Autobiography and Narratives
Mill’s Autobiography was published posthumously in 1873. The first six chapters had been drafted by 1854; they covered his life up to 1840 (CW, vol. I, pp. xxi–ii). His wife edited his early draft. The Mills thought the book important; it was to contain a condensed summary of their opinions, to be offered to the world after their deaths. They knew that some of those opinions would be unpopular, but were all the more determined to assert them; this was particularly the case with Mill’s avowed religious agnosticism. The Autobiography was also to be a defence of their relationship, showing that it had been purely spiritual before the death of Harriet’s husband John Taylor and their subsequent marriage. It justifies Mill’s devotion to Harriet in terms of the transcendent qualities of her mind. The final chapter, ‘General view of the remainder of my life’ was written after 1869.
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