An autobiography is a presentation of the events of an individual’s life, in words and/or pictures. They are extremely interesting to read, but even more interesting to write. The best part is that anyone can write one. Let us see how with the help of autobiography examples.
‘Confessions’ or ‘Confessiones’ or ‘Confessions in Thirteen Books’ or ‘The Confessions of St. Augustine’
Written between AD 397 and AD 398 by St. Augustine of Hippo, this work is considered to be the first Western autobiography to have ever been penned.
This work is the documentation of a man’s divine insights, his religious journey from a life of sin to becoming a man of God and his connection with the Almighty.
Mark Twain once made the genius observation that: Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.
As befuddling as that sounds, a study of some of the best personal stories ever to have been penned will vouch for the veracity of this sentence. The human mind is a deliciously convoluted contraption that not only facilitates the absorption of all that surrounds us but also enables us to perceive these things in the way we like best. And it is the unique perception of every individual that can help even mundane incidents transcend to memorable and profoundly epiphanic experiences. This is what makes the life of every – I mean EVERY – individual different from everybody else’s. And as Oprah Winfrey so aptly puts it: Everybody has a story, and there’s something to be learned from every experience.
And what better way to tell a story than to author an autobiography. Nobody can see our lives as we do and that is what gives us the edge to tell a story exactly as it did happen. Thankfully, the genre of autobiographical writing offers a lot of scope for inventiveness. You can play with literary techniques and devices to your heart’s content, you choose to chalk down only an episode of your life or tell the entire story of the life you have lived, and there exists a branch of autobiographical writing that allows you to take the form of a nonliving object and element and tell their story in first person. Imagine the creative heights that can be soared, the avenues that can be explored!
Types of Autobiographies
A Full Autobiography
A Full Autobiography is a documentation of events from his birth to the author’s current situation in life. Famous people usually write such ambitious pieces in order to quench the thirst of their fans all over the globe who must know everything about their idol.
Some also trace and pen the entire story of their lives because it often leads to greater self-discovery and facilitates a more evolved understanding of certain events and their true purposes to consequentially help make peace with them.
True as it is that finding a publisher for such ginormous works if you aren’t well-known is improbable, but think about this, in our lives, we have so many moments that really should be shared with our future generations – moments that cannot really be chunked out from the rest of our lives because there is always a flow of sequences that leads to experiences that are unforgettable. For instance if you wish to jot down your trekking experiences in Dehradun, the true essence will completely be realized when you have already given a background of your 5-kilometer walks to school everyday and how that definitely enhanced your stamina, resilience and sense of observation along with other things.
Family history, the origin of certain family traditions, secret ingredients in certain signature recipes, the real reason behind that unexplained mark on the bedroom door, jokes that eventually gave you the solution to the long-standing relationship conundrum, why you retained your maiden surname even after marriage – all this and so much more can be passed down to your successors and if nothing else, it would definitely give them a better sense of knowing where they come from and may be even a little more perspective into their lives. You will be creating a virtual wonderland for the generations to come, replete with secrets, hidden treasures, profound insight, and a deep sense of belonging.
Examples of full autobiographies:
‘I Shock Myself ‘by Beatrice Wood
‘A Life’ by Elia Kazan
A memoir is a form of autobiographical writing which is episodic in nature. The author essentially captures a particular period in his/her life through elaborately descriptive compositions.
COMING OF AGE MEMOIR
One of the commonest forms is of course a Coming of Age Memoir wherein a person generally illustrates the events of his childhood. Such a piece generally ends at the cusp of adulthood or sometimes even at the beginning of puberty.
Famous example, ‘This Boy’s Life’ by Tobias Wolff.
Place Memoirs are generally pieces which talk about the days an author spent at a particular place for a considerable amount of time.
Author Ruskin Bond’s ‘Rain in the Mountains’ is an autobiographical narration of the days the writer spent in Mussoorie.
Occupational Memoirs are the ones wherein people with not-so-common bread-earning means have documented their experiences. These experiences are limited to their careers alone.
An example of an occupational memoir is definitely ‘Dancing on My Grave’ by Gelsey Kirkland.
Say if a sewage cleaner who worked in the Indian city of Kolkata wrote about his on-the-job problems, the facilities he enjoyed, the ways in which he was deprived or rewarded, the people he met in the process, the problems that ensued when all the sewage cleaners went on strike to protest against low wages for three whole days, it would be an interesting read simply because we hardly ever really think about these people who actually work to keep our surroundings sane and sanitized. Imagine a day without them!
