Difference Between Memoir and Biography

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.


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Memoir vs Biography

The difference between a memoir and a biography is that a memoir focuses on the emotional aspect of a person’s life, whereas a biography focuses more on giving historically accurate facts, usually presented in chronological order.

Memoir vs Biography

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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 usually 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.

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 usually 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
  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=DrJrCy3hL-oC&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=memoir+and+biography&ots=6flHphUDzD&sig=net6_JmN_LK9yKuxLY2Pc6iE3x4&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=memoir%20and%20biography&f=false
  2. https://academicworks.cuny.edu/gc_etds/2477/
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