Difference between biography and autobiography

One of the main differences between biography and autobiography is in the author. In the autobiography is the same personage that relates his life. In the biography it is another person who relates the experiences of some relevant personage.

Biography is a literary genre in which someone’s life is told, including all the data that the researcher has been able to find. Although there was something similar in antiquity, it is only in the Renaissance when the first works of this type appear.


For its part, the autobiography is a story in the first person written by the protagonist himself. Marco Aurelio is considered one of the first to write a book of this type.

The 5 main differences between autobiography and biography

Both share the main purpose: to tell the life and works of some character. Although both share more similarities than differences, it is possible to point out some characteristics of each one.

1-  The author

It is the principal and most obvious difference between the two genders. In the autobiography it is the own protagonist who is in charge to relate his life and its achievements.

Even so, some characters look for external help to be able to write the book in a more correct way: they are considered “ghost authors” who correct the written by the author or write the experiences that tell the protagonists. Despite this intervention, autobiographies are still considered.

For its part, the biography is always written by a third person. In many cases a thorough investigation is needed to complete the task.

Beyond objective data such as the date of birth, the work done, among other things, it is necessary to gather information on more private matters.

2-  The tone of the writing

While it is true that in most cases this does not make a difference, if there is a disparity of intentions between the two genders.

Generally an autobiography will always have a tone and a positive intention; it is unusual for a character to write about his life to speak ill of himself.

However, this can happen in the biography. Not all the characters are worthy of admiration. For example, anyone who writes about Hitler’s life will seldom give a laudatory tone.

There are different biographies about the same person whose difference is in the approach given to the character: they can be positive or negative.

3-  Style

There is also a difference in writing style as a rule. While the biography is told in the third person through a neutral tone of writing, the autobiographies are written in the first person.

The autobiographies usually include many more opinions and thoughts of the author, being more intimate.

Unless the researcher who writes a biography has sources very close to the character he describes, it is difficult for him to be able to get so much into the mind of the protagonist.

4-  Veracity

The veracity of the writing can also vary, but more by the intention of the author than by the genre to which it belongs.

In an autobiography there may be the assurance that the character knows his life perfectly, but there are some autobiographies that are an attempt to justify negative events. For that, sometimes they hide data that can harm it.

As for biographies, it depends on the professionalism of the researchers, and also on what they intend to write the book.

5-  Permits

Of course, autobiographies are always authoritative stories, since they are written by the same person.

However, there are numerous examples of autobiographies unauthorized by the protagonists of the same or by their families, in case he had died. This usually happens when highlighting facts considered false or negative.



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