A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person's experience of these life events. Unlike a profile or curriculum vitae (résumé), a biography presents a subject's life story, highlighting various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experience, and may include an analysis of the subject's personality.
Biographical works are usually non-fiction, but fiction can also be used to portray a person's life. One in-depth form of biographical coverage is called legacy writing. Works in diverse media, from literature to film, form the genre known as biography.
An authorized biography is written with the permission, cooperation, and at times, participation of a subject or a subject's heirs. An autobiography is written by the person himself or herself, sometimes with the assistance of a collaborator or ghostwriter.
At first, biographical writings were regarded merely as a subsection of history with a focus on a particular individual of historical importance. The independent genre of biography as distinct from general history writing, began to emerge in the 18th century and reached its contemporary form at the turn of the 20th century.
One of the earliest biographers was Cornelius Nepos, who published his work Excellentium Imperatorum Vitae ("Lives of outstanding generals") in 44 BC. Longer and more extensive biographies were written in Greek by Plutarch, in his Parallel Lives, published about 80 A.D. In this work famous Greeks are paired with famous Romans, for example the orators Demosthenes and Cicero, or the generals Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar; some fifty biographies from the work survive. Another well-known collection of ancient biographies is De vita Caesarum ("On the Lives of the Caesars") by Suetonius, written about AD 121 in the time of the emperor Hadrian.
In the early Middle Ages (AD 400 to 1450), there was a decline in awareness of the classical culture in Europe. During this time, the only repositories of knowledge and records of the early history in Europe were those of the Roman Catholic Church. Hermits, monks, and priests used this historic period to write biographies. Their subjects were usually restricted to the church fathers, martyrs, popes, and saints. Their works were meant to be inspirational to the people and vehicles for conversion to Christianity (see Hagiography). One significant secular example of a biography from this period is the life of Charlemagne by his courtier Einhard.
In Medieval Islamic Civilization (c. AD 750 to 1258), similar traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad and other important figures in the early history of Islam began to be written, beginning the Prophetic biography tradition. Early biographical dictionaries were published as compendia of famous Islamic personalities from the 9th century onwards. They contained more social data for a large segment of the population than other works of that period. The earliest biographical dictionaries initially focused on the lives of the prophets of Islam and their companions, with one of these early examples being The Book of The Major Classes by Ibn Sa'd al-Baghdadi. And then began the documentation of the lives of many other historical figures (from rulers to scholars) who lived in the medieval Islamic world.
By the late Middle Ages, biographies became less church-oriented in Europe as biographies of kings, knights, and tyrants began to appear. The most famous of such biographies was Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. The book was an account of the life of the fabled King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Following Malory, the new emphasis on humanism during the Renaissance promoted a focus on secular subjects, such as artists and poets, and encouraged writing in the vernacular.
Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists (1550) was the landmark biography focusing on secular lives. Vasari made celebrities of his subjects, as the Lives became an early "bestseller". Two other developments are noteworthy: the development of the printing press in the 15th century and the gradual increase in literacy.
Biographies in the English language began appearing during the reign of Henry VIII. John Foxe's Actes and Monuments (1563), better known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs, was essentially the first dictionary of the biography in Europe, followed by Thomas Fuller's The History of the Worthies of England (1662), with a distinct focus on public life.
The American biography followed the English model, incorporating Thomas Carlyle's view that biography was a part of history. Carlyle asserted that the lives of great human beings were essential to understanding society and its institutions. While the historical impulse would remain a strong element in early American biography, American writers carved out a distinct approach. What emerged was a rather didactic form of biography, which sought to shape the individual character of a reader in the process of defining national character.
The first modern biography, and a work which exerted considerable influence on the evolution of the genre, was James Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson, a biography of lexicographer and man-of-letters Samuel Johnson published in 1791. While Boswell's personal acquaintance with his subject only began in 1763, when Johnson was 54 years old, Boswell covered the entirety of Johnson's life by means of additional research. Itself an important stage in the development of the modern genre of biography, it has been claimed to be the greatest biography written in the English language. Boswell's work was unique in its level of research, which involved archival study, eye-witness accounts and interviews, its robust and attractive narrative, and its honest depiction of all aspects of Johnson's life and character - a formula which serves as the basis of biographical literature to this day.
