Thursday, November 5, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Biography vs. Autobiography vs. Memoir

Booking Through Thursday asks: Which do you prefer? Biographies written about someone? Or Autobiographies written by the actual person (and/or ghost-writer)?

I think when it's written by the actual person, of course it's going to be better. That being said, I do love biographies too. In fact, I even thought about making a Suey's Top Ten list of favorite biographies and/or autobiographies, but as I was thinking about what I'd put on that list, I started wondering if what I was coming up with were actually memoirs.

So, I got confused, and now am asking a question back to YOU, my readers, what is the difference between an autobiography and a memoir? Is a memoir only a small part of a person's life? And an autobiography their whole life? So is Angela's Ashes a memoir? A Girl Named Zippy? Or are they autobiographies? And they're not, I'm now wondering if I've even read any actual autobiographies!

I know you'll know, and am looking forward to your answers!


  1. I was thinking memoir was more of a based-on-memory thing, whereas autobiography is fact, letters, concrete evidence of what happened. I found the wikipedia article fairly instructional, taken with a grain of salt Memoir.

  2. I also wondered about this and so I googled the question and found this at

    An autobiography is a sketch of the author's entire life, often from birth up until the time of the writing. When you write an autobiography, you start with your earliest memories and no one incident or time of life takes precedence over another.

    A memoir, on the other hand, focuses on one aspect of the author's life. Many people write memoirs to talk about their experiences in a war or their careers or their family life. Memoirs usually cover a relatively brief span of time, and their main purpose is to draw the reader's attention to a specific theme or circumstance.

  3. If memoirs aren't covered under biographies, then maybe I have never read any autobiographies either! I think it is a little subjective really.

  4. I'm glad your question (via the responses) has cleared this up for me, because I've been wondering the same thing for a long time! Now I see better where the difference lies.

  5. I get confused about the two as well. I'm glad that was cleared up in the comments!



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