(Note: Texts are sorted by date of first publication):

This list was compiled to illustrate the richness of Tibetan autobiographical writing in Tibet. Over the years, students in Gray Tuttle's "20th Century Tibetan History" course have read most of these works and provided an abstract and summary (highlighted texts have not yet been selected or summarized). If you find that there are auto-biographical works in English that have not been included here, please feel free to send an email to gwt2102@columbia.edu.


  • Rinchen Lhamo. We Tibetans. New York: Potala Publications, 1985 [1st edition: 1926].



  • Gergan, Josef and Samuel Heinrich Ribbach. Drogpa Namgyal: ein Tibeterleben [Drogpa (Nomad) Namgyal: A Tibetan Life]. Munich: Planegg: O. W. Barth. 1940. [Reprint: Culture and Society in Ladakh. New Delhi: Ess Ess Publications 1986]. (Note: Collaboration between a German Moravian missionary, and a Ladakhi convert to Christianity. This is a semi-autobiographical account of life, from birth to death, in Khalatse village on the Indus [Ladakh]. Obviously, this text is in German.)



  • Trungpa, Chogyamas told to Esme Cramer Roberts. Born in Tibet. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2000 [1966, 1968].



  • Tseten Dolkar as told to John Windsor. Girl from Tibet. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1971. -- Avery Park













  • Hortsang Jigme. Under the Blue Sky –An Invisible Small Corner of the World. Translated by Lobsang Dawa and Gussje de Schot, privately printed in typescript, 1989. (See same: 1998).
    • Hortsang Jigme. Under the Blue Sky –An Invisible Small Corner of the World, translated by Lobsang Dawa and Gussje de Schot. Dharamasala: Privately [re-]published, 1998. [see earlier entry for first publication].





  • Dawa Drolma, Delog. Journey to Realms beyond Death. Translated from the Tibetan by Richard Barron under the direction of His Eminence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. Junction City, Calif.: Padma Pub. 1995. (Note: This may not be an autobiography, but worth looking at, as it might be a rare modern biography by a Tibetan woman of religion).



  • Goldstein, M., Seibenschuh & Tashi Tsering. The Struggle for Modern Tibet. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1997. Also available in Chinese translation:Xizang shi wo jia: Zhaxi Ciren de zi zhuan 西藏是我家 : 扎西次仁的自傳. Narrated by Zhaxi Ciren; English by Meierwen Ge’ersitan, Weilianmu Sibenshichu; Translated by Yang Hejin. Carle Place, NY: Mingjing chubanshe, 2000.
    • Later reprinted in a politically revised translation by China's Tibetology Center in Beijing: Zhongguo Zangxue chubanshe, 2006.

  • Radhu, Abdul Wahid. Islam in Tibet - Tibetan Caravans. Translated by Jane Casewit. ed. by Gray Henry. 1997, 59-311. (Note: See also Islam in Tibet [videorecording : the ornaments of Lhasa. produced by Gray Henry, Louisville, Ky.: Fons Vitae, c1997. Ladakhi Muslim merchant).
    • Translation of the French, first published twice in Paris by Fayard in 1981 and again in 1991 by Peuples du Monde.




  • Lobsang Gyatso (Blo bzang rgya mtsho, Phu khang Dge bshes), with Sparham, Gareth. Memoirs of a Tibetan Lama. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 1998.

  • Palden Gyatso and Tsering Shakya, The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk . New York: Grove Press, 1998. (Note: Also titled in the UK (1997): Fire Under the Snow: The Testimony of a Tibetan Prisoner – Palden Gyatso. Translated into 20 languages).








  • Losang Yonten. The Fire of Hell. With Veronique Renard. Pilgrims Publishers. New Delhi, India: 2001.


  • Taklha, Namgyal Lhamo. Born in Lhasa. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 2001. - Guy Raber





















  • Gong Bu. From Grasslands to College. 2007. Asian Highlands Project.


  • Dewang, Shigatse Noryon, and Lhundup. 2008. In memory of the martyrs: a complete life account of a Tibetan woman. Dharamsala: Tibetan Women's Association.





  • Tsodi Bongsar. 2009. Nangchen Sremo: the story of Sremo Tsodi Bongsar from Nangchen, and a brief recent history of the Bongsar family. Kathmandu: Vajra Publications.





  • DANIEL - Lhundup Sopa, and Paul Donnelly. 2012. Like a waking dream: the autobiography of Geshe Lhundub Sopa. Boston: Wisdom Publications.





  • Thinley Norbu. 2014. A brief fantasy history of a Himalayan: autobiographical reflections.

  • Bhuti, Lhamo, and Sandy L. Melnyk. 2015. Journey of the spirit: a Tibetan woman's story. Denman Island, British Columbia : Sandy L. Melnyk, 2015.

  • Gyalo Thondup and Anne F. Thurston. The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong. New York: Public Affairs, 2015.

  • Sofia Riva : Keyzom, Tsering, and Sanford S. Zevon. 2016. My journey to freedom: one girl's survival story. S.l: s.n.]. The story of Tsering Keyzom's escape from Tibet as a 12-year-old, and her subsequent life in the United States




  • CONSTANTINE - Nulo, Naktsang. Trans. Angus Cargill and Sonam Lhamo. My Tibetan Childhood: When Ice Shattered Stone (nags tshang zhi lu’i skyid sdug). Durham: Duke University Press, 2014.

Non-fiction written by (or in cooperation with) Tibetans still in Tibet:




Historical Fiction: (written by Tibetans in Tibet):



  • Lama Yongden. Mipam. 1938. [Indian reprint 1971; SUNY reprint 1987].
    • (Note: Mipam, the first novel written especially for Westerners by a Tibetan Lama, was originally published in 1938. "…while camping with my mother by adoption, the explorer Alexandra David-Neel, amid the vast solitudes of Northern Tibet, I happened to speak once more of the distress I had experienced on seeing the people and things of my native land so travested. She urged me, then and there, to attempt a faithful description of people and their ways, in the form of a novel...never was a writer`s vocation more unforseen than in my own case." Lama Yongden.)



  • Yeshi Tenzin. The Defiant Ones. Translated by David Kwan. Beijing: Chinese Literature Press, 1993. (Note: Originally in Chinese).


  • Alai. Red Poppies. Translated by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. (Note: Originally in Chinese).



Biography of a Chinese woman who went looking for her Chinese husband, lost on the plateau: