Biography and Autobiography
Rare Biography & Autobiography Books for Sale Online
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"the most celebrated biography in the English language": Rare First Edition of Boswell's The Life of Johnson
London: Printed by Henry Baldwin, for Charles Dilly, in The Poultry 1791.
First edition, first issue of both volumes of the most celebrated biography in the English language, which was published on May 16, 1791 in a print run of only 1,750 copies. Quarto, bound in contemporary half calf over marbled boards. Frontispiece portrait of Samuel Johnson, engraved by J. Heath after the Sir Joshua Reynolds (1756) painting. Volume one is the first state with the word “give” reading on page 135, line 10. First state of volume two, with two engraved illustrations, “The Round Robin” at p. 92, and the “facsimiles” of Dr. Johnson’s handwriting on p. 588. In near fine condition with light toning, an excellent example of this landmark work.
“It is a curious fate to be objectified alive. Think with humor while reading": First Edition of Anton Reiser's Albert Einstein: A Biographical Portrait; Inscribed by Albert Einstein with an original poem
New York: Albert & Charles Boni 1930.
First edition of this Einstein biography written by Rudolf Kayser, a German literary historian and husband to Albert Einstein’s stepdaughter Ilse under the pseudonym Anton Reiser. Octavo, original cloth, frontispiece of Einstein. Inscribed by Albert Einstein with an original poem on the front free endpaper in German, which translates as, “It is a curious fate to be objectified alive. Think with humor while reading. A. Einstein.” From the library of Alexandre and Catherine Barjansky with her ownership signature to the verso of the front panel and notation below Einstein’s inscription, “S.S. ‘Belgenland,’ New-York, 14/XII/30.” Russian sculptress Catherine Barjansky, her celebrated cellist husband, and Einstein were all close friends of King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. Barjansky described her experiences creating the now famed and very intimate sculptural portraits of Elizabeth and Albert in her 1947 joint memoir with her husband Portraits with Backgrounds. Catherine had an international career, living at times in Rome, Berlin, New York, Vienna, Paris, and Brussels. Einstein was in New York at the time he inscribed the present volume, having arrived aboard the Belgenland three days earlier. Einstein travelled aboard the Belgenland several times. He was on the ship in March 1933, intending to return home to Germany, when he learned the alarming news that the Nazis had ransacked his summer cottage in Caputh. He soon decided it was too dangerous to return to Germany and when the ship docked in Antwerp, Belgium, he immediately reported to the German consulate in Brussels, where he turned in his German passport and renounced his citizenship. Einstein returned to America in October, beginning a new life as a member of the faculty of Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study. In near fine condition. A complex and desirable association.
“I HOPE I WILL BE ABLE TO CONFIDE EVERYTHING TO YOU, AS I HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO CONFIDE IN ANYONE”: FIRST EDITION OF ANNE FRANK’S DIARY, HET ACHTERHUIS; In the exceptionally rare dust jacket
Het Achterhuis: Dagboakbrieven van 12 Jun 1942 – 1 Augustus 1944. Met een woord vooraf door Annie Romein-Verschoor. (The Diary of Anne Frank).
Amsterdam: Contact 1947.
First edition of the diary of Anne Frank in the original Dutch. Small octavo, original publisher’s white and red paper-covered boards, illustrated with 2 photographic reproductions of the interior of the house, 1 floor plan, and 2 facsimiles from the diary. Introduction by Annie Romein-Verschoor. Very good in the dust jacket which is in very good condition with some professional restoration and tape repairs to the verso. Exceedingly rare and desirable, especially in the original dust jacket.
SIGNED LIMITED EDITION OF ALBERT EINSTEINS "ONE AND ONLY INTELLECTUAL BIOGRAPHY": SIGNED AND DATED BY HIM; IN THE ORIGINAL PUBLISHER'S CARDBOARD
Evanston: Library of Living Philosophers 1949.
Signed limited first edition, one of 760 copies signed and dated “Albert Einstein ‘49.” Octavo, original brown cloth, top edge gilt, original slipcase. The book is in fine condition, the slipcase is in fine condition. Housed in the original publisher’s cardboard. An absolute pristine example, which has been stored in the original cardboard box since publication. Edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp. Frontispiece portrait of Einstein by Yousef Karsh. Rare and desirable in this condition.
"That gang I broke up with in Boston was a pretty fair outfit": First Edition of Babe Ruth's Own Book of Baseball; Signed by the Great Bambino
New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons 1928.
First edition and signed limited edition of Babe Ruth’s work on the game of baseball. Octavo, original cloth, pictorial endpapers, with 31 illustrations. One of 1000 limited copies signed by Babe Ruth on the limitation page, this is number 174. Very good in a very good dust jacket with some light expert restoration.
"Nonviolence is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who happen to be doing the evil. It is evil that the nonviolent resister seeks to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil": First Edition of Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story; Signed by Martin Luther King, Jr.
New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers 1958.
