Barbara P
Barbara P

Basic Types of Autobiography Writing With Examples

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Types of Autobiography

Are you fascinated by the various ways individuals choose to tell their life stories?

When it comes to sharing life stories, autobiographies offer a diverse landscape. The word autobiography simply relates to someone sharing their life’s experiences, challenges, and achievements.

But, there are different approaches taken to writing an autobiography, and we’ll help you understand how to differentiate between them. 

In this blog, we’ll introduce you to the 6 types of autobiography with examples, and compare them to let you decide which type suits your needs the best.

So without further ado, let’s get started! 

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  • 1. How Many Types of Autobiography Are There?
  • 2. Difference Between the Types of Autobiography Writing
  • 3. Types of Autobiography in Literature

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 subgenre of biographies. The difference between autobiography vs. biography is that a biography is written by someone else, whereas an autobiography is written by the subject themselves. 

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 

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

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 entire 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 great traditional autobiography example is the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, written by Benjamin himself, one of the forefathers 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, 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 who has shaped you as a person.

Although a memoir is a subtype of autobiography, there are some differences between autobiography vs. memoir. An autobiography covers the author’s entire life, while a memoir only shares a part of the author’s life. 

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

Personal Essay

Being one of the oldest types, a personal essay is the most artistic and intimate form of autobiographical writing. 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.

A good example to consider is the ‘Collected Schizophrenias’ by Esmé Weijun Wang

Overcoming adversity

Not all people are living a 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 great 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 on the purpose that you want to fulfill. No matter what type you decide, make sure you follow the correct autobiography format while writing one.

Now, let’s see how these autobiography types differentiate from each other!

Difference Between the Types of Autobiography Writing

Each type of autobiography has its 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
It 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.It 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 facts as they were experienced by the person.Presents information and facts 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 at any time.Can be written at any time.Can be written at any time.Can be written at 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 the following broad categories. 

Thematic Autobiography

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. 

‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ is a great example of a thematic autobiography by Maya Angelou.

Chronological Autobiography

A chronological autobiography is a type of life narrative where the author presents their life story in sequential order. It starts from childhood and progresses through various life stages.

Through this autobiography type, the author aims to provide a comprehensive and structured overview of their experiences, allowing readers to follow the natural progression of events over time.

One famous example of a chronological autobiography is ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank. 

Religious/Spiritual Autobiography

A religious autobiography is a compilation of events or experiences written by a 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. 

A great example of religious autobiography includes ‘The Seven-Storey Mountain’ by Thomas Merton.

Intellectual Autobiography

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. 

One exceptional example of a historical autobiography is ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X.’

Historical Autobiography

Historical autobiography is about combining personal narrative with a broader historical context. In this autobiography type, the author places their life experiences in the context of significant historical events. 

This kind of autobiography often includes observations and reflections on the societal, political, or cultural aspects of the author’s era. 

Enea Silvio Piccolomini's autobiography, ‘The Commentaries,’ is a wonderful example of a historical autobiography.

Fictional Autobiography

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.

A worth mentioning example of a fictional autobiography is  ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

To conclude,
After having thoroughly read this blog, we hope that you were able to understand what are the different types of autobiography. 

With the differences between autobiography types and examples mentioned in this blog, you should be able to write an autobiography that perfectly fits your style and story.  However, not everyone can convey their stories effectively! 

Worry not, you can leverage our expert writers for any type of autobiography writing. Our skilled writing specialists can help you create an interesting narrative of your life. 

Just visit our essay writing service, and we’ll help you perfect your autobiographical writing game.  

Keep the words flowing!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to start an autobiography?

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Begin with a captivating anecdote, a reflective moment, or a defining event that sets the tone for your life story, drawing readers into your narrative.

What types of pronouns are used in an autobiography?

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Autobiographies typically use first-person pronouns (I, me, my) since the author is recounting their own experiences and perspectives.

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Barbara P


Barbara P

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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