Many people fail to identify the difference between a memoir and an autobiography. They struggle to recognise the thin line that separates one from the other. Interestingly, a lot of writers fall into this ditch as well. They use the words interchangeably. They think of a memoir as a written history of someone’s life, which in the real sense is an autobiography.

A memoir and an autobiography are almost the same types of writing because they document a person’s life. In both forms, a writer uses a first-person account of his life. This means the writer will be describing his or her life using personal pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘ME’ (‘I was admitted to’,  ‘my mother gave me’). However, there is an exception to this rule, as the author of an autobiography can sometimes choose to write with the third person pronoun (i.e., The writer refers to him or herself as ‘he’ or ‘she’). Nonetheless, both genres are about authors sharing their life with readers in their voices.

A memoir is an abridged history of one’s life because it relays experiences and happenings within the person’s life. The timeline of a memoir is specific. On the other hand, an autobiography chronicles the totality of a lifetime. An autobiography captures phases like childhood, adolescence, adulthood, retirement, etc.

Typically, memoirs are less encompassing, less formal, and less factual in recording events. It buttresses an emotional intimacy with a particular segment of one’s life and the nostalgia it evokes.

 On the other hand, an autobiography is usually written by the main character or in collaboration with another writer. It focuses on facts and has a more detailed chronology of happenings, places, movements, reactions and other vital information that formed the life of the subject in view.


  1. Autobiographies are written in chronological order, while memoirs tend to drift back and forth with time: readers of autobiographies typically expect the book to begin with the writer’s childhood or perhaps where the parents lived. From there, they expect the writer to proceed to adolescence, youth, and the time of writing sequentially. In a memoir, however, the writer can be casual in handling time as the focus is more on the book’s theme, not the writer’s lifetime.
  2. Autobiographies emphasise facts and how the writer is captured in history, whereas a memoir emphasises personal interiority and experience: autobiographies are usually viewed from the prism of history and can be very relevant for historical purposes. This makes it more grievous to misrepresent facts in an autobiography when compared to a memoir. The author of a memoir can select and shape certain facts to explore the book’s central idea.
  3. Autobiographies document the life of a famous person whereas a memoir can be written about anyone, famous or not: autobiography mirrors the life of someone whose accomplishments shaped humanity or a group of people, thus bringing the person to national or international prominence. A typical example of this type of book is ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. A memoir, on the other hand, is written to document an interesting aspect of one’s life journey, not basically because the person is famous. However, some memoirists become famous after releasing their piece.

However, it is pertinent to note that auto-biographers and memoirists contract out their writing to a reputable author who has proven their mettle in the craft. Therefore, if you are on the lookout for competent writers for your autobiography or memoir, click on or send a mail to

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