Biography and Autobiography

Rare Biography & Autobiography Books for Sale Online

If you are looking for rare or first edition biography or autobiography books look no further than Raptis Rare Books. Browse through our entire collection of rare biographies and autobiographies below, view details about individual books and contact us to ask a question or find out more information.

Showing 1–12 of 692 results

  • "To His Royal Highness, The Duke of Windsor, from Winston S. Churchill, June 1939" First Edition of Winston S. Churchill's Step By Step 1936-1939; Inscribed by Him to Former King Edward VIII in the month of publication

    CHURCHILL, Winston S.

    Step By Step 1936-1939.

    London: Thornton Butterworth Ltd, 1939.

    First edition of this Churchill title, the last book he published before the outbreak of the Second World War. Octavo, specially bound for the Duke of Windsor by Lucie Weill in three quarters morocco over marbled boards, gilt titles, crowned cipher of the Duke of Windsor on the lower label, with two maps. Association copy, inscribed by Winston S. Churchill to King Edward the VIII, on the page preceding the half-title page in the month of publication, “To His Royal Highness, The Duke of Windsor, from Winston S. Churchill, June 1939.”

    When Edward’s father ascended the throne as George V after the death of Edward VII, Edward the VIII automatically became Duke of Cornwall and Duke of Rothesay. He was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester a month later on 23 June 1910, his 16th birthday. The lives of Edward and Churchill, first intersected at this time, when as Home Secretary, it fell to Churchill to read out the Letters Patent that invested the Prince with his new title during the ceremony at Caernarvon Castle. Predictably, Churchill found this a moving occasion, and thought “the little Prince looked & spoke as well as it was possible for anyone to do,” noting in a letter to Clementine that “he was a very nice boy—quite simply & terribly kept in order.” When Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty shortly after the investiture, he became a hero to the newly-installed Prince of Wales, who had been a naval cadet. Churchill’s vigorous emphasis on sea power appealed to the Prince, who wrote of Churchill: “He is a wonderful man and has a great power of work.” Writing to Clementine, Churchill indicated that he and the Prince “have made rather friends.”

    Unfortunately, as he got older Edward’s womanizing and reckless behavior and attitudes put a strain on the relations between Churchill and himself for a time. When Edward’s father, George V died in early 1936 and Edward became king, his relationship with a married woman, Wallis Simpson, was known to those in power. When King Edward VIII chose to marry Simpson, Churchill, although he initially opposed any marriage between the King and Mrs. Simpson, felt a natural sympathy for the King, and believed that the solution was a morganatic marriage. Under this plan, Mrs. Simpson would become the Duchess of Cornwall but not Queen. The Cabinet, however, did not approve; neither did the Dominions. Churchill’s only hope then became that the King would see reason, accept his duty as Sovereign, and give up Mrs. Simpson, which Edward would not agree to. Churchill finally helped the King in writing his abdication speech. This book was given to Edward, now titled the Duke of Windsor while they were living abroad in France shortly before the beginning of World War 2. A wonderful association copy between the former Prime Minister and the former King of Great Britain. In near fine condition. Housed in a custom full morocco clamshell box with the crowned cipher to the front panel.

    Price: $125,000.00     Item Number: 119578

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  • Exceedingly rare new and revised edition of M. de Bourrienne's Life of Napoleon extra-illustrated with  additional portraits and views and over 50 autograph letters and notes signed by Napoleon I,  members of his family, and royal associates

    DE BOURRIENNE, Fauvelet. [Napoleon].

    Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte.

    London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1885.

