Writing a Biography  
 
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A biography is the story of a person's life. It is typically about a famous person, most often a person who is not alive at the time the biography is written. Biographies are usually written in chronological order.

Illustration of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States Here are the steps to follow when writing a biography.
  • Select a person you find interesting. This person should be someone whose life is worth writing about and who has made a difference in the world. In this example, the person you will write about is John F. Kennedy.
  • Use reference sources to gather information about your subject. These sources can include the Internet, newspaper and magazine articles, history books, encyclopedias, and even biographies.
  • Take written notes about basic facts of the person's life, as well as important events in his or her life. Also, note any things you find particularly interesting about that person, but that do not have a specific date.
    You find the following information about John F. Kennedy.
    • He was born in 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts.
    • He married Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953.
    • He contracted scarlet fever in 1919.
    • He was elected U.S. congressman from Massachusetts in 1946.
    • He graduated from Harvard University in 1940.
    • He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1941.
    • His family called him Jack.
    • He was diagnosed with Addison's disease in 1947.
    • He earned a degree in International Affairs at Harvard
    • He was often referred to by his initials, JFK.
    • He lost the Democratic nomination for vice president in 1956.
    • He was elected to the United States senate from Massachusetts in 1953.
    • He was elected President of the United States in 1960, defeating Richard Nixon.
    • He had risky back surgery in 1954 to alleviate constant back pain. This was probably the result of the PT boat incident.
    • He was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963.
    • He established the Peace Corp in 1961.
    • In 1943, the PT boat he commanded was sunk by a Japanese destroyer. He suffered serious injuries but heroically led the survivors to safety. He received several medals for his actions.
    • He resolved the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, averting a possible nuclear war with Russia.
  • Arrange this information in chronological order. Creating a timeline is a good way to do this.
  • Now you are ready to write your biography. Here is what your biography of John F. Kennedy might look like based on the information you gathered.

    • John F. Kennedy

      John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1917. He contracted scarlet fever when he was two years old. Kennedy was known to his family as "Jack." He graduated from Harvard University in 1940 with a degree in International Affairs. Kennedy enlisted in U.S. Navy in 1941. In 1943, the PT boat he commanded was sunk by a Japanese destroyer. Although seriously injured, Kennedy heroically led the survivors to safety, receiving several medals for his actions.

      Kennedy entered politics in 1946 when he was elected U.S. congressman from Massachusetts. Throughout his political career, Kennedy was often known by his initials, "JFK." Serious illness once again struck Kennedy when he was diagnosed with Addison's disease in 1947. In 1953 he was elected U.S. senator from Massachusetts. That was the same year in which he married Jacqueline Bouvier. A year later, Kennedy had risky back surgery to alleviate constant back pain. This pain was probably the result of the PT boat incident that occurred in 1943.

      Kennedy experienced his first political defeat in 1956 when he lost the Democratic nomination for vice president of the U.S. However, he bounced back in a big way when he was elected President of the United States in 1960, defeating Richard Nixon. One of his major accomplishments as president was the establishment of the Peace Corps in 1961. An even bigger accomplishment was his resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis the next year. This averted a possible nuclear war with Russia. Unfortunately, Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963

      There is no set length for a biography. The length depends on your purpose for writing it.