Portal:Biography/Selected article

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This is an archive of featured biographies shown on the Portal:Biography main page.

Selected article January

Portal:Biography/Selected article/January

Marvel portrait bust of Pericles — Roman copy of an original portrait by Kresilas (British Museum, London)
Pericles (also spelled Perikles) (ca. 495–429 BC, Greek: Περικλῆς) was a prominent and influential statesman, orator, and general of Athens during the city's Golden Age–specifically, the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars. He was descended, through his mother, from the powerful and historically influential Alcmaeonid family. He had such a profound influence on Athenian society that Thucydides, his contemporary historian, acclaimed him as "the first citizen of Athens". Pericles turned the Delian League into an Athenian empire and led his countrymen during the first two years of the Peloponnesian War. The period he led Athens, roughly from 461 to 429 BC, is sometimes known as the "Age of Pericles", though it can include times as early as the Persian Wars, or as late as the next century. He promoted the arts and literature, helping to build the reputation of Athens as the cultural centre of Ancient Greece. He started an ambitious project that built most of the surviving structures on the Acropolis (including the Parthenon). (Read more...)

Selected article February

Portal:Biography/Selected article/February

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). While best known for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation"), he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect". The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory.

Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led to the development of his special theory of relativity. He realized, however, that the principle of relativity could also be extended to gravitational fields, and with his subsequent theory of gravitation in 1916, he published a paper on the general theory of relativity. He continued to deal with problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of light which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity to model the structure of the universe as a whole. (Read more...)

Selected article March

Portal:Biography/Selected article/March

Engraving of Stede Bonnet.
Stede Bonnet (c. 1688 – December 13, 1718) was an early 18th-century Barbadian pirate, sometimes called "the gentleman pirate". Because of marital problems, Bonnet turned to piracy in the summer of 1717. He bought a sailing vessel, named it Revenge, and traveled with his paid crew along the American eastern seaboard, capturing other vessels and burning down Barbadian ships. After arriving in Nassau, Bonnet met the infamous pirate Blackbeard. Incapable of leading his crew, Bonnet temporarily ceded his ship's command to Blackbeard. Before separating in December 1717, Blackbeard and Bonnet plundered and captured merchant ships along the East Coast. After Bonnet failed to capture the Protestant Caesar, his crew abandoned him to join Blackbeard on the Queen Anne's Revenge. Bonnet stayed on Blackbeard's ship as a guest, and did not command a crew again until summer 1718, when he was pardoned by North Carolina governor Charles Eden and received clearance to go privateering against Spanish shipping. By July 1718, he had returned to piracy. In late August and September of that year, Colonel William Rhett led a naval expedition against pirates on the Cape Fear River. Rhett and Bonnet's men fought each other for hours, but the outnumbered pirates ultimately surrendered. Rhett arrested the pirates and brought them to Charleston in early October. Bonnet was brought to trial, and sentenced to death. After his request for clemency was turned down, Bonnet was hanged in Charleston on December 10, 1718. (Read more...)

Selected article April

Portal:Biography/Selected article/April

A fragmentary statue depicting a likeness of Ahmose I, now residing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ahmose I (sometimes written Amosis I and meaning The Moon is Born) was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty. He was a member of the Theban royal house, the son of pharaoh Tao II Seqenenre and brother of the last pharaoh of the Seventeenth dynasty, King Kamose. Sometime during the reign of his father or grandfather, Thebes rebelled against the Hyksos, the rulers of Lower Egypt. When he was seven his father was killed, and when he was about ten his brother died of unknown causes, after reigning only three years. Ahmose I assumed the throne after the death of his brother, and upon coronation became known as Neb-Pehty-Re (The Lord of Strength is Re).

During his reign he completed the conquest and expulsion of the Hyksos from the delta region, restored Theban rule over the whole of Egypt and successfully reasserted Egyptian power in its formerly subject territories of Nubia and Canaan. He then reorganized the administration of the country, reopened quarries, mines and trade routes and began massive construction projects of a type that had not been undertaken since the time of the Middle Kingdom. This building program culminated in the construction of the last pyramid built by native Egyptian rulers. Ahmose's reign laid the foundations for the New Kingdom, under which Egyptian power reached its peak. His reign is usually dated to about 1550–1525 BC. (Read more...)

Selected article May

Portal:Biography/Selected article/May

Gilbert-GS-Big.JPG
Sir William Schwenck Gilbert (18 November 1836 – 29 May 1911) was a British dramatist, librettist and illustrator best known for his fourteen comic operas produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan. Gilbert's most popular collaborations with Sullivan, including H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado (one of the most frequently performed works in the history of musical theatre) and most of their other Savoy operas continue to be performed regularly today throughout the English-speaking world and beyond by opera companies, repertory companies, schools and community theatre groups. Lines from these works have permanently entered the English language, including "short, sharp shock", "What never? Well, hardly ever!", and "let the punishment fit the crime". (Read more...)

Selected article June

Portal:Biography/Selected article/June

Bust believed to be of Sargon of Akkad
Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great (Akkadian Šarru-kinu, meaning "the true king" or "the king is legitimate"), was an Akkadian king famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 24th and 23rd centuries BC. The founder of the Dynasty of Akkad, Sargon reigned for 56 years, c. 2333 – 2279 BC (short chronology). He became a prominent member of the royal court of Kish, ultimately overthrowing its king before embarking on the conquest of Mesopotamia. Sargon's vast empire is known to have extended from Elam to the Mediterranean sea, including Mesopotamia, parts of modern-day Iran and Syria, and possibly parts of Anatolia and the Arabian peninsula. He ruled from a new capital, Akkad (Agade), which the Sumerian king list claims he built (or possibly renovated), on the left bank of the Euphrates. Sargon is regarded as one of the first individuals in recorded history to create a multiethnic, centrally ruled empire, and his dynasty controlled Mesopotamia for around a century and a half. (Read more...)

