Difference between a Memoir and an Autobiography

July 8, 2017 by Editorial Team

A memoir and an autobiography are collections of personal information and memories of an individual. Although they may seem interchangeable, they have subtle differences. This article provides information on the differences between the two.

Definitions

A memoir is a written or a printed collection of memories and events that occurred in a person’s life. Typically written from the author’s point of view, a memoir represents a writer’s personal knowledge on another person’s specific life events. Rather than providing every detail about the subject, it focuses on certain interesting events and experiences that the author recreates.

Even though a memoir is written narratively, it is non-fiction. Since the events portrayed in a memoir are based on true-to-life experiences, the author should write as accurately as possible.

autobiography

An autobiography, on the other hand, is a written or printed record of an individual’s personal experiences. It contains information about the author, along with important life events that transpired in his/her life.

An autobiography focuses not only on multiple life events but on the author’s day-to-day activities. It includes past and present information about the author, and it may contain chronological life events.

Comparison

Firstly, a memoir is a written or a printed collection of memories and events that occurred in another person’s life. It is written based on the author’s personal knowledge of the subject. An autobiography, on the other hand, is based on first-hand experiences since it is a self-written collection of life experiences.

In terms of content, a memoir does not contain all the details about the subject since it is a collection of important and interesting past events that occurred in another person’s life. An autobiography, by contrast, provides detailed information on the past and present experiences of the author, including public and private ones.

It follows, therefore, that an autobiography presents information in a chronological manner, while a memoir is less focused on repetitive and chronological life events.

Lastly, between the two, a memoir is literary in nature. It focuses on interesting personal events that can inspire people or provoke strong emotions. It can be compared to a novel as it portrays interesting scenarios in a person’s life. Meanwhile, an autobiography focuses on facts rather than emotions. For some people, an autobiography serves as a record of their milestones in life.

Comparison Chart

Memoir

Autobiography

A printed collection of memories and events that occurred in another person’s life

A self-written collection of life experiences

Based on the author’s personal knowledge of the subject

Based on the author’s first-hand experiences

Does not contain all the details about the subject

Contains detailed information on the past and present experiences of the author, including public and private ones

Less focused on repetitive and chronological life events

Presents information in a chronological manner

Focuses on interesting personal events that can inspire people or provoke strong emotions

Focuses on facts rather than emotions