Autobiography book essay

Unfortunately, many of those who want to document their life shy away from the project, fearing that composing an autobiography is too difficult for the average person. In reality, anyone can write a memoir suitable for an audience of family members and close friends. Your family will want to know about your personal history and relationships with others. Get a feel for the work. One of the best ways to learn how to write your life story is to read some of the great autobiographies that have been committed to print.

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You can find examples of how to write an autobiography in the stories of sports figures, great religious leaders, government officials, doctors, railroad workers, singers and actors, along with ordinary people who found meaning in their lives. Choose a category or person that inspires you, and read several examples of how great life stories are shared with the public. Reading different styles of writing can also help you get a better feel for how to write an autobiography that will best suit your own story.

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Understand your intended audience. The next step in the writing process is to determine who your readers will be. Writing for family members requires less detail when describing familiar settings and people. Instead, provide your own memories and perspective on events, and try to include interesting facts and anecdotes that family members may not already know. Those outside your group of friends and family will need a more complex word picture to grasp the settings and characters in your story.

Memoir vs. Autobiography Basics

Think of how you would describe these people and events to a stranger: What would someone need to know in order to understand them? Develop a core concept. Many great autobiographies have a central idea that unifies the entire life story throughout the book.

Persevering love, faith in the face of hardship, overcoming tough odds, going from rags to riches, or lessons learned over time are all inspiring themes. What is key to the story of your life? Determining one main reoccurring theme will help weave continuity and interest throughout your autobiography. Jump-start your memories. Think about all the different periods in your life. Looking through family photos and talking with parents, grandparents, your spouse and old friends can help you remember significant events that are rich with details and entertaining stories.

Diaries, letters and even emails can help spur your recall. Ask each family member to bring one favorite story from your life to the next family reunion. The earliest example of a spiritual autobiography is Augustine's Confessions though the tradition has expanded to include other religious traditions in works such as Zahid Rohari 's An Autobiography and Black Elk Speaks. The spiritual autobiography works as an endorsement of his or her religion.

A memoir is slightly different in character from an autobiography. While an autobiography typically focuses on the "life and times" of the writer, a memoir has a narrower, more intimate focus on his or her own memories, feelings and emotions. Memoirs have often been written by politicians or military leaders as a way to record and publish an account of their public exploits.

Difference between Autobiography and Memoir

In the work, Caesar describes the battles that took place during the nine years that he spent fighting local armies in the Gallic Wars. His second memoir, Commentarii de Bello Civili or Commentaries on the Civil War is an account of the events that took place between 49 and 48 BC in the civil war against Gnaeus Pompeius and the Senate.

French examples from the same period include the memoirs of Cardinal de Retz — and the Duc de Saint-Simon. The term "fictional autobiography" signifies novels about a fictional character written as though the character were writing their own autobiography, meaning that the character is the first-person narrator and that the novel addresses both internal and external experiences of the character. Daniel Defoe 's Moll Flanders is an early example. Charles Dickens ' David Copperfield is another such classic, and J. Salinger 's The Catcher in the Rye is a well-known modern example of fictional autobiography.

The term may also apply to works of fiction purporting to be autobiographies of real characters, e. In antiquity such works were typically entitled apologia , purporting to be self-justification rather than self-documentation. John Henry Newman 's Christian confessional work first published in is entitled Apologia Pro Vita Sua in reference to this tradition.

The pagan rhetor Libanius c. Augustine — applied the title Confessions to his autobiographical work, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau used the same title in the 18th century, initiating the chain of confessional and sometimes racy and highly self-critical, autobiographies of the Romantic era and beyond. Augustine's was arguably the first Western autobiography ever written, and became an influential model for Christian writers throughout the Middle Ages. It tells of the hedonistic lifestyle Augustine lived for a time within his youth, associating with young men who boasted of their sexual exploits; his following and leaving of the anti-sex and anti-marriage Manichaeism in attempts to seek sexual morality; and his subsequent return to Christianity due to his embracement of Skepticism and the New Academy movement developing the view that sex is good, and that virginity is better, comparing the former to silver and the latter to gold; Augustine's views subsequently strongly influenced Western theology [4].


Confessions will always rank among the great masterpieces of western literature. In the spirit of Augustine's Confessions is the 12th-century Historia Calamitatum of Peter Abelard , outstanding as an autobiographical document of its period. One of the first great autobiographies of the Renaissance is that of the sculptor and goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini — , written between and , and entitled by him simply Vita Italian : Life.

He declares at the start: "No matter what sort he is, everyone who has to his credit what are or really seem great achievements, if he cares for truth and goodness, ought to write the story of his own life in his own hand; but no one should venture on such a splendid undertaking before he is over forty. Another autobiography of the period is De vita propria , by the Italian mathematician, physician and astrologer Gerolamo Cardano The aim of such an essay is obvious: you need it to convince admissions officers to accept you into college.

As a rule, there is a word limit specified in the instruction for applicants. They have totally different structure and formatting. In addition, the essay is aimed at portraying you as a personality, not as a professional. This is an extremely emotional and intimate type of writing. You share a personal experience with your readers in a detailed manner. Any personal essay has two main aspects: the description of a particular situation and how it has influenced your worldview and life. Generally, the personal essay is the shortest form of autobiographical writing, along with the essay for college. In our guide on how to write an autobiography, we will talk more about a personal or autobiographical essay.

However, we will not miss a chance to share a few awesome tips about other types of autobiographical writing. You may wonder how to start an autobiography introduction. You can also add some details about your appearance in order to make your story more vivid. The main body includes the biggest amount of information. There are no strict requirements, but you should not forget to use a logical sequence and correct wording. You can use the classic five-paragraph structure for your autobiographical essay if your ideas fit it. Anyway, you have to divide your writing into separated paragraphs to increase the readability of your essay.

You should also create a logical connection between paragraphs. In this manner, readers will easily follow your thoughts.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Your conclusion has to be strong and impressive. Bad experiences are also useful for personal development. You are not the first person who wants to write about his or her life. Many famous writers, artists, politicians, and businessmen create autobiographies to share their wisdom and experience with a wide audience. Find the autobiography that belongs to the author whose personality inspires you and read it in order to get a basic understanding of autobiographical writing.

Remember every significant event, unusual experience, or important person in your life. That might take a considerable amount of time, as we think that your life has been interesting enough, and you have many worthy moments.

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Perhaps you did something outstanding and awesome when you were a child. This is the most satisfying part of writing an autobiography if you like making lists.

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  • On the other hand, it can be quite boring for those who hate lists. Everything depends on your personal tastes. We highly recommend you to divide all memories into categories.