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Autobiography

by Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography is a four-part memoir of his life, originally written for his son but in later sections intended for publication.

Bibliographic notes

Franklin's Autobiography was not published in his lifetime. In 1790 a French translation of the first part was published in Paris, with English versions following a few years later. Franklin's grandson, William Temple Franklin, published a fuller authorized edition in 1817 and 1818, but frequently altered the text, and did not include the final part. In 1868, John Bigelow published the first complete English edition from the original manuscript; his editions were long recognized as standard. More recent scholarly editions re-examine and document revisions made in Franklin's original manuscript; I do not know of free online copies of these editions, but the manuscript itself can be examined online.

Numerous popular and school editions have also been published. Some include additional annotations and writings. Some editions abridge the work for length or propriety, and do not always note this.

See also
 
Bigelow editions

These are probably the most faithful printed texts freely available online at present.

Editions based on Bigelow's

To the best of my knowledge, these editions include all of Bigelow's text (from one or another of his editions), and may also include additional material.

Manuscript Adaptations and abridged editions
  • [Info] Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1916), by Benjamin Franklin, ed. by Frank Woodworth Pine, illust. by E. Boyd Smith (Gutenberg text and illustrated HTML). This edition intended for younger readers claims to follow the text of Bigelow's, but silently censors some passages. It also adds illustrations and contextual material.
Editions in libraries

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