How to Write a Biography Essay
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:
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.
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.
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.
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Write Your Introduction Paragraph
Your introduction is your chance to engage the reader and get them excited about checking out your essay. In order to get your reader hooked, try these introduction styles:
- 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.
Develop Your Thesis Statement
Finally, you'll need to write a thesis statement. Your thesis statement will be the crux on which the rest of your essay hangs, so pay careful attention to crafting it.
Some example thesis statements:
- 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.
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.
This is where you wrap up the essay and draw your conclusions about your subject. You want to end your essay with a bang, not a fizzle. Don't simply restate your thesis or the points you made in your body paragraphs. Instead, reach beyond that by tying their work or legacy into modern life. Consider addressing the following questions:
- What kind of contribution did they make to their chosen field?
- How is their work relevant today?
- What is their legacy? How are they remembered?
- What or who did they have a major influence on?
The best biography essays not only explore the person's life and work, but offer little-known facts about them. Don't settle for superficial accounts - dig deeper to discover more about them.