The Biography Portal
A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person's experience of these life events. Unlike a profile or curriculum vitae (résumé), a biography presents a subject's life story, highlighting various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experience, and may include an analysis of the subject's personality.
Biographical works are usually non-fiction, but fiction can also be used to portray a person's life. One in-depth form of biographical coverage is called legacy writing. Works in diverse media, from literature to film, form the genre known as biography.
An authorized biography is written with the permission, cooperation, and at times, participation of a subject or a subject's heirs. An autobiography is written by the person himself or herself, sometimes with the assistance of a collaborator or ghostwriter.
Selected biographies -
Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet
, GCB, PRS
(24 February [O.S.
13 February] 1743 – 19 June 1820) was an English naturalist
, and patron
of the natural sciences
Banks made his name on the 1766 natural-history expedition to Newfoundland and Labrador
. He took part in Captain James Cook
's first great voyage
(1768–1771), visiting Brazil, Tahiti, and after 6 months in New Zealand, Australia, returning to immediate fame. He held the position of president of the Royal Society
for over 41 years. He advised King George III on the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
, and by sending botanists around the world to collect plants, he made Kew the world's leading botanical gardens
. He is credited for bringing 30,000 plant specimens home with him; amongst them, he discovered 1,400. Read more...
Daguerre around 1844
(; French: [dagɛʁ]
; 18 November 1787 – 10 July 1851), better known as Louis Daguerre
, was a French artist and photographer, recognized for his invention of the daguerreotype
process of photography. He became known as one of the fathers of photography. Though he is most famous for his contributions to photography, he was also an accomplished painter and a developer of the diorama
theatre. Read more...
Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten OM CH
(22 November 1913 – 4 December 1976) was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes
(1945), the War Requiem
(1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra
Born in Lowestoft
, the son of a dentist, Britten showed talent from an early age. He studied at the Royal College of Music
in London and privately with the composer Frank Bridge
. Britten first came to public attention with the a cappella
choral work A Boy was Born
in 1934. With the premiere of Peter Grimes
in 1945, he leapt to international fame. Over the next 28 years, he wrote 14 more operas, establishing himself as one of the leading 20th-century composers in the genre. In addition to large-scale operas for Sadler's Wells
and Covent Garden
, he wrote "chamber operas" for small forces, suitable for performance in venues of modest size. Among the best known of these is The Turn of the Screw
(1954). Recurring themes in his operas include the struggle of an outsider against a hostile society and the corruption of innocence. Read more...
(born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr.
; April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984) was an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. He helped to shape the sound of Motown
in the 1960s, first as an in-house session player and later as a solo artist with a string of hits, earning him the nicknames
"Prince of Motown" and "Prince of Soul".
Gaye's Motown hits include "Ain't That Peculiar
", "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
", and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine
", and duet recordings with Mary Wells
, Kim Weston
, Diana Ross
, and Tammi Terrell
. During the 1970s, he recorded the albums What's Going On
and Let's Get It On
and became one of the first artists in Motown, along with Stevie Wonder
, to break away from the reins of a production company. His later recordings influenced several contemporary R&B subgenres
, such as quiet storm
and neo soul
. Following a period in Europe as a tax exile
in the early 1980s, he released the 1982 hit "Sexual Healing
", which won him his first two Grammy Awards
, and its parent album Midnight Love
. Gaye's last televised appearances were at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game
, where he sang "The Star-Spangled Banner
"; Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever
; and Soul Train
, which was his final appearance. Read more...
Ivan IV Vasilyevich
: Ива́н Васи́льевич
, tr. Ivan Vasilyevich
; 25 August 1530 – 28 March [O.S.
18 March] 1584), commonly known as Ivan the Terrible
(Ru-Ivan Grozny.ogg, Ivan Grozny
; "Ivan the Formidable" or "Ivan the Fearsome", Latin
: Ioannes Severus
), was the Grand Prince of Moscow
from 1533 to 1547 and the first Tsar of Russia
from 1547 to 1584.