MEMOIR ABOUT A RELATIONSHIP
This memoir pertains to the specifics and details of an author’s bond or connection with another individual or group. How it impacted him/her or changed his/her world, what she gained from it and where she lost, what were the challenges in the relationship and so on are some aspects explored in such a piece.
In ‘Adieux: A Farewell to Sartre’, Simone de Beauvoir explored her relationship with the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre.
A Portrait Memoir, however, is different from a relationship memoir because of the simple fact that in a portrait memoir the author is present in the incidents described but the focus is on someone else.
A great example to explain this would be Patrick O’Higgins’ ‘Madame: An Intimate Biography of Helena Rubinstein’ wherein the spotlight is on Rubinstein’s life even though we see O’Higgins is present as the protégé of the American business magnate.
‘History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life’ by Jill Bialosky is an effort by the author to trace the causes behind her sister’s suicide.
A Religious Memoir is one in which the author deals with his journey as the follower of a particular religion and his views, learnings as well as his interpretations of that particular religion.
‘The Autobiography of a Yogi’ by Paramahansa Yogananda is an instructive piece which resembles the tone of most religious autobiographies.
‘Enea Silvio Piccolomini’s Commentarii’ is another example that actually tells the story of how Piccolomini became the pope in eleven and a half books.
The semi-autobiographical novel ‘Sartor Resartus’ by Thomas Carlyle.
‘Apologia’ by John Henry Cardinal Newman.
Now, the pieces that were written earlier usually had a rather didactic tone where propaganda played a major role in the books. However, more recent works in this genre have commentaries by authors who describe their personal takeaways and spiritual gatherings from the faith they have chosen to follow. There usually aren’t instructions that readers are expected pay heed to.
The narration tells people what a specific individual gained from whatever it is that he chose to do. An example autobiography would be along the lines of a college girl writing about how chanting the ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ (forty quatrain verses sung to please the Indian deity Hanuman) seven times just before going to sleep everyday helped her to sleep well and wake up more energetic and ready to take on the world. How the positivity and strength it instilled in her helped her to face bigger obstacles in life.
A Confessional Memoir is one in which the author first narrates the story of a disheveled lifestyle where he/she wronged himself and other people around and then went on to make amends for his/her behavior and seek salvation.
A fall from grace and consequent measures taken to seek redemption. Of course the enumeration of the sins takes up the major first chunk of the book because it has more fodder to grab and maintain the attention of the readers.
‘Cupcakes and Cocaine: From Being Perfect to Being Real’ by Brienne Joelle is the real life story of a mum who doped to deal with pressures of family life that lead to a painfully bitter divorce and consequent rehabilitation and re-establishment of peace and sanity in her life.
DEALING WITH ADVERSITY MEMOIRS
Then there are Dealing with Adversity Memoirs wherein authors document psychological or physical conditions they had to combat and the manner in which it impacted their lives. These pieces also include how they went on to harness the effects of these clinical conditions – whether the malady is mental or physical – gradually.
Cupcake Brown’s vivid and minute description of her life in foster care homes, her dark undertaking towards the lanes of drugs and sexual assault ending into prostitution and her gradual rise towards a better life in her memoir ‘A Piece of Cake: A Memoir’ is as soul-stirring as inspiring it is.
A very good example of such an autobiographical work is ‘Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression’ by Brooke Shields.
‘You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know’ by Heather Sellers is another brilliant memoir based on the author’s lifelong battle with the mental disorder of Prosopagnosia or face blindness due to which she has absolutely no recollection of the faces of people, including the faces of her mother, her boyfriend and her closest friends.
External factors can also work as detrimental obstacles for an individual.
The third person account in ‘The Americanization of Edward Bok: The Autobiography of a Dutch Boy Fifty Years After’ by Edward William Bok exemplifies such a situation in life wherein a Dutch boy faces the brunt of language barrier in America.
A Travelogue is that form of memoir-writing which involves a travel destination visited by the author. But it would be wrong to say that it solely involves a detailed description of the place. While it does require a commendable and vivid description of the place, what it requires more importantly is a vivid elucidation of the emotions and reactions it evoked in the author and what triggered them, the possible tangible and intangible changes the visit brought about and the events that ensued.
