An autobiography is a story of someone's life that is written by that person. A biography is a story of someone's life that is written about someone, but the writer is not that person. When a writer pens a story about his or her own life, then that is an autobiography.
An autobiography allows for a more personal rendering of events than a biography. But it does differ from a memoir. An autobiography attempts to chronicle important events in someone's life; whereas, a memoir focuses more on memories that come to the surface for a person-things that person considers significant, whether chronological or not.
Helen Keller wrote The Story of My Life, which chronicles her life. A disease in early childhood left her blind and deaf, and her autobiography tells the story of her tutor, Annie Sullivan, and how she taught Helen to communicate.
The Diary of Anne Frank is considered an autobiography, as it chronicles the events of the Holocaust from the perspective of young Anne, a Jewish girl in hiding with her family.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin was written by Benjamin Franklin, and chronicles how his hard work led to a prosperous life-the "American Dream."
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is an autobiography of Frederick Douglass, who was born into slavery in the 1800s and became a leader in the abolitionist movement.
Maya Angelou wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which tells the story of her life.
Barak Obama wrote Dreams from my Father about his life, and his wife Michelle Obama wrote Becoming as an autobiography of her life.
Malcolm X's autobiography was written down, as told by Malcolm X, by Alex Haley.
I am Malala is the autobiography of a young Pakistani girl who went to school against the orders of the Taliban. She was shot, but survived.
Literary Terms Examples