Ivan was the son of Vasili III
, the Rurikid
ruler of the Grand Duchy of Moscow
, and was appointed Grand Prince at three years old after his father's death. A group of reformers, united around the young Ivan and known as the "Chosen Council", declared him Tsar (Emperor) of All Rus'
in 1547 at the age of sixteen, establishing the Tsardom of Russia
with Moscow as the predominant state. Ivan's reign was characterized by Russia's transformation from a medieval
state into an empire
under the Tsar, though at immense cost to its people and its broader, long-term economy. In the young years of Ivan, there was a conquest of the Khanates
. After consolidating his power, Ivan got rid of the advisers from the "Chosen Council" and triggered the Livonian War
, which ravaged Russia and resulted in the loss of Livonia
, but allowed him to establish greater autocratic control
over Russia's nobility
, whom he violently purged in the Oprichnina
. The later years of Ivan's reign were also marked by the Massacre of Novgorod
and the burning of Moscow by Tatars
. Ivan was a patron of trade
(he gave monopoly to Muscovy Company
), and the founder of Russia's first publishing house
, the Moscow Print Yard
. Read more...
Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham, 6th Earl of Stafford
Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, by William Bond
, after Joseph Allen
(December 1402 – 10 July 1460) of Stafford Castle
, was an English nobleman and a military commander in the Hundred Years' War
and the Wars of the Roses
. Through his mother he had royal descent
from King Edward III
, his great-grandfather, and from his father
, he inherited, at an early age, the earldom of Stafford
. By his marriage to a daughter of Ralph, Earl of Westmorland
, Humphrey was related to the powerful Neville family
and to many of the leading aristocratic houses of the time. He joined the English campaign in France with King Henry V
in 1420 and following Henry V's death two years later he became a councillor for the new King, the nine-month-old Henry VI
. Stafford acted as a peacemaker during the partisan, factional politics of the 1430s, when Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
, vied with Cardinal Beaufort
for political supremacy. Stafford also took part in the eventual arrest of Gloucester in 1447.
Stafford returned to the French campaign during the 1430s and for his loyalty and years of service, he was elevated from Earl of Stafford to Duke of Buckingham
. Around the same time, his mother died. As much of his estate—as her dower
—had previously been in her hands, Humphrey went from having a reduced income in his early years to being one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in England. His lands stretched across much of the country, ranging from East Anglia to the Welsh border. Being such an important figure in the localities was not without its dangers and for some time he feuded violently with Sir Thomas Malory
in the Midlands
. Read more...
Steve Dodd, serving with the Australian Army in Korea
(1953), Australian War Memorial
(1 June 1928 – 10 November 2014) was an Indigenous Australian
actor, notable for playing indigenous characters across seven decades of Australian film. After beginning his working life as a stockman and rodeo rider, Dodd was given his first film roles by prominent Australian actor Chips Rafferty
. His career was interrupted by six years in the Australian Army
during the Korean War
, and limited by typecasting
Dodd performed in several major Australian movies, including Gallipoli
and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
, in which he played Tabidgi, the murdering uncle of the lead character. He also held minor parts in Australia-based international film productions including The Coca-Cola Kid
, Quigley Down Under
and The Matrix
. He likewise appeared in minor roles in early Australian television series, such as Homicide
, as well as later series including The Flying Doctors
. In 2013, Dodd was honoured with the Jimmy Little Lifetime Achievement Award at the 19th Deadly Awards
at the Sydney Opera House
. He died in November 2014. Read more...
Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings CM
Jennings in 2002
(July 29, 1938 – August 7, 2005) was a Canadian-American journalist who served as the sole anchor of ABC World News Tonight
from 1983 until his death from lung cancer in 2005. He dropped out of high school, yet he transformed himself into one of American television's most prominent journalists.
Jennings started his career early, hosting a Canadian radio show at age 9. He began his professional career with CJOH-TV
during its early years, anchoring the local newscasts and hosting the teen dance show Saturday Date
on Saturdays. In 1965, ABC News
tapped him to anchor its flagship evening news program. Critics and others in the television news business attacked his inexperience, making his job difficult. He became a foreign correspondent in 1968, reporting from the Middle East
. Read more...
Alfred the Great
Statue of Alfred the Great by Hamo Thornycroft
in Winchester, unveiled during the millennial commemoration of Alfred's death
-counsel' or 'Wise-elf'; between 847 and 849 – 26 October 899) was King of Wessex
from 871 to c. 886
and King of the Anglo-Saxons
from c. 886
to 899. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex
. His father died when he was young and three of Alfred's brothers, Æthelbald
, reigned in turn.
