Me: Stories of My Life – Katharine Hepburn | Non-Fiction Bookish Thoughts

With characteristic gusto and candor, Katharine Hepburn reflects on the events, people, and places that have shaped her life–her childhood and family, her early days in New York, and her experiences with political activism. She talks about the ups and downs of her career, her long friendship with Spencer Tracy, and of course, her close collaborations with several of the leading actors, directors, and producers of the past half century. Illustrated with 165 photographs from family archives, many of which have never been published, it is an unforgettable portrait of Katharine Hepburn as we have not seen her before.

Published: 1991 | Add on: Goodreads or TheStoryGraph

My Thoughts:

I picked up Me: The Stories of My Life on a whim; in the three moments I had to browse my library’s biographies, this was the only one that caught my eye. Having never watched one of Hepburn’s films, I went into this book only knowing Katharine Hepburn’s name and the fact that she was a famous actress. My lack of knowledge about Hepburn certainly must place me in a small percentage of readers who have picked up the book over the past thirty years, but it made for a rich reading experience (and I now am quite interested in watching one of Hepburn’s movies). 

Written while Hepburn was her eighties, Me: The Stories of My Life ismade up of chapters of reflection on her life. It is entertaining, cryptic and unlike any other memoir I’ve read. Hepburn begins by sharing snippets of her childhood – the intelligence of her parents and their friends, time spent at the lovely Fenwick, the tragic death of her older brother and her self-confident steps into the world of theater. 

As time goes on, Hepburn dives into her career as a movie actress, treating us to a collection of notes and memories from, what seems to be, dozens of films. Hepburn introduces us to the actors, actresses and directors whom she had the privilege of working with and who she admired. Her way of writing – short paragraphs, a sentence here and there – keep you wanting more and often wishing that Hepburn would go into slightly more detail. 

Me: The Stories of My Life is divided into six parts, encompassing all of Hepburn’s life up to its publication. The focus is undoubtedly Hepburn’s work, her love for it and her self-deprecating acknowledgment of her largely self-centered personality.

Although the reader is introduced to a handful of men who it seems that Hepburn was connected to for various periods of time, the only two men actually given page space are Ludlow Ogden Smith and Spencer Tracy. Hepburn shares that between these two men she experienced what she referred to as the two great kinds of love. Through her marriage to Luddy, Hepburn experienced being loved unconditionally, being taken care of and always put first. In Hepburn’s relationship with Spencer, the roles were flipped and she found herself being the one who loved unconditionally: caring for and putting her partner first. 

In all Me: The Stories of My Life is an oddly fascinating read; it partly satisfied my desire to learn more about Old Hollywood and was throughly enjoyable. 

Have you ever watched one of Katharine Hepburn’s movies? How do you feel about old movies?

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