From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Literature (Rated Start-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Literature, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Literature on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.

Fact or Fiction[edit]

The wiki page on Biographies says "While a biography may focus on a subject of fiction or non-fiction, the term is usually in reference to non-fiction." Wikipedia is the only source we have found that says a biography can be fiction. Can it be? Is this wrong? Please reply. Thanks from all of us!

-Odyssey 5/6 Grade Classroom

Cusoon959 20:21, 14 February 2007 (UTC) To Odyssey 5/6 Grade Classroom: One more thing: You claim that Wikipedia says that biography can be a fiction. However, Wikipedia only says that the subject may be fictional, not the facts on the subject. There is a difference. The Zorro biography I mention below talks about a fictional character, but it relates the actual history of that character's development, such as the year he was first written about, when movies were made about him, the plots of published books about him. These are all verifiable facts. In this case, the biography is factual, just not the subject.

Conversely, it has been argued there IS actually fictional biography. For example, an author may incorporate autobiographical elements into his or her fictional pieces. Scholar Pilar Hidalgo talks about this in her essay "Are You Writing Fact or Fiction?", which is located in the book All Sides of the Subject: Women and Biography but Teresa Iles. She uses the example of Virginia Woolf's book, To the Lighthouse, which I also believe is highly autobiographical; it embodied an internal struggle of Woolf's (seeking to become an independently powerful woman professional in an age that was only beginning to allow that.) I'd love to hear your thoughts on these issues. I am a college student, and I just finished writing my thesis on biographies. Sweetsagehen 07:05, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

To Odyssey 5/6 Grade Classroom: Biography literally translates to "life writing." Therefore, chronicling the life of a fictional character is still biographical. You may have heard of Zorro, a popular fictional masked hero created in 1919. A & E Biography Channel has created a video biography on him [1]. A & E is a notable company, so I think that lends credibility to the idea. Good luck! Sweetsagehen 06:50, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Australian Bio Award[edit]

Australia has an Annual National Biography Award (AU $20,00). You may consider adding this information to the site. URL to access requisite details is

Academic Discipline?[edit]

Is Biography really the name of an academic, scholarly discipline? Academics do, of course, write biographies, but is the writing of biographies properly considered a discipline itself? For example, philosophers write biographies of philosophers; historians write biographies of political figures; ordinary writers and scholars of pop culture write biographies of pop figures; art historians write biographies of artists; etc.

If biography really is properly considered a discipline unto itself, then, it follows, you could explain on biography exactly why it deserves to be so considered. Does it have its own journals (like?)? Its own scholarly standards (such as?)? Its experts (who?)? --LMS

I don't know if it is a "discipline" or a "subdiscipline" of history or a "literary genre", but the work being invested into writing biographies is different from other work that the same people do. What does it take to be qualified as a "discipline"? Is there a wikipedia entry that explains what a discipline is?

Links to biography should be found from History and Literature.

Some of the entries linked to from the Biography page are plurals, other are singulars. It is natural to write that Einstein was a physicist (singular) and make it a link to the page of physicists (plural). Should we make it a convention of Wikipedia always to use the plural for such entries? In that case, maybe the bio page should be "biographies" (plural) as opposed to the "discipline" (or art) of Biography.

An interesting book might be:

Park Honan, Authors' Lives: On Literary Biography and the Arts of Language, ISBN:0-312-04261-2

I am not sure that considering the Jewish Holy Scriptures as a collection of particularly old biographies is a particularly scientific point of view. The dating for the Holy Scriptures has been continuously sliding downward; I think giving, say, Genesis a date of authorship of 1000bc is very optimistic at this point in time. By this time, we have many other biographies, e.g. Metjen of Egypt, etc. Despite what people like to think, it has been very difficult to prove that Jewish Holy Scriptures are old.