After acceding to the throne, Alfred spent several years fighting Viking
invasions. He won a decisive victory in the Battle of Edington
in 878 and made an agreement with the Vikings, creating what was known as the Danelaw
in the North of England. Alfred also oversaw the conversion of Viking leader Guthrum
to Christianity. He defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, becoming the dominant ruler in England. Details of his life are described in a work by 9th-century Welsh scholar and bishop Asser
. Read more...
Edward Drinker Cope
(July 28, 1840 – April 12, 1897) was an American paleontologist
and comparative anatomist
, as well as a noted herpetologist
. He was a founder of the Neo-Lamarckism
school of thought. Born to a wealthy Quaker
family, Cope distinguished himself as a child prodigy interested in science; he published his first scientific paper at the age of 19. Though his father tried to raise Cope as a gentleman farmer, he eventually acquiesced to his son's scientific aspirations. Cope married his cousin and had one child; the family moved from Philadelphia
to Haddonfield, New Jersey
, although Cope would maintain a residence and museum in Philadelphia in his later years.
Cope had little formal scientific training, and he eschewed a teaching position for field work. He made regular trips to the American West
, prospecting in the 1870s and 1880s, often as a member of United States Geological Survey
teams. A personal feud between Cope and paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh
led to a period of intense fossil-finding competition now known as the Bone Wars
. Cope's financial fortunes soured after failed mining ventures in the 1880s, forcing him to sell off much of his fossil collection. He experienced a resurgence in his career toward the end of his life before dying on April 12, 1897. Read more...
Sir John Barbirolli
(2 December 1899 – 29 July 1970), né Giovanni Battista Barbirolli
, was a British conductor and cellist
. He is remembered above all as conductor of the Hallé Orchestra
in Manchester, which he helped save from dissolution in 1943 and conducted for the rest of his life. Earlier in his career he was Arturo Toscanini
's successor as music director of the New York Philharmonic
, serving from 1936 to 1943. He was also chief conductor of the Houston Symphony
from 1961 to 1967, and was a guest conductor of many other orchestras, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra
, London Symphony Orchestra
, the Philharmonia
, the Berlin Philharmonic
and the Vienna Philharmonic
, with all of which he made recordings.
Born in London of Italian and French parentage, Barbirolli grew up in a family of professional musicians. After starting out as a cellist, he was given the chance to conduct, from 1926 with the British National Opera Company
, and then with Covent Garden
's touring company. On taking up the conductorship of the Hallé he had less opportunity to work in the opera house, but in the 1950s he conducted productions of works by Verdi
, and Puccini
at Covent Garden with such success that he was invited to become the company's permanent musical director, an invitation he declined. Late in his career he made several recordings of operas, of which his 1967 set of Puccini's Madama Butterfly
is probably the best known. Read more...
Robert Louis Fosse
(June 23, 1927 – September 23, 1987) was an American dancer
, musical-theatre choreographer
and film director
. He directed and choreographed musical works on stage and screen, including the stage musicals The Pajama Game
(choreography) in 1954 and Chicago
in 1975 and the film Cabaret
Fosse's distinctive style of choreography included turned-in knees and "jazz hands
." He is the only person ever to have won Oscar
, and Tony
awards in the same year (1973). He was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning Best Director
, and won a record eight Tonys for his choreography, as well as one for direction for Pippin
. Read more...
John Edgar Hoover
(January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) of the United States
and an American law enforcement administrator. He was appointed as the director of the Bureau of Investigation – the FBI's predecessor – in 1924 and was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director for another 37 years until his death in 1972 at the age of 77. Hoover has been credited with building the FBI into a larger crime-fighting agency than it was at its inception and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint
file and forensic
Later in life and after his death, Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive abuses of power
began to surface. He was found to have exceeded the jurisdiction of the FBI, and to have used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power and was in a position to intimidate and threaten others, including sitting presidents of the United States
. Read more...
(17 January 1879 – 17 October 1980) was a Canadian politician who served as the sixth Premier
from 1934 to 1935. He was the last member of the United Farmers of Alberta
(UFA) to hold the office, and that party's defeat at the hands of the upstart Social Credit League
in the 1935 election
made him the shortest serving premier to that point in Alberta's history.
