How to Write a Biography
At some point in their academic careers, all students will be required to write a biography. In this guide, learn how to write a biography with tips for every phase of the process, from planning to research and writing. And because a biography is only as good as the author’s research, find links below to the best sources of biographical information on the Web, including interviews and obituaries.
Tips for Writing a Biography
Get advice on how to write a biography from those who have done it before. The following resources ... read more »
Researching for a Biography
Encyclopedias, newsmagazines and history Web sites are good places to begin your research. Many long-lived newspapers and magazines have made their story archives available online. Some require fees to access content, but many provide free content. If possible, search for contemporary articles on your person of interest. These will provide a perspective not available in a historical retelling.
Top Sites for Biography Research
The Atlantic offers access to free content from its collection through the search feature on the magazine’s homepage. The premium archive offers access on a pay-per-view basis. For $2.95, readers can access one document from the period between the magazine’s founding in 1857 and the present.
FindingDulcinea has an article on the top 10 sites for researching history. These sites are indispensible for any research about a historical person, or events in that person’s life. Included are links to the National Archives and George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media.
Encyclopedia Britannica is the quintessential encyclopedia, and its Web site is a good stop for an introduction to a historical topic.
Time Magazine provides users with access to its impressive article archive dating back to 1923. Searching the archive is straightforward and user-friendly.
American Rhetoric is dedicated to archiving American speeches, lectures, sermons, interviews and “other important media events.” Its “Online Speech Bank” contains full text, audio and video for more than 5,000 speeches.
The Radio Hall of Fame offers short biographies for its inductees, who are pioneers, innovators and contemporary talents in the area of broadcast radio.
Sports Illustrated has been honoring excellence in sports through its Sportsman of the Year award since 1954, when Roger Bannister was recognized for breaking the 4-minute mile. This page offers links to stories for each recipient through Michael Phelps in 2008.
ESPN SportsCentury is a biography program that counted down the top North American athletes of the last century. On the SportsCentury Web site readers will find biographies of these 100 athletes, who include Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Jack Nicklaus and Joe DiMaggio.
ESPN hosts the NCAA's list of the 100 most influential student athletes, compiled as part of its centennial celebration.
Baseball Almanac offers short bios and career statistics for nearly all Baseball Hall of Fame inductees.
Pro Football Hall of Fame has an alphabetical listing of all its members. For each player it provides a biography, stats, career highlights and more.
Researching U.S. presidents and first ladies:
WhiteHouse.gov is the official Web site of the White House. On its “About” students will find links to biography pages for the presidents and first ladies who have lived there.
Researching Nobel Prize winners:
NobelPrize.org offers a complete list of Nobel Laureates, sortable by year, category and name. Click on a name to find specific information about that person’s prize-winning work, along with the press release announcing their selection and the presentation speech.
Interviews have the potential to offer writers an intimate window into a person’s world, and ... read more »
Obituaries are a useful source of biographical information for deceased persons. Found in all major ... read more »