First edition of Dr. Martin Luther King’s first book. Octavo, original half cloth. Boldly signed by Martin Luther King, Jr. on the front free endpaper. Review copy, with the slip laid in, near fine in a very good dust jacket with some fading to the spine and light wear. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. First printings are uncommon signed.
The Golden Book of Tagore: A Homage to Rabindranath Tagore from India and the World in Celebration of His Seventieth Birthday; signed and dated by Tagore
The Golden Book of Tagore: A Homage to Rabindranath Tagore from India and the World in Celebration of His Seventieth Birthday.
Calcutta: The Golden Book Committee 1931.
First subscribers’ edition of The Golden Book of Tagore, the elaborate privately produced tribute to the famed poet; signed by Tagore and from the library of Raja Shamraj Rajwant Bahadur. Quarto, original cloth, lettered tissue-guarded engraved frontispiece portrait of Tagore by Martin Vos signed and dated by Tagore beneath his image, “Rabindranath Tagore Dec. 19, 1933,” 29 additional engravings including 11 tipped-in in full color with lettered tissue guards. From the famed library of Raja Shamraj Rajwant Bahadur with his ownership initials “S.R.A.S” and library notes to the pastedown noting that the book was “Received from the Golden Book of Tagore Committee 120/2, Upper Circular Road Calcutta on 1-3-1932. Pre-Publication Subscription sent by money order on 8-8-1931. Received the book by V.P.P.” Indian nobleman Raja Shamraj Rajwant Bahadur assembled India’s greatest library, famed for its diverse collection of rare antiquarian manuscripts and important books. Tipped in is an autograph letter signed by Tagore in facsimile to Bhagwan Singh Gyanee and dated December 27, 1931 which reads in part, “It is hard for me to say in a few faltering words how I feel when voices greet me from my own country and from across the seas carrying to me the assurance that I have pleased many and have helped some and thus offering me the best reward of my life. Rabindranath Tagore.” Additionally tipped in is a typed letter signed by Tagore on Visva-Bharati letterhead dated December 26, 1933 and addressed to the Raja which reads in part, ‘Dear Raja Bahadur, On the eve of my departure from Hyderabad, allow me to offer you and Ranee Shaheba my sincere thanks for your generous contribution to the funds of Visva-Bharati. I am glad to know you realise that Visva-Bharati belongs to you all and have promised to stand by it…With best wishes, yours sincerely, “Rabindranath Tagore.”‘ The Raja has added a note, “The Poet had paid a visit to my house on 19-12-1933. Particular in my personal album.” Laid in at rear is the original transmittal envelope. In very good condition. An exceptional association.
“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence": Rare First Edition of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Boston: Published at the Anti-Slavery Office 1845.
First edition of this treatise on abolition written by famous orator and former slave Frederick Douglass. Small octavo, original brown cloth stamped in blind with gilt title to the front panel, frontispiece portrait of Douglass, green endpapers. In very good condition with rubbing and wear to the extremities and some loss to the spine, contemporary ownership signature. Rare especially in the original cloth.
“Heroes get remembered, but legends never die": First Edition of The Babe Ruth Story; Warmly Inscribed by Him to His Doctor
New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc 1948.
First edition of Babe Ruth’s autobiography. Octavo, original cloth, illustrated, pictorial endpapers. Association copy, inscribed by the author on the half-title page in the year of publication, “To my good friend and Pal Dr. Richard Lewisohn From Babe Ruth 1948.” Dr. Lewisohn was a surgeon who experimented with an anti-cancer drug, teropterin (pteroltriglutamic acid). In 1947, Dr. Lewisohn offered Ruth, who had been diagnosed with throat cancer in 1946, to receive this experimental therapy. Dr. Lewisohn was very honest with Ruth about his small chances for a recovery although no formal informed consent was signed. Ruth responded bravely that he would still like to go through with the experimental treatment in order to provide the medical community with information that might help individuals in the future with the same ailment. Thus, Ruth became a subject in one of the first clinical trials of an anti-cancer drug. Dr. Lewison’s experimental course of teropterin injections led to a dramatic, albeit short-lived, improvement in Ruth. The improvement in Ruth’s condition was featured in the lead story of September 11, 1947 in the Wall Street Journal which reported on Dr. Lewisohn’s report of the case at a medical conference. The Wall Street Journal stated that researchers might be on the verge of a cure for cancer. As a direct result of Dr. Lewisohn’s treatment, Ruth was able to say farewell to his fans at Yankee Stadium and attend other public functions, as well do the interviews for and see the publication of this book in May of 1948. He was also attend the premiere of the film based on upon this book. Ruth passed away just a short time later on August 16, 1948, before the film’s public release. Near fine in a near fine price-clipped dust jacket with some professional restoration. As told to Bob Considine. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Signed first editions are scarce, given the short time between the release of the book and Ruth’s passing. Association copies such as this one are highly prized.
"God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race": First Edition of Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story; Signed by Martin Luther King, Jr.
New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers 1958.
First edition of Dr. Martin Luther King’s first book. Octavo, original half cloth, illustrated. Boldly signed by the author on the title page, “Best Wishes Martin Luther King, Jr.” Near fine in a very good dust jacket. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Rare and desirable signed.