Prabodhkumar Sanyal’s lucid descriptions of his journeys to various parts of the Himalayan range in ‘Debatatma Himalaya’ is an exhilarating read.
AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SHORT STORY
The Autobiographical Short Story is the retelling of an incident that deeply impacted and changed the life of the author forever either directly or indirectly. The nature of the incident can be emotional, physical, or spiritual but the impact of the event that transpired must prove to be transcendental at many different levels for the author.
Many a time, authors choose to publish bits and pieces of their lives in various magazines until they are all put together to form a book where all the pieces fall into place and the complete story is revealed.
Pam Houston’s ‘Cowboys are my Weakness’ is one such example.
A CONCEPTUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY
This form emerged as a result of experimental journalism. A conceptual autobiography is usually a result of an experiment that the author conducted or a situation he/she simulated in real life just to be able to document the results. These experiments could have also been conducted to testify a hypothesis or to experience a particular situation in life by the author. Amazingly, this form has proven to be extremely popular owing to its sensational streak.
Famous examples of conceptual autobiographies include:
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. They author consciously depleted his monetary reserves and let himself descend into a state of abject impoverishment so that he could document the plight of the poverty-stricken.
‘Life Swap’ by Nancy Weber. The author advertised a willingness to exchange her house, lover, friends and job with another woman in “Village Voice” just to study the effects of the swapping.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe. He went about behaving like a high school student in order to write this book.
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL
Put real life experiences and fictional elements into a bag and shake it hard. The result will be an autobiographical novel where the fictional and nonfictional worlds will have merged. What it creates is an ambiance of mystery where the reader cannot discern between fact and fiction. Fodder for thought is always a booster of sales and serious analysis.
Examples of autobiographical novels would be:
‘The Way of All Flesh’ by Samuel ButleR
‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ by James Joyce
‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts
Examples of Autobiographies
Many influential people of modern times have brought about a difference in the mindset of the people, all thanks to their much-publicized and thought-provoking autobiographies. They have used it as a way to put forth their experiences and inferences in such a way that people (the curious and serious-minded readers) can relate to them better. Here are a few examples of autobiographies you can read and get inspired from.
Autobiography of Adolf Hitler
Through his book ‘Mein Kampf’, which literally means “My Struggle”, Adolf Hitler put forth his life story and political views. This dictator’s writing was so brilliant that even today, a reader can be compelled to concur to his beliefs. The dictation of ‘Mein Kampf’ begun in 1923 while Hitler was in imprisonment for committing political crimes.
This book has been a universal bestseller and is still available at major bookstores.
Autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi
My experiments with Truth, the book written by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, is one of the world’s most influential books ever written. Just like Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi has tried to propound his beliefs through this book. He has tried to show the difference between right and wrong. It covers his life up to the year 1920.
Unlike many autobiographies, Gandhi has shown a very truthful and humble side to himself in his autobiography.
Autobiography of Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama is practically a modern-day hero. In a way he has brought about a sense of sanity back to the world. His book Dreams from My Father, has shown a very human and ‘down to earth’ side of this brilliant man. Barack Obama has spoken about his race, education, culture and life in this book. His realistic writing style can make any reader relate to it, at the most primal level.
The book is not just about his life’s journey but is also about his inferences out of the experiences that he has had in this journey so far.
Tips to Write an Autobiography
Now that you have an understanding of what an autobiography should and can be like, you can start one of your own. Like the examples of autobiographies discussed above, any autobiography needs to deal with a few aspects.
Decide on the Subject
The first step is to decide what you really wish to tell the world – whether you want to tell the world your entire life story or just a segment of it. If you know what you want to concentrate on, you will have won half the battle. Once the focal point is clear, make a list of the high points that need to be included in your story and then go on to joining all the dots.
Understand the Importance of your Work
By this, I simply mean that you must know why you wish to write your story. Why is it important for you to tell the world what you went through? Is the purpose of your work letting other people know what you have experienced or it is a means of greater self-discovery? Are you going to tell the whole truth or are there portions which you will keep hidden from the world? Will your “truth” impact anybody else in a derogatory manner? Once you have the answers for all these questions, you will be able to move on to the next step.
