Biographies, autobiographies and memoirs are types of narrative non-fiction that tell a person\u2019s real-life story. And though these formats are similar in some ways, it\u2019s important to know the differences, too:\r\n\r\n\tBiographies tell a person\u2019s whole life story, but they are written by someone other than the subject.\r\n\tAutobiographies tell a life story from the point of view of the author.\r\n\tMemoirs are also told from the point of view of the author, but they focus on a specific part or aspect of that person\u2019s life.\r\n\r\nIn this guide, we delve deeper into these three distinct forms of writing.\r\nBiographies\r\nBiography literally means life (bio) writing (graphy). As such, biographies tell the true story of an individual\u2019s life, usually a historical or public figure. However, they are not written by that same person.\r\nInstead, the author (known as the 'biographer') will draw on all the available material about their subject, such as diaries, letters and interviews, to create a factual, objective narrative written in the third person.\r\nBiographical writing is also one of the oldest forms of literature: the Ancient Greeks and Romans wrote biographies of their leaders and scholars.\r\nExamples of Famous Biographies\r\n\r\n\tParallel Lives by Plutarch (written in the second century AD) \u2013 A series of biographies that compare famous Greeks and Romans.\r\n\tThe Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell (1787) \u2013 An influential account of English writer Samuel Johnson's life.\r\n\tAlexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (2004) \u2013 A modern biography of American statesman Alexander Hamilton (later the main inspiration for the smash-hit musical Hamilton).\r\n\r\nAutobiographies\r\n\u2018Auto\u2019 means \u2018self\u2019. And as the name suggests, an autobiography is a self-written biography (though many are written with the help of a collaborator or ghost writer). Typically, autobiographies will cover the author's full life so far, starting at their childhood and ending at the point the book is written.\r\nBecause the author is the main character, autobiographies are usually written in the first person. And since they are often based on memory, they can be quite subjective accounts. They can also be unreliable, since authors may misremember or even deliberately misrepresent something.\r\nYou may also come across fictional autobiographies. These are works of narrative fiction that present themselves as autobiographies of the main character (e.g. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens).\r\nExamples of Famous Autobiographies\r\n\r\n\tConfessions by Saint Augustine (AD 397\u2013400) \u2013 An early autobiographical work in which Saint Augustine of Hippo examines his youthful sins and eventual spiritual awakening.\r\n\tLong Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (1994) \u2013 The story of Nelson Mandela's life, including his struggles against apartheid, his imprisonment, and his eventual rise to become president of South Africa.\r\n\tMe by Elton John (2019) \u2013 A recent autobiography by a pop star.\r\n\r\nMemoirs\r\nLike autobiographies, memoirs are a type of first-person life writing. But a memoir will cover specific events or times in the author's life, not the whole thing. Alternatively, memoirs may focus on a theme, such as illness or addiction, that reoccurs throughout the author's life.\r\nOther differences between memoirs and autobiographies include:\r\n\r\n\tAutobiographies are chronological, but memoirs may be less linear.\r\n\tMemoirs are about personal experience, so they may dramatise events and are typically less concerned with objective facts.\r\n\tBiographies and autobiographies tend to focus on major public figures, whereas memoirs are more likely to be written by 'ordinary' people.\r\n\r\nThis last point is important, as many memoirs focus on triumph against adversity or surviving difficult situations. This type of memoir became so popular in the late 1990s it became known as \u2018misery lit\u2019.\r\nA warning, though! Not every story that calls itself a memoir is a memoir: Memoirs of a Geisha is definitely a novel!\r\nExamples of Famous Memoirs\r\n\r\n\tCommentaries on the Gallic Wars by Julius Caesar (58\u201349 BC) \u2013 A first-hand account of the years Caesar spent fighting in Gaul. Although written in the third person, many consider it an early memoir.\r\n\tAngela\u2019s Ashes by Frank McCourt (1996) \u2013 A look at the author's childhood, especially his family's struggles with poverty.\r\n\tEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (2006) \u2013 A chronicle of what the author learned during a year spent travelling after her divorce.\r\n\r\nWe hope that this has explained the differences between biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. And if you\u2019d like anyone to help with proofreading something you wrote, we have expert editors available 24\/7.