Barbara P
Barbara P

Basic Types of Autobiography Writing With Examples

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Published on: Sep 10, 2019

Last updated on: Feb 27, 2023

Types of Autobiography

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If you have something interesting to share, the best way to treat it like a story is to write an autobiography. Writing an autobiography is a great way to share your life story and provide a keepsake for your family and friends.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be famous for writing your autobiography. Some people write a memoir simply because they enjoy writing, while others want to write about their life for future generations. The main difference between autobiography vs memoir is that autobiography covers the author’s entire life. While memoir only shares a part of the author’s life.

No matter what type of autobiography you are planning to write, it should be both interesting and informative.

In this guide, we will discuss the types of autobiography for you to choose from when writing about your life.

How Many Types of Autobiography are There?

There are many types of autobiography written for different purposes such as memory, religious experience, etc.

Autobiographies are a sub-genre of the main category of biographies. The difference between autobiography vs biography is very obvious. A biography is written by someone else, whereas an autobiography is written by the subject.

There are 6 types of autobiography that you can choose depending upon what you want to include in your autobiography.

  1. Full autobiography
  2. Memoir
  3. Personal essay
  4. Confession
  5. Psychological illness
  6. Overcoming adversity

Refer to the following section for a brief description of each type of autobiography.

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Full Autobiography

This type of autobiography revolves around a complete life story from birth to the present time. Authors choose to write a full autobiography if their whole life is different from others.

With a full or traditional autobiography, you let your readers know about the real you and give them inside information.

An example of a full autobiography is ‘A Life’ by Elia Kaza. Another good example is the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin written by one of the founding fathers of the United States.


A memoir focuses on a specific place, time, or relationship. Memoirs are written from the first-person point of view.

More limited than the traditional autobiography as it focuses more on an important part of your life.

It can be about your childhood years and what made you who you are now. It can be about your relationship with someone that has shaped you as a person.

For example, a famous memoir is Henry David Thoreau's Walden.

Personal Essay

It is one of the oldest forms of autobiographical writing. A personal essay is the most artistic and intimate form of writing as compared to the other three types. This type of writing does not focus much on the story but on the tone and style.

You need to present an aspect of your life or a journey combined with your emotions, thoughts, and personal realization.

A great personal essay example is ‘A Natural History of the Senses’ by Diane Ackerman.


This type of autobiography is written by those who have done something wrong. They find comfort in writing about their mistakes in the hope that other people will learn from them. Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau is a good example to consider.

Psychological illness

In this autobiography, people who have suffered from any kind of mental illness find it therapeutic to pen down their thoughts.

Although there are specialists who listen to people’s problems to help them feel better. Many people find it more relieving to write down their stories.

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang is a good example to consider.

Overcoming adversity

Not all people are living happy and satisfying life. Many face terrible events such as accidents, kidnapping, murder, etc.

Sharing such stories can inspire others and also help them in expressing their emotions to heal.

A good example of this autobiography is The Center of the Universe by Nancy Bachrach.

These are the basic types of autobiography that you can choose depending upon the purpose that you want to fulfill. No matter what type you choose, make sure you follow the correct autobiography format. This will make the writing more interesting and creative.

Difference Between the Types of Autobiography Writing

Writing any type of autobiography is difficult. You need to tell a true story and share the details as accurately as possible. You also need to make the experience enjoyable for the readers.

There are different types of formats authors use to share their stories with the world. Each type of autobiography has its own distinct characteristics. So, it is important to understand the difference between each type to ensure you are following the correct scope throughout.

Here is a full comparison chart to help you understand what is the difference between the six types of autobiography.

Full AutobiographyMemoirPersonal EssayConfessionPsychological illnessOvercoming adversity
Is about one’s own life.It is about a specific time, place, or experience in a person’s life.It typically discusses an event or specific part of life.Is about decisions and mistakes in life.It is written by individuals who have suffered from mental illness.It typically discusses how people conquer life’s challenges.
Presents information and fact as they were experienced by the person.Presents information and fact as they were experienced by the person.It does not focus on the story but on style and tone.It presents information so that other people can learn from it.It focuses on a story that helped people to deal with their mental disorders.It presents a story in a way that other people can inspire and learn from.
Usually written later in life.Can be written anytimeCan be written any time.Can be written any time.Can be written any time.Can be written any time.
Written in the first person.Written in the first personWritten in the first personWritten in the first personWritten in the first personWritten in the first person
Usually about famous people but it can be about anybodyCan be about anybody.Can be about anybody.Can be about anybody.Can be about anybody.Usually about famous people but it can be about anybody.

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Types of Autobiography in Literature

In literature, autobiographies can be divided into four broad categories.

  • Thematic

    It is a type of autobiography in which a writer describes and recounts the life of the subject. But it emphasizes some other issues.

    The aim of writing a thematic autobiography is to not only provide facts but also a predetermined point of view.

  • Religious/Spiritual Autobiography

    A religious autobiography is a compilation of events or experiences written by that person to show their connection to God. It is also known as a spiritual autobiography.

    The author goes through a period of events that leads to their ultimate experience of salvation.

    Examples of religious autobiography include The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton.

  • Intellectual

    Intellectual autobiography is about reflecting on your journey and identifying the key experiences that have led to your career choice.

    It is an intellectual autobiography where the readers are interested in what has shaped your thinking. It shows the events that guided your intellectual journey.

  • Fictional

    Fictional autobiography is about the truthful telling of the author’s experience. It has some sections fictionalized to protect the identity of people.

    In this type of autobiography, events can be exaggerated or altered for thematic or artistic purposes.

    We all have stories worth telling, but not everyone is good enough to put those into meaningful words. No doubt, unfolding a life full of happenings in a page or two can certainly make you anxious.

To cover the truth with the specificity of dates and facts is the basic requirement of an accurate autobiography. With such technicalities, writing a captivating autobiography is certainly a difficult task.

By hiring professional essay writers, you can have a perfect autobiography of any type. Experienced autobiography writers can help you create an interesting narrative of your life.

In order to inquire about your autobiography request, contact our online writing service, and we will get back to you in no time.

Barbara P


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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