Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Boreham on Autobiographies

Write Your Story
While F W Boreham wrote about the fundamental distinctions between biography and autobiography (and reckoned that “all literature divides itself into these two classes”), he encouraged all people to write down their story because of the value of preserving and passing on the inspiration and lessons of one’s experience.[1] Challenging his readers to consider what they were bequeathing, Boreham expressed his verdict in stating, “Experience—the most priceless hoard that living creatures ever amass—is bequeathed as a heritage from generation to generation”.[2]

My Pilgrimage
In 1935, at the age of sixty-four, Boreham informed his readers, with a touch of humor, that he would be doing what he had suggested that others might do before they die. He said, “I am firmly resolved, on attaining centenarian honors, to give up writing essays, idylls, sketches, and all that kind of nonsense, and to devote my powers, before they begin to decay, to the compilation of my autobiography”.[3]

Within five years Boreham had written and published his autobiography, which he clarified, was not “born of an inflated conception of my own importance. On the contrary, it is born of a delicious consciousness of my own insignificance”.[4] In perhaps his strongest claim for ordinary people leaving their story for others, Boreham continued: “The lives of the Nobodies and the Nonentities offer a virgin field of novelty and freshness .… There is no drama like the drama of reality; no lure like the lure of life; no business half as intriguing as other people’s business. The man whose biography is not worth writing has never yet been born”.[5]

Geoff Pound

Image: 'write down your own story...'

[1] F W Boreham, Ships of pearl (London: The Epworth Press 1935), 38.
[2] Boreham, Mercury, 4 January 1936.
[3] Boreham, Ships of pearl, 34.
[4] F W Boreham, My pilgrimage (London: The Epworth Press, 1940) 7-8.
[5] Boreham, My pilgrimage, 7-8.