--Rck 19:27, 24 July 2005 (UTC)

When you say "scientific" presumably you just mean "accurate" or "historic" --BozMo 15:47, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

Dates for Dark & Middle Ages[edit]

I'm not exactly sure which date to give, but to place the start of the Middle Ages at 350 AD is very inaccurate. Generally, the Dark Ages are regarded as sometime around 410-1000, and the Middle Ages as sometime around 1000-1400. I realize these numbers are poor, but they are much better than what is in the article. I don't know enough about these periods, but I do know the numbers in the article are wrong.

350 is clearly wrong; Theodosius reigned in the 380s and he is clearly not a Medieval emperor. I would go with something later. It is usually conventient to give something that the contemporaries felt was a turning point. For example, the sack of Rome in 410 by the Visigoth chief Alaric and his men was considered an absolute disaster for anyone inside the Roman Empire, an occurrence of the unthinkable. Go with 410.
--Rck 19:27, 24 July 2005 (UTC)


Some moron COMPLETELY vandalized this entry, someone needs to revert it back.Kalas Grengar 09:49, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

  • Never Mind, I reverted it myself. Kalas Grengar 09:54, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

There appeared to be vandalism in the opening paragraph. I reverted the edit to the immediately previous version.Jakking (talk) 03:17, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

dabbing "French"[edit]

User talk:Deville has been using a robot to disambiguate "French" to "French people" instead of the standard "France". Has there been a change of policy? All other countries bio references disambig to the country article, not to the (in many cases rather crappy) "people" articles. This is especially concerning re the French people article because it is so controversial.--Mais oui! 05:32, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Section on Modern biography[edit]

I added this badly needed section and provided material with references. It has an Anglo-American bias and needs to be supplemented by a discussion of what was/is going on vis-a-vis biography in the rest of the world. soverman 01:17 4 May 2006 (UTC)

I would very much like to get a page on the life of Nuhanovic. He comes from the balkan somewhere, he is a muslim and are/where working for a nonviolent solution on the muslim-west conflict. Among other things i understand he has been working in Pakistan around 2001-2003 to get the Pakistani consumers to stop buying coca-cola and start buying alternate muslim coke brands. Best regards knug

Complex insight[edit]

I added a fact tag to the assertion that biographies develop complex insight because at the very least it is clear that many biographies develop no insight at all. I have read biographies which provided some insight, but not of a kind that seemed at all complex. Most information in biographies is trivial. A spectacular example of that is Peter Parker's biography of J. R. Ackerley, which actually prevents insight into the man. Most information in biographies is simply irrelevant. In Phillip Marchand's biography of McLuhan we learn that he believed he was directly inspired by the Blessed Virgin Mary – I don't see how that helps me understand either the man or his ideas (nor does Mr. Marchand claim that it should). And then there are biographies of popular musicians, which are generally a load of old codswallop.

In short, what I'm arguing is that either some evidence that biography as a genre promotes complex insight should be provided or that the assertion should be toned down a bit – by saying, for example, that it may be an attempt, however questionable, to develop complex insight into a person. Or something. Obviously historical biographies may develop complex insight into an era or event, but that doesn't seem to be what is implied in the assertion in the article, which goes on to talk about understanding of personality (as if there were such a thing).

I'm open to being persuaded I'm wrong, by the way. For one thing, I would then know why this genre is considered so important. John FitzGerald 13:17, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

I propose that "develops complex insight and highlights different textures of personality including intimate details of experiences" be replaced by "develops a complex analysis of personality, highlighting different aspects of it and including intimate details of experiences." If someone could explain what a texture of personality is we could leave that in. John FitzGerald 16:50, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

No one's objected so I'm going to change it. John FitzGerald 16:43, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Removed External Links[edit]

I believe there are excellent external links to be considered such as and Why were they eliminated? Thanks. Antonio

After viewing the links at the bottom, they appear to be commercial sites promoting either the sales of biography books or prefixed with prominent advertising WP:EL. Calltech 11:48, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