"It is an honor to serve with you in the Senate": First Edition of Dreams From My Father; Lengthily Inscribed by Barack Obama
New York: Times Books/ Random House 1995.
First edition of this memoir by the 44th President of the United States. Octavo, original half cloth, illustrated. Association copy, inscribed by Barack Obama on the half-title page, “To Ant- It is an honor to serve with you in the Senate. Thanks for your friendship, counsel and support! Warm Regards, Barack Obama.” The recipient worked with Obama in the Senate. Examples are usually encountered with just a signature, association copies of this magnitude are uncommon. Fine in a fine dust jacket. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box.
“We write our own destiny; we become what we do”: First Edition of General Chiang Kai Shek; Signed by both General and Madame Chiang kai-shek
Garden City: Doubleday, Doran and Company 1937.
First edition. Octavo, original cloth. Signed on the half-title page in Chinese by Chiang Kai-shek and in English by Mei-ling Soong Chiang, former First Lady of the Republic of China, 1948-1975. Fine in a near fine price-clipped dust jacket with light rubbing. Exceptionally rare signed by both Chiang and Madame Kai-shek.
“There are in this world blessed souls, whose sorrows all spring up into joys for others; whose earthly hopes, laid in the grave with many tears, are the seed from which spring healing flowers and balm for the desolate and the distressed”: First Edition, First Issue of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin with a signed note from her
Boston and Cleveland: John P. Jewett and Jewett, Proctor & Worthington 1852.
First edition, first issue of the author’s classic work, with a loose plate signed by the author as follows, “Trust in the Lord and do good – Harriet Beecher Stowe, July 22, 1892.” Octavo, original cloth, volume with title vignettes and six wood-engravings. In near fine condition with light wear. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell and chemise.
"Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between": First Edition of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings; Signed by Maya Angelou; From the library of James Baldwin
New York: Random House 1969.
First edition of Angelou’s critically acclaimed first book. Octavo, original first issue book, with the top edge stained red. From the library of writer and close friend of Angelou’s James Baldwin’s library with his signature to the front free endpaper. Signed by the author, “Joy! Maya Angelou” on the half-title page. After Angelou’s close friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated in 1968 depression had set in. Her dear friend James Baldwin, or Jimmy and her “brother friend” as she affectionately called him, took her to a dinner party to brighten her spirits, if only for the night. The party was at the home of the Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer and his wife Judy in late 1968. Everyone in the room began sharing stories about their childhoods, but when it was Angelou’s turn to speak, Mrs. Feiffer was blown away by her storytelling. The next day Feiffer called Random House editor Robert Loomis to tell him he should have Angelou write a book. Following Mrs. Feiffer’s orders, Loomis asked Angelou to write a book about her life, but she said no. Angelou considered herself a poet and playwright, not an author. He asked again; she declined again. Around the fourth time he changed his tune. She had just written a TV series and was out in California when he called. “It’s just as well you don’t attempt to write autobiography, because to write autobiography as literature is almost impossible,” she remembers him saying. “Maybe I’ll try it,” she replied. Loomis’s new tactic had been inspired by a conversation with Baldwin. Baldwin told Loomis that in order to get Angelou to do anything, you have to tell her she can’t do it. The reverse psychology worked. She isolated herself in London and began writing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), the first of her seven book autobiography series. It was instantly a bestseller and is her most critically acclaimed work. Had it not been for Baldwin and Angelou’s pugnacious tenacity, the world may have never known she was a masterful memoirist. Near fine in a near fine dust jacket with light rubbing. Jacket design by Janet Halverson. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. An extraordinary association copy linking two of the greatest African American writers of the twentieth century.
“This life is bizarre and unsound It looks clearer written down": First Edition of Albert Einstein: A Biographical Portrait; Inscribed by Albert Einstein with an original Four Line Poem
New York: Albert & Charles Boni 1930.
First edition of this Einstein biography written by Rudolf Kayser, a German literary historian and husband to Albert Einstein’s stepdaughter Ilse under the pseudonym Anton Reiser. Octavo, original cloth, frontispiece of Einstein. Signed and inscribed by Albert Einstein on the front free endpaper and dated in 1931 with a four line unique poem in German entirely in his hand, which translates, “This life is bizarre and unsound It looks clearer written down the urgencies that in the dark are touched don’t frighten others very much.” The recipient was the wife of Leonor Michaelis, who was a German chemist, and physician, known primarily for his work with Maud Menten on enzyme kinetics and Michaelis–Menten kinetics in 1913. Fine in the rare original dust jacket with some chips and wear. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Rare and desirable.
New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc 1948.
First edition of Ruth’s autobiography. Octavo, original cloth, illustrated, pictorial endpapers. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the half-title page, “To my good friend Ed Tillman From Babe Ruth.” Near fine in a near fine price-clipped dust jacket. As told to Bob Considine. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Uncommon signed and inscribed as Ruth passed away in the year of publication.