    Exceedingly rare edition of M. de Bourrienne’s Life of Napoleon extra-illustrated with additional portraits and views and over 50 autograph letters and notes signed by Napoleon I,  members of his family, associates, and the author bound in. Octavo, bound in three quarters scarlet morocco with gilt titles and tooling to the spine in six compartments within raised gilt bands, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt with others uncut, tissue-guarded frontispiece and full color portrait to each volume, illustrated with engravings issued in the initial publication and over 100 extra portraits and views bound in. With over 50 autograph letters signed bound in including 3 autograph letters signed by Napoleon I (bound into Vol. I page 201, Vol. I page 369, and Vol. III page 530), and autograph letters signed by Charles J. Bernadotte, King of Spain; Joseph Bonaparte, King of Spain; Fauvelet de Bourrienne; A.A.L. Caulincort, Duc de Vicenza; Marquis Emmanuel Grouchy; Napoleon’s second wife Marie Louise. Duchess of Parma; Joachim Murat, King of Naples; Comte Horace Sebastiani, and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington among others. With the original compiler’s printed catalog of extra material detailing the location (volume and page number) of each added engraving and autograph letter signed.  In near fine condition. Accompanied by an additional military endorsement signed by Napoleon during the Peninsular War, “Approuvé  Np.” An exceptional collection of significant Napoleonic era signatures.

    Price: $45,000.00     Item Number: 117078

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  • "I have numerous readers among farmers and workers. They make India. Their poverty is India's curse and crime. Their prosperity alone can make India a country fit to live in:" Second Series of Mohandas K. Gandhi's Young India; signed and dated by him

    GANDHI, Mohandas K. [Mahatma].

    Young India Second Series 1924-1926.

    New York: The Viking Press, 1927.

    First edition of the second series of the writings of Gandhi. Octavo, original cloth with gilt titles to the spine and front panel. Signed and dated by Gandhi on the front free endpaper, “MK Gandhi 3:4:29.” Gandhi founded and published the weekly periodical in English, Young India, from 1919 to 1931 to spread the philosophy and principles of the Satyagraha Movement and urge readers to participate in it. In near fine condition. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Exceptionally rare and desirable signed and in this condition.

    Price: $40,000.00     Item Number: 95311

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  • "High School introduced at young age (15 & 16) to Emily Dickinson, who is probably greatest American poet I realize now": Rare Graduate Student Questionnaire Completed and Signed by Jack Kerouac with a lengthy inscription

    KEROUAC, Jack.

    Jack Kerouac Autograph Questionnaire Signed.

    1960.

    Rare mimeographed questionnaire sent by a graduate student of City College of New York to Jack Kerouac; completed and signed twice by him with a lengthy inscription in conclusion. Two pages, partially printed the questionnaire begins with a typed letter signed by James A. Sherlock politely requesting Kerouac’s response which reads in part: “Dear Mr. Kerouac, I am a graduate student of City College of New York, working upon an original research project aimed at uncovering certain educational factors in the lives of successful writers. As you undoubtedly know, there always has been considerable interest in analyzing the psychological make-up of the writer, but seldom has the more prosaic factor of the writer’s education been taken into consideration. Through this questionnaire, I would like to find out if the average successful writer considers his high school education in English a help or a hindrance in preparing him for his profession. Did frequent composition assignments aid the writer in improving his skill? Did reading – either outside reading or reading assigned in the classroom – play a small or large part in preparing the writer for his work?” Completed by Kerouac, in his hand, the questionnaire reads: Reading During High School: 1. In your high school days, did you prefer to read fiction or non-fiction? “Both” 2. If you preferred fiction, what type did you prefer? (Novels, short stories, plays, poetry, etc.) “Novels (from Bronte to ‘pulp’ novels)” 3. If you preferred non-fiction, what subjects did you prefer to read about? “Encyclopaedias [sic], Atlases, Harvard Classics (of Elliot)” 4. Was most of your reading matter of your own choosing or reading material assigned in the classroom? “My Own Choosing mostly (cut classes to spend schooldays in Library)” 5. Did you favor one or two authors at this time in particular in your high school reading? If so, whom? “Just general” 6. As nearly as you can remember, approximately how many books did you read each month during your high school days? “Depended on activities (of course)” High School Instruction: 7. As nearly as you can remember, how often were written compositions assigned in your high school English classes? “Can’t remember” 8. In your opinion, what facet of English instruction did most to develop your skill as a writer? (Literature, composition, spelling, grammar, vocabulary study, others) “Literature” The least? “Composition” 9. As you recall, were your grades in English composition on the whole very good, good, average, fair, or poor? (Kerouac has checked good) 10. Do you recall ever having received special encouragement in your writing from a high school English teacher? “Yes, Joseph Pyne of Lowell High School (Mass.)” Early Writing: 11. At approximately what age did you first seriously consider becoming a writer? “17 (That is, a ‘serious’ writer) (wrote since 11)” 12. Did you engage in outside writing – above the usual writing required in every day life – to any degree at this time? “Yes – from 11 yrs. old on.” 13. Did you at this time consciously imitate the style of any particular author or authors in your writing? “Yes” If so, who? “Saroyan & Hemingway (at 17)” 14. In your opinion, how much did your high school English courses contribute to your success as a writer? (Kerouac has checked all four options: Very much, Some, Little, and Very Little) 15. What factor or factors, if any, would you say contributed more that your schooling to your success as a writer? “SELF IMPOSED READING SCHEDULES OUTSIDE CLASSROOM” Note: If you have additional ideas on the value or inadequacies of your high school English instruction, please feel free to state them on the back of this questionnaire. Name: “Jack Kerouac”. In response to the final question, Kerouac has added a full page signed inscription to the verso of the third page of the questionnaire, “English & American Lit course in High School introduced at young age (15 & 16) to Emily Dickinson, who is probably greatest American poet I realize now (at least equal to Melville & Whitman for sheer mental beauty & brilliance of emotion – description) – High School crucial time to teach Jack K. But writers are born, not made (ask Balzac).” In near fine condition. An exceptional example offering a rare and intimate glimpse into the education and influences of one of the formative writers of the 20th century.