The first link was to a page listing the most honored biographies in recent history. There is no policy preventing links to commercial sites as long at the content is relevant. Don't you think a ranked list of honored biographies is relevant? KennyLucius 15:47, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
Kenny, content relevance alone is not the WP standard. Wikipedia makes it clear that links to be avoided include:
"Links intended to promote a site, especially if that site's primary purpose is to advertise or sell products or services, or if the site requires payment to view the relevant content. This is colloquially known as external link spamming."
"A page that you own or maintain, even if the guidelines above imply that it should be linked. This is because of neutrality and point-of-view concerns; neutrality is an important and difficult objective at Wikipedia. If your page is relevant and informative, mention it on the talk page and let unbiased Wikipedia editors decide whether to add the link." WP:EL
The link you restored is to a site that you own and that sells biography books and material and is thus against WP's standards. If you feel this site is an exception, submit an WP:RFC to get other editor consensus before reverting this link. Again, this is WP's recommendation and its standard.Calltech 16:34, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

I would like to revisit the issue of a link to Award Annals. The honor roll of biography books is on a site that is technically mine, so I ask that interested editors review the page for inclusion in the "See also" section of this article. Some pages in Award Annals provides links to booksellers, but not this particular list of honored biographies. I feel that labeling the site "commercial" because of these links is an overstatement, and it's omission is unfortunate. Since I am the site owner, I will not add the link myself. KennyLucius 21:56, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

What about brief bios?[edit]

Hello, I came here to learn about what a "Bio" is, as in when my employer needs me to write up a quick bio to put on their web site. I was redirected to biography, where I read about what a biograpy is, as in a film or book. I highly suggest adding a reference to the modern use of quick bios, like the single paragraph kind. I'd be interested to know if anyone else agrees, or did I miss something, or is this not how wikipedia works? 04:34, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

I agree, something like that could be useful - not as a "how to guide", but as a description of what exactly it is, how it is used, etc. Feel free to be bold and add it - alternatively, you could propose a draft here on the talk page. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 18:02, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

Women's biography sentence makes no sense[edit]

Re the paragraph on biography of women - the single sentence there makes little or no sense to me - seems as if maybe the point got stripped of its context somewhere along the line. How it reads now almost sounds like men are somehow suffering because women got more accurate biographical treatment - though I don't think that can be what the writer meant to say. Anyone else think this? Or know what point was meant to be being made here? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:13, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

Deletion of infoboxes in biographies[edit]

There is a request for comment ongoing at Talk:Richard D'Oyly Carte to determine if a workgroup can demand that all infoboxes be removed from articles they control. For instance can Project New Jersey remove all infoboxes from biographies of people born in New Jersey, or can Project Catholicism demand that all infoboxes be removed from biographies of people that are Catholic. In this case Project Gilber and Sullivan are removing all infoboxes from articles that are under their project scope. Please join the debate and keep an open mind. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 02:12, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

Misuse of sources[edit]

This article has been edited by a user who is known to have misused sources to unduly promote certain views (see WP:Jagged 85 cleanup). Examination of the sources used by this editor often reveals that the sources have been selectively interpreted or blatantly misrepresented, going beyond any reasonable interpretation of the authors' intent.

Please help by viewing the entry for this article shown at the page, and check the edits to ensure that any claims are valid, and that any references do in fact verify what is claimed.

I searched the page history, and found 6 edits by Jagged 85 (for example, see this edits). Tobby72 (talk) 21:15, 20 January 2012 (UTC)


It would appear that this article has been replaced with one of a personal nature. Please check it out. Pendright (talk) 02:26, 16 April 2012 (UTC)

Fixed; see my response at Wikipedia talk:New contributors' help page/questions#Help! Robert Skyhawk (T C) 04:39, 16 April 2012 (UTC)


I broke the main section up by historical eras. And cleaned up some writing. I hope no one minds, I think I made the article better and easier to navigate. I also added Boswell's epic biography of Johnson. I think it deserves mention. Huw Powell (talk) 03:08, 17 March 2013 (UTC)