What Is a Biography?

A biography is an account of a person’s life written by someone else. It should not be confused with an autobiography, which is a person’s own account of their life, written by him or her.

To write a good biography, you’ll need to take notes about the person you are writing about. You’ll need information on the following:

  • Early life
  • Childhood
  • Adulthood
  • Hometown/country
  • Path to fame
  • Current life (if they’re still alive)
  • Later life (if they’re no longer alive)
  • Your feelings about the person

You’ll use these notes as the basis for your biography, but you’ll need to know how to put them into paragraph form.

Writing the Biography

A paragraph will often begin with a topic sentence that signals the main idea to your readers. You don’t have to begin with a topic sentence, but you’ll need to make sure you have one somewhere in the paragraph. The final sentence of your paragraph should signal to readers that you’re done talking about that topic, and the sentences in between provide facts.

The first paragraph, or introduction, is very important when writing any essay. Without an introduction, your readers will have no idea what you are writing about! A good introduction should grab readers’ attention, as you’ll want to encourage them to read all the way to the end. To introduce your subject, you’ll need to briefly explain whom it is you are writing about.

Let’s look at an example of an introduction about Usain Bolt:


With this introduction, did you notice the use of the rhetorical question, or a question that doesn’t need an answer, in the first sentence? See how the question about how Usain Bolt got his nickname works to engage readers right off the bat? The next sentence is the topic sentence, which signals to readers who the author is writing about.

In the second paragraph of a biography, you should provide information about your subject’s childhood and upbringing. In this paragraph, you should try to include information about where your person was born, something about his or her family and how he or she began doing the interesting things you will include in the next paragraph.

Steps in writing a biography;

  1. Select the individual you want to write about
  2. Search for the basic facts that relate to a person’s life.
  3. Think about the details to add in the biography which can bring out clearly about the person’s life. Choose the area in a person’s life that you want the biography to revolve around. Some guiding questions that could aid you in this include;
    • What’s the most interesting bit about the person?
    • What is the significance of the individual to the society and the world in general?
    • What qualities or adjectives will be best suited for the description of the individual?
    • What actions or life events bring out the qualities or adjectives chosen above?
    • What life events or world events shaped the individual or brought out the best in them?
    • Did they face obstacles or take some risks in life? How did they handle the obstacles and did they happen to be lucky?
    • What impact did they have in the world? Did they add value to the way people view certain aspects of life? Did they come up with a thing, idea or way of action that transformed the way things are handled or rather done in their societies or world in general?


Learning Goal: Our goal is to research the life of a person who is/was a pioneer in the field of flight/aviation. We will gather, organize, revise, and publish the important information that supports their claim to fame.

Students will: Learn to ask relevant questions before beginning a research project + Learn to take notes and categorize information as they create graphic organizers + Improve comprehension as they read and skim text for main ideas and details + Develop research skills (via books and Internet) with the purpose of teaching their classmates what they have learned.

This learning strategy will allow students to practice the following skills: formulate question; gather, organize, interpret, analyze and evaluate information; and communicate findings.

Success Criteria: I can reflect on the following aspects of the inquiry process: formulate questions; gather, organize, interpret, analyze and evaluate information; and communicate findings as I conduct an inquiry.

Is the topic/person introduced in a creative way? Is it in a sequential order? Are only relevant details included? I chose an interesting topic. I started with a strong ‘grabber/hook’ sentence. My introduction includes: who, what, where, when, why and how. I’ve included at least three ideas about the event. I’ve written in the past tense. I’ve put my events in time order and used linking words. I’ve included a summary, with my thoughts and feelings about the event.

Three questions:

What is the most interesting fact about this person?

How would you describe this person?

Would you invite him/her to have lunch with you and your friends?