Literature of Autobiographical Narrative, Thomas Riggs and Company

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Literature of Autobiographical Narrative, St. James Press, 2013, produced by Thomas Riggs and Company

From the Editor’s Note:

“The Literature of Autobiographical Narrative, a three-volume reference guide, provides critical introductions to 300 autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, letters, and oral histories. All the works are based on the lives of the authors, but a wide variety of interests and ambitions, from the personal and artistic to the historical and political, motivated writers to share their intimate and exceptional memories.

An early memoir covered in the guide is The Travels of Marco Polo, which recounts the journey of the Venetian explorer in the 1290s to the Far East and the court of Kublai Khan. In 1298, three years after returning from Asia, Marco Polo was captured in a battle against the Genoese. Over several months in prison, with the help of his cellmate, Rustichiello of Pisa, he wrote his travelogue, filled with exotic tales set in a faraway land, which fascinated his European audience. Other works discussed in the guide had more private goals. Edgar Allan Poe’s “Letter to Maria Clemm,” written to his Aunt Maria on August 29, 1835, declares his love for her thirteen-year-old daughter, Virginia, and offers financial assistance to them both. Kept from publication for more than a century by Poe’s family, the letter—in particular the passionate desire Poe expresses for his young cousin (later his wife)—is fundamental to the modern understanding of Poe as a transgressor of moral boundaries. Japanese War Brides in America (1998), an oral history of nineteen Japanese women who married American soldiers during the post-World War II occupation of Japan, is an example of an autobiographical work for which the motivation to publish was less an author’s desire for self-expression than an outsider’s interest in another person’s story.”




Thomas Riggs and Company, based in Missoula, Montana, specializes in publishing projects in the humanities, including biographies of writers, literary criticism, and literary study guides. It collaborates with such publishers as Gale (Cengage Learning), Chadwyck-Healey (ProQuest), and McGraw-Hill, creating high-quality, widely distributed academic and reference works. The first book by Thomas Riggs and Company was Contemporary Poets, published with St. James Press in 1995, providing a survey of writers around the globe.


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