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How to Start a Biography Essay : Structure Tips

December 27, 2023

A biography essay is a form of writing that aims to provide a comprehensive account of someone’s life. It goes beyond mere facts and dates, delving into the person’s experiences, influences, and impact on society. A well-written biography essay not only educates and informs but also captivates the reader with a compelling narrative.

In a biography essay, the writer must showcase their subject’s personal and professional achievements, struggles, and significant milestones. It requires thorough research and an understanding of the subject’s historical and cultural context. The essay should offer valuable insights into the individual’s character, motivations, and contributions to their field or community.

The definition of a biography essay sets the foundation for crafting an effective introduction that hooks the reader and entices them to continue reading. Understanding the purpose and scope of a biography essay is crucial in determining how to craft an engaging and impactful beginning to your essay.

Different types of biography essays

There are different types of biography essays, each with its own unique structure and approach. Understanding these variations can help you tailor your introduction accordingly. Here are some of the commonly recognized types of biography essays:

  • Chronological Biography: This type of essay follows a chronological order, presenting events in the subject’s life in the order they occurred. It provides a comprehensive overview of the person’s life from birth to the present day.
  • Thematic Biography: Thematic biographies focus on specific themes or aspects of the subject’s life. The essay may explore their contributions to a particular field, their personal growth and development, or their impact on society.
  • Autobiography: An autobiography is a biography essay written by the subject themselves. This type offers a unique perspective, allowing readers to gain direct insights into the subject’s thoughts, experiences, and reflections.
  • Biographical Narrative: In a biographical narrative, the essay takes on the form of a story, using narrative techniques to engage the reader. It typically includes vivid descriptions, dialogues, and scenes to bring the subject’s life to life on the page.

The different types of biography essays have varying structures. While chronological biographies may follow a strictly chronological order, thematic biographies may organize information based on themes or topics. Autobiographies may follow the subject’s own chosen structure, and biographical narratives may incorporate storytelling elements to enhance the narrative flow. Understanding the type of biography essay you are writing will guide you in shaping your introduction to align with the chosen structure and approach.

Structuring your introduction

Structuring your introduction effectively is crucial for a biography essay. It sets the tone, captures the reader’s attention, and provides a roadmap for the rest of the essay. Here are some tips for structuring your introduction:

  • Start with a hook: Begin with a compelling hook that grabs the reader’s attention. It can be an intriguing fact, a thought-provoking quote, a vivid anecdote, or a surprising statistic related to your subject’s life.
  • Provide background information: After the hook, provide some context and background information about the subject. This can include their name, profession, historical period, or any relevant details that help situate the reader.
  • Mention the significance: Highlight why this person’s life is worth exploring. Discuss their impact on society, their contributions to their field, or the reasons why they are renowned or influential.
  • Craft a clear and concise thesis statement: Your thesis statement should succinctly state the main purpose or argument of your essay. It could be a claim about the person’s achievements, their lasting legacy, or the overarching theme you will explore in the essay.

By following this structure, you can provide an engaging and informative introduction that captures the reader’s interest and sets the stage for the rest of your biography essay.

What is a hook and why it’s important

A hook is the opening line or sentence in your introduction that serves to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to continue reading. It is a captivating and compelling element that sets the tone for the entire essay. The hook can take various forms, such as an intriguing fact, a compelling quote, a startling statistic, or a captivating anecdote related to the subject of your biography essay.

The importance of a hook in a biography essay cannot be overstated. It is your opportunity to make a strong first impression and pique the reader’s curiosity. A well-crafted hook creates interest and establishes a connection with the reader, motivating them to delve deeper into your essay. It helps you stand out from the start and sets the stage for the rest of your writing. By grabbing the reader’s attention with a compelling hook, you increase the chances of them staying engaged and invested in your biography essay.

Different types of hooks

When starting a biography essay, there are several types of hooks you can use to captivate your reader’s attention. Here are some examples:

  • Anecdote: Begin with a short, intriguing story or anecdote related to the subject’s life that grabs the reader’s interest.
  • Quotation: Start with a powerful or thought-provoking quote from the individual or someone who knew them, highlighting an important aspect of their life or character.
  • Surprising fact/statistic: Present a surprising or lesser-known fact or statistic about the person that immediately grabs the reader’s attention and makes them curious to learn more.
  • Vivid description: Paint a vivid picture by using descriptive language to set the scene or evoke emotions, bringing the reader into the world of your subject.
  • Question: Pose a compelling question directly to the reader, inviting them to think about the significance of the subject’s life or an intriguing aspect of their story.
  • Startling statement: Begin with a bold or controversial statement that challenges common beliefs or assumptions about the person, sparking the reader’s interest.

Choosing the right hook depends on the tone, subject matter, and purpose of your biography essay. Experiment with different types of hooks to find one that effectively grabs your reader’s attention and sets the stage for the engaging journey that lies ahead.

Biography essay hook example

“Behind every great mind lies a story of struggle, resilience, and triumph. In the case of Albert Einstein, his journey from a curious child with wild hair to a brilliant physicist who reshaped our understanding of the universe was nothing short of extraordinary. Picture a young Einstein sitting alone under a tree, contemplating the mysteries of space and time, unaware of the profound impact his ideas would have on the world. Embark on a captivating journey through the life of this iconic genius as we unravel the enigmatic persona and groundbreaking contributions that made Albert Einstein a legend in the realm of science.”

This hook blends vivid imagery with a sense of mystery and excitement. It introduces the subject, Albert Einstein, by highlighting his childhood curiosity and foreshadowing his extraordinary achievements in the field of physics. It captures the reader’s attention and creates a desire to learn more about the life and accomplishments of this renowned figure.

Background information

Providing background information in a biography essay is crucial for contextualizing the subject’s life and creating a comprehensive understanding for the reader. It sets the stage by offering the necessary historical, cultural, or social context that influenced the individual’s journey and achievements.

Background information may include details such as the time period in which the person lived, significant events that shaped their era, prevailing societal norms or challenges they faced, and any relevant historical or cultural influences. This information helps the reader grasp the broader context in which the subject’s life unfolded and enables them to appreciate the significance of their accomplishments.

Additionally, background information can include details about the subject’s early life, education, family, or any key experiences that laid the foundation for their future endeavors. By establishing this framework, the biography essay becomes more engaging and informative, providing a solid background that supports the subsequent exploration of the individual’s life and impact.

Mention the significance

Highlighting the significance of the subject in a biography essay helps emphasize their impact and why their life story is worth exploring. By acknowledging their importance, you can capture the reader’s interest and establish the relevance of the biography.

Mentioning the significance can be done by discussing their contributions, achievements, or the influence they had on their field or society. It is important to convey why their story matters and how it connects to broader themes or historical events. Whether it’s groundbreaking discoveries, overcoming adversity, or inspiring social change, the significance of the subject’s life should be articulated to demonstrate their lasting legacy.

By showcasing their significance, the biography essay becomes more than just a narrative of an individual’s life; it becomes a testament to the lasting impact they made, inspiring and enlightening readers about their endeavors and the mark they left on the world.

Crafting a Strong Thesis Statement

Crafting a strong thesis statement is essential in a biography essay as it serves as the guiding force for the entire piece. A well-crafted thesis statement not only conveys the main focus of the essay but also establishes the unique angle or perspective through which the subject’s life will be examined.

To create a strong thesis statement for a biography essay, consider the following tips and elements:

  • Identify the main focus: Determine the central aspect or theme of the subject’s life that you want to explore in the essay. It could be their accomplishments, struggles, personal growth, or impact on society.
  • Be specific: Avoid vague statements and strive for precision. Clearly articulate what makes the subject’s life noteworthy, significant, or compelling.
  • Make it arguable: A strong thesis statement presents a debatable claim or argument that can be supported and explored in the essay. It should provoke thought and invite discussion.
  • Consider the scope: Consider the length of the essay and the depth to which you can delve into the subject’s life. Ensure that your thesis statement is manageable and achievable within the given parameters.

Example thesis statement for a biography essay on Rosa Parks:

“Despite her quiet demeanor, Rosa Parks’ courageous refusal to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, acted as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement, challenging racial segregation and inspiring a generation to fight for equality.”

This thesis statement is specific, arguable, and clearly highlights the significance of Rosa Parks’ action as a pivotal moment in history. It sets the stage for an essay that will explore her life, the societal impact of her act of defiance, and her contribution to the struggle for civil rights.

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How to write a biography essay

Ibrahim Akturk

  • March 29, 2022

A biography essay is a type of academic writing that tells the story of someone’s life, typically focusing on their achievements, struggles, and impact on the world.

In this article, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to write a compelling biography essay that engages readers and tells the story of a person’s life in a meaningful way.

Choose a person to write a biography

First you need to choose a person to write about. The person should have made significant contributions to his/her respective field. This person should also be well-known as you will need resources to find information.

For this guide, we will be writing our biography essay on French-Algerian philosopher and author Albert Camus . There’re some reasons why Albert Camus is a suitable topic for a biography essay:

  • He is an influential person in his field.
  • He has many works that we can refer to in our essay .​
  • There are many reliable sources where we can find information about him. ​

Gather information on the person

You need some information about your the person you chose. While getting this information, pay attention to two main factors: the credibility of your source and what information you are putting in your essay.

Credibility of your source

  • Does this source have any authors and/or editors listed?
  • Does this source cite or link to trustworthy sources?​
  • Is this source prepared professionally?​

If your sources check all the boxes, they are most likely reliable sources . However, if a source doesn’t have any authors, has no citation, or is poorly written, consider it risky.

Information included in the essay

  • Is this information useful in the context of my essay?
  • Is this development remarkable in my subject’s life story? ​

You can definitely add the information if they meet these criteria. If not, it’s best to keep them out.

Use of important information on the person

Now, we will be choosing information from Albert Camus’ life story to include in our biography essay. 

  • Albert Camus was born on 7 November 1913 in French Algeria. (We choose to include this information because it is reasonable to start with this line for a biography essay.)
  • He published his essay The Myth of Sisyphus in the year 1942. (This information is essential because this essay explains his notion of “the absurd,” a philosophy he is widely known for.)​
  • He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. (This event is a significant acknowledgment of his works; therefore, it should be included.)​
  • He died on 4 January 1960 in France. (A reasonable ending point for a biography essay.) ​

Create an outline

essay outline structure

Preparing an outline is essential for biography essays just like any other essay . You can follow our typical outline preparing process in this step because biography essays also adhere to the traditional essay structure.

Biography Essay Outline Example

Albert Camus Biography Essay

  • Open with a curious quote by Albert Camus
  • Explain how Camus contributed to his field
  • Further explore Albert Camus' stance on the field
  • Present your thesis statement
  • Topic sentence of your paragraph
  • Albert's accomplishments and more personal information
  • Closing sentence
  • Restate your thesis statement
  • Mention the importance of Albert Camus
  • Finish your essay with memorable concluding sentences by highlighting Camus' importance

Important reminder

Write an introduction.

The introduction paragraph is crucial. Because you need to grab the reader’s attention at this part. This is where a hook sentence is useful. With a hook sentence , you can start your essay in multiple interesting directions for you reader: 

  • Start your introduction with a quote from your subject, especially one that reveals their personality.
  • Start with an intriguing story or an interesting anecdote about your subject. ​
  • Start by informing the reader about a significant accomplishment of your subject.​

Biography essay introduction example

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” This is a quote by French-Algerian philosopher, writer, and journalist Albert Camus. Camus was born in French Algeria on 7 November 1913. Opening: Intriguing quote that grabs the reader’s attention and summarizes Camus’ philosophy He is one of the most prominent writers of absurdist philosophical thought. Subject: A sentence which explains the subject’s contribution to their field. Through his works, Camus contributed to the rise of the absurdist philosophy, which was essentially a response to nihilism. Stance: Further explanation of the subject’s stance on the field He wrote works that conveyed an abiding faith in the human race’s displaced but still righteous situation. Thesis statement: You highlight your stand and main focus of the essay.

Biography essay body paragraphs

This is the section where the results of your research come in. Like other types of essays, body paragraphs are the central part of your biography essay (see biography essay example ).

Through these paragraphs, you will discuss the milestones in your subject’s life, their accomplishments, and their works.

Biography essay body paragraph example

During his literary career, Camus published his works in three cycles. In each cycle, he published a novel, an essay, and a play. The first cycle of his works was on “the absurd,” and they were published from 1942 to 1944. Topic sentence: Further exploration of the claim presented in the introduction. This cycle’s works were some of his most significant works: The Stranger as the novel, The Myth of Sisyphus as the essay, and Caligula as the play. Camus also explored the concepts “the revolt” and “the love” through the cycle structure. Subject’s accomplishments: Reveal of the subject’s extensive work on the field Through his major works, Camus earned the Nobel Prize for Literature, and he then published his work named Algerian Chronicles. This work revealed his pacifist tendencies. Personal information: Brief introduction into the subject’s personal reflections. After Camus’ death, two more works of his were released. One is his novel titled A Happy Death and an unfinished autobiographical novel named The First Man. Some of the significant themes Camus explores through his literary career are alienation, rebellion, and guilt. Closing sentence: Information on the subject’s identity.

Biography essay conclusion

In your conclusion paragraph , what you need to do is to bring in your final thoughts. Do not make the mistake (see common mistakes ) of only repeating the claims you made throughout the essay.

As an alternative, you can choose to tie your subject’s legacy into the current day . You can ask yourself these questions to figure out what to say in your conclusion paragraph:

  • What was my subject’s contribution to the ideas/events that are relevant today?
  • Are they still remembered? How do people honor their work?​
  • Out of the people that are significant today, who did my subject influence?​

Biography essay conclusion example

Camus died on 4 January 1960, when he was only 46 years old. He died in a car crash, and many scholars point out the “absurdity” of his death. Restatement: Connection with the subject’s main works Since Camus himself had previously stated that the most absurd way of dying he could think of would be a car accident, people regard his death as ironic. Today, Albert Camus is still considered to be one of the most significant thinkers of Western philosophy. Importance of the person: The subject’s relevancy today He is acknowledged as one of the most critical contributors of the absurdist philosophy. He is referred to as one of the best literary writers of his genre and one of the best thinkers of his age. Closing statement: Concluding sentences by highlighting the subject’s influence

Now you know all the separate parts of a biography essay and how to create them.  Remember that these steps can be used in all academic essays.

