An Introduction to
(Definition, examples and how to write one)
What is an
Pronounced as AW-TUH-BAY-OG-RAH-FEE, It came
from the Greek “AUTOS”-Self and “BIOS”-Life that
literally means a self-written account of one’s life.
Other sources defined it as:
Merriam- A biography written by the person it is
Dictionary.com- A history of a person’s life written
or told by that person.
What is the difference between a
DIARY and an AUTOBIOGRAPHY?
A diary is a daily journal of one's thoughts, feelings,
moods, actions, activities, and so on. It is not usually
intended for an audience. It's personal. An
autobiography is a book about a person's life that can
include information about themselves given to them
from others like parents, bosses, friends, and relatives.
It can also include thoughts, feelings, and moods and
other subjective observations which are usually
expressed within the context of events, actions, and
activities. It's written by the person whose life it's
about with the intention of being published.
Memoir, Journal &
A journal is a record of events or matters of
personal interest kept by any one for his own use,
in which entries are made day by day, or as the
events occur. Now usually implying something
more elaborate than a diary. A memoir on the
other hand covers one specific aspect of the
writer’s life while an autobiography focuses on the
chronology of the writer’s entire life.
Now that we have already defined
an Autobiography, what are some
famous examples of it?
“it is hard for an empty sack to stand
upright” ― Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin
“So inscrutable is the arrangement of
causes and consequences in this world,
that a two-penny duty on tea, unjustly
imposed in a sequestered part of it,
changes the condition of all its
inhabitants.” – Thomas Jefferson
2. Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson
“If I had my life to live over again, I
would have made a rule to read some
poetry and listen to some music at least
once every week.” - Charles Darwin
3. “The Recollections of the Development
of My Mind and Character” - The
Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–82
Several famous Autobiography
Peter Abelard’s “Historia Calamitatum”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Les Confessions”
Charles Dickens’ “Autobiographical Fragment”
Oscar Wilde’s “De Profundis”
Hellen Keller’s “Story of My Life”
Mark Twain’s “Mark Twain’s Autobiography”
Sigmund Freud’s “An Autobiographical Study”
Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf (My Struggles)”
Albert Einstein’s “Autobiographical Notes”
Anne Frank’s “The Diary of A Young Girl”
And several others..
Winston Churchill, Dalai Lama, Charlie Chaplin,
Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, Pablo Neruda, Michael
Jackson, Drew Barrymore, Ronald Regan, Nelson
Mandela, Barack Obama, Aerosmith, Paula Fox,
Michael J. Fox, Craig Thompson and actually many
To see the list of Autobiographies, you may refer to this site by
clicking the link below..
“I believe that we are who we choose to be.
Nobody is going to come and save you. You've got to
Nobody is going to give you anything. You've got to
go out and fight for it.
Nobody knows what you want except you, and
nobody will be as sorry as you if you don't get it.
So don't give up your dreams.”
― Barry Manilow, Sweet Life: Adventures On The
Way To Paradise
How to Write an
“A poet's autobiography is his poetry.
Anything else is just a footnote.”
― Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Why do you want to write the story of your
life? Every person has an interesting story to
tell and writing your autobiography is a great
way to share it with people. But why do you
want to do it?
- This is the first question you will need to ask yourself
before you actually sit down to
write an autobiography.
1. REFLECT ON THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:
What is your motivation for writing your biography? Ask yourself
• Am I interested in passing on my family history to future
• Am I recording my personal history?
• Is it my work history
• Is it my community work?
• Is it my personal values and philosophies?
• Is it when I underwent a personal transformation?
2. LISTS and GETTING STARTED
Once you have decided your reasons for setting down
your personal memoirs you are going to be writing a lot
of lists. This is where just spending time thinking about
things and jotting them down will help you build the
structure of your personal memoir, your autobiography.
Here are a few subjects for lists and the short
descriptions that go with them that will get you started.
The questions are only to give you a starting point,
make your own list of questions and jot down the
Start with a simple list and then expand upon it so
that you build up short word
• Events and Experiences
Once you start you will get the idea and the memories
will start flowing. One thought
will lead to another and soon you will have filled your
3. Deciding on an
There are many different ways to tell your
story and once you have your lists started
you can begin to consider the style you want
to tell it in.
• Point of View
What point of view are you going to use in
telling your story? Are you going to tell your
story in the first person or from the
viewpoint of another person?
