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An autobiography (from the Greek, αὐτός-autos self + βίος-bios life + γράφειν-graphein to write) is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.


Origin of the term

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'; but its next recorded use was in its present sense by Robert Southey in 1809.[1] The form of autobiography however goes back to antiquity. Biographers generally rely on a wide variety of documents and viewpoints; an autobiography, however, may be based entirely on the writer's memory. Closely associated with autobiography (and sometimes difficult to precisely distinguish from it) is the form of memoir.

See also: List of autobiographies and Category:Autobiographies for examples.

Autobiography through the ages

The classical period: Apologia, oration, confession

In antiquity such works were typically entitled apologia, implying as an example of much self-justification as self-documentation. John Henry Newman's autobiography (first published in 1864) is entitled Apologia Pro Vita Sua in reference to this tradition.

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