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Encyclopedia > Biography

A biography (from the Greek words bios meaning "life", and graphos meaning "write") is an account of a person's life, usually published in the form of a book or essay, or in some other form, such as a film. An autobiography (auto, meaning "self", giving self-biography) is a biography by the same person it is about. A biography is more than a list of impersonal facts (like birth, education, work, relationships and death), it also portrays the subject's experience of those events. Unlike a profile or curriculum vitae (resume), a biography presents the subject's story, highlighting various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experiences, and may include an analysis of the subject's personality. Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... For other uses, see Publishing (disambiguation). ... Cover of the first English edition of 1793 of Benjamin Franklins autobiography. ... Look up profile in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... ... A résumé (in North American English; also sometimes spelled resumé or resume) or curriculum vitae (in Commonwealth English; sometimes abbreviated to CV) is a document containing a summary or listing of relevant job experience and education, usually for the purpose of securing a new job. ...


A work is biographical if it covers all of a person's life. As such, 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. Together, all biographical works form the genre known as biography, in literature, film, and other forms of media. For the gay mens lifestyle magazine, see Genre (magazine). ... “Publisher” redirects here. ...

Biography Portal

Contents

Image File history File links Portal. ...

Early forms

The first known biographies were written by scribes commissioned by the various rulers of antiquity: ancient Assyria, ancient Babylonia, ancient Egypt, ancient Mesopotamia, among others. Such biographies tended to be chiseled into stone or clay tablets, a method called cuneiform. Scribes is a text editor for GNOME that is simple, slim and sleek, and features no tabs, auto-completion and much more. ... For other uses, see Assyria (disambiguation). ... Babylonia was a state in southern Mesopotamia, in modern Iraq, combining the territories of Sumer and Akkad. ... Mesopotamia was a cradle of civilization geographically located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq. ... This article is about the geological substance. ... For other uses, see Clay (disambiguation). ... Cuneiform redirects here. ...


Perhaps the drawings in caves can be considered the first biographies. Some of them appear to relate events such as a successful hunt. The artists (biographers?) and viewers would know (by clues that escape us in the drawings) who was being honored.This also tells the accounts of a persons life.


Classical forms

Ancient Greeks developed the biographical tradition which we have inherited, although until the 5th century AD, when the word 'biographia' first appears, in Damascius' Life of Isodorus, biographical pieces were called simply "lives" (βιοι: "bioi"). It is quite likely that the Greeks were drawing on a pre-existing eastern tradition; certainly Herodotus' Histories contains more detailed biographical information on Persian kings and subjects than on anyone else, implying he had a Persian source for it. Herodotus of Halicarnassus (Greek: HÄ“ródotos Halikarnāsseús) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC (c. ...


The earliest surviving pieces which we would identify as biographical are Isocrates' Life of Evagoras and Xenophon's Life of Agesilaos, both from the fifth century BC. Both identified themselves as encomia, or works of praise, and that biography was regarded as a discrete entity from historiography is evidenced by the fact that Xenophon treated King Agesilaos of Sparta twice in his works, once in the above-mentioned encomium and once in his Greek History; evidently the two genres were conceived as making different demands of authors who enrolled in them. Xenophon could present his Cyropaedia, an account of the childhood of the Persian King Cyrus the Great now regarded as so fabulous that it falls rather into a novelistic tradition than a biographical one, as a serious work, without any disclaimers or caveats. Xenophon, Greek historian Xenophon (In Greek , ca. ... The name Cyrus (or Kourosh in Persian) may refer to: [[Cyrus I of Anshan]], King of Persia around 650 BC [[Cyrus II of Persia | Cyrus the Great]], King of Persia 559 BC - 529 BC — See also Cyrus in the Judeo-Christian tradition Cyrus the Younger, brother to the Persian king...


Whereas Thucydides set the benchmark for a historiographical tradition comprising 'conclusions ... drawn from proofs quoted ... [which] may safely be relied upon' (Thuc. 1.21), and offering little explicit judgement on the people with whom he dealt, biographers were quite often more concerned with drawing a moral point from their investigations of their subjects. Parallel Lives by Plutarch, a Greek writing under the Roman empire, is a series of short biographies of eminent men, ancient and contemporary, arranged in pairs comprising one Greek, one Roman, in order that a broad educative point might be extraced from the comparison (for example Mark Antony and Demetrius were paradigms of tyranny, Lysander and Sulla examples of great men degenerating into blood-thirsty corruption). For other uses, see Thucydides (disambiguation). ... Wikisource has original text related to this article: Plutarch in Greek Plutarchs Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans is a series of biographies of famous men, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings. ... Mestrius Plutarchus (Greek: Πλούταρχος; 46 - 127), better known in English as Plutarch, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist. ... Bust of Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (Latin: M·ANTONIVS·M·F·M·N[1]) ( January 14 83 BC – August 1, 30 BC), known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. ... Demetrius I (337-283 BC, Greek: Δημήτριος), surnamed Poliorcetes (The Besieger), son of Antigonus I Monophthalmus and Stratonice, was a king of Macedon (294 - 288 BC). ... Most important geographical sites, during the life of Lysander For other uses, see Lysander (disambiguation). ... Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (Latin: L·CORNELIVS·L·F·P·N·SVLLA·FELIX) ¹ (ca. ...


