Life Stories: The Art of Autobiography

Ref: C2420725

The course will cover a diversity of autobiographical writings in different genres in prose narratives, diaries and letters and poetry. There will be a consideration of how writers select and edit material for these works and also how they reflect the eras in which they are written. Works to be covered will be as follows: John Betjeman: Summoned by Bells M.V.Hughes: A London Child of the 1870s V.S. Pritchett: A Cab at the Door George Orwell: Such, Such Were the Joys The Two Bennetts: The diaries of Arnold and Alan Bennett

Course aim

An exploration of a wide range of autobiographical writings from the 19th to 21st centuries, considering such issues as why authors write about themselves and what this writing reveals (or conceals) about their lives.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • approach texts with an enhanced critical appreciation.
  • express opinions and responses with increased confidence.
  • have a greater awareness that there is a wide range of autobiographical writing.
  • have some understanding of how autobiographical writing has developed and changed over time.

How will I be taught?

  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • Students will be expected to read certain specific texts in advance of the session in which they will be studied and discussed.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • Students will need to obtain their own copies of full texts to be studied. the tutor will provide handouts of extracts from other texts.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full course information sheet

Life Stories: The Art of Autobiography


This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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