Difference between Autobiography and Biography
Key difference: A biography is a detailed non-fictional account of someone's life. It is an overview of the person’s life, including the basic facts such as education, work, relationships, and death and the person’s experiences of these events. An autobiography is a biography that is written by the subject himself.
A biography is a detailed non-fictional account of someone's life. It is usually written about a historical personality, living or dead. It is an overview of the person’s life, including the basic facts such as education, work, relationships, and death and the person’s experiences of these events. The biography is responsible for presenting the subject's life story, while highlighting various aspects of their life and their intimate experiences. A biography may even include an analysis of the subject's personality. The biography can be in any format, such as literature or film, as long as it is biographical in nature.
A biography is written by another person; the writer depicts the events in the subject’s life. An autobiography is a biography that is written by the subject himself. It is just like a biography and incorporates all the elements of a biography. The only way it differs from a biography is that instead of being written by a third person author, it is written by the subject themselves. The ‘auto’ in autobiography means ‘self’. Hence, an autobiography is a self-biography. The subject may or may not have used the help of a ghost writer to write the autobiography. A ghost writer helps a person write a work but is often unaccredited for it.
Biographies and autobiographies focus on all the important information in the subject’s life, including birth, youth, adulthood, education, career and death. However, if the work focuses on just one aspect of the life, or on one particular event, as opposed to encompassing the entire life of the subject, it is termed as a memoir. Biographies and autobiographies are meant to give a panoramic view of an entire life. A memoir can also be biographical or autobiographical.
A biography can be authorized or unauthorized. An authorized biography is written with the permission and input of its subject. An unauthorized biography is written without the permission or input of its subject. Hence, an unauthorized biography may be prone to contain errors as the information may not be correct and the subject need not give the correct information. However, an autobiography need not be authorized or unauthorized, as the subject is writing about his own life, he does not require permission.
There are various advantages for writing a biography over an autobiography and vice versa. Having a biographer write you story is preferable as the author is a professional writer and his writing will be more dignified than an amateur’s. Also, biographies tend to maintain a more objective tone than autobiographies, so the reader is more likely to get a story from several angles, rather than be just directed by the subject’s view. Furthermore, biographers often spend years studying their subjects. This allows them to provide insights into the subject’s motivations and contexts as well as the events.
However, an advantage to writing an autobiography is that the subject will have more insight in to the story and events than a biographer, as the subject has lived through it. After all, who know more the subject and the subject’s life events than the subject themselves? An autobiography can be a much more intimate and revealing than a biography due to the subject’s own insight.