The Snake Has All The Lines
by Jean Kerr (1960)
A collection of autobiographical essays from this Tony Award-winning author and playwright.
Memoirs are perhaps one of the most relentless of all publishing genres. There is a constant stream of new ones being published with books from celebrities and famous names usually hogging the headlines.
Many memoirs, highly rated at the time of publication, slip into obscurity and fade away. You can find them gathering dust in the corners of secondhand bookshops. But many of these books are worth dusting off. This trip around memoirs from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s includes a few famous names such as poet Cecil Day Lewis, author Gavin Maxwell, publisher Stanley Unwin and French crooner Maurice Chevalier. However, the majority of authors on this list will be unfamiliar to most people.
There is a particular joy to reading memoirs from less-than-famous names. You never know what’s around the corner. A childhood can be ripped apart. A promising career can fall to pieces. A marriage can crumble. A moment of opportunity can be seized or missed. And who can ignore memoirs when they have titles like Memoirs of an Abominable Showman and Throw Me a Bone: What Happens When you Marry an Archaeologist?
Our selection covers fishing, war-time experiences, the entertainment business, colonial life, education, Soviet Russia, museum life and the most common memoir subject of all – childhood.
Memoirs of a Sword Swallower
by Dan Mannix (1951)
Mannix became famous on the carnival circuit as a supreme fire breather and sword swallower.
Memoirs of a Heterosexual
by Alexander Rose (1967)
Rose was a musician, writer, actor, court reporter, inventor, linguist, traveler and radio personality.
Two Under the Indian Sun
by Jon & Rumer Godden (1966)
Sisters Jon and Rumer write of the five years spent in India as young girls.
Child of the Holocaust
by Jack Kuper (1967)
An account of how a nine-year-old Jewish boy tries to survive in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Eton: A Dame’s Chronicle
by Nora Byron (1965)
A day-to-day account of life in the prestigious English school. Illustrated by Elizabeth Andrewes.
Short Drive Sweet Chariot
by William Saroyan (1966)
The author's account of a trip to Fresno, with his cousin John, to take his relatives out in style.
by Jean Bell Mosley (1960)
The story of a girl’s childhood up on the River Valley Farm in the Ozarks of Missouri.
by Maurice Chevalier (1960)
A memoir from the French entertainer best known for "Thank Heaven for Little Girls."
Hook, Line and Sinker
by Ralph Seaman (1956)
A memoir about a lifetime spent fishing in North America from an aptly named author.
The Valley of the Shadow
by H. Oloff De Wet (1949)
De Wet served in the Spanish Civil War, was arrested by the Gestapo and was a P.O.W.
Bricks and Flowers
by Katherine Everett (1949)
The author became a house builder and garden designer but this is an account of her student days.
by John Espey (1945)
A memoir of growing up as the child of Presbyterian missionaries in Shanghai.
Impresario: A Memoir
by Sol Hurok (1946)
The life of a famous 20th century American financier of concerts, operas and plays.
by Captain Edward K. Rogers (1946)
The World War II memoirs of the chaplain with the First Infantry Division.