We explain what a biography is, its origin and how this writing is classified. Also, what are its features, extension and more.

What is a Biography?

The biography is a writing that addresses the life of a historical or popular personality of interest to the readership, providing details regarding the conditions of birth and death, triumphs and failures, as well as other pertinent information.

Biographies are prepared by a researcher or specialist in the field , and not by the same personality (as in autobiography ). This specialist is known as a biographer and the personality as a biographer .

The characteristics are diverse, since they depend on the interest and approach of the biographer regarding the life and importance of the biographee, but they usually have in common that they are more or less circumscribed to the events of his life, providing the historical keys that are considered necessary to understand its relevance to public opinion.

Origin of the term Biography

The word biography is made up of the Greek words bíos (“life”) and graphos (“writing”) , so it literally means “the writing of a life.”

Genre of the biography

Biography is a hybrid genre between literature and history , often considered part of the "memorialistic" (such as the private diary, memoirs, etc.) and difficult to classify between narrative and essay .

Biography Background

Biography Background

The consideration of biographies as a subgenre of literary or historical writing may be relatively recent, but the writing of biographies is not: the desire to preserve the events of a historical personality in order to transmit them to future generations has accompanied man since his inception . origins .

Medieval hagiography, for example, recounted the lives of the holy martyrs of the Catholic Church , emphasizing the aspects of holiness that interested him; but already in ancient times the history of mythical heroes was told in terms similar to those of a biography. From the Renaissance his writing becomes secular and more scientific, and then the rules of objectivity that are still required today are born.

biography types

There are different types of biography, according to their official status:

  • Authorized. The one that has the approval of the biographer or his heirs and executors, that is, the one that has survived a certain process of censorship.
  • Unauthorized. That written without approval and revision of the biographed character or his heirs.
  • False. It is known as false autobiography or false biography to works of fiction that pretend to be biographical writings.

Delimitation of the biography

Delimitation of the biography

Every biography is born from a necessary delimitation: that of the most relevant aspects of the biography's life . Although it is intended to give the reader a complete impression of it, it is not true that all the details are told, only those relevant to the particular approach pursued.

For example, a biography about a politician will emphasize his background in the field or the early childhood events that marked his adult behavior , but not his favorite foods or other forgettable aspects.

Objectivity of the biography

A certain objectivity is commonly required from a biography when relating the facts . It is possible for a biographer to offer a certain interpretation of the same, which can be more or less subjective, but at no time can he falsify what happened, hide, lie or distort the historical truth.

biographical approach

biographical approach

The subjectivity of the biographer, however, is far from absent in a biography. And it can be noticed in the selection of the episodes to recount, in the choice of approach when doing so or in the particular way he has of interpreting the events, since normally the biography has no room for his personal opinions or value judgments. with respect to the biography, but it does allow a certain margin of explanation in which things can be read in one way or another.

biographical novelty

Since there are numerous biographies of the most transcendental characters in the history of humanity, each of the new ones requires a certain freshness in their investigations , a certain contemporaneity in their reading or, even, certain secret or infrequent information regarding the character. biographed

Biography Extension

Biography Extension

The account of the biographee's life may extend to his death , and even beyond (his remains, his progeny, his legacy, etc.) or it may very well end earlier, when the vital period of particular interest to the biographer ends.

Biography Value

The value of biographical texts will be determined not so much by the veracity of the events reviewed, but by the specific approach that the biographer makes of them , that is, his contribution to the study and understanding of the life of the chosen character.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


MA student of the TransAtlantic Masters program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Political Science with a focus on European Studies. Expressed ideas are open to revision. He not only covers Technical articles but also has skills in the fields of SEO, graphics, web development and coding. .

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