Culture The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written  

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A list of the finest biographical novels to ever tell life stories. Like historical novels, biographical novels can be tough to pin down because they blur the line between fiction and non-fiction. They're based on fact, but they also leave room for the author's imagination, telling slightly fictionalized stories with style and entertainment value.

Biographical and autobiographical novels are different from conventional biographies in that they are less dry, comprehensive, and rigorous. Instead, these stories hook readers emotionally, creating a sense of immediacy and involvement uncommon to history books.

The author of a biographical novel is free to invent dialogue, characters, and even scenes in order to best tell the story rather than sticking only to confirmed facts. As such, these novels are sort of like movies based on true stories: we accept that they're not 100% accurate because they entertainingly capture the spirit of real people and events.

We compiled the best examples of this unique literary form below, so vote up your favorite biographical novels. If we somehow missed a great one, feel free to add it to the list!
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list ordered by

1
291 58
The Diary of a Young Girl is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

2
151 60
In Cold Blood is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
clash1977 added Truman Capote

3
125 69
The Other Boleyn Girl is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Philippa Gregory

4
107 56
Into the Wild is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Jon Krakauer

5
104 57
Girl With a Pearl Earring: A S... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

6
70 44
Harriet Tubman: the Road to Fr... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

7
68 48
A Beautiful Mind: The Life of ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

8
68 49
The Agony and the Ecstasy is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

9
72 56
Nicholas and Alexandra is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Robert K. Massie

10
63 49
The Night Trilogy is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Elie Wiesel

11
64 51
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
David McCullough

12
60 51
The Autobiography of Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Alex Haley, Malcolm X

13
65 57
Unbroken: A World War II Story... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

14
89 87
Eat, Pray, Love is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Elizabeth Gilbert

15
60 54
The Immortal Life of Henrietta... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

16
50 49
Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Gore Vidal

17
43 41
Lust for life is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
clash1977 added Irving Stone

18
46 47
The Aviator's Wife is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Melanie Benjamin

19
41 45
Catherine the Great: Portrait ... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

20
40 44
Z: a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Therese Anne Fowler

21
39 44
Cleopatra: A Life is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Stacy Schiff

22
44 51
Benjamin Franklin: An American... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

23
41 47
The Paris Wife is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Paula McLain

24
39 47
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Ron Chernow

25
36 43
Shakespeare: The World as Stag... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written