David Hume's memoir

Pages 32 and 33 of printed autiobiography


Pages 32 and 33 of David Hume's autobiography, published as'The life of David Hume' (London, 1777).

David Hume wrote his brief memoir, 'My own life',  in April 1776 as he was dying. At just over 12 pages, the manuscript is perhaps the shortest autobiography of any great man written in the English language.

Hume had his posthumous reputation in mind when he wrote it. Towards the end he switches to writing in the past tense, as if death had already claimed him.

[NLS shelfmark: RB.s.1253(2)]

[Manuscript reference: MS.23159, no 23]

Hume's manuscript and the published autobiography featured in the David Hume display at the National Library of Scotland from 5 May to 28 June 2011.

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