Before closing this article, let’s have a look at an extensive biography essay example on Mustafa Kemal Ataturk , you see below. 

5-Paragraph Biography Essay Example

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk: The Modernizer of Turkey

Introduction

Body paragraphs, key takeaways.

  • A biography essay should tell the story of a person's life, but also focus on their contributions and impact.
  • Start by doing thorough research and organizing your information into a chronological outline.
  • Use vivid details and anecdotes to bring your subject to life and make the essay engaging for the reader.
  • Incorporate analysis and reflection to help the reader understand the significance of the subject's life and work.
  • End with a strong conclusion that summarizes the key points and leaves the reader with a lasting impression.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start a biography essay.

Start your biography essay by giving a general information about your subject, such as their profession or importance.

What is biography example?

Biography is a literary work in which a person’s life is narrated. They are based on facts, and the main purpose of them is educating people about well-known individuals.

How do you write an outline for a biography?

A proper biography outline should include details about the information that will be presented in the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Ibrahim Akturk

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How to Write a Biography Essay and Get an A+

03 July, 2020

7 minutes read

Author:  Elizabeth Brown

Got a chance to write about your idol but need help with realization? Read our article to know the secrets of effective biography essay writing. Whoever you decide to write a biography essay about, don’t try to include random information at once. The person you describe would not like it. Instead, read our article about how to write a biography essay correctly and, more importantly, take pleasure in composing it. We’ll share some smart tips and tricks that you’ll find particularly useful for your writing.

biography essay

What is a biographical essay?

Some tend to mistakenly attribute biographical essay to the process of writing about themselves. But actually, biography definition has nothing to do with you. It’s more about telling the engaging story about a person’s life. This individual can be anyone: a famous historical figure, a well-known actor, politician, dancer, musician, artist, writer, inventor – you get the point. Such task sounds intriguing and interesting, and indeed it is. A biographical essay is a great chance to dilute simple academic tasks with a pinch of new article full of interesting facts and opinions.

what is a biography

Biography essay outline

Before writing a biography essay, it’s important to pay attention to essay structure and build up a biography outline. An outline is generally a schematic plan that helps to organize biography essays in accordance with the writer’s preference. In this, the primary task is to create a list of the most significant facts you’ll want to develop in the essay. The easiest way of arranging an outline is to add a numbered list indicating the main points, and a list of sub-points marked with bullets. Also, don’t forget to include a biography thesis statement that’ll sum up the main idea of your essay in one sentence.

How to start a biography essay?

Before writing, you first need to understand what to include in a biography essay. An eloquent biography essay always starts with the introduction of a chosen person. The initial step of writing it involves the inclusion of such information as the person’s name, date of their birth, and the place they were born in. Of course, it’s not a uniform set of data necessary for this part. You can take the situation in your hands and write about some cultural or historical background surrounding one’s birthplace or the day they were born. Adding such information to the introductory part will help to create some context by connecting you and readers closer to the described character and broadening the common knowledge with more absorbing facts.

How to write a biography essay about someone else?

When people ask how to write a biography paper, the only thing they think of is a random flow of ideas about someone’s life. In fact, writing a biography paper is more complicated. The section following the introduction is devoted to life description. Here, you’ll need to feature early life and childhood of a chosen person. This part should cover general information about their parents, and divert readers’ attention to some facts related to their origin, education, and relationship status. Next, focus more on education and place where the person grew up. In this section, include more detailed information about the critical moments of their childhood life, like the name of the school they studied in or the point of moving to another city or town. Perhaps there are more facts worthy of note, such as family problems or health issues that revolved around one’s childhood. If there are such, include them as well.

The second section of your biographical essay will tell readers about someone’s adulthood. Depending on the person, this piece of story can be outlined differently. For example, you can write about their university or college life, or indicate their first job. The point here is to chronologically depict a period of moving from childhood to adult life. Then, talk about the formation of a person’s career path, starting with the first working experience and ending with the remarkable moment of revealing talents and skills that shaped their life. In the next paragraph, mention the person’s relationship during their adulthood. If applicable, describe how someone special helped them to become successful or motivated them throughout their career. Another significant aspect in this section has to do with the person’s success, in which readers could know about their notable accomplishments and achievements.

The final section of a biography essay will touch the person’s current or later life. If they are alive, include the overlook of their place of living and write about their activities. You can also add such information as to their current projects or career plans, along with other meaningful facts about their life.

If the person you’re writing about is no longer living, emphasize on the brightest moments at the sunset of their life. Mention the definitive moments and aspects, and write about the cause of their deaths.

Other tips on writing a biography

If you want your biography essay to leave a great impact on readers, don’t conclude it with a simple explanation of why this or that person died and what their latest works were. This is only factual information which brings no specific value to your essay and, more importantly, doesn’t breathe life into it. To wrap up your essay content with a memorable grabber, include a couple of sentences in which write about the person’s legacy. That is, add the opinion of why this individual’s activity became an exceptional contribution to the world’s history, and why they have changed some aspects of their field.

Biography essay writing is a responsible task that aims at showing a well-acclaimed person from the best light. Therefore, you need to write about one’s life as you would about your mother – with maximum details and showing respect for that person. So follow our advice to compose an A+ biography essay that you and your audience will enjoy reading.

Note that our company provides academic writing help. You can buy a Biography essay written from scratch by our  essay writer .

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How to Write a Biography

Last Updated: May 14, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA . Stephanie Wong Ken is a writer based in Canada. Stephanie's writing has appeared in Joyland, Catapult, Pithead Chapel, Cosmonaut's Avenue, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Fiction and Creative Writing from Portland State University. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,831,953 times.

Writing a biography can be a fun challenge, where you are sharing the story of someone’s life with readers. You may need to write a biography for a class or decide to write one as a personal project. Once you have identified the subject of the biography, do your research so you know as much about them as possible. Then, dive into the writing of the biography and revising it until it is at its finest.

Researching Your Subject

Step 1 Ask the subject for permission to write the biography.

  • If the subject does not give you permission to write the biography, you may want to choose a different subject. If you decide to publish the biography without the subject’s permission, you may be susceptible to legal action by the subject.
  • If the subject is no longer alive, you obviously do not need to ask permission to write about them.

Step 2 Look for primary sources about the subject.

  • You may create research questions to help focus your research of the subject, such as, What do I find interesting about the subject? Why is this subject important to readers? What can I say that is new about the subject? What would I like to learn more about?

Step 3 Conduct interviews with the subject and those close to them.

  • For in person interviews, record them with a tape recorder or a voice recorder on your computer or phone.
  • You may need to interview the subject and others several times to get the material you need.

Step 4 Visit locations that are important to the subject.

  • You may also want to visit areas where the subject made a major decision or breakthrough in their life. Being physically in the area can give you a sense of how the subject might have felt and help you write their experiences more effectively.

Step 5 Study the time and place of the subject’s life.

  • When researching the time period ask yourself: What were the social norms of that time? What was going on economically and politically? How did the social and political climate affect the subject?

Step 6 Make a timeline of the person’s life.

  • You may also include historical events or moments that affected the subject on the timeline. For example, maybe there was a conflict or civil war that happened during the person’s life that affected their life.

Writing the Biography

Step 1 Go for a chronological structure.

  • You may end up focusing on particular areas of the person’s life. If you do this, work through a particular period in the person’s life chronologically.

Step 2 Create a thesis for the biography.

  • For example, you may have a thesis statement about focusing on how the person impacted the civil rights movement in America in the 1970s. You can then make sure all your content relates back to this thesis.

Step 3 Use flashbacks.

  • Flashbacks should feel as detailed and real as present day scenes. Use your research notes and interviews with the subject to get a good sense of their past for the flashbacks.
  • For example, you may jump from the person’s death in the present to a flashback to their favorite childhood memory.

Step 4 Focus on major events and milestones.

  • For example, you may focus on the person’s accomplishments in the civil rights movement. You may write a whole section about their contributions and participation in major civil rights marches in their hometown.

Step 5 Identify a major theme or pattern in the person’s life.

  • For example, you may notice that the person’s life is patterned with moments of adversity, where the person worked hard and fought against larger forces. You can then use the theme of overcoming adversity in the biography.

Step 6 Include your own opinions and thoughts about the person.

  • For example, you may note how you see parallels in the person’s life during the civil rights movement with your own interests in social justice. You may also commend the person for their hard work and positive impact on society.

Polishing the Biography

Step 1 Show the biography to others for feedback.

  • Revise the biography based on feedback from others. Do not be afraid to cut or edit down the biography to suit the needs of your readers.

Step 2 Proofread the biography.

  • Having a biography riddled with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors can turn off your readers and result in a poor grade if you are handing in the text for a class.

Step 3 Cite all sources...

  • If the biography is for a class, use MLA, APA, or Chicago Style citations based on the preferences of your instructor.

Biography Help

how to start a personal biography essay

Community Q&A

Community Answer

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

  • Be careful when publishing private or embarrassing information, especially if the person is not a celebrity. You may violate their "Right of Privacy" or equivalent. Thanks Helpful 30 Not Helpful 5
  • Have the sources to back up your statements about the subject's life. Untruthful written statements can lead to litigation. If it is your opinion, be clear that it is such and not fact (although you can support your opinion with facts). Thanks Helpful 15 Not Helpful 15

how to start a personal biography essay

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  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-write-bio/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
  • ↑ https://www.plagiarism.org/article/how-do-i-cite-sources

About This Article

Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA

Before you write a biography, gather as much information about the subject that you can from sources like newspaper articles, interviews, photos, existing biographies, and anything else you can find. Write the story of that person’s life, including as much supporting detail as you can, including information about the place and time where the person lived. Focus on major events and milestones in their life, including historical events, marriage, children, and events which would shape their path later in life. For tips from our reviewer on proofreading the biography and citing your sources, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to write a biography essay

The complete guide on biographical storytelling

Anyone can learn how to write a perfect biography essay about someone else’s life by making sure to focus on true, objective facts about a specific person. First, determine the scope of the person’s life (years), pick a central theme, and write out the biography using the classic narrative arc.

Many college courses include an essay writing component, and a biography essay is one of the types of essays that you may encounter, especially if you are taking courses in liberal arts disciplines such as history or cultural studies. This guide from Ultius will provide you with a thorough overview of how to write an effective biography essay. The guide will include the following sections:

  • purpose of a biography essay
  • biography and culture
  • elements of a good biography essay
  • how to write a great biography essay
  • samples/examples
  • additional information

After reading this guide, you should feel confident in your ability to write a strong biography essay, or at least in your ability to find the right kind of help to write such an essay.

Purpose of a biography essay

"Biography" literally means the story of a life. So, when you write a biography essay, what you are trying to do is to write the story of someone's life. ( Autobiography is a related concept that refers to the story of your own life.) If your biography essay is successful, then by the end of reading it, the reader should have a clear idea of what your subject did in his/her life and why his/her life was interesting and/or important enough to be the subject of a biography essay.

According to the Ultius glossary, a biography is a detailed descriptions of a famous person’s life and accomplishments (as a genre). Biographies typically contain intricate details of the subject’s personal life and sometimes include an analysis of the person’s personality and attributes.

A biography essay is similar to other forms of essays, such as the narrative essay, insofar as it involves telling a story. A biography essay, however, is supposed to be rooted in historical fact, and it should describe your subject using objective tone and language.

Narrative essay how-to guide. Click here is you are interested in learning how to write a narrative essay instead.

There are two important things to remember about a biography essay.

1. It is a true story that describes the life of your subject. You are not allowed to just make things up, and there should be scholarly documentation confirming that what you are writing is valid.

2. It is a story about someone else, generally a famous historical figure . If you were writing about yourself, that would be a memoir, which for present purposes should be considered as different from a biographical essay.

Only use details and facts that can be verified through documents or existing sources. An important hallmark of biography essays is that they are true.

The importance of biography essays

The English writer Samuel Johnson had this to say about biographies:

"No species of writing seems more worthy of cultivation than biography, since none can be more delightful or more useful, none can more certainly enchain the heart by irresistible interest, or more widely diffuse instruction to every diversity of condition.”

The main idea here is that my reading biographies, people can gain insight into the lives of other people who have done amazing things. This can be enchanting in its own right, and it can also provide the reader with inspiration for his own life and help the reader look at his own life with fresh eyes.

Stuck with writing? Essay services from Ultius can help with biography writing.

For example, are you interested in doing philosophy? If so, you may find it inspiring to read biographies such as:

  • Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius , by Ray Monk
  • Albert Camus: A Life , by Olivier Todd
  • Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography , by Joakim Garff

A nice thing about the genre of biography is also that biographies are written about a huge range of different figures in different disciplines, meaning that you can find biographical subject that may specifically interest you or move your heart.

Biography and culture

Biographies play an important role in preserving human cultural memory: it is like history, except focused on the life of one person. People have been telling stories about heroes and other admirable figures since the beginning of the human species.

Alexander the Great mosaic

Modern biography, though, is somewhat different from the old heroic stories, in that modern biography is supposed to be objective and scholarly, and it is generally rooted in a secular view of time and history. In other words, modern biographies are based in reason more than imagination, and they are not supposed to include magical and/or irrational events.

Biography vs. legend

Biography is a modern scholarly discipline that has some similarities to the much older genre of the legend, but it is also different in some important ways.

So, the genre of biography carries on the old tradition of telling stories about the lives of admirable figures. But whereas the old legends were more imaginative and quasi-fictional in their tellings, modern biography is supposed to be based on reason and objective, verifiable facts about the life of the subject.

Elements of a good biography essay

In order to write a compelling biography essay, there are certain elements that you will have to include. Here are some of them.

