Writing has been of Great Use to me in the Course of my Life,” Benjamin Franklin said in his famous Autobiography. With characteristically calculated understatement, he attributed his enormous and varied successes to “my having learnt a little to scribble.”
This Library of America collection of Franklin’s works begins with letters sent from London (1757–1775) describing the events and diplomacy preceding the Revolutionary War. The volume also contains political satires, bagatelles, pamphlets, and letters written in Paris (1776–1785), where he represented the revolutionary United States at the court of Louis XVI, as well as his speeches given in the Constitutional Convention and other works written in Philadelphia (1785–1790), including his last published article, a searing satire against slavery.
Also included are the delightfully shrewd prefaces to Poor Richard’s Almanack (1733–1758) and their worldly, pungent maxims that have entered our American culture. Finally, the classic Autobiography, Franklin’s last word on his greatest literary creation—his own invented personality—is presented here in a new edition, completely faithful to Franklin’s manuscript.