Determine the Audience
It is very important to know who it is your targeting as that will help set the tone and style of your writing. If your target audience consists of teenagers, giving graphic descriptions of gory violence can impact impressionable minds. So, it is of optimum importance to know who you want the book to be read most by.
Set the Format and Flow
These two factors will determine the readability of your book and influence the lucidity of your language. If you wish to write your book in third person then do so by all means, but stick to it till the very end. If you want to do it in the epistolic format or have flashback episodes inserted at regular intervals, explore these formats to the fullest. Being consistent throughout the work is of essence here. You will end up confusing your reader otherwise. You have to know the course of your work clearly before you actually start with the writing process. Autobiographies are lengthy in nature and the chances of getting lost in between are very high. So, know how you will go about the story. Do not lose focus. If you need to maintain index cards or such other tools to remember all you wish to tell, use them amply. Also, use your natural language. Trying to sound lofty when you really don’t have a hang of it will only result in a badly written book. If you are organized about the entire process, you will be able to tie up all loose ends and sum your work up satisfactory.
Let the TRUTH Prevail
DO NOT LIE about anything in your autobiography. It may not only kill your reputation in case of a discovery, but it may assassinate and malign the characters of other people. You never know what is at stake in totality because you can only gauge so far as a human being. Things can actually spiral out of hand and the butterfly effect is not the prettiest thing in the world. Truth and only the truth. I cannot emphasize enough on this point. Also, forget morality and conscience pangs, you may even end up in a legal suit if things are blown even the slightest out of proportion.
List of Names of Famous Autobiographies
Apart from the ones we discussed above, there are other autobiography examples of influential, brilliant and charismatic individuals. My favorite ones are the childhood accounts of Satyajit Ray (Jokhon Chhoto Chhilaam or “When I was Young”) and Rabindranath Tagore (Aamaar Chhelebelaa or “My Boyhood Days”). Of course, Tagore penned other autobiographical accounts by the names of Europe Jatrir Patro or “Letters from Europe” and Manusher Dhormo or “The Religion of Man”, but the stories of his young days mesmerized me for the longest time. I feel that it is very important to read quite a few autobiographical accounts in order to do optimum justice to the one you wish to pen someday. Reading acquaints the writer with the myriad styles that people all over the world have devised and opted for to make this genre interesting and inventive. So, whether you wish to write an autobiography or just have an urge to take a peek at the real lives of the famous and notorious, these autobiographies are worth reading. The following list is definitely a diverse compilation of what readers of all types can choose from.
• A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: A Memoir Based on a True Story (2000) by Dave Eggers
• A Long Walk to Freedom (1994) by Nelson Mandela
• A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007) by Ishmael Beah
• A Moment of War (1991) by Laurie Lee
• A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke (1755) by Charlotte Charke
• A New Song (1970) by Pat Boone
• A Positively Final Appearance (1999) by Alec Guinness
• A Proper Job (1969) by Brian Aherne
• A Short Autobiography (1940) by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
• A Small Boy and Others (1913) by Henry James
• A Sort of Life (1971) by Graham Greene
• A Writer’s Recollections (1918) by Mary Augusta Ward
• A Yorkshire Boyhood (1983) by Roy Hattersley
• Ake: The Years of Childhood (1981) by Wole Soyinka
• All Rivers Run to the Sea: Memoirs Vol. 1, 1928-1969 (1995) by Elie Wiesel