Linear narrative arc

This may seem somewhat obvious, but a human life naturally resembles a story, starting with birth and ending in death, with various drama and events happening in between. This is the natural arc that you should follow when writing your biography essay. In general, you should begin your essay with the birth of your historical figure and then follow him/her through the events of his/her life until death.

The plot rainbow | Ultius

Some biography essays might be able to get with innovations such as non-linear structure, but unless you really know what you are doing, that can get very confusing, and your biography essay would be difficult to follow. So, for all intent and purpose, we can say that following a linear narrative arc is a best practice for writing a biography essay.

Different types of narrative structures

These are some of the possible types of narrative structure. When writing a biography essay, you are strongly advised to stick to the linear structure.

The linear structure is the standard for most biographies; it starts at a specific point in the protagonist's life and moves forward in chronological order. Nonlinear structure is more complex as this style moves between time periods with time skips and flashbacks. Thematic structure strategically conveys given and new information to frame and insert specific themes.

Choose a compelling biography essay subject

For your biography essay, your subject will be the person whose life story you will be writing. In order for your biography essay to be effective, you will have to pick a subject who is interesting, important, or otherwise qualified to be the subject of a biography essay. You should ask yourself the question: why choose your subject, and what has your subject done that deserves to be recorded and remembered?

Of course, there's a sense in which every single human life is interesting and important. But for the purposes of your biography essay, you will want to dig deeper and consider why your subject is worthy of being remembered in the collective cultural memory.

An effective biography usually focuses on someone who has affected history, or someone who has achieved a high level of excellence within his/her discipline or field.

Søren Kierkegaard: A very important philosopher

Portrait of Søren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard would be an example a good subject for a biography essay, because his works are generally considered a turning point in modern philosophy.

The subject of your biography essay does not necessarily need to be well-known. In fact, it can be a lot of fun to dig into the life of someone is not well known but should be. The important thing is that your subject must be compelling, and there must be a solid reason why his/her story should be told.

Also, when picking a subject, you may want to make sure that you actually like your subject. That can make writing a biography essay more fun, and your respect for the subject (or lack thereof) will also probably come across in your writing. If you want to convince others that your subject is compelling, then it would help if you find him/her compelling.

Choose biographical (life) events wisely

A lot can happen in a life, and it would probably be impossible for you to include everything there is to know about your subject within a single biography essay. So, you should choose the high point, or the most important points, and then focus on those.

Events in the life of Kierkegaard

These are key events that could be the focus of a biography essay on Kierkegaard.

Garff, Joakim. Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography. Princeton: Princeton U P, 2007.

How to write a great biography essay

Now that you know about the elements of a biography essay, you can follow these steps in order to ensure that your biography essay turns out to be a success.

Writing a Biography Essay | Ultius

Next, integrate the specific biography related aspects listed below.

Determine the scope of your biographical essay

Again, your biography essay won't be able to include everything there is to know about your subject. So, you will want to map out the scope of your biography essay before you get started. The birth and death of your subject are the logical starting and ending points for your essay. Then, you will want to select a few events or accomplishments in the life of your subject that are worthy of remembrance.

You can develop a full-fledged outline, or you can use a table like the one developed above. Either way, though, you will have to have a clear idea of where you will begin, where you will end, and the path that you will take from the beginning to the end.

Compile credible sources

Your biography essay has to be rooted in verifiable facts about the life of your subject. This means that it is important that you identify and document the sources of your information. The essay sources should generally be scholarly in nature, and you should avoid using websites to the greatest extent possible. This is because it is often difficult to tell whether the content on websites have been drawn from credible sources.

Questions to ask when compiling sources

Questions to ask when finding sources

If there are references listed on a website about your subject, then you should trace those references back to the original academic sources. Those are the sources you should use for your biography essay.

The differences between primary and secondary sources | Ultius

Write in a clear and compelling style

Remember: with your biography essay, you are at least partly trying to show your reader why your subject is interesting and why he/she deserves to have an essay written about him/her.

Your interest in your subject should come across in your writing style. After all, if you feel bored with your subject, then why should anyone else pay attention?

The language you use should be scholarly (but still filled with imagery ), but you should also focus on varying sentence structure, using excellent word choice, and other writing techniques that tell the life story of your subject in a compelling way that does justice to the importance of your subject.

Samples/examples

See the example biographical essay below for a clear example of how it needs to be written.

As the sample shows, it’s very important to be focused on true details. Please see the list of blog posts below for more examples of biography essays:

  • Biography essay on Hillary Clinton
  • Biography essay on Frank Rosolino
  • Short essay on Edgar Allan Poe

If you need more help or would like something written for your own needs, consider buying custom essays from Ultius . Our talented writes can help you get something done in as fast as three hours.

Additional information

That brings us to the close of this guide on the biography essay. Here is a recapitulation of some of the best practices that have been covered here.

Develop a focused arc

You should use a linear narrative structure, starting with the birth of your subject, ending with their death, and focusing on selected key events and accomplishments in the subject's life.

Write in the scholarly mode

Although a biography essay is a kind of "story," it should still be written in a rational, scholarly way, and referencing in MLA or Chicago style is usually required for this kind of essay.

Love your subject

If you get to choose your subject, then you should pick a subject that you personally admire. This will make the writing process more fun, and your interest will also show in your writing and make the biography essay more enjoyable for the reader.

Find help if you need it

Finally, Ultius has plenty of resources that can help you write a successful biography essay and hone your skills as a writer. Please feel free to lean on us.

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How to Write Biographical Essay: About Yourself or Other Person

Writing an essay is a usual task students are assigned on a daily basis. Since there are multiple types of essays, they differ in their structure, purpose, and requirements. A biographical essay is not a very common type of academic writing. Hence, not every student is aware of how to write it. Should I write about facts from a person’s life? How do I write an autobiography essay? If these and more questions bother you when you think about composing a bio essay, then you should definitely read our guide below on how to write a biography essay.

What Is a Biographical Essay?

Before you start writing an introduction to the biographical essay, you have to learn what it is. A biography essay is a type of academic writing in which a writer should tell the audience about a certain person’s life.

The main difference between a bio essay and other types of essays is that the author should provide an in-depth overview of someone’s history of life including much more facts than just the date of birth, childhood, and occupation.

When writing this type of essay, it is essential to analyze a person’s life, not just state the events in chronological order. Otherwise, it will be an informative type of academic writing that just states the information.

The Main Purpose of a Bio Essay

The goal of writing a biographical essay is to tell a story about a person’s life and highlight the significant achievements she or he did during the lifespan. Special attention should be given to the things that the subject is popular for. However, the writer should also focus on analyzing the facts, providing personal thoughts on what the person did right or wrong, and how the main character reached the results he is famous for.

Biography Essay About Yourself

It is also very common to be assigned to compose an essay about yourself. This type of academic piece of paper is called an autobiography. And while writing information about someone else sounds pretty easy, analyzing your own life might be more complicated.

An autobiography essay is always required when applying for college, different courses, or competitions. And the procedure of writing it is the same as writing a biographical essay but in this case, you become the main character of the story.

Biography Essay About a Person

The peculiarities of writing about someone else in the first place are hidden in making a choice on whom to tell about. Depending on the topic of your essay, this can be a famous person or someone you know as a friend. So whether you write about a celebrity or your relative, the approach to writing will be different.

In the first case, you will have to gather a lot of information from trusted sources. The more fascinating facts you gain, the better as it will help you to compose a perfect essay. In the second case, your knowledge about a person will be your main source of information.

How to Plan a Biography Essay Writing

Before you get an answer to a question: “How to write biographical essay?”, you should definitely seek information on how to start a biography essay. Since you will have to write about a person’s life in a logical and coherent way, it is crucial to prepare for this creative process. Below you will find the description of the main steps that will help you to get yourself ready for the writing.

Choose Your Biographical Essay Topic

The first and most important step to take is to choose the right topic. Unless you are given a specific person to write about by your teacher, you should make this choice wisely. Always consider picking up a character you are interested in. Then narrow down your selection by the availability of information about the person. Before you consider choosing one topic, look for credible sources that provide truthful information about the subject of your work.

Also, here you can find some examples of topics for a biographical essay:

  • Marilyn Monroe: a fashion icon of all times.
  • The history of the life of Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Donald Trump: successful businessman and politician.
  • Mother Teresa and her mission in life.
  • Pope Francis: first American pope.
  • Ludwig Beethoven and his eternal music.
  • Malcolm X: a racism fighter.
  • Elon Musk: the king of space.
  • Greta Thunberg: young ecoactivist.
  • Pele: a star of football.
  • Albert Einstein: a face of science.
  • Biography of my friend.
  • A person in my life who inspired me.
  • A history of the life of a member of my family.
  • My autobiography.

Create a Biography Essay Outline

When you have chosen a perfect topic for your essay, it is quite a time to go to the next step and create a biography essay outline. In your structure, you have to cover the following paragraphs:

  • An introduction.
  • 1st body paragraph.
  • 2nd body paragraph.
  • 3rd body paragraph.

As you see, a biographical essay outline is the same as any other type of essay. Depending on the amount of information and your arguments, you can add more paragraphs to the body of your essay.

Conduct an Informational Research

An essential step in creating an A+ biographical essay is gathering information. However, you should not trust every link on the Internet since especially about famous people there is numerous fake news.

So in order to gather only real facts, you should look for authoritative publications, magazines, and books about the person you are analyzing in your work. All sources should have a reference list from where the information was taken. You can also get useful pieces of info from interview videos of celebrities if there are ones.

How to Start a Biography Essay?

When the preparation procedure is done, you are ready to start writing your biographical essay. Whether you wonder how to write a biography essay about yourself or another person, the instructions will be the same. The introduction of a paper is where a reader forms the first impression. So it should be very captivating and engaging. Learn what your opening paragraph should include.

Biography Essay Hook

Inserting a hook at the beginning of the essay is the perfect tactic to keep the audience motivated to read your work. This can be a quote from the person you are describing, an anecdote from his life, or a shocking fact.

A hook should be moderately exciting. Don’t try to create something unbelievably fantastic. This opening sentence should be real and catchy.

Biography Thesis Statement

The main purpose of writing a biography essay is in the thesis statement. Whether you write biography essay topics about famous people or yourself, you have to make your personal thoughts of what you think the character is recognizable for. A statement should be placed at the end of the introductory paragraph.

The statement is the main idea of the essay. Whether it is a positive or a negative trait of a person, your next paragraphs should fit it. It is not acceptable just to write general information. The whole text should correspond with the thesis statement written in the introduction.

Biography Essay Body Paragraph

The main scope of information is described in the body paragraphs of the essay. When following a standard instruction on how to write an essay on a person, the main part of the work should consist of three body paragraphs. All the info you will be sharing should go in a chronological way. Include interesting facts, intriguing stories, and clear examples from the person’s life. Here is how you can build your essay body.

1st Body Paragraph About Childhood

Write some info about a person’s early years of living. Guide the audience through the place of birth of the person, his parents, and the moments that shaped him as the person he is or was in maturity.

2nd Body Paragraph About School and College Period

Education is the most essential factor that influences a person’s life. So in your second body paragraph, you should focus on providing the facts about the character’s school and college life. Most likely, the talent of a person was revealed exactly at school times, so you might explain to the audience what the first steps to success were.

3rd Body Paragraph About Maturity

The main discoveries happen in life when you become an adult. So that is where you should focus on providing interesting facts about the person’s achievements, turning points, and growth. If there were major accomplishments made by the character, it is important to analyze their connection and impact on the current state of things.

Biography Essay Conclusion

The wrapping-up paragraph is what gives readers an aftertaste after reading your biography essay. And you definitely want to leave a perfect note at the end of the story. That is why just restating the thesis statement will not be enough. In this part of the work, your main task will be to cover the following.

Relevance of the Person’s Work

Imagine reading several paragraphs about a famous character who made some incredible discoveries in his life. Surely, at the end of the story, you will want to find out how these accomplishments can be applied in today’s society. And that is what every reader would like to see in the concluding part.

If the person was so significant, what did he leave for our generations? If this is a scientist, then we can rely on their discoveries; if this is a singer, we can listen to their music; if this is a fashion model, we can get inspiration from his character. Demonstrate in such a way what can be useful for us to get from the person you described.

The Major Achievements

In conclusion, you can focus again on the major accomplishments of the person. Draw a parallel to how these achievements affect and will affect humanity. Write how it is influenced the most by the character of your story.

How to Write a Good Biography Essay: Advanced Tips

You already know the main steps on how to write an essay about a person. But there is always room for improvement especially if you don’t write everyday biography essays. Besides following the instructions on how to start biography essay and write body paragraphs, there are more tips that will help you in this process. Here they are.

  • Rely only on facts. Even though in the biography essay you should state your personal opinion about the character you are describing, everything that is related to the person’s life should be 100% true. So never write any information without double-checking it in the sources.
  • Don’t spare time for conducting research. A bio essay is a piece of academic writing, so you need to provide exclusive information about another person. Thus, you have to conduct thorough research on that person’s life and dig deeper.
  • Create a strong personal statement. In fact, everyone can go to the Internet and read about a famous person’s life and major events. But if you want to make an authentic and outstanding paper, you should make a solid thesis statement and shape the rest of the essay to it.
  • Provide evidence. Nothing can make a better impression on a reader than supporting facts with real examples. So if you want the audience to remember your essay, try methods of visualization.
  • Make smooth transitions. When you are jumping from different time periods, it is important to make it as smooth as possible. Thus, you have to insert transition words and phrases that will make the overall text sound coherent.

Need Help Writing a Biography Essay?

If you don’t want to waste time learning how to start a biography essay about yourself or how to start an essay about a person, you can turn to our essay service. We can write you an academic paper of any type and complexity within the shortest deadline.

As a professional argumentative essay writer , we offer the following services:

  • High-quality writing help. Our professional team consists of writers who have multiple years of experience in the academic writing industry and who have achieved at least a bachelor’s degree in a certain field.
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If you need more information on how we help students achieve excellent results, check the reviews on our website.

How many paragraphs are in a biography essay?

