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
278 56
The Diary of a Young Girl is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

2
140 60
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
123 65
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
100 54
Into the Wild is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Into the Wild Jon Krakauer

5
100 57
Girl With a Pearl Earring: A S... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

6
66 42
Harriet Tubman: the Road to Fr... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

7
65 46
A Beautiful Mind: The Life of ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

8
65 48
The Agony and the Ecstasy is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

9
71 55
Nicholas and Alexandra is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Nicholas and Alexandra Robert K. Massie

10
62 48
The Night Trilogy is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Night Trilogy Elie Wiesel

11
61 50
John Adams is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
John Adams David McCullough

12
89 82
Eat, Pray, Love is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert

13
58 48
The Autobiography of Malcolm X is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Autobiography of Malcolm X Alex Haley, Malcolm X

14
63 56
Unbroken: A World War II Story... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

The Best Novels Ever Written

15
58 54
The Immortal Life of Henrietta... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

16
49 48
Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Lincoln Gore Vidal

17
46 46
The Aviator's Wife is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Aviator's Wife Melanie Benjamin

18
39 40
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
41 44
Catherine the Great: Portrait ... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

20
38 43
Cleopatra: A Life is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Cleopatra: A Life Stacy Schiff

21
38 43
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

The Most Anticipated New Shows of 2016

22
42 50
Benjamin Franklin: An American... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

23
39 46
The Paris Wife is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Paris Wife Paula McLain

24
35 42
Wolf Hall is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel

25
35 43
Shakespeare: The World as Stag... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

26
37 46
Alexander Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Alexander Hamilton Ron Chernow

27
32 41
Truman is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Truman David McCullough

28
28 40
Crazy Horse and Custer is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Crazy Horse and Custer Stephen Ambrose

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

29
31 46
The Constant Princess is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Constant Princess Philippa Gregory

30
25 41
Steve Jobs is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Steve Jobs Walter Isaacson

31
27 45
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

32
22 42
Einstein: His Life and Univers... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

33
22 43
Wild Swans is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Wild Swans Jung Chang

34
22 44
American Lion is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
American Lion Jon Meacham

35
17 37
Let the Trumpet Sound: a Life ... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

36
19 42
The Professor and the Madman is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Professor and the Madman Simon Winchester

37
18 41
Queen Anne: The Politics of Pa... is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

38
25 54
Mein Kampf is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
LarsWinkel added Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler

39
20 45
Theodore Rex is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Theodore Rex Edmund Morris

40
17 42
LOVE IS ETERNAL is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Love Is Eternal Irving Stone

41
18 44
Washington: A Life is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Washington: A Life Ron Chernow

42
15 41
Mornings on Horseback is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
Mornings on Horseback David McCullough

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43
14 40
The Power Broker is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
The Power Broker Robert Caro

44
15 42
First Family: Abigail and John... is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

45
13 39
American Sphinx: The Character... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

46
14 42
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Pr... is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

47
12 39
His Excellency: George Washing... is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

48
13 41
Churchill and the Jews: A Life... is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written

49
13 42
With malice toward none is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written
With Malice Toward None Stephen B. Oates

50
12 40
Destiny of the Republic: A Tal... is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Biographical Novels Ever Written