However, although their moralising approach is not in fashion in the current intellectual climate, Greek biographies still have much to offer the modern reader, and for the most part it is reasonable to assume that while authors may have suppressed details which did not fall in with the general theme which they wished to convey, they are unlikely to have fabricated much. Not least, they were instrumental in developing the modern idea of the person. The traditional Greek attitude to individuals was to 'reduce them to types'; the Peripatetic tradition records various categories into which men might fall: the flatterer, the superstitious man and so on. Greek rhetorical handbooks give advice on 'ethopoia', that is creating a character, one of a recognised type, to win favour in the law courts.


The biographical tradition does draw on these types, but it also gives explicit recognition to the importance of individual ideosyncrasies in defining a man, and places the emphasis firmly on a man's personality rather than merely listing his accomplishments. As Plutarch says in the introduction to his Life of Alexander the Great, 'in the most illustrious deeds there is not always a manifestation of virtue and vice, but a slight thing like a phrase or a jest often makes a greater revelation than battles where thousands fall, or the greatest armaments, or sieges of cities'. Thus the individual is recognised as having some value and interest irrespective of the impact of his actions on the broader sweep of history. For the film of the same name, see Alexander the Great (1956 film). ...


Under the Roman Empire, the biographical and historiographical traditions converged somewhat, likely due to the nature of government, whereby the state was dominated by a single emperor with totalitarian power and whose character and actions set the tone for the period; Tacitus's History and his Annals, as well as Dio's History contain much of the same material as the biographer Suetonius's Lives of the Twelve Caesars. However, although Tacitus in particular was extremely critical of the regime, his disapproval emerges in subtle characterisation and arrangement of his material, in contrast with Suetonius' vicious authorial comment. For other uses, see Roman Empire (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Tacitus (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Dio (disambiguation). ... Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus ( 69/75 - after 130), also known as Suetonius, was a prominent Roman historian and biographer. ...


Middle Ages and Renaissance

The Early Middle Ages (AD 400 to 1450) saw a decline in awareness of classical culture. During this time, the only repositories of knowledge and records of early history in Europe was the Roman Catholic Church. Hermits, monks and priests used this historic period to write the first modern biographies. Their subjects were usually restricted to church fathers, martyrs, popes and saints. Their works were meant to be inspirational to people, vehicles for conversion to Christianity. See hagiography. One significant example of biography from this period which does not exactly fit into that mold is the life of Charlemagne as written by his courtier Einhard. The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, which begins roughly with the earliest-recorded Greek poetry of Homer (7th century BC), and continues through the rise of Christianity and the fall of the Western Roman Empire (5th century AD... Catholic Church redirects here. ... For other uses, see Hermit (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Monk (disambiguation). ... This article is about religious workers. ... The Church Fathers or Fathers of the Church are the early and influential theologians and writers in the Christian church, particularly those of the first five centuries of Christian history. ... For other uses, see Martyr (disambiguation). ... The Pope is the Catholic Bishop and patriarch of Rome, and head of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches. ... Saints redirects here. ... Religious conversion is the adoption of a new religious identity, or a change from one religious identity to another. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Relation to other religions Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Christianity Portal This box:      Christianity is a monotheistic[1] religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. ... Hagiography is the study of saints. ... For the American band, see Charlemagne (band). ... Einhard as scribe Einhard (also Eginhard or Einhart) (c. ...


By the late Middle Ages, biographies became less church-oriented as biographies of kings, knights and tyrants began to appear. The most famous of these 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. Louis XIV, king of France and Navarre (Painting by Hyacinthe Rigaud, 1701). ... Knights Dueling, by Eugène Delacroix For other uses, see Knight (disambiguation) or Knights (disambiguation). ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... The Last Sleep of Arthur by Edward Burne-Jones Le Morte dArthur (spelled Le Morte Darthur in the first printing and also in some modern editions, Middle French for la mort dArthur, the death of Arthur) is Sir Thomas Malorys compilation of some French and English Arthurian... Sir Thomas Malory (c. ... For other uses, see King Arthur (disambiguation). ... For the film, see Knights of the Round Table (film). ...


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 a landmark biography focusing on secular lives. Vasari created celebrities of his subjects, as the Lives became an early "best seller." Two other developments are noteworthy: the development of the printing press in the fifteenth century and the gradual increase in literacy. For the specific belief system, see Humanism (life stance). ... This article is about the European Renaissance of the 14th-17th centuries. ... The definition of an artist is wide-ranging and covers a broad spectrum of activities to do with creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. ... A poet (from the ancient Greek ποιητης, poïêtes (artisan) ; ποιέω, poieō) is a person who writes poetry. ... Giorgio Vasari (30 July 1511 – 27 June 1574) was an Italian painter and architect, who is today famous for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing. ... Giorgio Vasari ... The printing press is a mechanical device for printing many copies of a text on rectangular sheets of paper. ... Children reading. ...


Biographies in the English language began appearing during the reign of Henry VIII. John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments (1563), better known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs, essentially was the first dictionary of biography, followed by Thomas Fuller’s The History of the Worthies of England (1662), with a distinct focus on public life. William Tyndale, just before being burnt at the stake, cries out Lord, ope the King of Englands eies in this woodcut from an early edition of Foxes Book of Martyrs. ...


Modern biography

The "Golden Age" of English biography emerged in the late eighteenth century, the century in which the terms "biography" and "autobiography" entered the English lexicon. The classic works of the period were Samuel Johnson's Critic material and letting the subject "speak for itself." While Boswell compiled, Samuel Johnson composed. Johnson did not follow a chronological narration of the subject's life but used anecdotes and incidents selectively. Johnson rejected the notion that facts revealed truth. He suggested that biographers should seek their subject in "domestic privacies", to find little known facts or anecdotes which revealed character. (Casper, 1999) Look up lexicon in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other persons named Samuel Johnson, see Samuel Johnson (disambiguation). ...


The romantic biographers disputed many of Johnson's judgments. Jean Jacques Rousseau's Confessions (1781-88) exploited the romantic point of view and the confessional mode. The tradition of testimony and confession was brought to the New World by Puritan and Quaker memoirists and journal-keepers where the form continued to be influential. Benjamin Franklin's autobiography (1791) would provide the archetype for the American success story. (Stone, 1982) Autobiography would remain an influential form of biographical writing. Jean-Jacques Rousseau Jean Jacques Rousseau (June 28, 1712 - July 2, 1778) was a Swiss-French philosopher, writer, political theorist, and self-taught composer of The Age of Enlightenment Biography of Rousseau The tomb of Rousseau in the crypt of the Panthéon, Paris Rousseau was born in Geneva, Switzerland... Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the most well known Founding Fathers of the United States. ... Cover of the first English edition of 1793 of Benjamin Franklins autobiography. ...


Generally American biography followed the English model, while 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 their own distinct approach. What emerged was a rather didactic form of biography which sought to shape individual character of the reader in the process of defining national character. (Casper, 1999) Thomas Carlyle (4 December 1795 – 5 February 1881) was a Scottish essayist, satirist, and historian, whose work was hugely influential during the Victorian era. ...


The distinction between mass biography and literary biography which had formed by the middle of the nineteenth century reflected a breach between high culture and middle-class culture. This division would endure for the remainder of the century. Biography began to flower thanks to new publishing technologies and an expanding reading public. This revolution in publishing made books available to a larger audience of readers. Almost ten times as many American biographies appeared from 1840 to 1860 than had appeared in the first two decades of the century. In addition, affordable paperback editions of popular biographies were published for the first time. Also, American periodicals began publishing series of biographical sketches. (Casper, 1999) The topical emphasis shifted from republican heroes to self-made men and women.


Much of late 19th-century biography remained formulaic. Notably, few autobiographies had been written in the 19th century. The following century witnessed a renaissance of autobiography beginning with Booker T. Washington's, Up From Slavery (1901) and followed by Henry Adams' Education (1907), a chronicle of self-defined failure which ran counter to the predominant American success story. The publication of socially significant autobiographies by both men and women began to flourish. (Stone, 1982) Booker Taliaferro Washington (April 5, 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American educator, author and leader of the African American community. ... Henry Adams Henry Brooks Adams (February 16, 1838 – March 27, 1918) was an American historian, journalist and novelist. ...


The authority of psychology and sociology was ascendant and would make its mark on the new century’s biographies. (Stone, 1982) 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, psychological ideas were changing the way Americans read and wrote biographies, as a culture of autobiography developed in which the telling of one's own story became a form of therapy. (Casper, 1999) HIS MAJESTY KING_Abdulrehman I Abdulrehman Jeylani Mohammed al-osmani -ARABIC(عبدالرحمن جيلاني محمدالعثماني)known as the great man is th somali nation leader was born in 1407(Dec_1986) in somalia he was a medical student in sudan between(2004--2009) he has a national somali ideology wich is based on the cruel fighting...