Born near Glasgow
, Reid worked a number of jobs as a young adult—including wholesaler, army medic (during the Second Boer War
), farmhand, lumberjack, and dentist—and immigrated to Canada in 1903. He involved himself in local politics and joined the recently formed UFA, which nominated him to run in the 1921 provincial election
as its candidate in Vermilion
. The UFA won the election, and Reid served in several capacities in the cabinets of Premiers Herbert Greenfield
and John Edward Brownlee
, where he established a reputation for competence and fiscal conservatism. When a sex scandal
forced Brownlee from office in 1934, Reid was the caucus' unanimous choice to succeed him as Premier. Read more...
Did you know... -
- ... that Polish courtier and writer Krzysztof Warszewicki was a respected orator who spoke at the funerals of Catherine, queen consort of Poland, and Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor?
- ... that Mindy Alper, the visual artist featured in Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, helped Mary Stuart Masterson prepare for her role as a mentally ill woman in the 1993 film Benny & Joon?
- ... that gay pornographic film actor and director Erik Rhodes was posthumously outed as HIV-positive in his New York Times obituary?
- ... that William Feiner became the president of Georgetown College in 1826 despite having never mastered English?
- ... that Eugène de Mirecourt wrote 100 biographical articles on his contemporaries, including Alexandre Dumas, Hector Berlioz, and George Sand?
- ... that Dirom Grey Crawford's roll of the Indian Medical Service includes the biographies of 6,156 officers?
- ... that chemical engineer Robert Edgeworth-Johnstone invented a flute made from the aluminium brass tubing used in oil refineries?
- ... that Governor-elect of Jalisco, Enrique Alfaro Ramírez, was the first winning gubernatorial candidate to come from the Movimiento Ciudadano party?
- ... that Elias Polk, one of U.S. President James K. Polk's slaves, became a conservative political activist after the Civil War?
- ... that twelve years after his death, Mou Zuoyun became the first Chinese person to be inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame?
- ... that until the Salary Grab Act was passed in 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant earned the same salary as George Washington did 80 years earlier?
- ... that science fiction writer Harlan Ellison's earliest known published work was a fan letter to the comic book Real Fact Comics?
The following are images from various biography-related articles on Wikipedia.
Do you have a question about Wikipedia biographical content that you can't find the answer to?
Consider asking it at the Wikipedia reference desk.
For editor resources and to collaborate with other editors on improving Wikipedia's Biography-related articles, see WikiProject Biography.
Selected portrait -
Alice Stokes Paul (January 11, 1885 – July 9, 1977) was an American suffragist, feminist, and women's rights activist.
On this day – February 24
In the news
Updated: 20:33, 24 February 2020
- 21 February 2020 –
- Mexico extradites Rubén Oseguera González, the son of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, to the United States to face drug charges. Cervantes is the leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. (ABC News)
- 20 February 2020 –
- South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar agree to form a unity government by Saturday, in a major step to end the South Sudanese Civil War. (Al Jazeera)
- 16 February 2020 – South Sudanese Civil War
- SPLM-IO leader and former Vice President Riek Machar rejects a peace proposal by President Salva Kiir Mayardit. While Machar welcomes the provision to reduce the number of states from 32 to 10, he opposes the creation of three administrative areas. (Al Jazeera)
- 13 February 2020 –
- Around two dozen heavily armed men dressed in military fatigues storm a court building in El Progreso, north-western Honduras, freeing Alexander Mendoza, a senior leader of the MS-13 gang and killing four police officers. Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández offers a $80,000 reward for information leading to Mendoza's recapture. (BBC)
- 9 February 2020 – 2020 Irish general election
- Counting of the first preference votes show Sinn Féin leading with 24.1% of the vote, ahead of ruling party Fine Gael and main opposition party Fianna Fáil, each with 22.1%. Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald claims victory, declaring that Ireland "is no longer a two-party system", and hopes to form a coalition government. (The Guardian)
- 6 February 2020 – War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
- A U.S. civil contractor is kidnapped by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan's Khost Province. A Taliban leader who declined to be named tells Reuters they had kidnapped an American in Khost but did not provide further details. (Reuters)
Quote of the week
"Think, in this battered Caravanserai
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way."
— Edward FitzGerald
In The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám
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