If following a standard biography essay format, you will have to write five paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

What is a biography essay structure?

A biography essay structure relates to the parts your work should consist of. This is the number of paragraphs you should build your bio essay on.

How to write an introduction for a biography essay?

If you wonder how to start a biographical essay, make these steps of preparation: begin with the topic selection, then create the outline for your essay, and conduct research on the person you are to describe.

How do you write a biography essay?

If you want to know how to write a biography paper, make sure to follow these instructions: get ready for writing by doing research on the topic you have chosen; start your essay with a hook and thesis statement; provide information in chronological order; and then conclude what you have written.

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Book essay writing is an omnipresent assignment imposed by many professors, especially if you are dealing with literature constantly. An essay on a book is usually a way for your teacher to get proof that you gained something from analyzing…  Read More

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How To Write A Biography Essay And Get An A+

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Biography Essay writing

As a high school or college student, you have probably written dozens, if not hundreds, of essays of all types. However, a biographical essay is nothing like you have written before. In fact, despite seeming relatively easy, the task of writing a biography essay can get very confusing to inexperienced students.

Instead of your ideas, a biography essay utilizes facts, but it takes a lot of research and writing skills to write a biography essay that will impress both your peers and your professor. Our   essay writing service has prepared a detailed guide on how to write a good biography essay, and here is everything you need to know.

What Is a Biographical Essay?

Before you can find out how to write a biography essay, you need to learn the answer to the essential question: what is a biography essay? A biographical essay is a type of academic paper where the author tells the story of someone’s life.

In some ways, biographical essays are similar to other types of essays, especially narrative papers. They both tell a story that should captivate and inform the readers. However, a biographical essay focuses solely on the story of one person and often includes an analysis of the person’s personality, not just a list of significant events from the subject’s life story.

Typically, the biography essay format deals with the life story of another person. In some cases, you may be tasked with writing a biography about yourself. In that case, your paper will be called an autobiography essay, and it’s a common assignment in high school and during the college application process.

At first glance, a biography essay may seem like just another type of written assignments that you simply have to do for a good grade. However, a bibliography essay is actually a very important piece of writing that allows you to tell a story of another person’s greatness, significance, or vulnerability through his life events.

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Biography Essay Outline

Even though a biographical essay is a unique form of writing, it still requires you to follow a specific format and structure. The biography essay outline helps you keep your thoughts in order and never miss a single significant fact or quote.

So, how to write a biography essay outline? Unless otherwise specified by your professor, you should follow the standard five-paragraph essay structure. It means that your biography essay outline will include the following chapters:

Introduction

  • Body paragraph #1
  • Body paragraph #2
  • Body paragraph #3

Now that you know what is biography essay and how to create a good biography essay outline, it is time to finally find out how to write a biography essay. In this part of our guide, we will focus on a personal biography essay, or autobiography.

Students are often wondering: how to start off a biography essay to make a good impression on the readers? The introduction is the first part of your paper the readers will encounter, and you should pay extra attention to what you write in this chapter.

How to write an introduction for a biography essay? Start with a hook — an attention-grabbing sentence that sets the tone for the paper. It can be a personal anecdote, a fact, or a quote from someone else describing you.

In the rest of the introduction, write a little about yourself without giving up any important facts —  save those for the upcoming chapters of the essay. Finish the introduction with a thesis statement, where you should describe the essence of your biography essay.

Body paragraphs

If you went for the classic five-paragraph structure with your biography, you will have three body paragraphs. There is no standard way to distribute your biography between those three paragraphs, but since you are writing about yourself — a young person whose later years are still ahead of them — you can use the following structure:

  • Body paragraph #1: Childhood
  • Body paragraph #2: School years
  • Body paragraph #3: Current situation

Since it’s a personal essay, you probably won’t use too much research to support your claims, which will be based on your own life. However, you should carefully choose the wording, not to exaggerate your achievements. Be as close to your own life events as possible.

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A conclusion is an essential part of any essay, and it’s equally true for a biography essay. Since you are retelling your own life story, and it’s difficult to assess your contribution to the society simply because you are only at the beginning of your own career, you should write about the way your life until this point impacted your development as a person.

How to Write a Biography Essay About Someone Else?

Our essay service has already covered how to write a personal biography essay, but in most cases, you will be tasked with writing a biography essay about a different person — usually, someone famous and significant in their own field. This person can be dead or alive, but they will likely have a rich biography that is relatively easy to write about.

The key to writing a strong biography essay is to rely strictly on facts, not on fiction. It doesn’t mean that you should simply list the facts from the person’s life story without any opinions of your own, but those opinions and assumptions must always be based on the official statements from the person’s biography.

Additional Tips on Writing a Biography

Wondering how to write a biography essay to make it absolutely flawless? Check out these extra writing tips from our expert team of authors that specialize in essay writing in the United States:

  • Even though that might seem obvious, you should always use a chronological order when listing the events in a biography essay. There are a few situations where a reverse chronological order also works, but a standard chronological order is easier for the readers to comprehend.
  • Not every event from the person’s life is worth mentioning in a biography essay. Before beginning to writing your essay, you need to study the person’s biography in detail. Then, write down the events and experiences that influenced their life and achievements, leaving behind the more insignificant facts.
  • When you are writing a biography essay, your job is to give an impartial insight into the life of your subject and assess their contribution to the world. Your readers don’t want to see any generalizations or your own opinions, especially if they are negative — there are other genres of writing where you can do that.
  • Academic Writing Guides
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How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application

how to start a personal biography essay

What does it take to land in the “accept” (instead of “reject”) pile?

How can you write an essay that helps advance you in the eyes of the admissions officers and makes a real impression? Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Start early.  Do not leave it until the last minute. Give yourself time when you don’t have other homework or extracurriculars hanging over your head to work on the essay.
  • Keep the focus narrow.  Your essay does not have to cover a massive, earth-shattering event. Some people in their teens haven’t experienced a major life event. Some people have. Either way, it’s okay.
  • Be yourself.  Whether writing about a painful experience or a more simple experience, use the narrative to be vulnerable and honest about who you are. Use words you would normally use. Trust your voice and the fact that your story is interesting enough in that no one else has lived it.
  • Be creative.  “Show, don’t tell,” and that applies here — to an extent. The best essays typically do both. You can help your reader see and feel what you are describing by using some figurative language throughout your piece.
  • Make a point. As you finish your final body paragraphs ask yourself “So what?” This will help you hone in on how to end your essay in a way that elevates it into a story about an insight or discovery you made about yourself, rather than just being about an experience you had.

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We’ve all heard about the dreaded “college essay,” the bane of every high school senior’s existence. This daunting element of the college application is something that can create angst for even the most accomplished students.

  • AA Amy Allen is a writer, educator, and lifelong learner. Her freelance writing business,  All of the Write Words , focuses on providing high school students with one-on-one feedback to guide them through the college application process and with crafting a thoughtful personal essay. A dedicated poet, Amy’s work has also been published in several journals including  Pine Row Press ,  Months to Years,  and  Atlanta Review .

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How to Write a Biography Essay

Biography essay writing guide.

A biography essay is an essay where you tell the story of a person's life. It's a chance for you to do research and learn interesting facts and opinions about someone. That person could be a historical figure, a famous actor, politician, artist, writer or inventor. The point of the biographical essay is to reveal who that person was and what contribution they have made to the world.

In order to write a great biography essay, you'll need to develop a thesis statement about them and write supporting paragraphs with information about their life and work. Finally, a conclusion will help show the lasting impact they've had.

Let's take it step by step:

  • Step 1 - Choose Your Subject The person you choose to write about should be someone famous. Since you'll need to do research about them, they need to be someone who you can find articles and books about. It would be best if the person is someone you're interested in. That way it will make it easier for you to get excited about doing the research.
  • Step 2 - Do Research The more you read about your subject, the clearer a picture you'll have of who they are, what they accomplished and why they're famous. Different writers will have varying opinions and information about your chosen person, so it's best to read a wide range of sources. As you do your research, take notes of interesting facts, dates, events, names. Take note as well of particularly strong opinions, especially if they are opposing or contradictory of your subject.
  • Step 3 - Write an Outline Make an outline of your essay. Your essay should follow the standard five paragraph format (Introduction, Body Paragraphs, Conclusion) unless otherwise instructed by your teacher. Your outline will help you organize the information you gathered during your research while you consider which ideas to include in each paragraph.
  • Start with a quote either by or about your subject. Something that really reveals the essence of who they were/are.
  • Include a fascinating story or anecdote about them.
  • Describe an incredible accomplishment they achieved.
  • Though Marilyn Monroe had fame and fortune, she was a troubled woman whose self-destructive habits may have ultimately led to her tragic early death.
  • Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez invented a new genre of writing called magical realism which had a powerful impact on the literary world and influenced many writers who came after him.
  • Step 6 - Body Paragraphs This is where you'll get to include the information you gathered in your research. Make sure you stick close to the theme you introduced in your thesis. For example, if you're writing about Marilyn Monroe, you may want to include facts about her troubled childhood and marriages as well as her substance and prescription pill abuse. You'll also want to let readers know about her films, interests and lifestyle. Who were the people that were close to her? What did they have to say? What kind of different opinions did authors have about her? Include contradictory information to provide a more complete and complex picture of your subject.
  • How is their work relevant today?
  • What is their legacy? How are they remembered?
  • What or who did they have a major influence on?

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How to Write a Biography Essay Like A Pro

Crafting a biography essay requires documenting the account of a person’s life thoroughly. It can be about a famous figure, an individual you know, or someone from history.

The essay’s primary purpose is to provide a better understanding of the person’s life, accomplishments, effect, and the environment in which they existed. Here is a thorough guide with an example of how to write a biography essay.

Table of Contents

Expert Guidelines on How to Start a Biography Essay

Select a subject.

Pick someone who has greatly impacted society, culture, history, or your own life. Ensure sufficient data is available to compose a thorough biography about them. Go with a historical personality if you are looking for how to start a biography essay fast. 

Let’s say you’ve chosen Nelson Mandela as your subject.

Perform a Research

Gather data from a range of sources, including books, articles, interviews, documentaries, and websites. Make notes of significant points, accomplishments, problems, and personal stories. Structure the research in chronological order to form an outline.

Example 

Research Nelson Mandela’s early life, involvement in the anti-apartheid movement, imprisonment, and presidency.

Create an Outline

Create a framework for your research by arranging it into a structured outline. Break the biography into topics such as Early Life, Achievements, Impact, Legacy, and Conclusion so that the information is easy to comprehend and follow.

Example of a Biography Essay Outline 

Introduction

Early Life and Background

Involvement in Anti-Apartheid Activism

Imprisonment and Release

Presidency and Achievements

Impact on South Africa and the World

Legacy and Contributions

Work on a Good Introduction

Start off by introducing the subject and setting the mood for the essay. Give a concise explanation of why the person is so important and why you chose to write about them.

Start with a quote or a powerful statement about Mandela’s struggle for justice and equality.

Provide an overview of the subject’s early life. Include information about their family and any experiences that significantly impacted their personal development. Explain how these events affected their character and shaped their values.

Discuss Mandela’s childhood in a rural village. His exposure to traditional African values and his early awareness of racial injustice.

Discuss Achievements

Outline the significant successes of the individual, emphasizing their contributions to their area of expertise, society, or humanity in general. Give examples of memorable accomplishments, progress, or milestones they have achieved.

Explore Mandela’s leadership in the African National Congress (ANC). Elaborate on his role in orchestrating protests against discriminatory laws.

Challenges and Triumphs of the Subject

Examine the difficulties the individual experienced, like hindrances, reversals, or inner conflicts. Highlight how they conquered these difficulties and changed them into chances for advancement.

Describe Mandela’s imprisonment on Robben Island.

Impact and Legacy

Assess the enduring effects of this person’s actions and achievements. Investigate how their efforts impacted those around them in the present and the future. Analyze the individual’s influence on social, cultural, governmental, or other pertinent areas.

Analyze how Mandela’s efforts contributed to the dismantling of apartheid. Also, his role in the establishment of a democratic South Africa.

Put in Personal Reflections

Consider expressing your thoughts or feelings regarding the topic if applicable. However, most of the essay should be centered around factual facts and details of the subject’s life.

Outline the main events of the subject’s life and highlight their importance. Show how their experiences and accomplishments connect to broader themes or provide readers with lessons to take away. Emphasize the individual’s significance and contribution to the world.

Conclude by emphasizing Mandela’s enduring legacy as a symbol of resilience, leadership, and the fight for justice.

Editing and Proofreading

You must check your essay for clarity, organization, grammar, and spelling mistakes. Ensure your story is told understandably and cohesively. 

Edit your essay to ensure that each section transitions smoothly to the next and that the information is accurate.

Properly Cite the Sources

It is important to cite all sources utilized in order to sustain the reliability of the information presented and to avoid plagiarizing.

Use citation styles like APA, MLA, or Chicago to acknowledge your sources.

Revise and Polish the Final Draft

Once you have finished editing and proofreading, review your essay to make sure it accurately portrays the person’s life and can draw in the reader.

Consider seeking feedback from peers or instructors to make further improvements.

how to start a personal biography essay

A biography essay is about facts and narratives that give the readers an understanding of the subject’s life. Such an essay informs and motivates the readers. Hence it must be written to capture the reader’s attention.

This blog post was all about letting you know how to write a biography essay. For ease of understanding, we have also used an example of a biography essay focusing on Nelson Mandela.

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how to start a personal biography essay

How To Write An Autobiography Essay?

Table of contents

  • 1 What Is An Autobiography Essay?
  • 2.1 Step 1: Take Your Time Planning
  • 2.2 Step 2: Writing Process
  • 2.3 Step 3: Revise And Polish Your Paper
  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.3 Conclusion
  • 4 What is an Autobiography Essay Outline & Is it necessary to write it?
  • 5 How to Title an Autobiography Essay
  • 6.1 Extra Tips on How to Write a Good Autobiography Essay
  • 7 Autobiography Essay Examples

Do you want to know how to write an autobiography? An autobiographical essay is a major part of many college applications and several jobs that focuses on a specific event or situation in your life that led to certain results or lessons acquired. An autobiographical essay is a major part of many college applications and several jobs that focuses on a specific event or situation in your life that led to certain results or lessons acquired. With an autobiography text, students can expose a part of their personality, and showcase that can’t include in a resume or interview.

