The Autobiography of William Allen White

Second Edition, Revised and Abridged

William Allen White Sally Foreman Griffith, editor

Abridged and edited for the modern reader and available in paperback for the first time ever, this second edition brings back into print a classic autobiography of Middle America—an immensely readable document that enriches our understanding of Progressivism and politics, journalism, and the social history of small-town America from Reconstruction into the Roaring Twenties.

At the time of his death in 1944, William Allen White, editor of the Emporia Gazette, was a national celebrity, proclaimed one of the truly great Americans of his age. Life magazine called him "a living symbol of small-town simplicity and kindliness and common sense."

“A crackling good read. Griffith, in slicing off fat and organizing the material more sensibly, has really made the autobiography much more accessible to modern readers. After all, White himself would have done some such editing job had he lived. . . . Griffith's introduction is informative and entertaining.”

—George Juergens, author of Joseph Pulitzer and the New York World and News from the White House

“Compulsively readable; White knew “everyone” in his day, and he has a wonderful journalistic talent for the memorable and evocative story. . . . The book is both an important political and cultural document and a lasting example of the autobiographical art, a classic of the genre. I welcome its reissue.”

—Paul Boyer, Henry R. Luce Visiting Professor of American Culture, Northwestern University, author of Urban Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820–1920

During his career White had managed to expand his circle of influence far beyond Emporia Kansas to include most of the nation. By the end of his life he had become a nationally acclaimed journalist and author of biographies, novels, and short stories. He was also widely known for his shrewd commentary on contemporary events in the national media. An influential Republican political leader, he founded the Progressive party and was a longtime advocate of social reform and individual rights. But what endeared him most to his contemporaries was that, in spite of national fame, he remained first and foremost a small-town newspaperman.

First published posthumously in 1946, White's Autobiography was immediately hailed as a classic portrait, not simply of White himself, but of the men and women who transformed America from an agrarian society to a powerful industrial nation in the years before World War I. A bestselling Book-of-the-Month Club selection, the Autobiography was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1947.

This new edition, edited to eliminate repetitions and digressions, features an introduction by Sally Foreman Griffith, author of a recent biography of White. Griffith explores the background of the Autobiography and illuminates its place in the development of the autobiographical genre.

About the Author

Sally Foreman Griffith, assistant professor of history at Villanova University, is the author of Home Town News: William Allen White and the Emporia Gazette and is herself the daughter and granddaughter of small-town newspaper publishers.