The conventional concept of national heroes and narratives of success disappeared in the obsession with psychological explorations of personality. The new school of biography featured iconoclasts, scientific analysts, and fictional biographers. This wave included Lytton Strachey, André Maurois, and Emil Ludwig among others. Strachey's biographies had an influence similar to that which Samuel Johnson had enjoyed earlier. In the 1920s and '30s, biographical writers sought to capitalize on Strachey's popularity and imitate his style. 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. Giles Lytton Strachey (March 1, 1880–January 21, 1932) was a British writer and critic. ... André Maurois, or Emile Salomon Wilhelm Herzog, (July 26, 1885 – October 9, 1967) was a French author and man of letters. ... Emil Ludwig (1881 – 1948) was a German author, known for his biographies. ... Robert von Ranke Graves (24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985) was an English poet, scholar, and novelist. ...


By World War I, cheap hard-cover reprints had become popular. The decades of the 1920s witnessed a biographical "boom." In 1929, nearly 700 biographies were published in the United States, and the first dictionary of American biography appeared. In the decade that followed, numerous biographies continued to be published despite the economic depression. They reached a growing audience through inexpensive formats and via public libraries.


According to the scholar Caroyln Heilbrun, women's biographies were revolutionized during the second wave of feminist activism in the 1970s. At this time women began to be portrayed more accurately, even if it downplayed the achievements or integrity of a man (Heilbrun 12). Feminism is a social theory and political movement primarily informed and motivated by the experience of women. ...


Multi-media forms

With the technological advancements created in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, multi-media forms of biography became much more popular than literary forms. Visual and film images were able to elaborate new dimensions of personality that written forms could not. The popularity of these forms of biography culminated in the creation of such cable and satellite television networks as A&E, The Biography Channel, The History Channel and History International. Along with documentary film biographies, Hollywood produced numerous commercial films based on the lives of famous people. For other uses, see Cable (disambiguation). ... This article is about artificial satellites. ... A television network is a distribution network for television content whereby a central operation provides programming for many television stations. ... Biography is one of A&Es longest-running and most popular programs. ... Biography Channel is an American and Canadian digital cable television channel owned by A&E and based on the television series of the same name. ... The History Channel is a cable television channel, dedicated to the presentation of historical events and persons, often with frequent observations and explanations by noted historians as well as reenactors and witnesses to events, if possible. ... ...


More recently, CD-ROM and online biographies are appearing. Unlike books and films, they often do not tell a chronological story; instead, they are archives of many discrete media elements related to an individual person, including video clips, photographs, and text articles. Media scholar Lev Manovich says that such archives exemplify the database form, allowing users to navigate the materials in many ways (Manovich 220).


References

Casper, Scott E. Constructing American Lives: Biography and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999.

  • Heilbrun, Carolyn. Writing a Woman's Life. New York: Ballantine Books, 1989.
  • Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.
  • Stone, Albert E. Autobiographical Occasions and Original Acts. Philadelphia: University of Pennnsylvania Pres, 1982.

Further reading

  • Ames, Noel. These Wonderful People: Intimate Moments in their Lives, 1947.

Book Awards

Annually, several countries offer their writers a specific prize for writing a biography such as the:

The Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize is a Canadian literary award, presented annually by the Writers Trust of Canada for the best work of biography, autobiography, or personal memoir. ... The National Biography Award, established in Australia in 1996, is awarded for the best published work of biographical or autobiographical writing by an Australian. ... The Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography has been presented since 1917 for a distinguished biography or autobiography by an American author. ... The Whitbread Book Awards are among the United Kingdoms most prestigious literary awards. ... The J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography is awarded annually by the English Centre for International PEN to an author resident in Britain who has written an outstanding autobiography in English. ...

See also

Find more about Biography on Wikipedia's sister projects:
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Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Image File history File links Wikibooks-logo. ... Image File history File links Wikiquote-logo. ... Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... Image File history File links WikiNews-Logo. ... Image File history File links Wikiversity-logo-Snorky. ... An unauthorized biography is a biography about a person that was not approved or otherwise authorized by the subject of the biography. ... small>Small Text This literature-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it. ... People denotes a group of humans, either with unspecified traits, or specific characteristics (e. ... The following is a list of political career biographies. ... Cover of the first English edition of 1793 of Benjamin Franklins autobiography. ... Family history is the study of multiple generations of people who appear to be related. ... Historical documents are document that contain important information about a person, place, or event. ... The Dictionary of National Biography (or DNB) is a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history. ... NNDB, ostensibly standing for Notable Names Database, produced by Soylent Communications, is an online database of biographical details of notable people. ...

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Biography (from the Greek words bios meaning life, and graphein meaning write) is a genre of literature and other forms of media like film, based on the written accounts of individual lives.
While a biography may focus on a subject of fiction or non-fiction, the term is usually in reference to non-fiction.
One significant example of biography from this period which does not exactly fit into that mold is the life of Charlemagne as written by his courtier Einhard.
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