Writing this is not a one-day task because it requires a certain grade of preparation, outlining, drafting, and proofreading, which can take a good deal of time. Anyone can achieve a professional and quality autobiography piece if they follow the proper requirements and format standards. If you’re struggling with this assignment and need some guidance, you can buy essays with us to ensure the quality of your work.

What Is An Autobiography Essay?

The autobiographical essay definition states that an autobiographical essay is a paper that focuses solely on your life, generally on an event or situation that had a major impact on you. It is often part of many college applications, as well as for scholarships, contests, and sometimes job offers too.

Writing an essay of this kind is more complex than most students think. Thus, having complete freedom on the topic can lead to complications, lack of motivation, and others, but writing is not impossible. The autobiography paper showcases details of your life and personality that you can’t mention in your applications or CV.

It is usually centered around a specific event or key moment in a person’s life that will later provide evidence (flashbacks, stories, crucial details) and background information that will allow readers to understand the writer’s point of view fully. You need to prepare well for writing an autobiographical essay and pay close attention to the narrative and memoir aspects of the process.

Now that you know what an autobiographical essay is, you will want to learn how to start an autobiography. To start an autobiography, you will need to continue reading. All autobiographies are able to stay interesting and make life look completely different and special. This is done because autobiographical writing is an advanced essay writing and one that can have eight steps or more and be focused on a guide&career. It is a book of the entire life, or it can be. Most essay topics are short, focused on college & career, parts of the author’s life, or clear and concise.

On the contrary, we have autobiographical essays about Nelson Mandela and similar people from around the world. When is an autobiography written like a pro? Simply said, when it reflects the main situations in an author’s life that changed his life dramatically. That’s why you need to know how to start an autobiography and what is an autobiographical essay.

Steps In Writing An Autobiographical Essay

Writing an autobiographical essay takes time, as with any other paper, but especially, it needs structuring and planning. So, how to write an autobiography essay for college? Students can write a proper autobiography paper in three easy steps. You can use these for high school, college & other purposes. You can even find some similarities to elements from New York Times and video lessons. This essay writing can be a long walk in the life story & examples can make this simpler. Video lessons these days have a huge role overall, and they can make autobiographical writing and most autobiographical essays better and more appealing. Always consider essay topics that you are fond of.

Step 1: Take Your Time Planning

The first step to writing a quality paper is to define the outline. It means writing down key points you must include, your goals and purpose, and a temporary title (which you can later modify according to your end result).

Choosing a topic is essential too. With an autobiographical essay, it is important to talk about a real story from your life and how and why it had a major impact on you. Accomplishments and challenges are two of the most chosen topics for this kind of article. Further, eye-catching titles are very important to engage readers before they even begin going through the paper. All memoir processes of this kind require this. This particular essay writing of autobiographies is narrative, so more planning is mandatory.

Step 2: Writing Process

After finishing your outline with as much detail as you can, it is time to start the writing process. Beginning with an eye-catching sentence or paragraph that will captivate your reader’s attention is highly advisable, all while exposing your paper’s purpose and main idea in your autobiography statement.

If you’re searching for “How to write an autobiographical essay?” here are a few tips to help you achieve a professional paper that will perfectly showcase your story.

  • Your autobiography essay should be written in the first person and with as many details as possible (background, setting of the story, feelings). The standard written format for an autobiography is chronological, so make sure to carefully format your paper before writing so you don’t forget anything and cover everything you need.
  • The paper should start with a proper autobiographical introduction that explains why you are writing the piece and what you expect your readers to do with the information.
  • End your autobiography essay writing process in a clear and understandable way, but that also leaves a mark on your audience.

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Step 3: Revise And Polish Your Paper

After writing a complete autobiography paper, you’ll need to revise and polish the essay to fix any mistakes and rewrite incoherent sentences.

Some things to have in mind include:

  • Pay extra and careful attention to grammar and punctuation errors.
  • Detailing situations and events as much as possible gives readers enough background information and reading insights.
  • Use different writing techniques such as questions, retrospection, etc.

To complete an autobiography, you must be true to yourself and write about what you care about and what matters the most.

How to Structure an Autobiography Essay?

The structure of an autobiographical essay will vary depending on the person, but generally, the following autobiography format is the most commonly used among students.

Introduction

Your autobiography essay introduction has three key goals:

  • To let readers know what your paper is about
  • Present the main idea of the piece
  • Engage your audience’s attention by reading more

This small paragraph must be precise and straight to the point. One to three sentences long at maximum. The autobiography essay outline will allow you to write just the right number of words and topics necessary to create a professional and eye-catching essay.

For the body of the paper, the autobiography essay format is very important to present information and create a powerful story. This part doesn’t have limitations or specific requirements that students must follow, but a few things should be taken into account when writing an autobiographical essay.

  • Each body paragraph should discuss one event or story (or maybe two, but only if they are related) to maintain a clear and well-structured path through the paper.
  • Because it is an autobiography, writing clearly and with details is essential. Think as if you were reading about someone else’s life. You’d want to have some background information, context, characters and their relationship with the protagonist, and so on.
  • This kind of paper doesn’t have to be strictly written in chronological order, but it does need some logical structure that retrospections, flashbacks, etc, can follow. Further, it is essential to transition to another paragraph smoothly and clearly.

Writing a proper autobiographical essay for college includes assembling an award-winning conclusion, in which students can summarize their papers’ ideas and direct readers to other lectures or simply leave a powerful message. As well as the introduction, the conclusion shouldn’t be longer than a few lines.

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What is an Autobiography Essay Outline & Is it necessary to write it?

An essay outline is typically a one-page document or piece of paper where the student writes down the main ideas and points of the essay before beginning to write. This helps narrow the goal of the piece and serves as a guide to avoiding forgetting anything. Every autobiographical essay outline is different, but following the guidelines below will ensure a great structure, presenting clear and logical information to any audience.

If you’re having trouble with this part and are looking for how to write an autobiographical sketch, here’s a helpful design:

  • Autobiographical statement with the main idea and crucial points of the paper.
  • Include background information to engage readers and give context.
  • Detailed information that supports your introduction. Include facts, reasons, and a clear and understandable transition between each paragraph. At least three paragraphs should be written.
  • Use the autobiographical sketch to keep track of your ideas and establish a good order of appearance.
  • Remind your thesis statement again and summarize your paper’s ideas.
  • Include a lesson you’ve learned from everything written, or add your final thoughts on the piece.

How to Title an Autobiography Essay

When writing an autobiography essay, there are no rules for beginning at a certain point, some students prefer to write the title first, and others leave the tasks to the end. How to begin an autobiographical essay depends on the writer, but one of the most important things, regardless of its order, is a good title.

The key points to consider when titling an autobiography are:

  • Keeping the title short and precise
  • Make it as engaging as possible
  • Don’t include every keyword you chose in this part

Some good title examples are:

  • The Moment That Changed It All

What My First Day At The Office Taught Me

  • Surviving College

What is the Best Autobiography Essay Format?

The most acceptable autobiography essay format is chronological, where the events are presented consequently and follow a proper timeline. Resources like flashbacks, questions, freewriting, and others are great for adding details and depth to your paper.

Extra Tips on How to Write a Good Autobiography Essay

If you’re wondering how to begin a biography essay about yourself, then you should pay attention to the following tips to write a flawless and professional paper:

  • Choose a meaningful event or situation that significantly impacts your life. Writing an autobiography takes time, and you should decide on a topic that interests you.
  • Define your target audience and constantly think about their reaction or possible reactions to your work and how your paper might interest them.
  • Autobiographies are commonly written in first-person narrative.
  • How to complete an autobiography essay will also depend on your assignment’s guidelines. Always have in mind the requirements of the task.
  • Detail as much as possible. Background information is essential for readers to understand your essay better.
  • After finishing your autobiographical essay, spend some time proofreading and revising the paper to ensure it is presented in a clear way and without any grammatical errors.

Autobiography Essay Examples

Any student can draft, write, and achieve a professional and award-winning autobiography essay with all the information above. Still, having reference examples of translating your ideas to other templates is always good. Here are some autobiography essay examples that will inspire you to come up with your ideas.

Title Page: Include the following information

  • Phone number or email
  • Date of creation

Thesis Statement:

  • Include what you’re going to talk about, as well as mention the key points of your paper.

Body: At least three paragraphs supporting your idea and adding details.

  • Past: Talk about your childhood or memories to build up excitement.
  • Present: What you learned from or how did you deal with that situation.
  • Future: What do you intend to do with the skills, knowledge, or other things that you gained (or lost) from that situation/event?

Conclusion:

  • Mention your thesis statement again and add your final thoughts. Usually, students add a lesson or a positive message that can leave the reader satisfied and content with the paper read.

A more detailed autobiography essay example could be the following:

Your thesis statement goes here, where you can talk about the main ideas of your paper, why you chose that topic, and any key information you believe necessary to mention.

Introduction: Starting from the beginning or even further back (childhood, early adolescence, etc.) is ideal for building up the story and giving readers proper background information.

Body : In the following paragraphs, you can include the first major life turn point and the explanation of it, as well as several complications or unimaginable events that happened, and finally, the point where all fell into place (or continued to go wrong).

Conclusion: Here, you’ll wrap up the story and give readers your final thoughts or point of view after relieving and writing about the situation or event.

Writing an autobiography essay is a challenging task. We rarely get to sit down and reflect on our life story, let alone write it down. Fortunately, Papersowl is here to help make the process smoother and more fulfilling. Our team of skilled writers can assist you in creating a captivating autobiography essay that showcases your life story in the best possible light. With Papersowl, you can rest assured that your unique story will be shared with the world in the most effective and impactful way possible.

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how to start a personal biography essay

Biography Essays: How to Start, Develop, and Finish

Creative young author with curly hair and dark skin dressed casually sitting at cafeteria preparing for writing new article in his newspaper.

Students who have experience in writing biography essays will tell you that it is one of the easiest assignments. You can choose any person as the main character of your biography essay. Sometimes, you do not even have to conduct any additional research.

However, we know that those who have to write biography essays for the first time have many questions about this assignment. Some of them we are ready to answer right now.

How do you start a biography essay?

Begin your biography essay by introducing some general facts about the chosen person. Who is he/she (a pop star, a writer, your relative or friend)? Is this person dead or alive? What is he/she famous for (e.g. “this person received several Grammy awards”)? Or, if this person is not a celebrity, explain why he/she is special to you.

What do you present in the body paragraphs of a biography essay?

Here you may give any details that you think are suitable. However, do not forget that this person’s biography is your focus. Thus, better include the following information in the biography essay:

  • Important dates and events in the life of the person;
  • His/her achievements;
  • Hobbies and interests;

How do you finish biography essays?

Making a summary is a traditional way to finish any essay, and biography essays are not an exception. So, make a summary of the person’s life. If the person is dead, you can also give some info about his/her death. If the person is alive, tell what he/she is doing now, some future goals, etc.

If you still cannot get how to write a biography essay, use free biography essays as examples.

Our articles about essays on Alexander the Great and Martin Luther King Jr. essays can also be helpful.

thank you very much! this helped alot ^^

thank you, this really helped me

thank u soooo much, i would be lost without ur help!!!!

wishing u the best, MILEY

thanks, it would be great if ud post an example of biography. But anyways u helped 🙂

Jun 23, 2023

Biographical Essay Examples: Learn How to Tell a Compelling Life Story in Writing

Explore the art of storytelling through captivating biographical essays. Join us on a journey of discovery as we unveil inspiring examples that teach you how to craft compelling life stories. Step into the world of biography writing and learn how to engage readers with fascinating narratives. Get ready to bring extraordinary lives to life on the page!

The art of storytelling has been an integral part of human culture since the dawn of civilization. It is through stories that we learn about the lives of others, understand different perspectives, and gain insight into the human experience. Biographical essays, in particular, provide a unique opportunity to delve into the life story of an individual and share their journey with readers. In this article, we will explore biographical essay examples and learn how to tell a compelling life story in writing.

A biographical essay is a written account of an individual's life, highlighting their achievements, experiences, and personal characteristics. It can be about historical figures, famous personalities, or even ordinary people who have made a significant impact on the world or those around them. Biographical essays are often used in academic settings to provide insight into a person's life and contributions, but they can also be written for personal, professional, or entertainment purposes.

One of the key elements of a compelling biographical essay is a well-crafted narrative. The narrative structure helps to engage readers and keeps them interested in the story being told. A 

A good biographical essay should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, just like any other story. It should have a strong opening that hooks the reader, a well-paced middle that provides details about the person's life, and a satisfying conclusion that ties everything together.

Essay writing

Writing a biographical essay requires careful planning, research, and storytelling skills to create a compelling narrative that captures the essence of a person's life. Here are some tips to help you craft an engaging biographical essay:

Choose a Fascinating Subject:

The first step in writing a biographical essay is to choose a subject whose life story is intriguing and resonates with your audience. Whether it's a historical figure, a famous personality, or an ordinary person who has made a difference, ensure that your subject has a compelling life story that is worth exploring and sharing.

Conduct Thorough Research:

Research is the foundation of any biographical essay. Conduct in-depth research on your subject, including their background, achievements, challenges, and contributions. Utilize primary and secondary sources, such as biographies, memoirs, interviews, and historical records, to gather accurate and reliable information. This research will provide the basis for your essay and ensure that your writing is well-informed and credible.

Develop a Clear Outline:

Before you start writing, develop a clear outline that organizes your ideas and provides a structure for your essay. Outline the main sections of your essay , such as the introduction, background information, key events or milestones, challenges faced, achievements, and conclusion. This will help you maintain a coherent and organized flow throughout your essay.

