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Difference Between Biography And Autobiography


Ever wondered how we learn about the lives of remarkable people? Well, it’s all about the art of storytelling, and there are two captivating ways to do it: through Biography vs. Autobiography.

Think of it like reading about someone’s life from two different angles. One is like watching a documentary, and the other is like having a heartfelt conversation with a friend.

Biography vs. Autobiography are documentaries that people carefully craft. Talented authors with many research tools put together a story like a jigsaw puzzle. They collect facts and stories from various sources to give us a well-rounded view of a person’s life. It’s like sitting back and enjoying a professionally made film.

Autobiographies, on the other hand, are personal and intimate. Imagine sitting with someone by a cozy fireplace, sipping tea, and listening to them share their life’s adventures, joys, and sorrows. When people write their life stories, they open their hearts and minds to us, revealing their raw emotions and personal reflections.

In this blog, the book publishers in new york city will take you through these two fascinating ways of sharing life stories. By the end, you’ll clearly understand how Biography vs. Autobiography work, and you’ll see how they each bring a unique flavor to the world of storytelling. So, let’s start to explore some differences between Biography and Autobiography.

1. A biography is the story of a person’s life written by another person.

A Biography vs. Autobiography is the story of a person’s life that another person writes. In Biographies, you will usually find photographs and other illustrations that help to tell the story. 

For insights on writing biographies, see how to write an annotated bibliography a comprehensive guide.

Biographers may write about famous people but also about ordinary people who have done extraordinary things or impacted history. 

A biography may be written by someone who knew you well, like your spouse or close friend. It can also be written by someone who interviewed you extensively over many years. It can even be about someone who researched all available sources related to your life before writing their book about you!

Professional writers or researchers usually write Biographies. Discover the role of literary agents in book publishing for more on this topic Biographers can include more detail than autobiographers, but both types of books have to accurately portray their subjects’ lives.

  • Biographical information that a writer may include in a biography may include:
  • Birth date and place
  • Family background (parents, siblings, grandparents)
  • Education history (schools attended)
  • Military service record
  • Personal life and relationships, including marriages, children and grandchildren. Achievements and disappointments of the Subject’s life

2. An autobiography is the story of a person’s life written by themselves. 

An autobiography is a unique book where a person writes the story of their own life. (It’s not always necessary. They can also hire a ghostwriter to do so too) 

For guidance on autobiography writing, check out how to write autobiography about yourself.

However, What makes it distinct is that the author, who is usually the story’s main character, narrates their experiences in the first person. They offer a personal and intimate glimpse into their journey.

Let’s take a quick example to illustrate this: 

“When I entered this world, my parents chose the name ‘John Smith’ for me. I spent my early years growing up in the vibrant city of Chicago, and later, I pursued my higher education at University X.”

The writer delves into their experiences, emotions, and perspectives in an autobiography. It’s their account of life’s moments rather than a story about someone else. This first-person narrative adds a unique and authentic touch to the storytelling, making it a truly personal and insightful read.

3. In biographies, the Subject has No control:

In a biography, the author has control over what parts of the Subject’s life are included in the book or article and how much detail is included about each part.

You must be careful about what you include when writing a Biography vs. Autobiography. You can’t just make up facts or events. The biography must be accurate and true to the person’s life. 

Biographers also need to be honest with themselves–if they don’t know something or want more detail on something, they need to find someone else who does know those things (or look through old letters or photographs).

For instance, picture this scenario: Your mom recently passed away, and you’ve taken on the task of writing her biography. She had always wanted someone to write her life story after passing, but she never did it herself. 

As you delve into this project, you stumble upon a surprising revelation – your mom had been married before she met your dad. This revelation comes to light through her diary, which you now possess, containing numerous entries about her first husband.

Now, you face a moral dilemma: Should you include this information in her biography? If you do, could it potentially upset readers who believed she had only been married once, while in reality, there were two different men in her life before she married your father? There are no straightforward answers in this situation, but it’s crucial to contemplate what would be in the best interests of everyone involved.

4. In autobiographies, the Subject has all the control: 

However, in the case of an autobiography, someone writes their history and thus controls what goes into it; in this case, unlike biographies, the author can leave out some details because they’re too painful or negative to remember clearly.

In an autobiography, the author is the Subject of the story. They tell it in their own words and control what goes into it. 

In contrast, a Biography vs. Autobiography focuses on someone else’s life story–someone who wasn’t there when certain events happened (like childhood memories). This means biographers don’t have as much say over what gets included in their books. They can only rely on historical sources like newspaper articles or letters written by people who knew these famous individuals at some point during their lives.

Main Feature and Elaborate Information

Feature Biography Autobiography
Narrative Perspective Third-person view, as if watching a documentary First-person narrative, akin to a personal conversation
Authorship Written by another individual, often a professional writer or researcher Written by the subject themselves, or with the assistance of a ghostwriter
Content Control Author decides what aspects of the subject’s life to include The subject has complete control over what is shared
Emotional Depth Objective and fact-based, often lacking personal emotions of the subject Highly personal and intimate, with insights into the subject’s emotions and reflections
Research Approach Extensive research from various sources, including interviews and historical records Primarily based on personal memories and experiences
Audience Perception Offers a comprehensive and balanced view of the subject’s life Provides an intimate and personal understanding of the subject
Typical Use Common for famous or historically significant figures Often used for personal reflection or sharing life lessons


The key point here is that Biography vs. Autobiography are both literary forms that narrate the life stories of actual individuals.

In a biography, the author controls… For more on authorial control, see how do I start a story 15 awesome ideas. In an autobiography, the individual writes their own life story and, as a result, has authority over its content. 

So we hope that with this brief guide, you can differentiate between Biography vs. Autobiography.

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