    Price: $38,000.00     Item Number: 117950

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  • "the most celebrated biography in the English language": Rare First Edition of Boswell's The Life of Johnson

    BOSWELL, James.

    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.

    Price: $17,500.00     Item Number: 80005

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  • “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

    FRANK, Anne .

    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. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Exceedingly rare and desirable, especially in the original dust jacket.

    Price: $17,500.00     Item Number: 96773

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  • “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

    REISER, Anton. [Albert Einstein].

    Albert Einstein: A Biographical Portrait.

    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 aa member of the faculty of Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study. In near fine condition. A complex and desirable association.

    Price: $17,500.00     Item Number: 90431

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  • “INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE": First Edition of Martin Luther's King Jr.'s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?; inscribed by him

    KING JR., Martin Luther.

    Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

    New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1967.

    First edition of King’s “last grand expression of his vision” (Cornel West). Octavo, original half cloth, illustrated with eight pages of black-and-white photogravures. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, “To Wilfred Cohen, In appreciation for your great support. Martin Luther King Jr.” Fine in a fine dust jacket. Jacket design by Ronald Clyne. Jacket photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Bob Fitch. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box.

    Price: $16,000.00     Item Number: 109435

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  • "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.

    KING JR., Martin Luther.

    Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.

    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.

    Price: $15,000.00     Item Number: 30031

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  • 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

    TAGORE, Rabindranath. Edited by Ramananda Chatterjee.

    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.

    Price: $15,000.00     Item Number: 106982

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  • “INJUSTICE ANYWHERE IS A THREAT TO JUSTICE EVERYWHERE": First Edition of Martin Luther's King Jr.'s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?; inscribed by him

    KING JR., Martin Luther.

    Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

    New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1967.

    First edition of King’s “last grand expression of his vision” (Cornel West). Octavo, original half cloth, illustrated with eight pages of black-and-white photogravures. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, “To Mr. Otto E. Geppert Martin Luther King Jr.” Near fine in a near fine dust jacket, small date to the endpaper. Jacket design by Ronald Clyne. Jacket photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Bob Fitch.

    Price: $15,000.00     Item Number: 112455

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  • “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

    DOUGLASS, Frederick.

    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. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Rare especially in the original cloth.

    Price: $15,000.00     Item Number: 104580

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