Autobiography

An autobiography (from the Greek, αὐτός-autos self + βίος-bios life + γράφειν-graphein to write; also informally called an autobio[1]) is a self-written account of one's life. The word "autobiography" was first used deprecatingly by William Taylor in 1797 in the English periodical The Monthly Review, when he suggested the word as a hybrid, but condemned it as "pedantic". However, its next recorded use was in its present sense, by Robert Southey in 1809.[2] Despite only being named early in the nineteenth century, first-person autobiographical writing originates in antiquity. Roy Pascal differentiates autobiography from the periodic self-reflective mode of journal or diary writing by noting that "[autobiography] is a review of a life from a particular moment in time, while the diary, however reflective it may be, moves through a series of moments in time".[3] Autobiography thus takes stock of the autobiographer's life from the moment of composition. While biographers generally rely on a wide variety of documents and viewpoints, autobiography may be based entirely on the writer's memory. The memoir form is closely associated with autobiography but it tends, as Pascal claims, to focus less on the self and more on others during the autobiographer's review of their own life.[3]

Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote Confessions, the first Western autobiography ever written, around 400. Portrait by Philippe de Champaigne, 17th century.