• Almost There: The Onward Journey of a Dublin Woman (2003) by Nuala O’Faolain
• An American Childhood (1987) by Annie Dillard
• An American Life (1990) by Ronald Reagan
• An Angel at My Table and The Envoy From Mirror City (1984) by Janet Frame
• An Apology for the Life of Mr. Colley Cibber, Written by Himself (1740) by Colley Cibber
• An Autobiographical Study (1925) by Sigmund Freud
• An Autobiography (1977) by Agatha Christie
• An Autobiography (1883) by Anthony Trollope
• An Autobiography (1989) by Janet Frame
• An Autobiography (1936) by Jawaharlal Nehru
• An Evil Calling (1991) by Brian Keenan
• An Interview (1900) by Claude Monet
• An Orderly Man (1983) by Dirk Bogarde
• And the Beat Goes On (1991) by Sonny Bono
• And the Sea is Never Full: Memoirs Vol. Ll, 1969- (1999) by Elie Wiesel
• And When Did You Last See Your Father? (1993) by Blake Morrison
• Angela’s Ashes (1996) by Frank McCourt
• Annie Besant: An Autobiography (1908) by Annie Besant
• Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea (2008) by Chelsea Handler
• As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969) by Laurie Lee
• Autobiographical Fragment (1847) by Charles Dickens
• Autobiographical Notes 1945 (1949) by Albert Einstein
• Autobiography (1874) by John Stuart Mill
• Autobiography (1890) by Thomas Henry Huxley
• Autobiography 1743-1790 (1821) by Thomas Jefferson
• Autobiography of a Child (1899) by Hannah Lynch
• Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie: with Illustrations (1920) by Andrew Carnegie
• Autobiography of Manuel Belgrano (1814) by Manuel Belgrano
• Autobiography of Mother Jones (1925) by Mary Harris Jones
• Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila (c. 1567) by Teresa of Avila
• Autobiography of Stephen A. Douglas (1913) by Stephen A. Douglas
• Bāburnāma (between 1493 and 1529) by Zāhir ud-Dīn Mohammad Bābur
• Bad Blood, A Memoir (2000) by Lorna Sage
• Before I Forget (1982) by James Mason
• Before Night Falls: A Memoir (1992) by Reinaldo Arenas
• Beginning (1998) by Kenneth Branagh
• Between a Rock and a Hard Place (2004) by Aron Ralston
• Black Boy (1945) by Richard Wright
• Black Elk Speaks (1931) by Black Elk and John J. Neihardt
• Blackberry Winter: My Earlier Years (1972) by Margaret Mead
• Blankets (2003) by Craig Thompson
• Blessings in Disguise (1985) by Alec Guinness
• Borrowed Finery (2001) by Paula Fox
• Boy: Tales of Childhood (1984) by Roald Dahl
• Boyhood: Scenes From Provincial Life (1997) by John Maxwell Coetzee
• Buffalo Bill’s Own Story of His Life and Deeds (1917) by Buffalo Bill Cody
• Cider with Rosie/The Edge of Day (1959/1960) by Laurie Lee
• Clinging to the Wreckage: A Part of Life (1982) by John Mortimer
• Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity (2010) by Drew Brees
• Confessions (Les Confessions) (1782) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
• Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy (2005) by Dirk Benedict
• Confessions of a Pretty Lady; Love, Love and Love; May I Kiss You On the Lips, Miss Sandra? (1998) by Sandra Bernhard
• Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) by Thomas de Quincey
• Conflict Without Malice (1955) by Manny Shinwell
• Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (1990) by William Styron
• Daughter of Destiny: An Autobiography (2008) by Benazir Bhutto
• De Profundis (1897) by Oscar Wilde
• De vita propria (1574) by Gerolamo Cardano
• Desert Solitaire (1968) by Edward Abbey
• Do You Want to Go With Me? (Willst du mit mir gehn?) (2005) by Nena
• Echoes of an Autobiography (1994) by Naguib Mahfouz
• Ernie: the Autobiography (2009) by Ernest Borgnine
• Ernie: the Autobiography (2009) by Stephen Fry
• Fates Worse Than Death: An Autobiographical Collage (1991) by Kurt Vonnegut
• Father and Son (1907) by Edmund Gosse
• Geronimo’s Story of His Life (1906) by Geronimo
• Giant Steps Kareem (1990) by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
• Going Solo (1986) by Roald Dahl
• Going Vegan! (2001) by Linda Blair
• Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography (1929) by Robert Graves
• Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (1666) by John Bunyan
• Grace Is Enough (2007) by Willie Aames and Maylo McCaslin
• Gusty Wind (2002) by Taslima Nasrin
• Harpo Speaks (1961) by Harpo Marx
• Harriet Martineau’s Autobiography (1887) by Harriet Martineau
• Heading South, Looking North: A Bilingual Journey (1999) by Ariel Dorfman
• Histoire de ma vie (1826) by Giacomo Casanova
• Historia Calamitatum (12th century) by Peter Abelard
• Holiday Memory (1942) by Dylan Thomas
• How I Grew (1987) by Mary McCarthy
• I am not fine, but you stay well my beloved country (2006) by Taslima Nasrin
• I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) by Maya Angelou
• I Think I’m Outta Here (1998) by Carroll O’Connor
• I’ve Lived Through It All (1973) by Manny Shinwell
• Ibadan: The Penkelemes Years: A Memoir 1946-65 (1994) by Wole Soyinka
• If This Is A Man (1947) by Primo Levi
• Impressions of an Indian Childhood (1921) by Zitkala-Sa
• In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories of a Lost War (1994) by Tobias Wolff
• In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures (2007) by Helen Mirren
• Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) by Harriet Jacobs
• Isara: A Voyage Around Essay (1990) by Wole Soyinka
• It’s a Slippery Slope (1997) by Spalding Gray
• It’s Not Easy Being Me: a Lifetime With No Respect But Plenty of Sex & Drugs (2004) by Rodney Dangerfield
• Italian Journey (1817) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
• Joys and Sorrows: Reflections (1970) by Pablo Casals
• Killing Willis (2010) by Todd Bridges
• Kit Carson’s Autobiography (1856) by Kit Carson
• Lady Sings the Blues (1956) by Billie Holiday
• Last House: Reflections, Dreams and Observations 1943-1991 (1995) by Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher
• Lead With the Left: My First Ninety-Six Years (1981) by Manny Shinwell
• Life (2010) by Keith Richards
• Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881) by Frederick Douglass
• Life Is Not a Stage: From Broadway Baby to a Lovely Lady and Beyond, with Joel Brokaw (2011) by Florence Henderson
• Life On a Pogo Stick (1960) by Ken Murray
• Little Girl Lost (1989) by Drew Barrymore
• Little Wilson and Big God, Being the First Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess (1986) by Anthony Burgess
• Living Like Ed (2008) by Ed Begley, Jr.
• Living Shadows (2006) by Aribam Syam Sharma
• Lizzie Beautiful, The Lizzie Velásquez Story (2010) by Lizzie Velazquez
• Loitering with Intent: The Child (1992) by Peter O’Toole
• Long Ago in France: The Years in Dijon (1991) by Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher
• Lost in America: A Journey With My Father (2003) by Sherwin Nuland
• Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language (1989) by Eva Hoffman
• Lucky Man (2002) by Michael J. Fox
• Majya Jalmachi Chittarkatha (1984) by Shantabai Kamble
• Mark Twain’s Autobiography (1907) by Mark Twain
• Me and the Orgone: One Man’s Sexual Revolution (1971) by Orson Bean
• Me: Stories of My Life (1991) by Katharine Hepburn
• Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (2010) by Anthony Bourdain
• Memoir (1874) by Sara Coleridge
• Memoir of the Author’s Life (1832) by James Hogg
• Memoir of the Early Life of William Cowper, Esq., Written by Himself (1816) by William Cowper
• Memoirs (Confieso que he vivido: Memorias) (1977) by Pablo Neruda
• Memoirs by Harriette Wilson (1825) by Harriette Wilson
• Memoirs of an Egotist (1892) by Stendhal
• Memoirs of the Late Mrs. Robinson, Written by Herself (1801-1803) by Mary Darby Robinson
• Memoirs of the Second World War (1959) by Winston Churchill
• Memoria autógrafa (1829) by Cornelio Saavedra
• Memorias (early 15th century) by Leonor López de Córdoba
• Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (1957) by Mary McCarthy
• Memories of Boyhood (1883) by Ion Creangă
• Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1962) by Carl Jung
• Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography (2005) by William F. Buckley, Jr.
