Literature The Best Autobiographies Ever Written  

Buster McDermott
Originally by
9.6k votes 3.5k voters 457.1k views 124 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, 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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1
654 239
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
282 124
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
409 138
The Story of My Experiments wi... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Mahatma Gandhi Autobiography is a book written by Mahatma Ghandi.

4
327 130
The Autobiography of Benjamin ... is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
342 117
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
200 90
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing... is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
328 120
The Autobiography of Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
311 116
Open: An Autobiography is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Andre Agassi

9
167 69
The Story of My Life is listed (or ranked) 9 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.

10
187 67
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
65 28
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
122 52
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

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171 69
A Child Called
Dave Pelzer

14
198 86
Scar Tissue is listed (or ranked) 14 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

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30 3
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
95 43
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
85 46
A Walk in the Woods is listed (or ranked) 17 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

18
72 41
Up From Slavery is listed (or ranked) 18 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

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55 28
On Writing: A Memoir of the Cr... is listed (or ranked) 19 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

20
64 36
Girl, Interrupted is listed (or ranked) 20 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

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71 42
Running with Scissors is listed (or ranked) 21 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

22
69 41
The Last Lecture is listed (or ranked) 22 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

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53 29
My Left Foot is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Christy Brown My Left Foot is the 1954 autobiography of Christy Brown, who was born with cerebral palsy on June 5, 1932 in Dublin, Ireland. As one of 13 surviving children, Brown went on to be an author, ...more

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52 37
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

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The Diving-Bell and the Butter... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Jean-Dominique Bauby The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly is a book by Jean-Dominique Bauby.

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Bossypants is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Tina Fey Bossypants is an autobiographical comedy book written by American comedian Tina Fey. The book topped The New York Times Best Seller list, and stayed there for five weeks upon its release. Since ...more

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72 35
A Moveable Feast is listed (or ranked) 27 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

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The Education of Henry Adams is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written

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Life and Times of Frederick Do... is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Life and Times of Frederick Douglass is Frederick Douglass' third autobiography, published in 1881, revised in 1892. Because of the emancipation of American slaves during and following the ...more

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43 37
Born Standing Up: A Comic's Li... is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Steve Martin Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life is a memoir, released November 20, 2007, by Steve Martin, an American author, actor, comedian, producer, playwright and screenwriter. It chronicles his early ...more

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27 22
The Crack-Up is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
looksharp added F. Scott Fitzgerald The Crack-Up is a collection of essays by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. It consists of previously unpublished letters, notes and also three essays originally written for and published ...more

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The Civil War memoirs of Ulyss... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
WilliamCarrigan added Ulysses S. Grant The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant is an autobiography of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States, focused mainly on his military career during the Mexican-American War ...more

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Witness is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
looksharp added Whittaker Chambers Witness is a book written by Whittaker Chambers.

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Black Boy is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Richard Wright Black Boy is a bildungsroman by Richard Wright, and his eventual move to Chicago, where he establishes his writing career and becomes involved with the Communist Party.

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28 19
Donnie Brasco: My Undercover L... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
looksharp added Joseph D. Pistone Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia is a 1988 autobiographical crime book written by Joseph D. Pistone about his story as an FBI agent going undercover and infiltrating the Mafia. In ...more

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25 16
Survival In Auschwitz is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
stubb added Primo Levi Primo Levi is in every way a better writer than Elie Wiesel. // First published as If This Be a Man, which is neither informative nor compelling. If This Is a Man is a work by the Italian Jewish writer Primo Levi. It describes his arrest as a member of the Italian anti-fascist resistance during the Second World War, and his incarceration ...more

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Life: Keith Richards is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Keith Richards

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Persepolis is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Marjane Satrapi Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. The title is a reference ...more

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44 29
Me: Stories of My Life is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Katharine Hepburn Me: Stories of My Life is a 1991 book by Katharine Hepburn.

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Miles is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
dresworld1020 added Quincy Troupe, Miles Davis Miles is a book written by Miles Davis.

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Shantaram is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Jessica Jayne added Gregory David Roberts Shantaram is a 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts, in which a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escaped from Pentridge Prison flees to India. The novel is commended by many ...more

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Autobiography of a Yogi is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
DavidSanders1 added Paramahansa Yogananda Autobiography of a Yogi is an autobiography of Paramahansa Yogananda first published in 1946. Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh in Gorakhpur, India, into a Bengali family. Autobiography of a ...more

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48 37
The Fry Chronicles: An Autobio... is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Stephen Fry The Fry Chronicles: An Autobiography is the 2010 autobiography of Stephen Fry. The book is a continuation from the end of his 1997 publication of his first autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot: An ...more

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35 36
Me Talk Pretty One Day is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
David Sedaris Me Talk Pretty One Day, published in 2000, is a bestselling collection of essays by American humorist David Sedaris. The book is separated into two parts. The first part consists of essays about ...more

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9 7
The Naked Civil Servant is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
stubb added Quentin Crisp The Naked Civil Servant is the first volume of an autobiography by the gay icon Quentin Crisp. It was later turned into a TV movie starring John Hurt, which was also titled The Naked Civil ...more

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Harpo Speaks! is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
looksharp added Harpo Marx

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Notes of a Native Son is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
James Baldwin Notes of a Native Son is a non-fiction book by James Baldwin. It was Baldwin's first non-fiction book, and was published in 1955. The volume collects ten of Baldwin's essays, which had ...more

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8 6
Moonwalker is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Max Mansell added Michael Jackson

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Out of Africa is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
Karen Blixen Out of Africa is a memoir by the Danish author Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke. The book, first published in 1937, recounts events of the seventeen years when Blixen made her home in Kenya, ...more

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9 11
Nigger is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Autobiographies Ever Written
stubb added Dick Gregory, Robert Lipsyte Nigger: An Autobiography by Dick Gregory is an autobiography by comedian and social activist Dick Gregory, published in 1964 by E.P. Dutton, and reprinted by Pocket Books from 1965 to present. ...more