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My Autobiography (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Charles Chaplin , David Robinson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 April 2003 Penguin Modern Classics

A silent comedy star whose legendary slapstick routines are recognisable to this day, Charles 'Charlie' Chaplin's My Autobiography is an incomparably vivid account of the life of one of the greatest filmmakers and comedians, with an introduction by David Robinson

As a child, Charlie Chaplin was awed and inspired by the sight of glamorous vaudeville stars passing his home, and from then on he never lost his ambition to become an actor. Chaplin's film career as the Little Tramp adored by the whole world is the stuff of legend, but this frank autobiography shows another side. Born into a theatrical family, Chaplin's father died of drink while his mother, unable to bear the poverty, suffered from bouts of insanity. From a childhood of grinding poverty in the south London slums, Chaplin found an escape in his early debut on the music hall stage, followed by his lucky break in America, the founding of United Artists with D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks, the struggle to maintain artistic control over his work, the string of failed marriages, and his eventual exile from Hollywood after personal scandals and persecution for his left-wing politics during the McCarthy Era.

Sir Charles 'Charlie' Chaplin (1895-1976) was born in Walworth, London. Best known for his work in silent film, his most famous role was The Little Tramp, a universally recognisable and iconic character who appeared in films such as The Kid (1921), The Gold Rush (1925) and City Lights (1931). His other films include Modern Times (1936), a commentary on the Great Depression, and The Great Dictator (1940), a satirical attack on Hitler and the Nazis.

If you enjoyed My Autobiography, you might like Andy Warhol's The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Tells so much about this curious, difficult man ... a wonderfully vivid imagination'

The New York Times

'The only genius to come out of the movie industry'

George Bernard Shaw

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (24 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141011475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141011479
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

CHARLES CHAPLIN [1889-1977] was one of the greatest of all filmmakers and comedians.

DAVID ROBINSON is the author of CHAPLIN: HIS LIFE AND ART (also published by Penguin)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I was born on 16 April 1889, at eight o'clock at night, in East Lane, Walworth. Read the first page
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of a Genius.......... 28 Oct 2007
In early Hollywood cinema there were only a few leading lights and Charlie Chaplin was one of them.Famous for his clowning and mime,he has been copied and imitated right into the twenty first century.This book take us by the land and leads us from the poverty of Victorian England to the glam and glitz of Hollywood.
Charlie was born in South London in the latter part of the 19th century and both of his parents were music hall entertainers.He lived mainly with his mother and first stepped onto the stage as a young boy after his mother lost her voice and could no longer sing.After spells in Victorian workhouses and pauper schools,Charlie and his brother Sydney fell into life on the road as part of several troups of touring productions,one of which took them to America....
To review this book in total would take pages and pages.He writes beautifully and if selective memory kicks in on occasion, well,that's his perogative.His life story is a fascinating insight into so many things,Victorian London~Victorian Music Hall~Early Cinema and much more.He recounts conversations and meetings with many historical figures including Winston Churchill and Ghandi.
I would highly recommend this book for many reasons but to sum up ~ buy this book 'cause it's a thumping good read!!.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings a lost world into focus... 16 Feb 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've never been a fan of Chaplin but I watched the broadcast of 'Chaplin' the movie recently and I was sufficiently impressed to buy this autobiography upon which it was allegedly based. I thought the film to be quite good until I read the book and realised that much of the screenplay is invented or warped. Chaplins own version of events is informative, well written and engaging. He spends some time explaining his impoverished early years in Victorian London and its facinating stuff: really brings the era to colourful life. His mother, portrayed very negatively in the the film, was actually a warm and imaginative character who I would love to meet (way too late of course).
Chaplin describes the early days of movie making with great eloquence (he did NOT make his Keystone debut by walking into a shoot by mistake - that's pure invention for the movie) and again it is fascinating. If the past is a foreign country we can never visit then this is the definitive travelogue for early 20th Century Hollywood. Great stuff and recommended. I even might buy a Chaplin DVD!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 4 Dec 2008
Charlie Chaplin's life story makes a real page-turner of a book. The misery of his first twelve years had me almost in tears; he lived with his mentally ill mother in an endless series of tiny rooms in the worst slums of Victorian London. Charlie lived on pennies a week and was eventually sent to a workhouse for over a year where the beatings were right out of Dickens. What a contrast to his adult life! While traveling in a vaudeville show in the U.S. he was invited to Hollywood where he created the character of the tramp and rose to international fame and fortune.