Tell a Story:

A biographical essay is not just a collection of facts, but a compelling story that engages the reader. Use storytelling techniques, such as vivid descriptions, dialogues, and anecdotes, to bring your subject's life to life on the page. Focus on key events or moments that shaped your subject's life and highlight their emotions, motivations, and experiences. This will create a personal connection between the reader and your subject, making your essay more engaging and memorable.

Be Objective and Balanced:

While it's important to be inspired by your subject, strive to maintain objectivity and balance in your writing. Present a well-rounded and nuanced view of your subject, including their strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures. Avoid bias or exaggeration, and ensure that your essay is based on factual information and credible sources.

Provide Context:

Provide context for your subject's life story by incorporating relevant historical, social, or cultural information. This will help readers understand the background and circumstances in which your subject lived and provide a deeper understanding of their life and achievements. However, be mindful of not overwhelming your essay with excessive background information, and focus on what is relevant to your subject's story.

Edit and Revise:

Like any other form of writing, editing, and revising are crucial in crafting a compelling biographical essay. After completing your first draft, take the time to review and revise your essay for clarity, coherence, and flow. Check for any factual inaccuracies, grammar, or spelling errors, and ensure that your essay follows a logical structure. Consider seeking feedback from peers or mentors to gain different perspectives and improve your essay.

Show Respect and Empathy:

When writing about someone's life, it's important to show respect and empathy towards your subject. Avoid sensationalism or exploitation of their life story and strive to depict them in a dignified and compassionate manner. Acknowledge their achievements, challenges, and contributions with sincerity and respect, and be mindful of their privacy and personal boundaries.

Be Authentic:

Finally, be authentic in your writing. Share your voice and perspective while staying true to the facts and nuances of your subject's life. Bring your unique perspective and insights to the essay, and strive to make it a genuine reflection of your writing style and personal connection with your subject.

In conclusion, writing a biographical essay requires careful research, storytelling skills, and a respectful

Personal Essay

My Journey: Embracing Life's Adventures

Life is an unpredictable adventure, full of twists and turns that shape who we become. Throughout my journey, I have encountered challenges, triumphs, and everything in between. I have learned that

Resilience and perseverance are crucial in overcoming obstacles, and every experience, whether positive or negative, has valuable lessons to offer. I have also realized the importance of cherishing the present moment and embracing new opportunities with an open heart and mind. Life may be uncertain, but I am determined to make the most of it, explore new horizons, and continually grow and evolve along the way.

Essay Examples

"The Untold Story of Nelson Mandela: From Prisoner to President"

This biographical essay tells the life story of Nelson Mandela, a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. The essay starts with an attention-grabbing opening that introduces the reader to Mandela's imprisonment on Robben Island and the hardships he faced during his time in captivity. It then delves into his early life, education, and activism against apartheid, painting a vivid picture of his journey from prisoner to president. The essay includes anecdotes, quotes, and historical context that provide a well-rounded portrayal of Mandela's life and legacy.

"The Power of Perseverance: The Life of Helen Keller"

This biographical essay tells the remarkable story of Helen Keller, an American author, political activist, and lecturer who was both blind and deaf. The essay begins with an engaging introduction that highlights Keller's disabilities and the challenges she faced from a young age. It then delves into her childhood, her relationship with her teacher Anne Sullivan, and her accomplishments as a writer and social activist. The essay uses vivid descriptions and sensory details to transport the reader into Keller's world and conveys the incredible strength of her character.

"Rising Above Adversity: The Journey of Malala Yousafzai"

This biographical essay tells the inspiring story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and women's rights who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban. The essay begins with a gripping prologue that describes the attack on Malala and sets the stage for her remarkable journey. It then traces her early life, her advocacy for girls' education, and the challenges she faced under the Taliban's rule. The essay includes anecdotes, quotes, and personal reflections that provide a compelling portrayal of Malala's courage and resilience in the face of adversity.

Writing Inspiration

Writing a biographical essay can be an inspiring and fulfilling endeavor. As a writer, you have the unique opportunity to delve into the life story of an individual and share their experiences, achievements, and personal characteristics with readers. Here are some sources of inspiration that can help you find compelling stories for your biographical essay.

Historical Figures:

Throughout history, there have been countless individuals who have made significant contributions to society, shaped the course of events, or left a lasting legacy. From political leaders and innovators to artists and activists, the lives of historical figures are often rich with intriguing stories that can make for compelling biographical essays. You can choose to write about well-known figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Marie Curie, or Leonardo da Vinci, or explore lesser-known figures whose stories deserve to be told.

Famous Personalities:

Celebrities, athletes, musicians, and other famous personalities often have fascinating life stories that can make for compelling biographical essays. These individuals often face unique challenges, overcome obstacles, and achieve remarkable success in their respective fields. Writing about their journey, struggles, and achievements can provide insights into their lives beyond the public persona, and offer readers a glimpse into the realities of fame and fortune.

Ordinary People:

While historical figures and famous personalities may be popular choices for biographical essays, the lives of ordinary people can also be a rich source of inspiration. Everyday individual who have faced adversity, achieved personal milestones, or made a difference in their communities can have compelling life stories that resonate with readers. It could be a family member, a neighbor, a teacher, or someone you have come across in your community whose story has profoundly touched you. Writing about their life can shed light on the power of resilience, determination, and the human spirit.

Personal Experiences:

Another source of inspiration for a biographical essay can be your own experiences. Reflecting on your own life story or the lives of those close to you can provide unique insights and perspectives that can make for a compelling narrative. It could be a story of overcoming challenges, pursuing a passion, or learning from failures and successes. Sharing your personal experiences in a biographical essay can be deeply introspective and provide a genuine connection with your readers.

Researching various topics , events, or historical periods can also lead you to interesting life stories that can inspire your biographical essay. Exploring different eras, cultures, or social movements can uncover fascinating individuals whose stories are worth telling.

Essay Structure

The structure of a biographical essay typically follows a basic essay structure consisting of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. However, there may be slight variations depending on the purpose of the essay and the specific requirements of the assignment.

Here is a breakdown of the typical structure of a biographical essay:

Introduction

The introduction sets the tone for the essay and should grab the reader's attention. It should provide some background information about the subject of the essay and include a thesis statement that summarizes the main point of the essay.

Body paragraphs

The body of the essay contains the main content and should be organized into several paragraphs. Each paragraph should focus on a different aspect of the subject's life or accomplishments, such as childhood, education , career, or personal relationships. It should provide specific details, anecdotes, and examples to support the thesis statement and provide a clear understanding of the subject's life.

The conclusion ties everything together and should restate the thesis statement differently. It should summarize the key points made in the body paragraphs and leave the reader with a lasting impression. The conclusion may also provide some final thoughts or reflections on the subject's life and legacy.

Famous Personality

Allama Iqbal: A Visionary Poet and Philosopher

Allama Iqbal, also known as Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, was a prominent poet, philosopher, and politician who is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers in the history of modern South Asia. Born on November 9, 1877, in Sialkot, a city in present-day Pakistan, Iqbal grew up in a devout Muslim family and was deeply influenced by the teachings of Islam from a young age.

Iqbal's early education took place in Sialkot, and he later went to Lahore, where he completed his Bachelor's degree from Government College. He then traveled to England to pursue higher education, where he obtained a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Cambridge University and later completed his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Munich University in Germany. During his time in Europe, Iqbal was exposed to various intellectual and philosophical ideas, which would later shape his worldview and contribute to his renowned poetry and philosophical writings.

One of Iqbal's most significant contributions was his poetry, which is known for its rich imagery, deep philosophical insights, and powerful messages of spiritual awakening and social reform. Iqbal's poetry was deeply rooted in his love for Islam and his longing for the revival of Islamic values and principles in the face of colonialism, social injustices, and moral decay.

In his poetry, Iqbal emphasized the importance of self-realization, self-respect, and self-reliance, and called for Muslims to rise above their individual and societal challenges and strive for excellence. He actively participated in the struggle for the rights of Muslims in British India and advocated for the establishment of an independent Muslim state. Iqbal's famous Allahabad Address in 1930, where he proposed the idea of a separate Muslim state in the Indian subcontinent, laid the foundation for the creation of Pakistan as an independent nation for Muslims in 1947.

Despite his remarkable contributions, Iqbal's life was not without challenges. He faced criticism, opposition, and personal setbacks during his lifetime, but his unwavering commitment to his beliefs and his passion for serving humanity remained unshakable

Life Stories

Throughout history, countless individuals have left indelible marks on the world through their remarkable lives. From visionaries and leaders to artists and activists, their stories inspire and captivate us, showcasing the boundless potential of the human spirit. Here are three compelling biographical stories of individuals whose lives have had a lasting impact on society.

Nelson Mandela: The Courageous Anti-Apartheid Activist

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born on July 18, 1918, in a small village in South Africa, grew up witnessing the oppressive system of apartheid, which enforced racial segregation and discrimination. As a young man, Mandela became a vocal advocate for the rights of Black South Africans and joined the African National Congress (ANC) to fight against apartheid.

Mandela's activism and resistance against the apartheid regime led to his imprisonment for 27 years, during which he became an international symbol of the anti-apartheid movement. Despite the harsh conditions of imprisonment, Mandela remained steadfast in his beliefs and never wavered in his pursuit of justice and equality.

After his release from prison in 1990, Mandela continued his fight against apartheid and worked toward reconciliation and unity among all racial groups in South Africa. In 1994, he became the country's first Black president through the first fully democratic elections, and he served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Mandela's leadership and unwavering commitment to justice and equality continue to inspire people around the world, making him an iconic figure in the fight against oppression.

Frida Kahlo: The Resilient Mexican Artist

Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon, known as Frida Kahlo, was born on July 6, 1907, in Mexico City, Mexico. She is widely regarded as one of the most prominent and influential artists of the 20th century, known for her surrealist and vibrant self-portraits that conveyed her physical and emotional pain.

Kahlo's life was marked by immense physical and emotional challenges. At the age of 18, she was involved in a devastating bus accident that left her with severe injuries, including a broken spine and pelvis. She endured numerous surgeries and spent months in bed recovering, during which she turned to painting as a means of expressing her emotions and experiences.

Kahlo's art was deeply personal and often depicted her physical and emotional pain, her Mexican heritage, and her feminist ideologies. Her paintings often featured vivid colors, surreal elements, and symbolic imagery, which earned her international recognition and acclaim.

Despite her physical challenges, Kahlo's resilience and determination to pursue her passion for art never wavered. She continued to paint and create despite her chronic pain and multiple health issues, and her art continues to captivate and inspire audiences around the world to this day.

Malala Yousafzai: The Fearless Education Activist

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Swat District, Pakistan. From a young age, Malala was a passionate advocate for education and girls' rights in her native Swat Valley, where the Taliban had enforced a ban on girls' education.

At the age of 11, Malala began writing a blog for BBC Urdu under a pseudonym, where she documented her life under Taliban rule and her determination to fight for education. Her activism gained international attention, and she became a prominent voice for girls' education worldwide.

Embarking on the journey of life, we encounter a tapestry of experiences that shape who we are and add depth to our existence. From overcoming obstacles and celebrating growth to embracing new opportunities, we come to appreciate the captivating unpredictability of life's adventures. Each of us holds a unique journey, filled with invaluable lessons and cherished memories that fuel personal development. 

When it comes to writing biographical essays, tools like Jenni.ai can be a game-changer. With its AI-powered features, Jenni.ai offers invaluable assistance in developing strong thesis statements, and helping you produce high-quality articles. By leveraging this, you can save time and energy while producing exceptional work. 

Embrace the art of writing biographical essays, and unlock new avenues of academic and professional success by following the steps outlined in this article and harnessing the power of Jenni.ai. Seize the opportunity to become a skilled essay writer by signing up for Jenni.ai today , and embark on a transformative journey towards achieving your writing goals!

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15 personal bio examples that are fun, creative, and get the job done.

Struggling to write about yourself? These personal bio examples show how you can talk about your professional and personal life in a creative, engaging way.

Published on Nov 27, 2022

By Austin Distel

how to start a personal biography essay

Personal bios can be hard to write. Waxing lyrical about yourself can be uncomfortable, especially in the context of professional achievements and amazing things you’ve done.

But, in a world where we’re often separated from other humans via a screen, your personal bio is one of the easiest ways for a company, colleague, or a potential lead to learn more about you.

‍ If you don’t know what to include or how to get started, we’ve pulled together some personal bio examples that showcase a handful of creative and engaging ways to present yourself on your social media accounts, your personal website, and on any bylined articles you write outside of your site. 

We also provide some cool personal bio generator templates from our AI marketing platform , Jasper. Now you won’t have to scramble around at the last minute to come up with a short bio of yourself when you’re suddenly asked to send one over via email!

The business case for personal bios: why you should write one

You might wonder what the big deal is—it’s just a bio, right? Do people even read them? The answer is actually, yes; they do. Personal bios can be a great way to find out more about the person behind a website or an article. This helps establish a connection and encourages readers to relate to you. 

The thing is, you might not think a lot of people care about where you went to school or what you like to do in your spare time, but you just don’t know who’s reading your professional bio.

It might be a hotshot manager for your dream company who also loves to spend their weekends kayaking the coast. Or it might be the marketer for a well-known brand looking for a writer .

Learning little nuggets of information about you can put you ahead of other candidates they’re researching or other freelancers they’re in talks with. It could be the difference between getting that contract and not. 

What’s the difference between a personal bio and a resume?

Your resume is a list of your professional roles. Your personal bio digs deeper than this and gives readers an insight into things like: 

  • Your interests outside of work
  • Your backstory
  • What gets you up in the morning 
  • Your passions and values 
  • Your goals 

Understanding this information can help them see if you’d be a good fit, or if you have the personal qualities they’re looking for in someone they want to work with. This information also helps you connect better with like-minded people.

Say, for example, you’re scrolling through Twitter, see a fun Tweet, and click on the person’s bio only to find out they also run 5km every evening and are passionate about addressing climate change. Chances are, you’re going to want to connect with them. 

