books 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!
list ordered by

1
272 54
The Diary of a Young Girl is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

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2
137 59
Utterly Cold Blooded is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
clash1977 added Utterly Cold Blooded Truman Capote

3
122 63
The Other Boleyn Girl is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Other Boleyn Girl Philippa Gregory

4
98 53
Into the Wild is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Into the Wild Jon Krakauer

5
99 55
Girl With a Pearl Earring: A S... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

6
64 41
Harriet Tubman: the Road to Fr... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

7
65 44
A Beautiful Mind: The Life of ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

8
63 47
The Agony and the Ecstasy is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

9
68 53
Nicholas and Alexandra is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Nicholas and Alexandra Robert K. Massie

10
61 47
The Night Trilogy is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Night Trilogy Elie Wiesel

11
89 78
Eat, Pray, Love is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert

12
60 49
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
John Adams David McCullough

13
62 55
Unbroken: A World War II Story... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

14
55 47
The Autobiography of Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Autobiography of Malcolm X Alex Haley, Malcolm X

15
56 53
The Immortal Life of Henrietta... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

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16
46 44
The Aviator's Wife is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Aviator's Wife Melanie Benjamin

17
47 47
Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Lincoln Gore Vidal

18
38 39
Lust for life is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
clash1977 added Lust for life Irving Stone

19
38 41
Cleopatra: A Life is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Cleopatra: A Life Stacy Schiff

20
39 43
Catherine the Great: Portrait ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

21
37 41
Z: a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald Therese Anne Fowler

22
39 44
The Paris Wife is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Paris Wife Paula McLain

23
37 43
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Alexander Hamilton Ron Chernow

24
41 49
Benjamin Franklin: An American... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

25
35 41
Shakespeare: The World as Stag... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

26
33 41
Wolf Hall is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel

27
32 40
Truman is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Truman David McCullough

28
28 39
Crazy Horse and Custer is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Crazy Horse and Custer Stephen Ambrose

29
31 44
The Constant Princess is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Constant Princess Philippa Gregory

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30
25 39
Steve Jobs is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Steve Jobs Walter Isaacson

31
27 44
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

32
22 40
Einstein: His Life and Univers... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

33
22 42
American Lion is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
American Lion Jon Meacham

34
21 42
Wild Swans is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Wild Swans Jung Chang

35
19 40
The Professor and the Madman is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Professor and the Madman Simon Winchester

36
19 43
Theodore Rex is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Theodore Rex Edmund Morris

37
17 40
Queen Anne: The Politics of Pa... is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

38
17 41
LOVE IS ETERNAL is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Love Is Eternal Irving Stone

39
18 43
Washington: A Life is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Washington: A Life Ron Chernow

40
14 37
Let the Trumpet Sound: a Life ... is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

41
22 52
Mein Kampf is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
LarsWinkel added Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler

42
14 38
The Power Broker is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Power Broker Robert Caro

43
15 40
First Family: Abigail and John... is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

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44
15 40
Mornings on Horseback is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Mornings on Horseback David McCullough

45
13 38
American Sphinx: The Character... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

46
14 41
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Pr... is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

47
12 40
Churchill and the Jews: A Life... is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

48
12 40
Lee is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Lee Douglas Freeman

49
12 40
Empress is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Empress Shan Sa

50
11 38
His Excellency: George Washing... is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written