Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Benjamin Franklin's The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
- Full Title: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
- When Written: The Autobiography was written in four segments at four different times: Part One, 1771; Part Two, 1784; Part Three, 1788; Part Four 1789 or 90
- Where Written: Part One – Twyford, England; Part Two – Passy, France; Parts Three and Four – Philadelphia, PA
- When Published: 1791 in French, 1793 in English for Part One with some of Part Two
- Literary Period: 18th Century Memoir
- Genre: History; Autobiography
- Setting: Boston, MA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; London, England
- Climax: Benjamin Franklin’s proposal for uniting the colonies in case of a need for defense is rejected by the colonial assemblies.
- Antagonist: None, though Franklin has many rivals in politics and business, including Andrew Bradford and Mr. Keimer
- Point of View: First person
The Autobiography’s Strange Publication History. The first publication of Franklin’s Autobiography was in French in 1791, the year after Franklin’s death. The first English edition in 1793 in England was actually a retranslation of the French edition, not an edition based on the original English manuscript. One English retranslation triggered yet another retranslation back into French in 1798. The first three parts of the Autobiography didn’t appear together until Franklin’s grandson, William Temple Franklin, released an edition in 1818.
Franklin’s Second Significance. It is appropriate that Benjamin Franklin is depicted on the U.S.’s $100 bill; he was the first man in the colonies to create a mold for the printing of paper money.