Benjamin Franklin Additional Biography

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

(Critical Survey of Literature, Masterpiece Edition)

In Twyford, England, at the age of sixty-five, Benjamin Franklin began to set down reminiscences of his early days, which he addressed to his “Dear Son.” For years he had been collecting information about his ancestors, who had lived in Ecton, Northamptonshire, as far back as 1555, the oldest date of the town records; and he thought that his son William Franklin (1731-1813) would someday be interested in the “circumstances” of his father’s life, just as Franklin had delighted in anecdotes relating to his ancestors.

The work was composed in installments. The first section, dealing with Franklin’s first twenty-four years, was the product of a week of leisure in England in 1771. Then, because of his political...

(The entire section is 1527 words.)


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

0111200211-Franklin.jpg Benjamin Franklin (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Colonial printer, Enlightenment philosopher, scientist, and national Founder, Franklin wrote what may be the most popular autobiography ever published. This narrative—which he began in 1771 and left unfinished at the time of his death—chronicles the fortunes of a diligent and ingenious printer’s apprentice who rises from poverty and obscurity to eminence in world affairs and who helps found a new nation. Because Franklin did not live to supervise the publication of his auto- biography, many incomplete and inaccurate versions have been published since the first edition—a pirated version published in French—appeared in 1791. Franklin’s grandson, William Franklin Temple, published the first significant English- language...

(The entire section is 487 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

The fifteenth son of a Boston candlemaker, Benjamin Franklin began America’s first genuinely classic success story when he ran away to Philadelphia at age seventeen and achieved both wealth and fame before the age of thirty. He retired from his printing business and lucrative almanac a wealthy man at age forty-two. Having already excelled as a writer, journalist, and businessman, in the following decades he distinguished himself in science, studying earthquakes, fossils, and the Gulf Stream, and developing experimental gardens in addition to his pioneering work in electricity. He also excelled in technology, inventing bifocals, the Franklin stove, and the lightning rod; in music, creating the glass harmonica for which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Joseph Haydn, and others wrote music; as a public servant, heading the Post Office and founding libraries, insurance organizations, and a charity hospital; as an educator, helping organize the University of Pennsylvania and the American Philosophical Society; and as a statesman, serving as America’s first ambassador to France and helping draft the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He died the most beloved man in America and the most respected American in the world.


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706, to Josiah and Abiah Folger Franklin. His father, a candle and soap maker, was a devout Puritan who had left England for the American colonies during the religious upheavals of the seventeenth century. Benjamin was the tenth son of a family of sixteen. (Josiah had seven children by his first wife, who died about 1700.) The elder Franklin encouraged Benjamin to pursue the ministry. Unfortunately, economic circumstances forced Josiah to abandon that idea; young Benjamin was not even able to attend grammar school. He asked his father for permission to go to sea.

Josiah compromised by allowing Benjamin to become an apprentice to his older brother...

(The entire section is 886 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are two of the many American colonial figures who have ascended to near-mythological status in the cultural heritage of the United States. Washington earned such stature by dint of his dominating, yet humble, leadership skills. Franklin, on the other hand, ascended primarily because of his intellectual accomplishments, which focused and adapted the philosophy of the century to the needs of a raw, colonial power. The American colonies were the epitome of the Enlightenment. Reasonable, rational, practical, and, above all, determined to assure liberty for all inhabitants, the Pennsylvania readership of Poor Richard’s Almanack represented the realization of Franklin’s belief in an ordered, modern society.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Benjamin Franklin was the son of Abiah Folger and Josiah Franklin, a poor soap boiler and tallow chandler. His formal education between 1714 and 1716 consisted of tutoring and a year’s study at the Boston Grammar School. He eventually acquired prodigious learning from his own experience and study, which included vast readings in American, British, and West European books and newspapers.

After working almost two years for his father, Benjamin was apprenticed to his half brother, James Franklin, editor of the New England Courant, from 1721 to 1723. James encouraged his brother’s first known literary efforts, the “Silence Dogood Essays,” satirical imitations of Cotton Mather’s Bonifacius: An Essay...

(The entire section is 1208 words.)