Chaplin writes in a very readable style, recounting the horrors and high points of his life with fascinating detail (except for his many love affairs and marriages which are barely mentioned). He socialized with royalty and traveled the world, yet he never forgot his humble beginnings. Highly recommended, especially for film fans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My beloved book 14 Aug 2011
By Magdala
I read it first when I was about 16-17 and even now after many years I sill like to come back to it to read it again. One can feel Chaplin's spirit of it and well writen book just invites you to spend a couple of nights with it instead of waching all the TV nonsense. The same as in his movies also in his writing Chaplin has the touch that can reach both viewer and reader/listener. Don't expet any wild actions or surprises to be revealed. It is simply a description of the guy's life both with his sorrows and joys. Rich life. Recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! What a lovely Surprise 23 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A few months ago whilst on business on a rainy day in Kennington South London, I found myself standing outside a house with a blue plaque "Charlie Chaplin lived here ...".

I then saw this book "Charles Chaplin My Autobiography" and bought it out of curiosity and for something to read on the Tube-not expecting very much.

I was was completely wrong. It is brilliant so well written and the way Charlie writes is so vivid & engaging. He clearly was often very interested in the people he met and what motivated them and the situations in which he found himself.

It certainly pushed asided the preconceptions I had about him as just playing the "little tramp" and just being a silent movie star without much relevance to modern times. On the contrary his life was astonishingly rich and he was greatly loved and respected by people of all walks of life. But although he became very wealthly, he never forgot where he came from and he supported socialism. He suffered for this at the hands of the American authorities during the McCarthy Era and the anti communist witch hunts.

As regards the criticism by another reviewer of his film "the Great Dictator" and the way it pokes fun at Hitler and the Nazi's. Well seeing the funny side is a very English way of dealing with monsters. But when Charlie made that film he did not know about the concentration camps. We know about them but we still poke fun at the Nazis in comedies such as "Allo Allo"

This book is definitely a good read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best.
Certainly one of the best autobiographies I have read. For anyone interested in the birth of cinema it is a must. Read more
Published 2 months ago by marleyboy
5.0 out of 5 stars Charlie Chaplin
Not read book myself as bought as present for mother, who was interested in his life, after watching a TV programme about life in the work house.
Published 2 months ago by indigo goat
2.0 out of 5 stars I love Chaplin, but he is quite boring
For a boy who grew up on the streets of London with little education Chaplin writes very well, the trouble is he does not go into any of the interesting things that happened to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Barlo
5.0 out of 5 stars How this autobiography was written?
As a huge fan of CC I try to read everything I get and this autobiography, bought in a remote shop in Windsor cannot be an exeption. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Alenka
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good.
I purchased this for my boyfriend as part of his birthday presents. Hes a huge chaplin fan and after looking at the massive choice of books out there about Chaplin, I soon realised... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Pen Name
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointed.
Book came with no dust jacket, as shown in the picture. Condition of the book was fair at best. Good read though.
Published 7 months ago by ColchesterMark
5.0 out of 5 stars Love This Book
Nearly wore out my paperback copy of this. Easily my favourite book ever. Must have read it a hundred times at least!
Published 7 months ago by TraceyBee
4.0 out of 5 stars worth reading
I liked it and the ability to say how his life has been in cinema is worth reading. All can see to themselves
Published 8 months ago by Sav
5.0 out of 5 stars -
Was given as a gift, and very much appreciated.
Found that after the recipient had read the book, it became a very interesting topic of conversation!
Published 10 months ago by Elliror94
5.0 out of 5 stars Briiliant
Charlie was a real creative survivor and someone who loved his Art. He had something to say, that was worth taking the time to listen to. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Philip Martin Hammond
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