieces of work. :-) was quite shocked at some of it, especially the bit where she jumped off stage and did a poo.... hasten to add I've never emulated that...

dinkydoodah Tue 11-Oct-11 18:59:07

Also worth mentioning - dare I say it ! 'My Booky Wook' - an honest and interesting account of Russell Brands formative years. Dont think the title does it any favours and maybe it is his attempt to play down his accomplished writing skills. Nevertheless, his use of language is beautiful, funny and clever. His articles in the Guardian were always superb too!

gigglepin Tue 11-Oct-11 18:50:03

Angelas ashes. Frank McCourt. My favourite book ever. read it over & over & over & over.

dinkydoodah Tue 11-Oct-11 18:46:51

I absolutely (unexpectedly!) loved 'Crying with Laughter' by Bob Monkhouse. Full of interesting anecdotes and really well written. Think it may have been the quickest book I ever read - could not put it down!

Quenelle Tue 11-Oct-11 17:16:11

Pagwatch DH and I both love David Niven too. It is customary in our house to shout 'Come at once!' when his name is mentioned, due to the extraordinary number of invitations he seemed to get from very rich and wealthy acquaintances.

Fiendarina Tue 11-Oct-11 17:13:05

I came on to say David Niven, and can see loads of people also recommend his autobiographies.
But the other one I thought of immediately I can't seem to spot - Period Piece by Gwen Raverat. It's about her childhood in Cambridge at the turn of the c19th as a member of Charles Darwin's extended family. I love how it's organised thematically, about her experiences of for example education, ladies, religion, ghosts and horrors, rather than a straight chronological retelling.

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