How to write a personal bio

Before we share some creative bio examples, let’s take a look at what your personal biography should include. Bear in mind that this will vary depending on what platform you’re posting it on (platforms like Twitter and Instagram have a limited word count).

However, you can have a “master” bio that you pull snippets from for other platforms. Not only does this keep your messaging cohesive across platforms, but it makes it easy to get a bio together at short notice because you already have all the information you need written down. 

What to include in a bio on your site

For this ‌exercise, let’s focus on what you need to include in a personal bio on your website. This will be your “master” bio as it’ll probably be the longest and go into the most detail.

People who are poking around on your website have already shown an interest in who you are and what you do, so they’re more likely to stick around and read a longer bio. Here’s what you should include:

  • Your name: obviously, you need to state your name. Most people choose to include their full name, including surname, at the start of their bio. However, if your website URL or personal brand is already your full name, you can shorten it to just your first name. 
  • Your position: your current position and the tasks you’re responsible for should get a mention. This is particularly important if you’re looking for jobs or are writing a bio for a networking platform like LinkedIn. 
  • Your work experience: mention any key roles you’ve held in the past and how you got to where you are today. Stories like this show readers your journey and give an insight into your specialisms and professional skills. 
  • What you do and who you do it for: kind of like stating your “niche”, talking about what exactly it is you do (like graphic design or paid ad campaigns), and who you do it for (like finance companies or busy e-commerce owners) can help readers identify if you’re a good fit. 
  • What you do outside of work: personal bios should be more personal than a resume or professional bio and should therefore include personal details about what you like to do when you’re not working. Do you frequent pop-up restaurants? Attend dog shows with your puppy? Rock climb in the mountains? 
  • Professional accomplishments: talk about what you’ve achieved both at work and outside of work. This gives readers an idea about the things you value and what you might be able to achieve for them (it’s also a great talking point for people who want to reach out). 
  • Personal story: share a personal, creative story to add a splash of personality. It can be anything from the disastrous first birthday party you held for your daughter to the time you were taken in by a local family after getting lost in Mongolia. Don't forget to add a custom image !

How often should you refresh your personal bio? 

The life you live now isn’t the same life you were living ten, five, or even two years ago. Your personal bio should reflect your current situation, which means it’ll probably need to be regularly updated.

If you’re not sure about when to give it a refresh, consider:

  • When you land a new job 
  • When you achieve a big milestone (either at work or in your personal life)
  • When your old one doesn’t have the same ring to it 

Schedule time every few months to go back over your personal bio and see if everything is still true and up-to-date. 

Where to display your personal bio 

Your personal bio can be displayed anywhere that you might want people to find out more about you. Often, this will be places like social media, your website, guest post bylines, or your speaker profile, but you can also include it in other marketing materials like flyers for events you’re hosting or the blurb for your latest ebook. 

  • Twitter: cramming a personal bio into 160 characters can be hard, but it can also be a great lesson in identifying what information matters the most. Use up as many of the characters as you can, and use them wisely..
  • LinkedIn: the summary section of your LinkedIn profile gives you up to 2,000 characters to use. This is the ideal place to share your “master” bio.
  • Instagram: at 150 characters, you have just a few words to explain who you are and what you do on Instagram—use them wisely.
  • Personal website: people who land on your website are already interested in you—share your “master” bio here in all its glory. 
  • Guest posts: bylined articles need a couple of sentences about the author. Make it engaging to encourage readers to click through to your site or remember your name. 
  • Speaker profile: if you speak at events or conferences, you’ll need a short but sweet speaker bio that gets attendees interested in your session.

Get inspired: fun personal bio examples 

#1 twitter bio example: sally fox.

Sally Fox Twitter Bio

Sally includes what she does and who she does it for, as well as a humorous bit of information about her and her contact information—all within Twitter’s 160 character limit.

#2 Twitter bio example: Kash Bhattacharya

Kash Bhattacharya Twitter Bio

Kash showcases his accomplishments as well as a bit of backstory about what he’s doing and how long he’s been doing it.

#3 Twitter bio example: Jay Acunzo

Jay Acunzo Twitter Bio

Jay shares his mission in his Twitter bio, as well as what he’s best known for.

#4 Pinterest bio example: Grey & Scout

Grey & Scout Pinterest Bio

Liz of Grey & Scout introduces herself and tells her followers what they can expect to see from her—not an easy feat with such a limited word count.

#5 Guest post bio example: Justin Champion

Justin Champion Guest Post Bio

In this guest author byline, Justin uses the third person to introduce who he is and what he does, as well as share his goal with readers.

#6 LinkedIn bio example: Katrina Ortiz

Katrina Ortiz LinkedIn Bio

Katrina uses her LinkedIn bio to tell a story. Readers are hooked from the first sentence, but she also gives key insights into her specialties and achievements. 

#7 LinkedIn bio example: Karen Abbate

Karen Abbate LinkedIn Bio

Karen does things a bit differently with her LinkedIn summary and lists out key things readers might want to know about her and her career. 

#8 LinkedIn bio example: Katie Clancy

Katie Clancy LinkedIn Bio

Katie starts her LinkedIn bio with an analogy that serves to hook readers from the start. From there, she branches out into how it relates to her profession, as well as her key achievements and career highlights.

#9 Personal website bio example: Dave Harland

Dave Harland About Page Bio

Dave Harland’s About Page shares the story of how he got into writing‌. At the end, he highlights his experience and why this story has helped him become a go-to copywriter.

#10 Personal website bio example: Gummi Sig

Gummi Sig About Page Bio

Gummi Sig begins his bio in the third person before diving into first-person storytelling mode. Perhaps the best part about this personal bio is the call to action at the end that encourages potential leads to get in touch.

#11 Personal website bio example: Leigh Whipday

Leigh Whipday About Page Bio

Leigh Whipday of Toy Fight has a short professional bio on the website. It includes both his professional achievements as well as insights about his life outside of work to attract his target audience.

#12 Personal website bio example: Blake Fili Suarez

Blake Suarez About Page Bio

Blake includes both a short and a long version of his bio so that readers can choose the best option for them. Both include what he does as well as personal anecdotes about his life and business.

Create your own with the Jasper personal bio template

Jarvis Personal Bio Template

# 13 Personal website bio example: Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore Personal Bio

Besides a short professional bio that’s more focused on her work, Kaleigh Moore also has a personal bio on her site. It goes into detail about her first e-commerce business and how it led her into writing for the biggest names in e-commerce. It also shares some fun facts and photos of Kaleigh.

#14 Instagram bio example: Carlos Gil

Carlos Gil Personal Instagram Bio

Carlos Gil does a good job of using limited space wisely, mentioning accomplishments, what he does and for who, as well as what he’s working on.  

#15 Instagram bio example: Samantha Anderl

Samantha Anderl Personal Instagram Bio

Co-founder of Harlow, Samantha Anderl, uses her personal Instagram bio not only to promote the company but also to give some insight into her personality. As this bio shows, a little humor can go a long way in attracting like-minded people to both you and your business.

Struggling with a blank page? Not sure which words to put down first? Overwhelmed by all the great professional bio examples out there and have now got writer’s paralysis? That's where an AI writing assistant can come in handy. Jasper’s personal bio template, in particular, can save the day. 

Simply plug in a few key pieces of information about yourself (use the list we mentioned above as a starting point) and choose the tone of voice you want to portray . Jasper will then work its AI magic and create a collection of personal bios you can tweak or use as they are. For example, here’s the start of a short bio for Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs. 

Jasper Personal Bio Template

Jasper can create well-written, engaging bios for anyone in any role, as long as you provide the right info. For instance, besides setting the point of view and tone, we gave Jasper some basic details, including a fictional name, role, and location for a Senior Product Marketing Manager. 

As you can see from the bio options below, Jasper added emotion and personality to the details we gave. And he even added missing details such as past companies and years of experience, which we could easily swap out for factual details when writing a bio for a real person. 

Jasper Personal Bio Template For Marketing Manager

We provided similar details for the bio of a fictional social media marketer, feeding Jasper info on specialties, previous roles, and hobbies. This time in the third person, Jasper added flair to our inputs, as well as some additional details that could be verified or swapped out, such as Luisa being from Columbia. 

Jasper Personal Bio Template For Social Media Manager

Any of Jasper’s outputs could be combined, edited, or expanded in minutes to create a polished bio that showcases your areas of expertise, your professional goals, and your personality. Writing about yourself doesn’t have to be hard!

Also related: the Jasper company bio template

Companies can also make use of Jasper’s bio templates with the company bio template. Again, just input some key facts about your business, and— voila! —Jasper will create a fun and creative bio you can use wherever you like. 

Create your punchy personal bio today

Never again be asked to send over a personal bio “on the fly”. Instead, create a “master” bio that can be chopped up into engaging chunks and shared on your chosen promotional platforms.

Include key information about your job title, achievements, and what exactly it is you do, as well as personal anecdotes, your interests, and how you spend your spare time.

Your personal bio is a chance to connect with potential clients, hiring managers, and like-minded colleagues, so take the time to write one that really presents you as you want to be presented.

‍ Start a free trial to create your Personal Bio using Jasper today.

Meet The Author:

Austin Distel

Austin Distel

Austin Distel is the Sr. Director of Marketing at Jasper , your AI creative assistant. He's also an Airbnb superhost in Austin, Texas. You can follow Austin's adventures around the internet and the world at distel.com .

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How To Write A Biography Essay

Table of Contents

How to Write a Biography Essay (Writing Guide)

How to start a biography essay.

  • How to write body for a biography essay
  • How to conclude a biography essay
  • Outline example

A biography is a short but elaborate description of a selected person’s life. It details and follows one’s journey from birth to the present time. An effective biography will be brief but it will also capture the most important aspects and experiences of one’s entire life. It is necessary for the biography writer to acknowledge whose life the biography is about, in the introductory part of the paper. The thesis statement will usually be in the introduction, and will summarize the individual’s ‘big picture’ and most important aspects of his or her life.

A biography is often not always about oneself. It can be about someone else. In the latter case, one needs to gather enough data about the person whose biography is to be written. Such data can come from newspapers, internet articles, existing biographies, autobiographies, and government documents other sources. Interviewing the person’s family members, friends, and can also be critical sources of information. Once one has already established sources, he can now settle down and summarize the information in an interesting manner, in an essay form.

How to write body paragraphs for a biography essay

The body paragraphs of the essay must capture four key elements relating to the individual. First, the chronological experiences of events in his or her life are arranged in a timeline. Each significant event in the person’s life will be highlighted in an interesting manner. Not all events will be highlighted but the key aspects must be pointed out including the date and place of birth, the names of parents, siblings and close friends. Additionally, the Alma Mata will also be noted, among many other critical elements touching on early life.

One of the other important parts that must be included in a biography is the subject’s work or career progress. If the subject’s life is closely connected to their career, the writer can break up the biography into sections such that the various job positions are clearly identified. An individual who has worked in many senior positions will imply a long and detailed description of such positions and the periods for which each of such positions were occupied.

It is of utmost importance, when writing a biography, to indicate one or two features that make the person to stand out, or interesting. A comedian for instance, will be noted for his or her comic skills. A politician, a law enforcer, a teacher, a polite individual, gambler, dictator, an activist, artist, irresponsible person, entrepreneur, a daredevil among others will be identified as such. An individual can be identified as being special by their profession, character, or contribution to society in various ways.

The accomplishments must also be outlined. The biographical events touching on major accomplishments such as academic, sports, career accomplishments, among others have to be arranged in such a way that they follow and mirror each other. For instance, the writer can recognize the subject’s accomplishments by age 15, then by 30, by age 40 and so on. This has to be arranged systematically and the accomplishments must be linked to how the person’s current life is. If the person is already dead, the roles that his or her accomplishments played in the person’s later life have to be identified.

It is often a good practice when writing a biography to include flashbacks in the subject’s life. If one has noted, in the timeline that the subject excelled at college games or became a prominent professor, it is important to link this to the person’s earlier sporting or academic performance at high school or elementary level. For example, if he became a professional footballer, one must connect this with the fact that the subject previously took active part in games at high school level, as a games captain or such other notable achievements.

Furthermore, any event that changed the person’s life in one way or the other must be noted. In some instances, the subject overcame obstacles such as coming from a poor family but ending up being wealthy, such as Oprah Winfrey, or being born with major disability such as Nick Vujicic but overcoming such disability to become an influential motivational speaker and entrepreneur. Other individuals took big risks or gambles which transformed their lives. This, too, has to be noted in the biography.

How to conclude a biography essay

In conclusion, a good biography essay will brief detail the events and experiences in a person’s life. Such details need to be detailed as a narration and in prose form. Any quotes used in the biography, such as interviews, must be cited appropriately. From the information contained in the body of the biography, it should be possible to draw conclusion on whether the world would be a better or worse place if the person had not been alive. A candid biography of Adolf Hitler, for instance, will likely conclude that the world would have been a better place without him. On the other hand, a biography on Nelson Mandela, Neil Armstrong, The Wright Brothers, among other notables would point to their great role and positive contribution to society.

Outline example for a biography essay about yourself

Introduction  – identification of the person whose biography is to be written.

  • Chronology of key events
  • Accomplishments
  • Events that changed the person’s life
  • Why the person is special or interesting

Conclusion – how the world benefited from the person.

how to start a personal biography essay

Literacy Ideas

How to Write a Biography

how to start a personal biography essay

Biographies are big business. Whether in book form or Hollywood biopics, the lives of the famous and sometimes not-so-famous fascinate us.

While it’s true that most biographies are about people who are in the public eye, sometimes the subject is less well-known. Mostly though, famous or not, the person who is written about has led a life that is in some way incredible.

While your students will most likely have a basic understanding of a biography, it’s worth taking a little time before they put pen to paper to tease out a crystal clear definition of a biography.

Visual Writing Prompts

What Is a Biography?

how to write a biography | how to start an autobiography | How to Write a Biography | literacyideas.com

Simply put, a biography is an account of someone’s life written by someone else . While there is a genre known as a fictional biography, for the most part, biographies are, by definition, nonfiction.