Biographical writing generally stagnated during the 19th century - in many cases there was a reversal to the more familiar hagiographical method of eulogizing the dead, similar to the biographies of saints produced in Medieval times. A distinction between mass biography and literary biography began to form by the middle of the century, reflecting a breach between high culture and middle-class culture. However, the number of biographies in print experienced a rapid growth, thanks to an expanding reading public. This revolution in publishing made books available to a larger audience of readers. In addition, affordable paperback editions of popular biographies were published for the first time. Periodicals began publishing a sequence of biographical sketches.
Autobiographies became more popular, as with the rise of education and cheap printing, modern concepts of fame and celebrity began to develop. Autobiographies were written by authors, such as Charles Dickens (who incorporated autobiographical elements in his novels) and Anthony Trollope, (his Autobiography appeared posthumously, quickly becoming a bestseller in London), philosophers, such as John Stuart Mill, churchmen – John Henry Newman – and entertainers – P. T. Barnum.
The sciences of psychology and sociology were ascendant at the turn of the 20th century and would heavily influence the new century’s biographies. The demise of the "great man" theory of history was indicative of the emerging mindset. Human behavior would be explained through Darwinian theories. "Sociological" biographies conceived of their subjects' actions as the result of the environment, and tended to downplay individuality. The development of psychoanalysis led to a more penetrating and comprehensive understanding of the biographical subject, and induced biographers to give more emphasis to childhood and adolescence. Clearly these psychological ideas were changing the way biographies were written, as a culture of autobiography developed, in which the telling of one's own story became a form of therapy. The conventional concept of heroes and narratives of success disappeared in the obsession with psychological explorations of personality.
British critic Lytton Strachey revolutionized the art of biographical writing with his 1918 work Eminent Victorians, consisting of biographies of four leading figures from the Victorian era: Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Arnold, and General Gordon. Strachey set out to breathe life into the Victorian era for future generations to read. Up until this point, as Strachey remarked in the preface, Victorian biographies had been "as familiar as the cortège of the undertaker", and wore the same air of "slow, funereal barbarism." Strachey defied the tradition of "two fat volumes....of undigested masses of material" and took aim at the four iconic figures. His narrative demolished the myths that had built up around these cherished national heroes, whom he regarded as no better than a "set of mouth bungled hypocrites". The book achieved worldwide fame due to its irreverent and witty style, its concise and factually accurate nature, and its artistic prose.
In the 1920s and '30s, biographical writers sought to capitalize on Strachey's popularity by imitating his style. This new school featured iconoclasts, scientific analysts, and fictional biographers and included Gamaliel Bradford, André Maurois, and Emil Ludwig, among others. Robert Graves (I, Claudius, 1934) stood out among those following Strachey's model of "debunking biographies." The trend in literary biography was accompanied in popular biography by a sort of "celebrity voyeurism", in the early decades of the century. This latter form's appeal to readers was based on curiosity more than morality or patriotism. By World War I, cheap hard-cover reprints had become popular. The decades of the 1920s witnessed a biographical "boom."
The feminist scholar Carolyn Heilbrun observed that women's biographies and autobiographies began to change character during the second wave of feminist activism. She cited Nancy Milford's 1970 biography Zelda, as the "beginning of a new period of women's biography, because "[only] in 1970 were we ready to read not that Zelda had destroyed Fitzgerald, but Fitzgerald her: he had usurped her narrative." Heilbrun named 1973 as the turning point in women's autobiography, with the publication of May Sarton's Journal of a Solitude, for that was the first instance where a woman told her life story, not as finding "beauty even in pain" and transforming "rage into spiritual acceptance," but acknowledging what had previously been forbidden to women: their pain, their rage, and their "open admission of the desire for power and control over one's life."
In recent years, multimedia biography has become more popular than traditional literary forms. Along with documentary biographical films, Hollywood produced numerous commercial films based on the lives of famous people. The popularity of these forms of biography have led to the proliferation of TV channels dedicated to biography, including A&E, The Biography Channel, and The History Channel.