• Minha formação (1900) by Joaquim Nabuco
• Moab is My Washpot: An Autobiography (1997) by Stephen Fry
• Moments of Being (1976) by Virginia Woolf
• Moonwalk (1988) by Michael Jackson
• More About Boy (2008) by Roald Dahl
• My Autobiography (1964) by Charlie Chaplin
• My Autobiography: With the Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism (1928) by Benito Mussolini
• My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) by Frederick Douglass
• My Childhood (1913) by Maxim Gorky
• My Confession (1884) by Leo Tolstoy
• My Early Life: 1874-1904 (1930) by Winston Churchill
• My Family and Other Animals (1956) by Gerald Durrell
• My Father and Myself (1968) by J. R. Ackerley
• My First Hundred Years (1963) by Margaret Murray
• My Girlhood (1999) by Taslima Nasrin
• My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands (2005) by Chelsea Handler
• My Inventions (c. 1919) by Nikola Tesla
• My Land and My People (1962) by Dalai Lama
• My Left Foot (1954) by Christy Brown
• My Life (1927) by Isadora Duncan
• My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance (2004) by Emanuel Derman
• My Life in High Heels (1995) by Loni Anderson
• My Life: A Spoken Autobiography (2006) by Fidel Castro
• My Name Escapes Me (1996) by Alec Guinness
• My Own Story (1914) by Emmeline Pankhurst
• My Story (1994) by Ann-Margret
• Naked (1997) by David Sedaris
• Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845) by Frederick Douglass
• Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition (1968) by Czeslaw Milosz
• Never Have Your Dog Stuffed And Other Things I’ve Learned (2005) by Alan Alda
• Nigger (1964) by Dick Gregory
• Night (1955) by Elie Wiesel
• Nothing is there (2010) by Taslima Nasrin
• Of Myself (1668) by Abraham Cowley
• Of the Education of Children (1580) by Michel de Montaigne
• Once in a House on Fire (2011) by Andrea Ashworth
• One Writer’s Beginnings (1983) by Eudora Welty
• Oration I (ca. 374) by Libanius
• Out of Place: A Memoir (2000) by Edward Said
• Over Seventy: An Autobiography with Digressions (1957) by Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse
• Palimpsest: A Memoir (1995) by Gore Vidal
• Period Piece: A Cambridge Childhood (1952) by Gwen Raverat
• Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant (1885) by Ulysses S. Grant
• Personal Narrative (1768) by Jonathan Edwards
• Pieces of My Heart (2008) by Robert Wagner
• Planet of the Umps: My Life Behind the Plate, with Kevin Fisher (2003) by Ken Kaiser
• Praeterita: Outlines of Scenes and Thoughts Perhaps Worthy of Memory in My Past Life (1885) by John Ruskin
• Present Indicative (1937) by Noël Coward
• Priceless Memories (2009) by Bob Barker
• Random Acts of Badness (2001) by Danny Bonaduce
• Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir of Books (2003) by Azar Nafisi
• Reveries Over Childhood and Youth (1916) by William Butler Yeats
• Running in the Family (1982) by Michael Ondaatje
• Six Records of a Floating Life (c.1808) by Shen Fu
• Some Account of the Fore-Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge (1755) by Elizabeth Ashbridge
• Something Like an Autobiography (1983) by Akira Kurosawa
• Songs My Mother Taught Me (1995) by Marlon Brando
• Space: A Memoir (1998) by Jesse Lee Kercheval
• Speak Up or Split into two (2003) by Taslima Nasrin
• Speak, Memory (1966) by Vladimir Nabokov
• Specimen Days (1883) by Walt Whitman
• Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me: Journals and Stories 1933-1941 (1993) by Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher
• Steps in Time (1960) by Fred Astaire
• Story of My Life (1855) by George Sand
• Straight Shooting (1980) by Robert Stack
• Such, Such Were the Joys. . . (1953) by George Orwell
Taking It Like a Man (1995) by Boy George
• Testament of Youth (1933) by Vera Brittain
• That’s NOT All Folks! (1988) by Mel Blanc
• The All Souls’ Waiting Room (2002) by Paki S. Wright
• The Americanization of Edward Bok: The Autobiography of a Dutch Boy Fifty Years After (1920) by Edward William Bok
• The Autobiography and Correspondence of Edward Gibbon the Historian (1795) by Edward Gibbon
• The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933) by Gertrude Stein
• The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (1951) by Nirad Chandra Chaudhuri
• The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Mémoires de la vie privée de Benjamin Franklin) (1791) by Benjamin Franklin
• The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (c. 1728) by Benvenuto Cellini
• The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1951-1969) by Bertrand Russell
• The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton (1936) by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
• The Autobiography Of Goethe: Truth And Poetry, From My Own Life (1848) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
• The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens (1931) by Lincoln Steffens
