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Biography vs. Autobiography: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 4, 2023
A biography is an account of someone's life written by another person, while an autobiography is an individual's account of their own life.

Key Differences

A biography provides insight into an individual's life, detailing their experiences, achievements, and challenges from the perspective of an external author. An autobiography, on the other hand, is penned by the individual themselves, offering a firsthand account of their life's journey.
In a biography, the subject might be anyone, from historical figures and celebrities to unsung heroes, with the narrative voice belonging to the biographer. In an autobiography, the subject and the narrator are the same, providing an introspective and personal recounting of life events.
Research is a key component of biography, where the biographer gathers information from various sources to present an accurate and comprehensive depiction. For an autobiography, the author draws from personal memories, feelings, and perspectives, creating a more intimate narrative.
Biographies can be authorized, with the subject's involvement, or unauthorized, conducted without the subject's permission. Autobiographies, by their nature, are personal testimonies, providing readers with an authentic look into the author's experiences and emotions.
While both biographies and autobiographies shed light on individual lives, their sources of information, perspectives, and authorship distinctly differentiate them.

Comparison Chart


Written by someone other than the subject.
Written by the subject themselves.


External viewpoint.
First-person perspective.

Research Requirement

Requires extensive research.
Based on personal memories and experiences.


Can be authorized or unauthorized.
Always authorized (personal account).


May lack personal emotions and introspection.
Contains intimate emotions and introspection.

Biography and Autobiography Definitions


A biography is a detailed account of another person's life.
She wrote an engaging biography about the renowned scientist.


An autobiography is a self-written account of one's life.
In her autobiography, she delved into her early years in the countryside.


A biography offers insights into an individual's experiences, achievements, and challenges.
The biography detailed his rise from poverty to success.


Autobiographies offer firsthand recounts of personal experiences.
His autobiography shed light on the struggles he faced.


Biographies can be based on extensive research and interviews.
The biography included testimonies from close family and friends.


An autobiography often contains intimate emotions and reflections.
The autobiography was filled with heartfelt confessions.


A biography focuses on the life journey of its subject.
The biography spanned from his childhood to his final years.


An autobiography is penned from a first-person perspective.
In my autobiography, I share stories never told before, she mentioned.


A biography can be authorized or unauthorized.
The unauthorized biography caused quite a stir.


Autobiographies provide readers with an authentic look into the author's life.
Readers praised the honesty in his autobiography.


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


The biography of a person written by that person.


Biographies considered as a group, especially when regarded as a genre.


(countable) A self-written biography; the story of one's own life.


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


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


Who typically writes a biography?

A biography is written by someone other than its subject.

Is research needed for writing a biography?

Yes, biographies often require extensive research and interviews.

What is a biography?

A biography is an account of someone's life written by another person.

Is an autobiography always truthful?

While autobiographies are personal accounts, they can still be influenced by memory biases or selective recounting.

Are memoirs and autobiographies the same?

No. While both are personal accounts, memoirs focus on specific events or periods, whereas autobiographies usually cover a broader life span.

Which is more subjective, a biography or an autobiography?

Autobiographies are generally more subjective due to personal perspectives and emotions.

Can biographies be fictionalized?

Yes. While traditional biographies aim to be factual, there are fictionalized biographies that blend fact with fiction.

Are autobiographies written posthumously?

Typically, no. However, unfinished manuscripts or diaries can be published posthumously as autobiographical content.

How does an autobiography differ from a biography?

An autobiography is an individual's account of their own life.

What perspective is an autobiography written from?

An autobiography is written from a first-person perspective.

Can a biography be written without the subject's permission?

Yes, biographies can be unauthorized, written without the subject's involvement.

Can a person have both a biography and an autobiography?

Yes, someone can have a biography written about them and also write their own autobiography.

Who is the target audience for biographies and autobiographies?

Both genres target readers interested in personal stories, histories, and insights into individual lives.

Are biographies always factual?

While biographies aim to be factual, they can sometimes contain inaccuracies or biases.

Do autobiographies cover an individual's entire life?

Not always. Some autobiographies focus on specific periods or events in the author's life.

How do readers benefit from biographies?

Readers gain insights into individuals' lives, learn from their experiences, and draw inspiration from biographies.

What challenges do biographers face?

Biographers may face challenges like limited resources, biases, or the risk of misrepresenting the subject.

Are personal memories the main source for autobiographies?

Yes, autobiographies are primarily based on personal memories and experiences.

Which is more intimate, a biography or an autobiography?

Autobiographies tend to be more intimate due to the firsthand account and personal emotions.

Why do people write autobiographies?

Individuals write autobiographies to share their life stories, reflect on experiences, or leave a legacy.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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