4. AUTOBIOGRAPHY STRUCTURE
Now that you have your lists developed and you
have decided on your perspective, you can
always change your writing style and
perspective later, it’s time to put your outline
into a structure.
• Organize Your Lists into a Structure
4. Editing Your Autobiography
• “How long should it be?”
(What are the key points of your story, what are the most
relevant things in your life – family, career, travel, or all of
these with equal emphasis? What will your readers find most
Usually readers like to discover more about the person
whose story they are reading. They like to know about
the context of events. Be honest and write from the
heart and allow your readers to feel your emotions and
form a picture in their mind from your words. Talk
about your struggles and triumphs, the strong
emotions and if difficult decisions had to be made write
about how you made your decisions. Do take your
audience’s feelings into account especially if it is a
family story you are telling.
After you have done the rewrite it’s time to
think about the title and to organize a table of
contents and chapter headings if you haven’t
already done so. Certainly you can find a good
title from one of the strongest themes of your
autobiography. I’m sure you will have a
more interesting title than “My Life”.
It’s your autobiography, your story and make sure its
worth telling well.
5. Publishing your Autobiography
After having written your story how are you going
to share it with family and friends?
Unless you are blessed with beautiful copperplate
writing and even if you are, you
most probably will want to publish your story so
that others may read it easily.
Now that you have decided you would like to
publish your story it’s time to consider
the different options:
• You can self publish – Often the most practical
• You can look for a professional publisher – a
definite if you feel you have a block buster.
• You can record an audio book – great for
letting friends and family hear you tell your
• Or you can work with an oral history company
such as Lifetime Memories and Stories who can
work with you to record and print your own
custom audio CD and autobiography.
You may now start writing your own
autobiography but if you don’t want
to, then try looking at the person next
to you, do you want to write the story
of HIS/HER life?
Removing “AUTO” from
AUTOBIOGRAPHY gives us
Came from the Late Greek “BIOGRAPHIA” (Bi- + Graphia-)
that means the story of a real person's
life written by someone other than
- a usually written history of a person's life
- biographical writings as a whole
- an account of the life of something (as an animal, a coin,
or a building)
A biography is simply the story of
a life. Biographies can be just a
few sentences long, or they can
fill an entire book—or two.
• Very short biographies tell the basic facts of
someone's life and importance.
• Longer biographies include that basic
information of course, with a lot more detail,
but they also tell a good story.
Usually, biographies are written about
famous/significant people who
contributed something to the world
whether they already have passed away or
WHY DO YOU THINK SO?
TOP TEN FAMOUS
He’s the renowned
Leader of Indian
Tenth place goes to..
US President during American
civil war and known to have
ended slavery in the United
States through the Final
Also famous for his Gettysburg
Gaining the First runner up spot is…
There are a lot more Biographies to
choose from. So if ever you are
interested, click on the link below to
show the TOP 100 Most Famous
Biographies Around the World..
How to Write a Biography
• Biographies analyze and interpret the events
in a person's life. They try to find
connections, explain the meaning of
unexpected actions or mysteries, and make
arguments about the significance of the
person's accomplishments or life activities.
• Many biographies are written
in chronological order. Some group time
periods around a major theme (such as "early
adversity" or "ambition and achievement" ).
Still others focus on specific topics or
Biographers use primary and secondary
• Primary sources are things like letters,
diaries, or newspaper accounts.
• Secondary sources include other
biographies, reference books, or histories
that provide information about the
subject of the biography.
To write a biography, you
1. Select a person you are interested in
2. Find out the basic facts of the person's life.
Start with the encyclopedia, almanac or the
3. Think about what else you would like to
know about the person, and what parts of
the life you want to write most about. Some
questions you might want to think about
• What makes this person special or interesting?
• What kind of effect did he or she have on the
world? other people?
• What are the adjectives you would most use to
describe the person?
• What examples from their life illustrate those
• What events shaped or changed this person's life?
• Did he or she overcome obstacles? Take risks? Get
• Would the world be better or worse if this person
hadn't lived? How and why?
4. Do additional research at your library or
on the Internet to find information that
helps you answer these questions and
tell an interesting story.
5. Write your biography. See the Tips on
Writing Essays and How to Write a Five
Paragraph Essay for suggestions.
6. Edit your Biography.
7. Publish your most awesome work.
We have come to the end of the
lesson, so we hope you guys had
fun and had gained much
information from the
“A man who dares to waste
one hour of time has not
discovered the value of
― Charles Darwin
Now go get a pen and paper and start
writing!! Put that brain to work!