• The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
• The Autobiography of Margaret Oliphant (1899) by Margaret Oliphant
• The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001) by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Clayborne Carson
• The Autobiography of Medgar Evers (2005) by Medgar Evers
• The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams (1948) by William Carlos Williams
• The Book of Margery Kempe (1436) by Margery Kempe
• The Book of My Life (1576) by Girolamo Cardano
• The Butterfly Garden (2008) by Chip St. Clair
• The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou (1969-2002) by Maya Angelou
• The Deliverer from Error (12th century) by Al-Ghazali
• The Devil Finds Work (1976) by James Baldwin
• The Diary of a Young Girl (1947) by Anne Frank
• The Diary of Anaïs Nin (1966-76) by Anaïs Nin
• The Education of Henry Adams (1907) by Henry Adams
• The Glass Castle (2005) by Jeannette Walls
• The Greatest: My Own Story (1975) by Muhammad Ali
• The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African (1789) by Olaudah Equiano
• The Liars’ Club (1995) by Mary Karr
• The Life of David Hume, Esq., Written By Himself (1777) by David Hume
• The Life of P.T. Barnum, Written by Himself (1855) by Phineas Taylor Barnum
• The Magic Lantern (1987) by Ingmar Bergman
• The Man Died: Prison Notes (1971) by Wole Soyinka
• The Measure of My Days (1968) by Florida Scott-Maxwell
• The Meditations (c. 175) by Marcus Aurelius
• The Naked Civil Servant (1968) by Quentin Crisp
• The Path to Power (1995) by Margaret Thatcher
• The Perfect Stranger (1966) by Patrick J. Kavanagh
• The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon (1002) by Sei Shōnagon
• The Poetic Memoirs of Lady Daibu (c. 1232) by Lady Daibu
• The Prime of Life (1960) by Simone de Beauvoir
• The Reagan Diaries (2007) by Ronald Reagan
• The Recollections of the Development of My Mind and Character (1887) by Charles Darwin
• The Red Baron (Der rote Kampfflieger) (1917) by Manfred von Richthofen
• The Secret Life of Salvador Dali (1942) by Salvador Dali
• The Story of My Boyhood and Youth (1913) by John Muir
• The Story of My Life (1903) by Helen Keller
• The Swan in the Evening: Fragments of an Inner Life (1967) by Rosamond Lehmann
• The Way I Am (2008) by Eminem
• The Way I See It: a Look Back at My Life (2010) by Melissa Sue Anderson
• The Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death (1996) by Harold Brodkey
• The Words (1964) by Jean-Paul Sartre
• There and Back Again: an Actor’s Tale (2004) by Sean Astin
• There Are Worse Things I Could Do (2006) by Adrienne Barbeau
• This Is Gonna Hurt: the Life of a Mixed Martial Arts Champion (2008) by Tito Ortiz
• Those Dark Days (2004) by Taslima Nasrin
• Timebends: A Life (1987) by Arthur Miller
• To Begin Again: Stories and Memoirs 1908-1929 (1992) by Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher
• To the Is-land (1982) by Janet Frame
• Too Much Is Not Enough (1988) by Orson Bean
• Une enfance Créole (1996) by Patrick Chamoiseau
• Unpacking My Library (1931) by Walter Benjamin
• Untied (2011) by Meredith Baxter
• Up From Slavery (1901) by Booker T. Washington
• Victor Hugo’s Intellectual Autobiography (1907) by Victor Hugo
• Walk This Way (1997) by Aerosmith
• War hentoù an tremened, 2 vols. (2002-2005) by René Galand
• What I Saw of Shiloh (1881) by Ambrose Bierce
• When the Smoke Hit the Fan (1979) by Ralph Bellamy
• Where Is Joe Merchant?; Tales From Margueritaville; A Pirate Looks At 50 (1998) by Jimmy Buffett
• Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (1992) by Chang Jung
• Wings of Fire (1999) by Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam
• Without Stopping (1972) by Paul Bowles
• Wonderful Today: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me (2007) by Patricia Anne Boyd
• Yes, Chef: A Memoir (2012) by Marcus Samuelsson
• You Must Set Forth at Dawn (2006) by Wole Soyinka
• You’ve Had Your Time, Being the Second Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess (1990) by Anthony Burgess
• Youth: Scenes From Provincial Life II (2002) by John Maxwell Coetzee
Always remember, it is your autobiography, not an example of an autobiography, you can write it the way you like. So, experiment and enjoy. As they say, “if you find it interesting while writing it, the reader will find it interesting while reading it”. Just remember to not embellish or exaggerate the truth in any way because it will come back and bite you in a not-so-pleasant manner. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey is one famous example of an autobiography which was proven to be full of twisted “facts” in a very public manner and it only resulted in humiliation for the author. Keep to the truth. If you do not want something to be revealed, don’t mention it at all. Follow this basic thumb rule and you’re golden.