What’s the Difference Between a Memoir, a Biography, and an Autobiography?

Biographies Autobiographies Memoirs lifehyme

The three primary formats used for recounting a person’s life story are biography, autobiography, and memoir.

A biography is a factual account of someone’s life written by another person. An autobiography is a personal account of someone’s life written by the individual themselves. A memoir is a collection of memories and experiences written by the person who lived them.

A biography provides an objective view of the person’s life, including significant events, education, work, and relationships. The author is not the subject of the biography. In contrast, an autobiography is written in the first person and is an opportunity for the author to reflect on their life experiences and accomplishments.

A memoir is also written in the first person and focuses on the author’s memories and emotions. The goal of a memoir is to establish a personal connection with the reader by sharing intimate and emotional stories from the author’s life. While autobiographies tend to be written later in life, memoirs can be written at any point and often focus on a particular time period or event.


Biographies are typically written by authors who have extensively researched the subject’s life, and the focus is on providing a comprehensive and objective view of their life. Biographers may interview family members, friends, and colleagues, and consult documents such as letters, diaries, and public records to piece together a complete picture of the subject’s life. Biographies often cover the subject’s entire life, from birth to death, and may include details about their childhood, education, career, personal relationships, and notable achievements.


Autobiographies, on the other hand, are written by the subject themselves and offer a personal perspective on their life. Autobiographies may cover the subject’s entire life or focus on a specific period or event. The author may include personal reflections, opinions, and emotions that provide insight into their experiences. Autobiographies can be a way for the author to share their life story, impart wisdom, or make sense of their experiences.


Memoirs are similar to autobiographies in that they are written in the first person and offer a personal account of the author’s life. However, memoirs tend to focus on a specific period or theme, rather than covering the subject’s entire life. Memoirs are often more subjective than biographies or autobiographies and may include the author’s thoughts, feelings, and interpretations of events. Memoirs can be a way for the author to explore a specific aspect of their life or to share their experiences with others.

In summary, biographies are written by someone else, autobiographies are written by the subject themselves, and memoirs are personal accounts of memories and experiences. The primary difference between an autobiography and a memoir is the emphasis on emotional connection and reflection in the latter.

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