Selected article July

Portal:Biography/Selected article/July

Portrait of Samuel Adams by John Singleton Copley.
Samuel Adams (1722–1803) was an American statesman, politician, writer, and political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Adams was instrumental in garnering the support of the colonies in rebellion against Great Britain, ultimately resulting in the American Revolution. He was also one of the key architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped American political culture. Adams organized protests against the British, including the Boston Tea Party in 1773, and participated in the Continental Congress. He also advocated for the adoption of the Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress. Following the American Revolution, Adams helped draft the Articles of Confederation. After the war ended, he ran for the House of Representatives in the 1st United States Congressional election, but was unsuccessful in his bid. He was elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 1789 and after John Hancock's death in 1793, Adams served as the acting governor, until he was elected governor in January of the following year. He served in that position until June 1797 when he decided to retire from politics. (Read more...)

Selected article August

Portal:Biography/Selected article/August

Harriet Tubman.jpg

Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross, c. 1820 – March 10, 1913) was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the US Civil War. After escaping from slavery, into which she was born, she made thirteen missions to rescue some seventy slaves using a network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era struggled for women's suffrage. (Read more...)

Selected article September

Portal:Biography/Selected article/September

Modern artist's impression of Shen Kuo.
Shen Kuo or Shen Kua (Chinese: 沈括; pinyin: Shěn Kuò; Wade–Giles: Shen K'uo) (1031–1095), style name Cunzhong and pseudonym Mengqi Weng, was a polymathic Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty (960–1279). Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, agronomist, archaeologist, ethnographer, cartographer, encyclopedist, general, diplomat, hydraulic engineer, inventor, academy chancellor, finance minister, governmental state inspector, poet, and musician. He was the head official for the Bureau of Astronomy in the Song court, as well as an Assistant Minister of Imperial Hospitality. At court his political allegiance was to the Reformist faction known as the New Policies Group, headed by Chancellor Wang Anshi (1021–1086). (Read more...)

Selected article October

Portal:Biography/Selected article/October

Marywollstonecraft.jpg
Mary Wollstonecraft (/ˈwʊlstənkrɑːft/; 27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and feminist. During her brief career as a maid she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and animals should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason. (Read more...)

Selected article November

Portal:Biography/Selected article/November

Angelina jolie lugar.jpg

Angelina Jolie is an American film actress, a former fashion model, and a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency. After appearing as a child alongside her father Jon Voight in the 1982 film Lookin' to Get Out, Jolie's acting career began in earnest a decade later with the low budget production Cyborg 2, subsequently playing her first leading role in a major film in Hackers. She appeared in the critically acclaimed biographical films George Wallace and Gia, and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the drama Girl, Interrupted. She achieved international fame as a result of her portrayal of videogame heroine Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and since then has established herself as one of the best known and highest paid actresses in Hollywood. She had her biggest commercial success with the action-comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Divorced from actors Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton, Jolie currently lives with actor Brad Pitt, in a relationship that has attracted worldwide media attention. Jolie and Pitt have three adopted children as well as three biological children. Jolie has promoted humanitarian causes throughout the world, and is noted for her work with refugees through UNHCR. (Read more...)

Selected article December

Portal:Biography/Selected article/December

Portrait of Skanderbeg in the Uffizi, Florence
George Kastrioti Skanderbeg (6 May 1405 – 17 January 1468), widely known as Skanderbeg (from Turkish: İskender Bey, meaning "Lord Alexander", or "Leader Alexander"), was a 15th-century Albanian lord.[D] He was appointed as the governor of the Sanjak of Dibra by the Ottomans in 1440. In 1444, he initiated and organised the League of Lezhë and defended the region of Albania against the Ottoman Empire for more than two decades. Skanderbeg's military skills presented a major obstacle to Ottoman expansion, and he was considered by many in western Europe to be a model of resistance against the Ottoman Muslims. Skanderbeg is Albania's most important national hero and a core figure of the Albanian National Awakening. Skanderbeg was born in 1405[G] to the noble Kastrioti family, in the Shëgjerth neighborhood of Sinë, a village in Dibra. Sultan Murad II took him hostage during his youth and he fought for the Ottoman Empire as a general. In 1443, he deserted the Ottomans during the Battle of Niš and became the ruler of Krujë. In 1444, he organized local leaders into the League of Lezhë, a federation aimed at uniting their forces for war against the Ottomans. Skanderbeg's first victory against the Ottomans, at the Battle of Torvioll in the same year marked the beginning of more than 20 years of war with the Ottomans. Skanderbeg's forces achieved more than 20 victories in the field and withstood three sieges of his capital, Krujë.

In 1451 he recognized himself as a vassal of the Kingdom of Naples through the Treaty of Gaeta, to ensure a protective alliance. In 1460–1461, he participated in Italy's civil wars in support of Ferdinand I of Naples. In 1463, he became the chief commander of the crusading forces of pope Pius II, but the pope died while the armies were still gathering. Left alone to fight the Ottomans, Skanderbeg did so until he died in January 1468.

Marin Barleti's biography of Skanderbeg, written in Latin and in a Renaissance and panegyric style, was translated into all the major languages of Western Europe from the 16th through the 18th centuries. Such translations inspired an opera by Vivaldi, and literary creations by eminent writers such as playwrights William Havard and George Lillo, French poet Ronsard, English poet Byron, and American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (Read more...)