From the Greek, αὐτός-autos self + βίος-bios life + γράφειν-graphein to write) The word autobiography was first used deprecatingly by William Taylor in 1797 in the English periodical the Monthly Review, when he suggested the word as a hybrid but condemned it as 'pedantic'; but its next recorded use was in its present sense by Robert Southey in 1809. The form of autobiography however goes back to antiquity. Biographers generally rely on a wide variety of documents and viewpoints; an autobiography, however, may be based entirely on the writer's memory. Closely associated with autobiography (and sometimes difficult to precisely distinguish from it) is the form of memoir.
- 1: the biography of a person narrated by himself or herself
Autobiographical works are by nature subjective. The inability—or unwillingness—of the author to accurately recall memories has in certain cases resulted in misleading or incorrect information. Some sociologists and psychologists have noted that autobiography offers the author the ability to recreate history.
Spiritual autobiography is an account of an author's struggle or journey towards God, followed by conversion a religious conversion, often interrupted by moments of regression. The author re-frames his or her life as a demonstration of divine intention through encounters with the Divine. 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 Mohandas Gandhi's "An Autobiography" and "Black Elk Speaks". The spiritual autobiography works as an endorsement of his or her religion.
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' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Copperfield_(novel) David Copperfield] is another such classic, and J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye is a well-known modern example of fictional autobiography. Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre is yet another example of fictional autobiography, as noted on the front page of the original version. The term may also apply to works of fiction purporting to be autobiographies of real characters, e.g., Robert Nye's Memoirs of Lord Byron.