Culture

The Best Autobiographies Ever Written  

Buster McDermott
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11k votes 3.9k voters 489.7k views 129 items

List Rules Which autobiographies were the best and most moving reads? Vote them up and add all of your favorites.

The best autobiographies ever written include memoirs by famous historical figures, authors, politicians, celebrities, and more. This list includes a wide variety of books that are considered autobiographical. Which one is the best? That's for you to decide, with votes of course. Some of the books listed here have proven to be life-changing reads. If you are an avid reader of autobiographies, you'll likely recognize a vast majority of the books listed here. If one of your favorites is missing, by all means, please do add it to the list. Those of us who love reading a beautifully written autobiography will be grateful!

When talking about the best-written autobiographies ever, any list would be woefully incomplete without Anne Frank: 'The Diary of a Young Girl,' as well as 'The Autobiography of Malcolm X' and Frank McCourt's heartbreaking (and humorous) memoir 'Angela's Ashes.' These books are not only notable autobiographies, they are certainly among the best non-fiction eBooks ever.

Not all of the best autobiographies ever written are dark and serious. Some manage to mix an ample amount of humor in. Tina Fey's brilliant 'Bossypants' and Steve Martin's 'Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life' are excellent examples of must read books by stand up comedians. FYI: You don't necessarily have to spend a small fortune to purchase these best autobiographies ever written. Some of them are available as free ebooks, or even as audiobooks so be sure to check before you shell out a ton of money. If you're a reading fanatic, you might also like this list of famous autobiographical novel books, as well as this list of the top must-read books of all time.

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list ordered by
1
The Diary of a Young Girl is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Anne Frank
The Diary of a Young Girl is a book of the writings from the Dutch language diary kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the ...more
2
Night is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Elie Wiesel
Night is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald in 1944–45, at the height of the Holocaust toward the end ...more
3
The Autobiography of Benjamin ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is the traditional name for the unfinished record of his own life written by Benjamin Franklin from 1771 to 1790; however, Franklin himself appears to have ...more
4
The Story of My Experiments wi... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Mahatma Gandhi
Autobiography is a book written by Mahatma Ghandi.
5
Long Walk to Freedom is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Nelson Mandela
Long Walk to Freedom is an autobiographical work written by South African President Nelson Mandela, and published in 1995 by Little Brown & Co. The book profiles his early life, coming of ...more
6
The Autobiography of Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Alex Haley, Malcolm X
The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. Haley coauthored the autobiography based on ...more
7
The Story of My Life is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Helen Keller
The story of my life, with her letters (1887-1901) and a supplementary account of her education is a book written by Helen Keller.
8
Open: An Autobiography is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Andre Agassi
9
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Maya Angelou
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the 1969 autobiography about the early years of African-American writer and poet Maya Angelou. The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story ...more
10
Angela's Ashes is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Frank McCourt
Angela's Ashes is a 1996 memoir by the Irish author Frank McCourt. The memoir consists of various anecdotes and stories of Frank McCourt's impoverished childhood and early adulthood in Brooklyn, ...more
11
The Confessions of St. Augusti... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
looksharp added Augustine of Hippo
Confessions is the name of an autobiographical work, consisting of 13 books, by St. Augustine of Hippo, written in Latin between 397 and 400 AD. Modern English translations of it are sometimes ...more
12
Steve Jobs is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
msprabhakar added Walter Isaacson
Steve Jobs is the authorized biography of Steve Jobs. The biography was written at the request of Jobs by Walter Isaacson, a former executive at CNN and Time who has written best-selling ...more
13
Scar Tissue is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Anthony Kiedis, Larry Sloman
Scar Tissue is the autobiography of Red Hot Chili Peppers vocalist Anthony Kiedis. It was released in 2004 by Hyperion and authored by Kiedis with Larry Sloman, who compiled information and ...more
14
A Child Called
Dave Pelzer
15
The Glass Castle is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Jodie Hunt added Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle is a 2005 memoir by Jeannette Walls. The book recounts Walls' and her siblings' unconventional, poverty-stricken upbringing at the hands of their deeply dysfunctional parents. ...more
16
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feyn... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Richard Feynman
"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character is an edited collection of reminiscences by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. The book, ...more
17
On Writing: A Memoir of the Cr... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Stephen King
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, published in 2000, is a memoir of the author's experiences as a writer, and also serves as a guide book for those who choose to enter the ...more
18
Girl, Interrupted is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Susanna Kaysen
Girl, Interrupted is a best-selling 1993 memoir by American author Susanna Kaysen, relating her experiences as a young woman in a psychiatric hospital in the 1960s after being diagnosed with ...more
19
Up From Slavery is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Booker T. Washington
Up from Slavery is the 1901 autobiography of Booker T. Washington detailing his personal experiences in working to rise from the position of a slave child during the Civil War, to the ...more
20
A Walk in the Woods is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Bill Bryson
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail is a 1998 book by travel writer Bill Bryson, describing his attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail with his friend ...more
21
A Moveable Feast is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Ernest Hemingway
A Moveable Feast is a memoir by American author Ernest Hemingway about his years as an expatriate writer in Paris in the 1920s. The book describes Hemingway's apprenticeship as a young writer ...more
22
The Diving-Bell and the Butter... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Jean-Dominique Bauby
The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly is a book by Jean-Dominique Bauby.
23
Running with Scissors is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Augusten Burroughs
Running with Scissors is a 2002 memoir by American writer Augusten Burroughs. The book tells the story of Burroughs's bizarre childhood life after his mother, a chain-smoking aspiring poet, sent ...more
24
Chronicles: Volume One is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Bob Dylan
Chronicles, Volume One is the first part of Bob Dylan's planned 3-volume memoir. Published on October 5, 2004, by Simon & Schuster, the 304-page volume covers selected points from Dylan's ...more
25
The Last Lecture is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow
The Last Lecture is a New York Times best-selling book co-authored by Randy Pausch—a professor of computer science, human-computer interaction, and design at Carnegie Mellon University in ...more