Writing a biography
Look up Pahlavi in Wiktionary, the writing a biography dictionary.
Reza Shah’s tenth child and half-sister of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Farah Pahlavi, second in line to the throne. This disambiguation page lists articles associated with the title Pahlavi. If an internal link led you here, you may wish to change the link to point directly to the intended article. For the Wikipedia policy on biographies of living persons, see Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons.
A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person’s life. 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. Longer and more extensive biographies were written in Greek by Plutarch, in his Parallel Lives, published about 80 A. During this time, the only repositories of knowledge and records of the early history in Europe were those of the Roman Catholic Church.
Muslim biographies of Muhammad and other important figures in the early history of Islam began to be written, beginning the Prophetic biography tradition. John Foxe’s The Book of Martyrs, was one of the earliest English-language biographies. 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. Vasari made celebrities of his subjects, as the Lives became an early «bestseller».
Biographies in the English language began appearing during the reign of Henry VIII. Charles Johnson, is the prime source for the biographies of writing a biography well-known pirates. 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.
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James Boswell wrote what many consider to be the first modern biography, The Life of Samuel Johnson, in 1791. 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. 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. Autobiographies became more popular, as with the rise of education and cheap printing, modern concepts of fame and celebrity began to develop. The sciences of psychology and sociology were ascendant at the turn of the 20th century and would heavily influence the new century’s biographies. Eminent Victorians set the standard for 20th century biographical writing, when it was published in 1918.
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. The feminist scholar Carolyn Heilbrun observed that women’s biographies and autobiographies began to change character during the second wave of feminist activism. 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. 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.
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. Biography Studies is emerging as an independent discipline, especially in the Netherlands. This Dutch School of biography is moving biography studies away from the less scholarly life writing tradition and towards history by encouraging its practitioners to utilize an approach adapted from microhistory. 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.
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