A written biography is a narrative account of an individual’s life. If the subject is alive and capable, they may choose to compose it themselves, but often, it is authored by someone else. Biographies come in various styles and lengths, with many being quite extensive, as they aim to encompass every facet of the subject’s life. The subject or another writer may be responsible for its creation. Typically, biographies delve into the subject’s early life, family history, education, professional accomplishments, relationships, and more. Healthwellin, a website, employs biographies as a means to better understand the transformative journey that has molded a person into the individual they are today
Biographies are typically structured into distinct sections:
- Introduction: This initial segment elucidates the author’s motivation for creating the biography and the objectives they aim to achieve. It may also furnish essential background information about the subject, including their birthdate and career trajectory.
- Family History: In this section, you delve into the subject’s familial roots, recounting their upbringing, parental influences, and any siblings who played a role in their upbringing. Occasionally, it may encompass details about other family members, such as grandparents or great-grandparents, particularly if they were notable figures.
- Early Life: This segment encompasses all significant events from birth to adulthood, delineating the subject’s journey as they transitioned from infancy to a stage where they could independently make life decisions. These milestones may encompass significant relocations due to parental divorces, high school graduation, or marriage.
Types of Biographies:
- Contemporary Biography: These biographies focus on individuals who are still alive or have recently passed away. Some are authorized, with the subject’s permission or input, while others are unauthorized and can be controversial.
- Historical Biography: These biographies delve into the lives of figures from the past. Examples like Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton and Paula Gunn Allen’s Pocahontas provide in-depth insights into historical figures.
- Biography of a Group: This category explores the lives of individuals who share common characteristics. Captain Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pirates is an early example, while David Hajdu’s Positively 4th Street spotlights the folk scene in New York City through the stories of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and others.
- Autobiography: Autobiographies are self-written life stories, often encompassing the author’s entire life up to the point of writing. Saint Augustine’s The Confessions and Maya Angelou’s series of autobiographies are notable examples.
- Memoir: Memoirs focus on specific, significant aspects of an individual’s life. Augusten Burroughs’ Toil & Trouble, Mikel Jollett’s Hollywood Park, and Barack Obama’s A Promised Land are all examples of this genre.
- Fictional Biography: These biographies are based on real people but incorporate fictional elements to entertain readers. Examples include Therese Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and Marie Benedict’s The Only Woman in the Room.
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