Difference Between Autobiography and Biography

Main Difference – Autobiography vs Biography

Biography and Autobiography are two forms of literature that are often confused to be the same due to the similarity in their meaning. Both are accounts of an individual’s life, but the difference exists in the authorship. The main difference between autobiography and biography is that the autobiography is a life story of a person written by that person himself while biography is a life story of a person written by another person.

What is an Autobiography

An autobiography is a written account of the life of a person written by that person himself. In simple terms, it is the story that a person wrote about himself. The term “Autobiography” was first used by William Taylor in 1797. An autobiographer describes various events, memories of his childhood, youth, and adulthood. However, an autobiography does not contain the complete events of the author’s life.

In the recent past, autobiographies have increasingly become popular. Many celebrities, politicians, as well as ordinary people, are becoming more interested in writing their autobiographies. Sometimes autobiographies are written with the help of ghostwriters and collaborators.

Some famous autobiographies include “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank, “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela, “An Autobiography” by Jawaharlal Nehru, and the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” by Frederick Douglass.

Difference Between Autobiography and Biography

What is a Biography

Biography is a book about an individual’s life written by another person. The term “Biography” is originated from the two Medieval Greek terms “bios” and “graphia” meaning life and writing respectively. The author of a biography is known as a biographer. A biographer must do a thorough study of his subject’s life so that he can present an accurate receipt of the events in the subject’s life. In most cases, biographies are written after the death of the person and are therefore more complete in recounting the events in his life.

“The Life of Charlotte Brontë” by Elizabeth Gaskel, “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, “A Beautiful Mind” by Sylvia Nasar, and the “Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman” by Robert K. Massie are some examples of popular biographies.

Main Difference - Autobiography vs Biography-

Difference Between Autobiography and Biography

The key difference between an autobiography and a biography lies in their authorship; an autobiography is an accounting of an individual’s life written by the individual himself while a bibliography is an account of an individual’s life written by someone else. Another difference that results from this disparity in authorship is that an autobiographer is more knowledgeable about the subject (his own life) than a biographer. In addition, a biography could be called more complete than an autobiography as an autobiography cannot cover the whole life of the author. Another difference that can be noted between these two from of nonfiction is that autobiographies are sometimes written with the help of a ghostwriter whereas biographies do not employ ghostwriters. Apart from this, an autobiography can be often subjective as they describe the writer’s own life, but biographies most often remain objective and deal with facts.

autobiography vs biography

Image Courtesy:

“Long Walk to Freedom” by Source. (Fair use) via Wikipedia 

“A Beautiful Mind (book)” by Source.(Fair use) via Wikipedia

About the Author: admin