Created By: MorganWickJune 30, 2012

False Autobiography

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May Need A Better Title, because while it's perfectly descriptive this is at heart a twist on the Literary Agent Hypothesis.

This is when a work of fiction is written in first person, from the perspective of a narrator who is The Danza: he has the same name as the author. This provides the illusion that the author is the same as the character in the story, and is relating events that really happened to him.

This seems to be especially common in kids' books, perhaps because kids are supposed to fall for it more easily.

In these cases, the narrator is generally an Author Avatar.


  • Weirdly, I have two different examples that are both set in the West during The Gay Nineties: the Great Brain books (written and narrated by a John D. Fitzgerald) and the works of Robert Newton Peck. (The former worked on me: when I first read them I wondered why the publisher of my copies had classified them as "fiction".)

I need rulings on these to help define the trope better:

  • Borderline example, as it's not a first-person narrator: the Wayside School books by Louis Sachar include a janitor named Louis, who is explicitly stated to be the author of the books.
  • Even more borderline, as it's basically an in-universe Literary Agent Hypothesis: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would occasionally appear in early Marvel Comics, the notion apparently being that they were writing comics based on the superheroes' actual adventures.
  • In my opinion, Andrew Hussie's Author Avatar in Homestuck is on the other side of the borderline, that is, he shouldn't be an example, mostly because it's apparent he doesn't exactly exist in our world, and it's not clear how he's writing the story...
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • June 30, 2012
    This seems very closely related to Direct Line To The Author .
  • June 30, 2012
    Darren Shan wrote The Saga Of Darren Shan, whose protagonist was called Darren Shan.
  • June 30, 2012
    Auntie Mame is written under the pseudonym Patrick Dennis, and that is also the name of the First Person Peripheral Narrator of the book.
  • June 30, 2012
    I think The Great Brain books are Very Loosely Based On A True Story. As are the Little House On The Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (Although the Little House books wouldn't count as described since they aren't written in first person.)
  • June 30, 2012
    Chester Anderson's Hugo-nominated novel, The Butterfly Kid featured Chester and his friend Michael Kurland saving the world from an Alien Invasion. The sequel, The Unicorn Girl, written by Kurland, featured Chester and Michael once again saving the world, with Michael as narrator this time.
  • June 30, 2012
    No Score and Chip Harrison Scores Again by Chip Harrison (really Lawrence Block). Definitely not kids books. The first details his quest to find a place in the world and get laid; the second continues his adventures.
  • July 1, 2012
    I'd need to know more about all those examples to see where and whether they'd fit. The gist of the trope is that it tries to provide the illusion that the events depicted really happened to the author, even if they couldn't possibly have (is John Dies At The End an example?). Xtifr's examples, I think, depend largely on how they're written and how they treat the whole thing.
  • July 1, 2012
    ^ I'm not sure what you mean. There's no "it was all a dream" ending to The Butterfly Kid or anything like that. The invasion of Greenwich Village by Giant Blue Lobsters is presented as a real event within the context of the book. On the other hand, there's no extra-ordinary effort paid to make the reader think this was all some great secret hushed up by the government or anything like that. It's just presented as "I was walking down Canal Street, when I saw the kid making butterflies...". There's never any doubt that the protagonist is intended to be the author, if that's what you're asking.
  • July 1, 2012
    Many short stories by Jorge Luis Borges are like this. For example: The Aleph, The Other and Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.

    They are all pretty much: "Hi, i'm Borges and this happen to me last week. I'm totally not making up this magic element".
  • November 22, 2012
    ^^ I meant that your example gave me too little context to tell me whether you understood the trope.

    Bump, by the way.

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