Biography Definition

A biography is simply a bio that gives an account or detailed description about the life of a person. It entails basic facts such as childhood, education, career, relationships, family and death. Biography is a literary genre that portrays the experiences of all these events occurred in the life of a person mostly in a chronological order. Unlike a resume or profile, biography provides life story of a subject, highlighting different aspects of his/her life. The person or the writer, who writes biographies, is called as a biographer.

Types of Biography

There are three types of biography:


It tells the story of a person’s life, who writes it himself or herself. However, sometimes he/she may take guidance from a ghostwriter or collaborator.


It narrates the life story of a person written by another person or writer. It is further divided into five categories:

  • Popular biography
  • Historical biography
  • Literary biography
  • Reference biography
  • Fictional biography


This is a more focused term than an autobiography or a biography. In a memoir, a writer himself/herself narrates the details of a particular event or situation occurred in his/her lifetime.

Examples of Biography in Literature

Example 1

Shakespeare: A Life by Park Honan

It is the most accurate, up-to-date and complete narrative ever written about the life of Shakespeare. Park Honan has used rich and fresh information about Shakespeare in order to change the perceptions of the readers for the playwright and his role as a poet and actor. This book completely differs from other biographies that imagine different roles for him, commenting on his sexual relationships and colorful intrigues. Though detailed psychological theories and imaginative reforms about him could be amusing, in fact, they damage credibility of the sources. Therefore, many attempts have been made to know about him, which is not a new thing but this one is a unique example.

Example 2

Arthur Miller: Attention Must Be Paid by James Campbell

This biography is written in the form of a drama presented in just two acts. In the first act, author shows the famous dramatist in his early success, having love of the most beloved woman of the world and resistance to tyranny. However, in the second act of this biography, author shows hero was badly assaulted and ridiculed by a rowdy mob called critics, who are expelled from the conventional theater. He ends his book “Arthur Miller” with rhetorical details related to a revitalization in the fortunes of the playwright.

Example 3

The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell

It is frequently hyped as a perfect example of modern biography and all-time best example in English language. This masterpiece of James Boswell has covered the whole life of ubiquitous literary writer, Samuel Johnson, with whom James was well acquainted on account of his subject of study. The unique quality of this book is that it shows Johnson as a walking intellectual amongst us.

Example 4

The Bronte Myth by Lucasta Miller

Emily, Anne and Charlotte Bronte were very famous and eminent writers in the history of English literature, but many rumors and gossips were associated with them when they reached the peak of their career and received great approval for writing the most admired novels during nineteenth century. In their biography, Lucasta Miller chunks the myths related to these young enigmatic women. This is a fine example of a biography.

Example 5

Why this World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser

After perusing his own private manuscripts and writings, this modernist writer, Benjamin Moser has explored mystique surrounding of Clarice Lispector. This is one of her biographies that come a little closer to finding her true nuances. All those readers, who are going to read her myriad work for the first time, they would find this biography interesting, and her life as beautiful and tragic but yet riveting.

Function of Biography

The function of writing biographies is to provide details regarding the life of a person or a thing in an entertaining but informative manner. By the end of a biography, the readers feel like they are well acquainted with the subject. Biographies are often non-fictional, but many biographers also use novel-like format, because a story line would be become more entertaining with the inclusion of strong exposition, rising conflict and then climax. Besides, the most inspirational life stories could motivate and put confidence into the readers.

Post navigation

2 comments for “Biography

  1. Bidyut Ranjan Bora
    November 17, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Thanks for the important information provided regarding the genre Biography’ but some famous definition of the genre would have been much more useful. More examples would also have been better.

  2. Grace Pappoe
    November 22, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    I am very grateful for the points you gave me . It has helped me so much . Thank you .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *