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Biography vs. Autobiography: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
A biography is a life story written by someone else, while an autobiography is written by the subject themselves.
Biography vs. Autobiography

Key Differences

A biography is a detailed description of a person's life written by another person. It includes not just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death but also portrays a subject's experience of these events. Unlike a biography, an autobiography is a self-written account of the life of oneself. The writer of an autobiography narrates their own life story, providing a personal insight into their experiences and perspectives.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
In biography, the author is a separate entity from the subject of the book. This separation often allows for a more objective view of the subject's life. Conversely, an autobiography is inherently subjective, as it is the author's own interpretation of their life. This subjectivity can offer a deep personal connection for the reader but may also include bias or a selective recounting of events.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
Biographies are often written with extensive research, including interviews with the subject (if alive), their acquaintances, and analysis of other sources. This external perspective can provide a comprehensive view of the subject's life and context. Autobiographies, however, are limited to the author's memory and perspective. They provide a first-person account and can include personal thoughts, feelings, and reflections that might not be present in a biography.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
The tone and style of a biography can vary depending on the author’s approach, ranging from academic and formal to more narrative and personal. Autobiographies, on the other hand, tend to have a more consistent tone, usually personal and introspective, reflecting the author's own voice and style.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
In summary, a biography is an account of someone's life written by another person, offering an external perspective, often well-researched and objective. An autobiography, by contrast, is written by the person themselves, providing an internal perspective that is inherently personal and subjective.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Authorship

Written by someone other than the subject.
Written by the subject themselves.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Perspective

Provides an external perspective of the subject’s life.
Offers an internal, personal perspective of the author's own life.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Subjectivity/Objectivity

More objective, may include research and interviews.
Inherently subjective, based on personal experiences.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Tone and Style

Can vary; often formal or narrative, depending on the author.
Personal and introspective, reflecting the author’s own voice.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Focus

Focuses on portraying the subject’s life and context.
Centers on the author’s memories, thoughts, and feelings.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023
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Biography and Autobiography Definitions

Biography

A book that tells the story of a person's life, written by another author.
The biography of Frida Kahlo explores her artistic journey and personal struggles.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Autobiography

A self-written account of the author's own life.
In her autobiography, Michelle Obama reflects on her life from childhood to becoming the First Lady.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Biography

A narrative of a person's life, written by another individual.
The biography of Marie Curie reveals her groundbreaking work in physics and chemistry.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Autobiography

A book where the author tells their own life story.
Her autobiography offers a candid look into her experiences as an actress and activist.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Biography

A written depiction of a person's life, not authored by the person.
The biography of Nelson Mandela offers insights into his fight against apartheid.
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Autobiography

A personal narrative of one's life written by oneself.
His autobiography details his journey from poverty to success.
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Biography

A non-fictional account of someone's life, authored by another.
His biography on Abraham Lincoln captures the essence of the president's legacy.
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Autobiography

A self-penned narrative documenting the author's life.
His autobiography provides an intimate look at his career in the music industry.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Biography

An account of a person's life written, composed, or produced by another
A film biography of Adlai Stevenson.
An oral biography.
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Autobiography

A memoir written by the individual it's about.
The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is a classic, telling the story of one of America’s founding fathers.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Biography

Biographies considered as a group, especially when regarded as a genre.
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Oct 19, 2023

Autobiography

The biography of a person written by that person.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Biography

The writing, composition, or production of biographies
A career entirely devoted to biography.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Autobiography

(countable) A self-written biography; the story of one's own life.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Biography

A person's life story, especially one published.
There are many biographies of Benjamin Franklin.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Autobiography

(uncountable) Biographies of this kind regarded as a literary genre.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Biography

The art of writing this kind of story.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Autobiography

A biography written by the subject of it; memoirs of one's life written by one's self.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Biography

(transitive) To write a biography of.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Autobiography

A biography of yourself
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Biography

The written history of a person's life.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Biography

Biographical writings in general.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Biography

An account of the series of events making up a person's life
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Biography

A detailed account of a person's life written by someone else.
Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs provides an in-depth look into the tech mogul's life.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Who writes a biography?

A biography is written by someone other than the subject.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Who writes an autobiography?

An autobiography is written by the subject themselves.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

What is an autobiography?

An autobiography is a self-written account of the author's own life.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Can biographies be subjective?

While biographies aim for objectivity, some subjectivity can enter, depending on the author’s perspective.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

What is a biography?

A biography is a detailed account of another person's life, written by someone else.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

How do biographers research their subjects?

Biographers research by examining letters, diaries, interviews, and other sources.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

What is the main purpose of an autobiography?

The main purpose of an autobiography is to share the author's personal life story and experiences.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Do autobiographies have to cover an entire life?

Not necessarily; some autobiographies focus on specific periods or aspects of the author's life.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Can biographies be biased?

While meant to be objective, biographies can reflect the author's biases or perspectives.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Are autobiographies always true?

Autobiographies are based on the author's memories and perceptions, so they may contain subjective interpretations.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

What is the main purpose of a biography?

The main purpose of a biography is to provide an in-depth understanding of someone's life from an external viewpoint.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

What makes a good biography?

A good biography is well-researched, objective, and provides a comprehensive view of the subject's life.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Are autobiographies edited by others?

While autobiographies are written by the subject, they often go through an editing process, sometimes involving others.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

What is the difference between an autobiography and a memoir?

An autobiography typically covers the author's entire life, while a memoir focuses on specific experiences or periods.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Is an autobiography a primary source?

Yes, an autobiography is considered a primary source as it comes directly from the author about their life.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Can a biography cover a living person's life?

Yes, biographies can cover both living and deceased individuals.
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Shumaila Saeed
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How do biographers ensure accuracy?

Biographers ensure accuracy through thorough research and by cross-referencing multiple sources.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Can autobiographies include fictional elements?

While based on real life, some autobiographies may include embellishments or fictionalized accounts.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

What makes a good autobiography?

A good autobiography is honest, engaging, and provides personal insights into the author’s experiences.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

Can anyone write a biography or autobiography?

Yes, anyone can write a biography or autobiography, but quality varies based on research, writing skill, and perspective.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 10, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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