On this page I take a look at the three autobiographies which have, probably, sold the most globally.Certain autobiographical books, such as Hitler's Mein Kampf, have been distributed freely and at no cost for a very long time (in the case of Mein Kampf it was printed and circulated as political propaganda) and as the penetration of the works are much greater than the estimated sales figures.Sales statistics for autobiographies are hard to come by, and whilst I would have loved to have produced a top ten list the information is just not freely available; feel free to share any additional knowledge that you have in the comments box.
The 3 Top Selling Autobiographies Of All Time
A look at the books which are believed to be the three best selling autobiographies of all time.
1. The Diary of Anne Frank (1947) - 30 Million Copies
The Diary of a Young Girl is a diary kept by a young Dutch girl for two years, whilst in hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The family were apprehended in 1944 and moved to a concentration camp where the young girl, Anne Frank, died of typhus in 1945. The girls father, Otto Frank, retrieved the diary following the war and it was published in 1947. The English translation was released in both the UK and the US in 1952 and led to an adaption for a 1955 play and in 1959 a movie, it remains by far the bestselling autobiography of all time.
The book proved highly popular in Holland and by 1950 it was already on its sixth edition, albeit the early copies were heavily edited so as to not offend conservatives in the country - included in the memoirs were several references to her emerging homosexuality. Within a decade of the books release it had been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and Greek. There were many accusations that Otto Frank had written the memoirs himself, and that Anne Frank had never in fact written a diary, these allegations were proved incorrect after Otto Frank left the original memoirs to the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation in his will.
2. The Happy Hooker: My Own Story (1971) - 20 million copies
The second bestselling autobiography of all time is believed to be, perhaps surprisingly, the story of Xaviera Hollander - a former call girl and madam. The book, The Happy Hooker: My Own Story, was first published in 1971 and has since sold over 20 million copies globally.Xaviera Hollander first moved to America in the early sixties whilst in her early twenties and landed a job as a secretary at the Dutch consulate in Manhattan, a job that she willingly left in 1968 to become a $1,000 per night call girl.
By the end of 1969 she had opened her first brothel called The Vertical Whorehouse and soon became the most successful madam in New York. She was forced to leave the US in 1971 after being arrested by New York police, settling instead in Toronto, and in the same year released her memoirs. The book was seen as pioneering at the time, particularly for its very liberal outlook. Xaviera Hollander now lives in Holland, the country of her fathers birth. The book is now seen as a classic and still sells well.
3. Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf (1925) - Over 10 million copies
Mein Kampf is a semi-autobiographical book written by the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, he started the book whilst imprisoned for political crimes in late 1923. The book is considered only partly an autobiography as it is includes extensive detailing and explanation of his political ideology, effectively mapping out a long term political manifesto and his plan for the expansion of Germany and the eradication of Jews and Communism. He refused almost all visitation requests whilst imprisoned in order to dedicate his time to the book and it was whilst incarcerated that he realised that the book would have to be published in two volumes, the first volume was released in July 1925.
The book was initially intended for existing cult followers of his National Socialism ideology, and in order to pay costs associated with his criminal trial. Mein Kampf was to prove immediately popular and his following increased significantly, he was able to purchase a Mercedes car whilst still in prison. It was not until his rise to power in 19xx that the book became a German institution, it effectively served as the Nazi Bible and in 1933 alone the book generated an estimated 250 times the income of the typical school teacher for Hitler. During WWII the book was distributed for free to every serving German soldier and every newlywed couple, if it weren't for this free distribution the book may well have claimed the right to be called the best selling autobiography of all time; it had 10 million copies by the end of the war nonetheless before being for sale in Germany ever since. An annotated version is expected to be made available in 2015, for the first time in over seventy years. It could well be that Mein Kampf becomes the bestselling autobiography after all.