Commonly used in the formula The life and times of ...

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    I don't see anything much beyond literal interpretation of the words life and times used in this way. Why should one expect to find an 'origin', just because this transparent phrase has often been used in the title (or rider to the title) of numerous biographies? – FumbleFingers Jul 4 '11 at 16:40
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    Voting to close on the grounds that I can't see any useful information about English language or usage being sought by the question, or likely to be offered by any answers. – FumbleFingers Jul 4 '11 at 17:51

I found this use of the phrase in a collection of letters by Francis Bacon published posthumously in 1702 by historian Robert Stephens. The placement of the letter in the collection dates it around 1606.


So the phrase may be as old as the early 1600s, but didn't appear in print until a century later.


The earliest use that I can find was a biography of Cecil Rhodes (of Rhodesia and Rhodes Scholar fame), The Life and Times of the Right Honorable Cecil John Rhodes, 1910.

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    You'll have to dig deeper than that! Here's one James Turner (1632-1670), who apparently wrote Memoirs of his own Life and Times. – FumbleFingers Jul 5 '11 at 0:35
  • @Fumble: This was published in 1829 by others who had found his original handwritten manuscripts. It was they who gave it that title. So while @Malvolio is off by a bit, there doesn't seem to be much use of the phrase before 1700. – Callithumpian Jul 5 '11 at 3:05
  • @Callithumpian: I'm not actually disputing what you say, but how can you tell it was the later publishers who gave it that title? I have no real research facilities - I just assumed it was from Turner himself because of of the word "own". – FumbleFingers Jul 5 '11 at 16:26
  • @FumbleFingers -- it also uses the word "his"... – Malvolio Jul 5 '11 at 16:30
  • @Fumble: I skimmed the Preliminary Notice section of the book which tells how it came about. Also, the subsequent Appendix shows several of Turner's original section titles that frequently use the phrase my life. If he had formulated the title given to his published writings, I'm sure it would have been Memoirs of my own Life and Times as @Malvolio hinted. – Callithumpian Jul 5 '11 at 16:55

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