Difference Between Autobiography and Memoir


Main Difference

The main difference between Autobiography and Memoir is that Autobiography is the story of a writer that is organized in chronological order, whereas Memoir is a memory of a specific event or part of the life of the author.

Autobiography vs. Memoir

Autobiography is the description of the complete life of the author. The memoir is a memory about a specific event shared by the writer. Autobiography is a Greek word defined as a self-life writer, whereas memoir originates in the French language, meaning reminiscence. Autobiography is a connection between the old and new generations. Memoir serves as a window where the public can see the life of other people.


Autobiography is a book that motivates the readers by describing the success and triumphs of the author. The memoir is a bridge that updates the audience about the life of people whom they take an interest in. Autobiography is about famous people or epic heroes. Memoir can be about anybody, a celebrity, or an unknown person.

Autobiography finds a broad scope than a memoir. Autobiographies describe the life of a person from the day of his birth to the present day. Memoir does not follow chronological order. The basis of autobiography is facts or history. Memoir finds its base more towards emotions. The facts of autobiography are less flexible than that of memoir.


The format of the autobiography is formal. Memoir address the audience in an informal way. For an autobiography, there is a need for more research. Memoir needs less research during its writing. Catcher in the Rye, and The Story of My Life are some famous autobiographies. Some famous memoir includes Speak Memory and A Moveable Feast.

Comparison Chart

Autobiography is a book of the whole life of the author.A memoir is a book that discusses the specific memory of the writer.
Self-life writerMemory
It covers the entire life of the author.It covers a part of the life of a writer.
Famous and important peopleCan be anybody
Purpose of Reading
Learn about the writerSubject, theme, and style
Written Order
From birth to present dayCan move back and forth
Based On
Facts and historyFeelings and interiority
Broad in scopeNarrow in scope
Fewer alterations in factsChange of story of fact
More formal and objectiveLess formal
Written in the first person with collaboratorWritten in the first person
Night by Elie WieselSpeak Memory by Vladimir Nabokov

What is Autobiography?

The story of the writer’s life is called an autobiography. It is a type of biography written in the same sequence as happenings in the life of the author. Some autobiographies are written in fictional format; the story is real events of life. These autobiographies are a discovery in the actual lifetime. The writer can directly address the readers through his publication. It leaves heritage for the readers. The audience can get motivation from the success stories and triumphs of the author. Autobiographies are the bridge between generations.


  • The Catcher in The Rye: The author J.D Salinger, published this book in 1951. It is a novel but considered as the autobiography of the writer. The story is about a sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield, who has some psychological issues and remained confused all the time. He wants to save all the children who are entering into maturity. He thinks that adulthood life is terrible. He is successful after saving his sister.
  • The Story of My Life: It is an autobiography of an epic hero Helen Keller. She discussed the twenty years of her life, a life from her childhood. She negotiated the processes that made her blind and deaf. She mentioned the historical people of her time, Alexander Graham Bell, her friend, and an American poet. The book is a lesson of success after many hardships and pains in her life.

What is Memoir?

The memoir is an extension of the French word meaning memory. It describes an event from somebody’s life. A memoir is written about some specific themes or the life of somebody. It a proper narrated story that consists of shape, figures, and subject to discuss. It reflects some event or place. The memoir is linked with people like sportspeople, celebrities, singers, or writers to attract or captivate the audience. The first person who wrote about his life practices of battels was Julius Caesar. It functions to save history. It is a way of connection between famous people and the public. It serves as a window for other lives.


  • A Moveable Feast: It is a memoir written by Hemingway. He was an American short-story writer. It is an entertaining book of his life in Paris and published in 1964. It was written in the 1920 eras when he was not famous. In that period, he met with many writers.
  • Speak Memory: Vladimir Nabokov wrote this memoir about his childhood before coming to America. The book is about his art story, which includes figures, symbols that fit in the mind of readers after its study. He is a flawless prose writer, always writes an extraordinary thing that fascinates the readers.

Key Differences

  1. Autobiography is the depiction of the author’s life, whereas memoir shares memories of events of the writer’s life.
  2. Autobiography means self-life writing, while memoir stands for the memory or reminiscence.
  3. Autobiography originates from the Greek word; conversely, the origin of word memoir lies in the French language.
  4. The autobiography describes the whole life of the writer; on the flip side, memoir describes a part of a writer’s life.
  5. Autobiography is of famous or important personalities to whom people want to follow, whereas memoir can be written about anybody.
  6. Autobiography is conveying a lesson a writer learned from his life; conversely, a memoir is all about a specific theme, symbol, or an art.
  7. Autobiography is in the chronological reader from birthday to the recent day, whereas in the memoir, the story can move back and forth from a specific order.
  8. Autobiography is a collection of facts and history. On the other hand, the memoir is more towards emotional values.
  9. Autobiography has a broader scope; on the flip side, memoir narrow in scope.
  10. Autobiography is less flexible; the description of facts is sure, while in memoir, there is significant alteration.
  11. Autobiography has a specific objective and address formally, whereas the summary of the memoir is informal.
  12. Autobiography is written from the first-person point of view with the perspective of the author; in addition, there is a cooperative personality; conversely, a memoir is written from the first person from the perspective of the writer.
  13. Autobiography needs more research, while there is less needed to research in writing a memoir.
  14. The Story of My Life, a book by Helen Keller, is an example of autobiography; on the other hand, The Moveable Feast by Hemingway is a famous memoir.


Autobiography and Memoir both are life stories of the writer. Autobiography is the self-story of the writer that discusses the whole life of the writer in chronological order from childhood to old age. A Memoir is a specific part of the author’s life that is not necessarily written in chronological order.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson