Barbara P
Barbara P

Autobiography vs. Biography vs. Memoirs: The Differences & Similarities

5 min read

Published on: Sep 18, 2019

Last updated on: Nov 29, 2023

Autobiography vs Biography

Autobiographies, biographies, and memoirs are familiar ways to tell someone's story. But they aren't quite the same. Knowing the difference between them is crucial to getting your story right.

This blog is your guide to understanding the contrast between an autobiography, biography, and a memoir. We'll explain what sets them apart and what they have in common.

We will also include some examples to help you understand how to write these types of books. By uncovering these differences and similarities, we'll make it easier for both writers and readers to capture life stories. 

So, let’s dive right in!

On This Page

Understanding Autobiography

Writing an autobiography is different from a biography, although both describe the character of the story of one's life. 

An autobiography is a description of a person’s life written by that person. As the book is written by the author, they are the main characters. 

The aim of writing an autobiography is to describe the achievements and life experiences of the narrator. The autobiography format typically starts with early childhood and chronologically lists down life experiences. 

These include information about a person’s childhood, career, life choices, achievements, and the difficulties they face. 

Key Traits of an Autobiography

  • Written in the first person 
  • More subjective than biographies
  • Broad in scope often covers the writer’s entire life up to the present
  • Inform and explain the motive behind the subject’s actions

The “Story of My Life” by Helen Keller is a famous example of an autobiography. 

Here is another example of an autobiography for you to understand the key traits:

Expert Tip

You can also refer to some more autobiography examples online to get inspiration and write about your life.

Understanding Biography

A biography is the story of a person’s life written by someone else. Usually, people write biographies about famous personalities. 

Since the writer is telling the story of someone, that’s why biographies include a third-person perspective. 

Like an autobiography, biographies also cover the entire subject’s life. So, it is important to include details about birthplace, education, childhood, relationships, etc. 

Key Traits of a Biography

  • Written in the third person point of view
  • Follows chronological order
  • More formal than autobiographies
  • Cover the subject’s entire life
  • Requires more research and fact-checking to ensure all the details are correct

“His Excellency: George Washington” by Joseph J. Ellis and “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson are some of the key examples of a biography. 

Look at an example to help you understand:

Key Difference Between Autobiography and Biography - H2

Look at the key differences between autobiography and biography in the following table:

Aspect

Biography

Autobiography

Author

Written by someone else

Written by the subject

Permission

May or may not require permission

No permission required

Perspective

Derived from various sources, offers different angles

Biased, a narrow perspective from the author's view

Narrative Perspective

Third person

First-person

Connection with Readers

Less intimate connection

Intimate connection

Purpose

Inform readers about the person's life

Share the author's life experiences and perspective

Autobiography vs. Biography Examples 

Here are some examples below to get a better understanding of the concepts:

Comparison of the Examples:

While Maya's autobiography offers an intimate and personal narrative, Thompson's biography provides a more comprehensive view, incorporating external perspectives and societal contexts to present a multi-faceted portrayal of Maya Johnson's life.

How are they Different from a Memoir?

A memoir is similar to an autobiography as it is also the story of a person’s life written by that person.

The main difference between autobiography vs. memoir is that a memoir focuses on reflecting and establishing an emotional connection.

Writing a memoir not only presents the facts but also provides a personal and intimate story about the major happenings in their life.

Whereas a biography provides full contextual information that reads like a novel but is non-fiction in nature.

“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank is a famous example of a historic memoir. 

Autobiography vs. Biography vs. Memoir: Comparison Chart

Want to know more about autobiography vs. biography vs. memoir meaning and the key differences and similarities?

Here is a comparison chart for your help:

Autobiography 

Biography 

Memoir 

An account of the author’s life story

An account of a person’s life story by someone else

An account of personal experience or event 

Express or Inform 

Inform 

Express

First-person 

Third-person 

First-person

Based on emotions and thoughts

Based on facts from different sources

Based on personal thoughts, feelings, and reactions.

Hopefully, the above guide helps you understand the difference between an autobiography, a biography, and a memoir.

For a successful autobiography, you need to tell your story in a way to make your readers feel in your place.

Writing a captivating autobiography is not an easy task. You need to plan your time, read books for inspiration, and search for information about various writing styles and formats.

If this seems like an overwhelming task to you, then get help from a legitimate essay writing service online.

Simply contact us and share your initial requirements, and we will get back to you in no time.

Barbara P

WRITTEN BY

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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