CD-ROM and online biographies have also appeared. Unlike books and films, they often do not tell a chronological narrative: instead they are archives of many discrete media elements related to an individual person, including video clips, photographs, and text articles. Biography-Portraits were created in 2001, by the German artist Ralph Ueltzhoeffer. Media scholar Lev Manovich says that such archives exemplify the database form, allowing users to navigate the materials in many ways. General "life writing" techniques are a subject of scholarly study.
In recent years, debates have arisen as to whether all biographies are fiction, especially when authors are writing about figures from the past. President of Wolfson College at Oxford University, Hermione Lee argues that all history is seen through a perspective that is the product of our contemporary society and as a result biographical truths are constantly shifting. So the history biographers write about will not be the way that it happened; it will be the way they remembered it. Debates have also arisen concerning the importance of space in life-writing.
Daniel R. Meister in 2017 argues that:
Biographical research is defined by Miller as a research method that collects and analyses a person's whole life, or portion of a life, through the in-depth and unstructured interview, or sometimes reinforced by semi-structured interview or personal documents. It is a way of viewing social life in procedural terms, rather than static terms. The information can come from "oral history, personal narrative, biography and autobiography” or "diaries, letters, memoranda and other materials". The central aim of biographical research is to produce rich descriptions of persons or "conceptualise structural types of actions", which means to "understand the action logics or how persons and structures are interlinked". This method can be used to understand an individual’s life within its social context or understand the cultural phenomena.
There are many largely unacknowledged pitfalls to writing good biographies, and these largely concern the relation between firstly the individual and the context, and, secondly, the private and public. Paul James writes:
Several countries offer an annual prize for writing a biography such as the:
Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography is a six-volume collection of biographies of notable people involved in the history of the New World. Published between 1887 and 1889, its unsigned articles were widely accepted as authoritative for several decades. Later the encyclopedia became notorious for including dozens of biographies of people who had never existed. The apostrophe in the title is correctly placed and indicates that more than one person, i.e. a company, authored the work.Australian Dictionary of Biography
The Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB or AuDB) is a national co-operative enterprise founded and maintained by the Australian National University (ANU) to produce authoritative biographical articles on eminent people in Australia's history. Initially published in a series of twelve hard-copy volumes between 1966 and 2005, the dictionary has been published online since 2006.
The ADB project has been operating since 1957. Staff are located at the National Centre of Biography in the History Department of the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. Since its inception, 4,000 authors have contributed to the ADB and its published volumes contain 9,800 scholarly articles on 12,000 individuals. 210 of these are of Indigenous Australians, which has been explained by Bill Stanner's "cult of forgetfulness" theory around the contributions of Indigenous Australians to Australian society.Autobiography
An autobiography (from the Greek, αὐτός-autos self + βίος-bios life + γράφειν-graphein to write) is a self-written account of the life of oneself. 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. 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". 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 his or her life.See also: List of autobiographies and Category:Autobiographies for examples.Biography (TV program)
Biography is a U.S. documentary television series and media franchise created in the 1960s by David Wolper and owned by A&E Networks since 1987. Each episode depicts the life of a notable person with narration, on-camera interviews, photographs, and stock footage. The show originally ran in syndication in 1962–1964, on CBS in 1979, on A&E from 1987–2006, and on The Biography Channel (later Bio, now FYI) from 1996–2012. After a five-year hiatus, the franchise was relaunched in 2017. Over the years, the Biography media franchise has expanded domestically and internationally, spinning off several cable television channels, a website, a children's program, a line of books and records, and a series of made-for-TV movies, specials, and mini-series, among other media properties. Biography has won a Peabody Award (1962) and three Emmy Awards (1997, 1999, 2002).Costa Book Awards
The Costa Book Awards are a set of annual literary awards recognizing English-language books by writers based in Britain and Ireland. They were inaugurated for 1971 publications and known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2006 when Costa Coffee, a subsidiary of Whitbread, took over sponsorship. The companion Costa Short Story Award was established in 2012.The awards are given both for high literary merit but also for works that are enjoyable reading and whose aim is to convey the enjoyment of reading to the widest possible audience. As such, they are a more populist literary prize than the Booker Prize.