Generally speaking, biographies provide an account of the subject’s life from the earliest days of their childhood right up to the present day or their death if the subject is deceased.

The job of a biography is more than just to outline the bare facts of a person’s life.

Rather than just listing the basic details of their upbringing, hobbies, education, work, relationships, and death, a well-written biography should also paint a picture of the subject’s personality, and as well as their experience of life.

A COMPLETE UNIT ON TEACHING BIOGRAPHY WRITING IN 2022

how to write a biography | biography and autobiography writing unit 1 | How to Write a Biography | literacyideas.com

Teach your students to write AMAZING BIOGRAPHIES & AUTOBIOGRAPHIES using proven RESEARCH SKILLS and WRITING STRATEGIES covering.

  • Understanding the purpose of both forms of biography.
  • Exploring the language and perspective of both.
  • Prompts and Challenges to engage students in writing a biography.
  • Dedicated lessons for both forms of biography.
  • Biographical Projects can expand students’ understanding of reading and writing a biography.
  • A COMPLETE 82-PAGE UNIT – NO PREPARATION REQUIRED.

What Are the Main Features of a Biography?

Before students begin writing a biography, they’ll need to have a firm grasp of the main features of the genre. A good way to determine how well they understand these essential elements of the genre is by asking them to compile a checklist.

At a minimum, their checklists should contain the items below. Be sure to help them fill in any gaps before moving on to the writing process.

The purpose of a biography is to provide an account of someone’s life.

Biography structure.

ORIENTATION (BEGINNING) Open your biography with a strong hook to grab the reader’s attention

SEQUENCING: In most cases, biographies are written in chronological order unless you are a very competent writer consciously trying to break from this trend.

COVER: childhood, upbringing, education, influences, accomplishments, relationships, etc. – everything that helps the reader to understand the person.

CONCLUSION: Wrap your biography up with some details about what the subject is doing now if they are still alive. If they have passed away, make mention of what impact they have made and what their legacy is or will be.

BIOGRAPHY FEATURES

LANGUAGE Use descriptive and figurative language that will paint images inside your audience’s minds as they read. Use time connectives to link events.

PERSPECTIVE Biographies are written from the third person’s perspective.

DETAILS: Give specific details about people, places, events, times, dates, etc. Reflect on how events shaped the subject. You might want to include some relevant photographs with captions. A timeline may also be of use depending upon your subject and what you are trying to convey to your audience.

TENSE Written in the past tense (though ending may shift to the present/future tense)

THE PROCESS OF WRITING A BIOGRAPHY

Like any form of writing, you will find it simple if you have a plan and follow it through. These steps will ensure you cover the essential bases of writing a biography essay.

Firstly, select a subject that inspires you. Someone whose life story resonates with you and whose contribution to society intrigues you. The next step is to conduct thorough research. Engage in extensive reading, explore various sources, watch documentaries, and glean all available information to provide a comprehensive account of the person’s life.

Creating an outline is essential to organize your thoughts and information. The outline should include the person’s early life, education, career, achievements, and any other significant events or contributions. It serves as a map for the writing process, ensuring that all vital information is included.

Your biography should have an engaging introduction that captivates the reader’s attention and provides background information on the person you’re writing about. It should include a thesis statement that summarizes the main points of the biography.

Writing a biography in chronological order is crucial . You should begin with the person’s early life and move through their career and achievements. This approach provides clarity on how the person’s life unfolded and how they accomplished their goals.

A biography should be written in a narrative style , capturing the essence of the person’s life through vivid descriptions, anecdotes, and quotes. Avoid dry, factual writing and focus on creating a compelling narrative that engages the reader.

Adding personal insights and opinions can enhance the biography’s overall impact, providing a unique perspective on the person’s achievements, legacy, and impact on society.

Editing and proofreading are vital elements of the writing process. Thoroughly reviewing your biography ensures that the writing is clear, concise, and free of errors. You can even request feedback from someone else to ensure that it is engaging and well-written.

Finally, including a bibliography at the end of your biography is essential. It gives credit to the sources that were used during research, such as books, articles, interviews, and websites.

Tips for Writing a Brilliant Biography

Biography writing tip #1: choose your subject wisely.

There are several points for students to reflect on when deciding on a subject for their biography. Let’s take a look at the most essential points to consider when deciding on the subject for a biography:

Interest: To produce a biography will require sustained writing from the student. That’s why students must choose their subject well. After all, a biography is an account of someone’s entire life to date. Students must ensure they choose a subject that will sustain their interest throughout the research, writing, and editing processes.

Merit: Closely related to the previous point, students must consider whether the subject merits the reader’s interest. Aside from pure labors of love, writing should be undertaken with the reader in mind. While producing a biography demands sustained writing from the author, it also demands sustained reading from the reader.

Therefore, students should ask themselves if their chosen subject has had a life worthy of the reader’s interest and the time they’d need to invest in reading their biography.

Information: Is there enough information available on the subject to fuel the writing of an entire biography? While it might be a tempting idea to write about a great-great-grandfather’s experience in the war. There would be enough interest there to sustain the author’s and the reader’s interest, but do you have enough access to information about their early childhood to do the subject justice in the form of a biography?

Biography Writing Tip #2: R esearch ! Research! Research!

While the chances are good that the student already knows quite a bit about the subject they’ve chosen. Chances are 100% that they’ll still need to undertake considerable research to write their biography.

As with many types of writing , research is an essential part of the planning process that shouldn’t be overlooked. If a student wishes to give as complete an account of their subject’s life as possible, they’ll need to put in the time at the research stage.

An effective way to approach the research process is to:

1. Compile a chronological timeline of the central facts, dates, and events of the subject’s life

2. Compile detailed descriptions of the following personal traits:

  •      Physical looks
  •      Character traits
  •      Values and beliefs

3. Compile some research questions based on different topics to provide a focus for the research:

  • Childhood : Where and when were they born? Who were their parents? Who were the other family members? What education did they receive?
  • Obstacles: What challenges did they have to overcome? How did these challenges shape them as individuals?
  • Legacy: What impact did this person have on the world and/or the people around them?
  • Dialogue & Quotes: Dialogue and quotations by and about the subject are a great way to bring color and life to a biography. Students should keep an eagle eye out for the gems that hide amid their sources.

As the student gets deeper into their research, new questions will arise that can further fuel the research process and help to shape the direction the biography will ultimately go in.

Likewise, during the research, themes will often begin to suggest themselves. Exploring these themes is essential to bring depth to biography, but we’ll discuss this later in this article.

Research Skills:

Researching for biography writing is an excellent way for students to hone their research skills in general. Developing good research skills is essential for future academic success. Students will have opportunities to learn how to:

  • Gather relevant information
  • Evaluate different information sources
  • Select suitable information
  • Organize information into a text.

Students will have access to print and online information sources, and, in some cases, they may also have access to people who knew or know the subject (e.g. biography of a family member).

These days, much of the research will likely take place online. It’s crucial, therefore, to provide your students with guidance on how to use the internet safely and evaluate online sources for reliability. This is the era of ‘ fake news ’ and misinformation after all!

COMPLETE TEACHING UNIT ON INTERNET RESEARCH SKILLS USING GOOGLE SEARCH

how to write a biography | research skills 1 | How to Write a Biography | literacyideas.com

Teach your students ESSENTIAL SKILLS OF THE INFORMATION ERA to become expert DIGITAL RESEARCHERS.

⭐How to correctly ask questions to search engines on all devices.

⭐ How to filter and refine your results to find exactly what you want every time.

⭐ Essential Research and critical thinking skills for students.

⭐ Plagiarism, Citing and acknowledging other people’s work.

⭐ How to query, synthesize and record your findings logically.

BIOGRAPHY WRITING Tip #3: Find Your Themes In Biography Writing

Though predominantly a nonfiction genre, the story still plays a significant role in good biography writing. The skills of characterization and plot structuring are transferable here. And, just like in fiction, exploring themes in a biographical work helps connect the personal to the universal. Of course, these shouldn’t be forced; this will make the work seem contrived, and the reader may lose faith in the truthfulness of the account. A biographer needs to gain and maintain the trust of the reader.

Fortunately, themes shouldn’t need to be forced. A life well-lived is full of meaning, and the themes the student writer is looking for will emerge effortlessly from the actions and events of the subject’s life. It’s just a case of learning how to spot them.

One way to identify the themes in a life is to look for recurring events or situations in a person’s life. These should be apparent from the research completed previously. The students should seek to identify these patterns that emerge in the subject’s life. For example, perhaps they’ve had to overcome various obstacles throughout different periods of their life. In that case, the theme of overcoming adversity is present and has been identified.

Usually, a biography has several themes running throughout, so be sure your students work to identify more than one theme in their subject’s life.

BIOGRAPHY WRITING Tip: #4 Put Something of Yourself into the Writing

While the defining feature of a biography is that it gives an account of a person’s life, students must understand that this is not all a biography does. Relating the facts and details of a subject’s life is not enough. The student biographer should not be afraid to share their thoughts and feelings with the reader throughout their account of their subject’s life.

The student can weave some of their personality into the fabric of the text by providing commentary and opinion as they relate the events of the person’s life and the wider social context at the time. Unlike the detached and objective approach we’d expect to find in a history textbook, in a biography, student-writers should communicate their enthusiasm for their subject in their writing.

This makes for a more intimate experience for the reader, as they get a sense of getting to know the author and the subject they are writing about.

how to write a biography | LITERACY IDEAS FRONT PAGE 1 | How to Write a Biography | literacyideas.com

Teaching Resources

Use our resources and tools to improve your student’s writing skills through proven teaching strategies.

BIOGRAPHY WRITING TEACHING IDEAS AND LESSONS

We have put together a sequence of biography-related lessons or teaching ideas that you can follow as you please. They are straightforward enough for most students to follow without further instruction.

BIOGRAPHY LESSON IDEA # 1:

This session aims to give students a broader understanding of what makes a good biography.

Once your students have compiled a comprehensive checklist of the main features of a biography, allow them to use it to assess some biographies from your school library or on the internet using the feature checklist.

When students have assessed a selection of biographies, take some time as a class to discuss them. You can base the discussion around the following prompts:

  • Which biographies covered all the criteria from their checklist?
  • Which biographies didn’t?
  • Which biography was the most readable in terms of structure?
  • Which biography do you think was the least well structured? How would you improve this?

Looking at how other writers have interpreted the form will help students internalize the necessary criteria before attempting to produce a biography. Once students have a clear understanding of the main features of the biography, they’re ready to begin work on writing a biography.

When the time does come to put pen to paper, be sure they’re armed with the following top tips to help ensure they’re as well prepared as possible.

BIOGRAPHY LESSON IDEA # 2:

This session aims to guide students through the process of selecting the perfect biography subject.

Instruct students to draw up a shortlist of three potential subjects for the biography they’ll write.

Using the three criteria mentioned in the writing guide (Interest, Merit, and Information), students award each potential subject a mark out of 5 for each of the criteria. In this manner, students can select the most suitable subject for their biography.

BIOGRAPHY LESSON IDEA # 3:

This session aims to get students into the researching phase and then prioritise events and organise them chronologically.

Students begin by making a timeline of their subject’s life, starting with their birth and ending with their death or the present day. If the student has yet to make a final decision on the subject of their biography, a family member will often serve well for this exercise as a practice exercise.

Students should research and gather the key events of the person’s life, covering each period of their life from when they were a baby, through childhood and adolescence, right up to adulthood and old age. They should then organize these onto a timeline. Students can include photographs with captions if they have them.

They can present these to the class when they have finished their timelines.

BIOGRAPHY LESSON IDEA # 4:

Instruct students to look over their timeline, notes, and other research. Challenge them to identify three patterns that repeat throughout the subject’s life and sort all the related events and incidents into specific categories.

Students should then label each category with a single word. This is the thematic concept or the broad general underlying idea. After that, students should write a sentence or two expressing what the subject’s life ‘says’ about that concept.

This is known as the thematic statement . With the thematic concepts and thematic statements identified, the student now has some substantial ideas to explore that will help bring more profound meaning and wider resonance to their biography.

BIOGRAPHY LESSON IDEA # 5:

Instruct students to write a short objective account of an event in their own life. They can write about anyone from their past. It needn’t be more than a couple of paragraphs, but the writing should be strictly factual, focusing only on the objective details of what happened.

Once they have completed this, it’s time to rewrite the paragraph, but they should include some opinion and personal commentary this time.

The student here aims to inject some color and personality into their writing, to transform a detached, factual account into a warm, engaging story.

WRITING CHECKLIST & RUBRIC BUNDLE

how to write a biography | WRITING CHECKLISTS | How to Write a Biography | literacyideas.com

To Conclude

By this stage, your students should have an excellent technical overview of a biography’s essential elements.

They should be able to choose their subject in light of how interesting and worthy they are, as well as give consideration to the availability of information out there. They should be able to research effectively and identify emerging themes in their research notes. And finally, they should be able to bring some of their personality and uniqueness into their retelling of the life of another.

Remember that writing a biography is not only a great way to develop a student’s writing skills; it can be used in almost all curriculum areas. For example, to find out more about a historical figure in History, to investigate scientific contributions to Science, or to celebrate a hero from everyday life.

Biography is an excellent genre for students to develop their writing skills and to find inspiration in the lives of others in the world around them.

HOW TO WRITE A BIOGRAPHY TUTORIAL VIDEO

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OTHER GREAT ARTICLES RELATED TO BIOGRAPHY WRITING

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15 Awesome Recount & Personal Narrative Topics

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Personal Narrative Writing Guide

The content for this page has been written by Shane Mac Donnchaidh.  A former principal of an international school and English university lecturer with 15 years of teaching and administration experience. Shane’s latest Book, The Complete Guide to Nonfiction Writing , can be found here.  Editing and support for this article have been provided by the literacyideas team.

how to start a personal biography essay

Explore our Teaching Unit on BIOGRAPHY WRITING

IMAGES

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VIDEO

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