Memoir vs Biography: Difference and Comparison

Non-fiction stories about a person’s life can be daunting to write, but it helps if you know which format you want to write in it. There are three major formats, namely, memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies.

Key Takeaways

  1. A memoir is a personal account of the author’s experiences and memories, focusing on specific events or periods.
  2. A biography is a detailed, factual account of someone’s life written by someone other than the subject.
  3. Memoirs contain subjective perspectives and emotional reflections, while biographies strive for objectivity and historical accuracy.

Memoir vs Biography

Memoir is an essay or historical account written about the life events and experiences of a person by that person, and it focuses on the emotions and feelings of the writer. Biography is a type of non-fiction writing that gives an objective, historically accurate account of a person’s life in the third person.

Memoir vs Biography

Its scope focuses more on individual and specific events or experiences while giving insight into the person’s personal thoughts.

They include all accurate facts consisting of the key details that tend to shape the person’s life, like their relationships, education, family, etc. It is written in the third person point of view and objectively.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonMemoirBiography
FocusFocuses more on emotions.Focuses more on the facts.
Objective or SubjectiveSubjectiveObjective
PurposeIt is written to explore and retrospect the emotion of the subject’s experiences.It is written to establish a context about one’s life and inform the audience.
InsightGives insight into a person’s personal thoughts and feelings.It gives restricted insight into the person’s thoughts and feelings.
Point of ViewFirst-personThird-person
ScopeFocuses on specific aspectsFocuses on a person’s entire timeline.
Presentation of InformationIt presents the information according to the person’s experiences.It presents the information that has been collected from the subject, their family and friends, or other sources.
ExamplesI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya AngelouEinstein: The Life and Times by Ronald William Clark

What is Memoir?

A memoir originates from ‘mémoire,’ a French word that means memory or reminiscence. It is written about a person’s life events and experiences by that person themselves.

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A memoir tends to focus more on reflecting and exploring the emotions and feelings of the subject during specific events or experiences.

It is written from the first-person point of view because it is written from the author’s perspective. One defining feature of a memoir is its scope. Memoirs tend to focus on specific aspects or experiences like parenting, childhood, work experience, relationships, etc.

They tell a true story about a person, but they also focus on giving an engaging narrative to the audience.

There is no strict structure or timeline that a memoir sticks to. It just focuses more on the emotional and informal side of the events.


What is Biography?

A biography is a piece of non-fiction writing work that gives an objective account of a person’s entire life. It will include all the key details about that person, like their education, work, relationships, family background, birthplace, etc.

A biography will present historically accurate facts about the person’s life along with a multi-faceted picture of their experience. In-depth research is required to make the information as accurate as possible.

Biographies are written in the third person point of view since the author is different from the subjects. The intonation of the biography is also more formal and objective.

Usually, the events are organized in chronological order, but sometimes the author may organize them based on themes or accomplishments.


Main Differences Between Memoir and Biography

  1. The scope of a memoir is constricted to specific events, whereas the scope of a biography includes the entire timeline of a person’s life.
  2. A memoir tends to present information according to the person’s experiences. On the other hand, a biography contains the information collected from the subject, their family, friends, acquaintances, or other trusted sources.
Difference Between Memoir and Biography
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Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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9 thoughts on “Memoir vs Biography: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The comparison table provides a clear distinction between memoirs and biographies. It’s important to understand these differences when deciding on the format for a non-fiction story.

  2. The origins and defining characteristics of memoirs and biographies are well explained. Understanding these key differences is crucial for aspiring writers.

  3. Memoirs and biographies serve different purposes and cater to different aspects of a person’s life. While memoirs delve into specific experiences, biographies offer a comprehensive overview.

  4. Memoirs and biographies have different formats and purposes. A memoir is more subjective and focused on emotions, while a biography aims to provide an objective account of a person’s life.

  5. I completely agree with your point. The purpose and focus of each format are essential considerations when writing a non-fiction story.

  6. Both memoirs and biographies are written to share a person’s life experiences. Memoirs have a more personal touch than biographies and are written from the perspective of the author.

  7. Memoirs and biographies offer unique insights into a person’s life, each with its distinct approach to storytelling. This article effectively highlights the differences between the two formats.

  8. Memoirs and biographies are distinct in terms of scope and presentation of information. It’s fascinating to see how these two formats portray a person’s life differently.

  9. The references provide valuable sources for further exploration of memoirs and biographies. It’s essential to have a solid foundation of knowledge when delving into non-fiction writing.


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