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The Best Autobiographies Ever Written

Updated July 21, 2020 11.2k votes 4.5k voters 527.2k views126 items

List RulesWhich 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, including more recent memoirs. 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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  • The Diary of a Young Girl1

    First Published1947

    SubjectsNetherlands in World War II, Otto Frank, World War II, Hannah Pik-Goslar, Sol Kimel

    The Diary of a Young Girl is a book of the writings from the Dutch language diary kept by Anne...  more
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  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin2

    First Published1791

    SubjectsPhilosophy, Pennsylvania, Education, World, Biography

    The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is the traditional name for the unfinished record of...  more
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  • Night3
    314
    159

    Night

    Elie Wiesel

    First Published1955

    SubjectsLiterary, Entertainment, Poland, Modern history, World War II

    Night is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German...  more
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  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings4

    First Published1969

    SubjectsLiterary, Arkansas, Women, United States of America, 20th century

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the 1969 autobiography about the early years of...  more
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  • The Story of My Life5
    191
    72

    SubjectsSpecial education, Helen Keller, Education, Women, Public policy

    The story of my life, with her letters (1887-1901) and a supplementary account of her...  more
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  • The Confessions of St. Augustine6
    90
    43

    First Published0398

    SubjectsAugustine of Hippo

    Confessions is the name of an autobiographical work, consisting of 13 books, by St. Augustine...  more
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  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft7

    First Published2000-10-03

    SubjectsCreative writing, Literary, Composition, Literature, Linguistics

    On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, published in 2000, is a memoir of the...  more
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  • Up From Slavery8
    84
    45

    Up From Slavery

    Booker T. Washington

    First Published1901

    Up from Slavery is the 1901 autobiography of Booker T. Washington detailing his personal...  more
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  • Girl, Interrupted9
    87
    44

    Girl, Interrupted

    Susanna Kaysen

    First Published1993

    SubjectsInternal medicine, Medicine, Massachusetts

    Girl, Interrupted is a best-selling 1993 memoir by American author Susanna Kaysen, relating...  more
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  • Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia10
    Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia is a 1988 autobiographical crime book written...  more
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  • A Walk in the Woods11
    82
    57

    First Published1998-05-04

    SubjectsKindred Spirits, Sports, Travel, North America, Natural history

    A Walk in the Woods may be: A Walk in the Woods (book), a 1998 book by Bill Bryson A Walk in...  more
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  • The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly12
    65
    32

    First Published1997-03-06

    SubjectsLocked-in syndrome, Quadriplegia, Jean-Dominique Bauby

    The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly is a book by Jean-Dominique Bauby....  more
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  • Running with Scissors13
    73
    46

    Running with Scissors

    Augusten Burroughs

    SubjectsLiterary, Homosexuality, Massachusetts, 20th century

    Running with Scissors is a 2002 memoir by American writer Augusten Burroughs. The book tells...  more
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  • Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life14

    First Published2007-11

    SubjectsSteve Martin

    Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life is a memoir, released November 20, 2007, by Steve Martin, an...  more
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  • Life and Times of Frederick Douglass15
    Life and Times of Frederick Douglass is Frederick Douglass' third autobiography, published in...  more
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  • Chronicles: Volume One16

    First Published2004-10-05

    Chronicles, Volume One is the first part of Bob Dylan's planned 3-volume memoir. Published on...  more
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  • The Education of Henry Adams17
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  • Bossypants18
    115
    102

    Bossypants

    Tina Fey

    First Published2011-04-05

    Bossypants is an autobiographical comedy book written by American comedian Tina Fey. The book...  more
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  • My Left Foot19
    52
    33

    My Left Foot

    Christy Brown

    SubjectsChristy Brown

    My Left Foot is the 1954 autobiography of Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy on...  more
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  • The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge20
    The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge is an autobiography written by former United States...  more
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  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X21
    372
    123

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X

    Alex Haley, Malcolm X

    First Published1965

    SubjectsSecurity, African American, African American studies, Black, Islam

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between...  more
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  • The Story of My Experiments with Truth22

    First Published1927

    SubjectsNonviolent resistance

    Autobiography is a book written by Mahatma Ghandi....  more
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  • Long Walk to Freedom23
    348
    125

    Long Walk to Freedom

    Nelson Mandela

    First Published1994

    SubjectsHuman rights, World, Nelson Mandela, Politics, International relations

    Long Walk to Freedom is an autobiographical work written by South African President Nelson...  more
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  • Open: An Autobiography24
    341
    126
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  • Angela's Ashes25
    198
    72

    Angela's Ashes

    Frank McCourt

    First Published1996-09-05

    SubjectsFrank McCourt

    Angela's Ashes is a 1996 memoir by the Irish author Frank McCourt. The memoir consists of...  more
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