Lately, I’ve been reading biographies of historical figures to learn about the unique habits and mindsets of some of the greatest creative pioneers who have ever lived.

I find that reading biographies allows me to get inside the minds of history’s greatest geniuses and temporarily see the world from their unique perspective. I find it’s refreshing to read about their courage and grit on the long, bumpy road to acheiving massive success.

I only recently started reading biographies because I was noticing that in interviews with successful entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, they often talked about how they spend their free time reading and drawing inspiration from biographies.

So, after a summer of regularly listening to biographies in audiobook format while walking the seawall by my home, I thought I’d share some of the best biographies of history’s creative geniuses with you.

I have included links to each of these biographies as free ebooks (they are all in the public domain) so you can read them on any device at your leisure. Personally, I prefer to listen to the audiobooks so I’ve included links to them as well.

I hope these amazing biographies inspire you to do something truly exceptional with your own unique talents and gifts.

1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

Read the thoughts on life, invention and achievement of legendary American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. This autobiography is a true classic. Given this quote below, it is ironic that his face graces the front of the $100 dollar bill.

"Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants." - Benjamin Franklin (Quote)

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: Free EbookFree Audiobook

 

2. My Inventions: The Autobiography Of Nikola Tesla by Nikola Tesla

The Serbian scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla practically invented the 20th century. He developed A/C electricity, x-rays, the radio transmitters, the laser and he laid the groundwork for wireless communication. In his autobiography My Inventions, he tells his amazing life story and he shares his unique process of discovery and invention.

“My method is different. I do not rush into actual work. When I get an idea I start at once building it up in my imagination. I change the construction, make improvements, and operate the device entirely in my mind.” - Nikola Tesla (Quote)

My Inventions: The Autobiography Of Nikola Tesla: Free EbookFree Audiobook

 

3. The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Yogananda was an Indian yogi who introduced millions of Westerners to the teachings of meditation and yoga. His fascinating life story is told in the The Autobiography of a Yogi, which was Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs’ favorite book.

“You must not let your life run in the ordinary way; do something that nobody else has done, something that will dazzle the world. Show that God's creative principle works in you.” - Yogananda (Quote)

The Autobiography of a Yogi: Free EbookFree Audiobook

 

4. The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

Think you’ve got problems? Helen Keller was blind, deaf, and dumb, yet she did so many amazing things in her life. Her impressive story is the stuff of legend and it will inspire you to see beyond your own limitations and realize that you can do great things.

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” - Helen Keller (Quote)

The Story of My Life: Free EbookFree Audiobook

 

5. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Solomon Northup was an American abolitionist who was born of a freed slave in New York but was kidnapped as a young man and sold into slavery in the South. In this classic book, he eloquently chronicles the trials and tribulations of his 12 years as a slave in the state of Lousiana.

“I could not comprehend the justice of that law, or that religion, which upholds or recognizes the principle of slavery.” - Solomon Northup (Quote)

Twelve Years a Slave: Free EbookFree Audiobook

 

6. Walden, and On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau was a poet, philosopher and naturalist who was inspired by a unique blend of Indian philosophy and American ideals of liberty and self-reliance to go back to nature. He lived in a small cabin on Walden Pond in New England and wrote this classic treatise on the importance of freedom and self-determination.

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” - Henry David Thoreau (Quote)

Walden, and On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience: Free EbookFree Audiobook

 

7. Edison: His Life and Inventions by Frank Lewis Dyer and Thomas Commerford Martin

Thomas Edison is best known as the inventor of the light bulb and the telegraph. He was a prolific inventor and a savvy businessman who held more than 1,000 patents for his inventions. He also single-handedly crafted the modern image we have of the brilliant inventor.

“Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability.... We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” - Thomas Edison (Quote)

Edison: His Life and Inventions: Free EbookFree Audiobook

 

8. Leonardo Da Vinci by Maurice W. Brockwell

The archetypal renaissance man, Leonardo Da Vinci was a self-educated man and a leading artist, inventor and intellectual during the Italian Renaissance. From his humble beginnings as a bastard child, he would rise to make his mark on history by transforming the art, culture and technology of this era.

“Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has no effect without cause nor invention without necessity.” - Leonardo Da Vinci (Quote)

Leonardo Da Vinci: Free Ebook

 

9. My Life and Work by Henry Ford

Henry Ford was an influencial American industrialist who founded the Ford Motor Company and pioneered the development of assembly line mass production. He didn’t invent the car or the assembly line but he used these technologies to innovate and transform the world. He also had a lot of interesting political and philosophical views.

“You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.” - Henry Ford (Quote)

Henry Ford: My Life and Work: Free EbookFree Audiobook

 

10. The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie by Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie was a self-made steel tycoon and philanthropist who became the richest man in the world in the 19th century. He invested his fortune by building libraries across the world that still bear his name. He also commissioned a book that is widely regarded as one of the most influential personal development books of all time, Think And Grow Rich.

“People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.” - Andrew Carnegie (Quote)

The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie: Free EbookFree Audiobook

 

What’s Your Favorite Biography?

I hope you enjoy the biographies of these men and women who dedicated themselves to the betterment of mankind.

Do you have a favorite biography that has inspired you? Please feel free to share it with everyone in the comments.