Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Portrait of Myself, Margaret Bourke-White creates a verbal portrait of a woman who was successful not only in a male-dominated profession—photography—but also in a profession that she pioneered—photojournalism. This work appeals to young adults in its discussion of the life and work of a woman of achievement who was both inspired and inspiring.

Bourke-White begins her book by exploring her childhood recollections of family and friends in a chapter entitled “My Invitation to the World.” In subsequent chapters, she goes on to describe her education, her initiation into the world of photography after the death of her father, her student days at Cornell University, her industrial photography, and her exciting twenty years at Life, during which she traveled throughout the world. The impact of her two marriages and her various liaisons are also briefly mentioned.

The book ends with a postscript in which Bourke-White describes what writing the book meant to her. She writes that “this book has been my constant companion for the last ten years through sickness, surgery and health.” In the postscript, she also updates her physical condition, recounting the fact that she had another operation two years after the first. Her final comment is an appropriate summary of how she lived her life. In her usual attitude of desiring to be the first at whatever she did, Bourke-White asked for and received the Life...

(The entire section is 446 words.)