What is a Biography vs. Autobiography?

What is an autobiography?

An autobiography is a non-fiction literary format that is a self-written account of a person’s life. After all, the word ‘autobiography’ means self (auto), life (bio), and writing (graph). Some significant figures and celebrities have written autobiographies that we can see on the shelves of bookshops. However, anyone can write their life story as an autobiography.

Well-known or well-renowned people most commonly write this writing style. Autobiographies are registered as an opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences.

What is a biography?

A biography is a similar form of writing, as it also tells the story of an individual’s life. Again, a memoir is commonly written as a non-fiction recount of a famous person’s life. They include factual details as well as personal stories. Biography texts can also focus on an event in history.

What are the similarities between biography and autobiography?

Read the similarities between a biography and an autobiography below.

  • Non-fiction: Both biographies and autobiographies are non-fiction texts. The definition of non-fiction is any writing created to relay the truth or information of actual events to the audience – it’s the opposite of fiction. It’s often misidentified as the statement of facts, but non-fiction can still form a narrative.
  • Timeline: Both forms of writing are most commonly written in chronological order. This means that they write events from birth to death or the present day.
  • Purpose: Although different people write biographies and autobiographies, they are written for the same purpose. These narratives aim to inform the reader about the facts, events, and experiences from someone’s life.
  • Focus/ subject: Both are also commonly written for this purpose about a significant or notable person. For example, many actors, scientists, politicians, celebrities, and historical figures have biographies and autobiographies.

What is the difference between biography and autobiography writing?

Although both forms of writing are non-fiction recounts of an individual’s life, there are several differences between these two forms of writing. These include:

  • Authors: The most significant difference between biography and autobiography writing is the author. Autobiographies are written by the individual that is featured in the text. On the other hand, biographies can be written about anyone and by anyone. This could suggest that biographies present less accurate representations of a person’s personal experiences.
  • Permissions: Anyone can write an autobiography about themselves. However, things become trickier when a writer writes a biography about another person. Biographies can be registered with or without permission, and autobiographies require zero approval! That said, those created with permission may be more accurate or factual.
  • Narrative voice: Another difference between biography and autobiography texts is the narrative voice. Autobiography texts are written in first-person narratives (using I and me). Meanwhile, biographies are written in third-person narratives. This third-person narrative is much less personal.
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