In 1989, controversy erupted when the judges first awarded the Best Novel prize to Alexander Stuart's The War Zone, then withdrew the prize prior to the ceremony amid acrimony among the judges, ultimately awarding it to Lindsay Clarke's The Chymical Wedding.Dictionary of Australian Biography
The Dictionary of Australian Biography, published in 1949, is a reference work by Percival Serle containing information on notable people associated with Australian history. With approximately a thousand entries, the book took more than twenty years to complete. Published by Angus and Robertson, the dictionary was compiled as two volumes, Volume 1: A-K; and Volume 2: L-Z.
The book contains 1,030 biographies of Australians, or people who were closely connected with Australia, who died before the end of 1942. According to Serle in his preface: "This date closed the first one hundred and fifty years of Australia's history, for although the first fleet arrived in January 1788, the first emigrant ship, the Bellona, did not come until January 1793. Until then Australia had been merely a dumping ground for convicts, but the arrival of free emigrants foreshadowed the founding of a nation."Dictionary of Canadian Biography
The Dictionary of Canadian Biography (DCB; French: Dictionnaire biographique du Canada) is a dictionary of biographical entries for individuals who have contributed to the history of Canada. The DCB, which was initiated in 1959, is a collaboration between the University of Toronto and Laval University. Fifteen volumes have so far been published with more than 8,400 biographies of individuals who died or whose last known activity fell between the years 1000 and 1930. The entire print edition is online, along with some additional biographies to the year 2000.Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1849, originally published 1844 under a slightly different title) is an encyclopedia/biographical dictionary. Edited by William Smith, the dictionary spans three volumes and 3,700 pages. It is a classic work of 19th-century lexicography. The work is a companion to Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities and Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography.Dictionary of National Biography
The Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) is a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history, published since 1885. The updated Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) was published on 23 September 2004 in 60 volumes and online, with 50,113 biographical articles covering 54,922 lives.Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (DNZB) is an encyclopedia or biographical dictionary containing biographies of over 3,000 deceased New Zealanders. It was first published as a series of print volumes from 1990 to 2000, and then on a website from 2002. The dictionary superseded An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand of 1966, which had 900 biographies. The dictionary is managed by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage of the Government of New Zealand. An earlier work of the same name in two volumes, published in 1940 by Guy Scholefield with government assistance, is unrelated.FYI (U.S. TV network)
FYI (stylized as fyi,) is an American digital cable and satellite channel that is owned by A&E Networks, a cable network joint venture between the Disney–ABC Television Group subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company and the Hearst Communications (each own 50%). The network features lifestyle programming, with a mix of reality, culinary, home renovation and makeover series.
The network originally launched in 1999 as The Biography Channel, as an offshoot of A&E and named after its television series Biography. As such, it originally featured factual programs, such as reruns of its namesake. As A&E shifted its focus towards reality television and drama series, the Biography Channel became the home for several series that had been displaced by the flagship network (including Biography itself), but shifted towards reality-oriented series itself in 2007 and was rebranded as simply Bio. In 2014, the channel was rebranded as FYI.
FYI is available to 69.0 million households in America as of January 2016.Frank Taberski
Frank Taberski (1889–1941) was a professional pocket billiards player from Schenectady, New York. Nicknamed "The Gray Fox," he won 10 world title challenge matches in a row. He was ranked number 7 on the Billiards Digest 50 Greatest Players of the Century.Gil Brandt
Gil Brandt (born March 4, 1933) is a former Vice President of player personnel in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1988. He is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin.John Tyrrell (musicologist)
John Tyrrell (17 August 1942 – 4 October 2018) was a British musicologist. Born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe), he studied at the universities of Cape Town, Oxford and Brno. He was a Lecturer in Music at the University of Nottingham (1976), becoming Reader in Opera Studies (1987) and Professor (1996). From 1996 to 2000 he was Executive Editor of the second edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001). From 2000 to 2008 he was Research Professor at Cardiff University
He published several books on Leoš Janáček, including an authoritative and largely definitive two-volume biography.
