Home Blog Autobiography Writing Guide Know the Different Types of Autobiography Here

Know the Different Types of Autobiography Here

types of autobiography

Autobiography is the story of a person’s life written by him/herself. The purpose of writing an autobiography is to let the person tell his story and what he has experienced throughout.

There are different types of autobiography. Each is written for a different purpose. Authors must decide for what purpose they are writing about their lives.

In this blog, you will learn about each type of autobiography with examples. If you are assigned to write an autobiography, you may have many questions in your mind.

Read on to learn about the basic types and how to write an autobiography that deserves a high grade.

What is Autobiography Writing?

An autobiography is the story of the person writing the story. Writing about your life story is not easy. Autobiography is different from biography, which is the life story of a person narrated by someone else.

There must be a reason to write an autobiography. These stories are not usually written by people with ordinary lives. In general, people who have achieved greatness or who have suffered traumatic experiences usually write autobiographies.

There is no specific pattern for writing an autobiography. It can take any form as long as it is written in an informative and expressive manner.

Different types of autobiography writing serve different purposes. Here, the main purpose depends on the type that you choose.

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Basic Types of Autobiography

There are many types of autobiographies that are written for different purposes. You need to decide for which purpose you are writing an autobiography and then choose the format that would best fit.

Here is a brief description of each type of autobiography to help you understand which is best to choose. We have also provided different autobiography examples for you to get a better idea.

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Full Autobiography

In a full autobiography, a person’s complete life story is presented from birth to the present time. Authors choose this type of autobiography because their life is interesting and different from others.

Examples of full autobiography include:

  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
  • The Story of My Life by Helen Keller


A memoir is about the specific moments or experiences in the author’s life. While the other types focus on the entire timeline of the person, memoir focuses on or highlights only one aspect. It is written from the author’s perspective and in the 1st person point of view.

David Copperfield is considered a memoir of Charles Dickens. But, it is more than a memoir. It is believed to be a veiled autobiography of the writer.

Examples of memoir include:

  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

Personal Essay

It is one of the oldest and most intimate forms of autobiography writing. The personal essay primarily focuses on the style and tone and not much on the story. It also revolves around a specific part of your life but explores that event or experience in a detailed form.

In a personal essay, you need to present an aspect of your life, provide your thoughts and emotions.

Examples of personal essays include:

  • Once More to the Lake by E.B. White
  • The Death of a Moth by Virginia Woolf
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A confessional autobiography is written to confess something. Here, some hidden details are revealed about the subject’s life. It is written in the first-person narrative and often presented as the ongoing revelations of the person’s motivations.

One of the earliest examples of confessional autobiographies was produced by Margery Kempe - a well-known English Christian mystic. Full-scale formal autobiographies were written by Enea Silvio Piccolomini in 1458.

Examples of confessional autobiography include:

  • Confessions of St. Augustine
  • Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey

Psychological Illness

This type of autobiography is written by those people who have gone through any mental illness. They find it therapeutic to write about the difficulties during that time.

Examples of autobiographies of psychological illness include:

  • The body papers by Grace Talusan
  • The Buddha and the Borderline by Kiera Van Gelder

Overcoming Adversity

Many people face different challenges in their lives. Writing about such experiences can help them feel good. They feel relieved by sharing their struggles with others.

Examples of autobiographies about overcoming adversity include:

  • A Place to Stand b Jimmy Santiago Baca
  • I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou

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Types of Autobiography in Literature

In literature, the autobiography can be placed into the following categories.

  • Thematic

    A thematic autobiography revolves around the life of the subject but emphasizes some other issues. The purpose of writing this autobiography is to present information unusually.

  • Religious

    This autobiography focuses on the spiritual or religious experiences to show the subject’s connection to God. It is also referred to as a spiritual autobiography.

  • Intellectual

    In an intellectual autobiography, you focus on some key events or experiences that have changed your perspective on life. It also reflects on your intellectual journey.

  • Fictional

    The fictional genre is one of the most common forms of writing in the United States. In the fictional autobiography, the author’s experiences are narrated in sections fictionalized to protect the identity of real people.

These are the basic types of autobiographies that you can choose from to tell your story to the world. If you want to write an amazing autobiography, read autobiographies of famous people and get inspired.

Covering information with exact dates and facts is the most important component of an autobiography. However, it is not easy to cover all these technical points and write an amazing autobiography.

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