He died in 2018 at the age of 76.Katyayana (Buddhist)
Kātyāyana was a disciple of Gautama Buddha. In Sanskrit his name is Kātyāyana or Mahākātyāyana; in Pāli Kaccāna, Kaccāyana, or Mahākaccāna; in Japanese 迦旃延 Kasennen, and in Thai he is called Phra Maha Katchaina (Thai: พระมหากัจจายนะ; Sinhala: මහා කච්චායන මහ රහතන් වහන්සේ).List of First Ladies of the United States
The First Lady of the United States is the hostess of the White House. The position is traditionally filled by the wife of the President of the United States, but, on occasion, the title has been applied to women who were not presidents’ wives, such as when the president was a bachelor or widower, or when the wife of the president was unable to fulfill the duties of the First Lady herself. The First Lady is not an elected position; it carries no official duties and receives no salary. Nonetheless, she attends many official ceremonies and functions of state either along with or in place of the president. Traditionally, the First Lady does not hold outside employment while occupying the office. She has her own staff, including the White House Social Secretary, the Chief of Staff, the Press Secretary, the Chief Floral Designer, and the Executive Chef. The Office of the First Lady is also in charge of all social and ceremonial events of the White House, and is a branch of the Executive Office of the President.
There have been total of fifty-three First Ladies including forty-two official and eleven acting, within forty-five First Ladyships. This discrepancy exists because some presidents had multiple first ladies. Following Donald Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017, his wife, Melania Trump, became the 42nd official First Lady, succeeding Michelle Obama, wife of former President Barack Obama.
There are four living former First Ladies: Rosalynn Carter, married to Jimmy Carter; Hillary Clinton, married to Bill Clinton; Laura Bush, married to George W. Bush, and Michelle Obama, married to Barack Obama. The first First Lady was Martha Washington, married to George Washington. Presidents John Tyler and Woodrow Wilson had two official First Ladies; both remarried during their presidential tenures. The wives of four Presidents died before their husbands were sworn into office but are still considered First Ladies by the White House and National First Ladies' Library: Martha Wayles Skelton, married to Thomas Jefferson; Rachel Jackson, married to Andrew Jackson; Hannah Van Buren, married to Martin Van Buren; and Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur, married to Chester A. Arthur. One woman who was not married to a President is still considered an official First Lady: Harriet Lane, niece of bachelor James Buchanan. The other non-spousal relatives who served as White House hostesses are not recognized by the First Ladies' Library.
In 2007, the United States Mint began releasing a set of half-ounce $10 gold coins under the First Spouse Program with engravings of portraits of the First Ladies on the obverse. When a President served without a spouse, a gold coin was issued that bears an obverse image emblematic of Liberty as depicted on a circulating coin of that era and a reverse image emblematic of themes of that President's life. This is true for the coins for Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and James Buchanan's First Ladies, but not the coin for Chester A. Arthur's First Lady, which instead depicts suffragette Alice Paul.List of people from Cornwall
This is a list of people from Cornwall, a county of England in the United Kingdom. Those included are either native Cornish people or others who have been long-term residents. The demonym of Cornwall is Cornish. This list is arranged alphabetically by surname if available.
There is also a List of Women in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly dedicated to the notable women of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to address the gender gap on Wikipedia.Neue Deutsche Biographie
Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB; literally New German Biography) is a biographical reference work. It is the successor to the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB, Universal German Biography). The 26 volumes published thus far cover more than 22,500 individuals and families who lived in the German language area.
NDB is published in German by the Historical Commission at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities and printed by Duncker & Humblot in Berlin. The index and full-text articles of the first 25 volumes are freely available online via the website German Biography (Deutsche Biographie) and the Biographical Portal.Wikipedia Seigenthaler biography incident
In May 2005, an anonymous editor posted a hoax article in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia about journalist John Seigenthaler. The article falsely stated that Seigenthaler had been a suspect in the assassinations of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
After the hoax was discovered and corrected in September of that year, the then-78-year-old Seigenthaler, a friend and aide to Robert Kennedy, wrote in USA Today characterizing the article as "Internet character assassination".The incident raised questions about the reliability of Wikipedia and other websites with user-generated content that lack the legal accountability of traditional newspapers and published materials. In a December 13 interview, co-founder Jimmy Wales expressed his undiminished support for Wikipedia policy allowing articles to be edited by anonymous users – describing the participation of editors in China and Iran in terms of privacy issues – but announced plans to roll back their article creation privileges as part of a vandalism-control strategy: "...we've decided that we want to slow down...so starting in January we're preventing unregistered users from creating new pages, because so often those have to be deleted...".