Biography (from the Greek words bios meaning "life" (βίος), and graphein meaning "write" (γράφω)) is a genre of literature and other forms of media such as film, based on the written accounts of individual lives. While a biography may focus on a subject of fiction or non-fiction, the term is usually in reference to non-fiction.
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- ... We talked of biography.—JOHNSON. 'It is rarely well executed. They only who live with a man can write his life with any genuine exactness and discrimination ; and few people who have lived with a man know what to remark about him. The chaplain of a late Bishop, whom I was to assist in writing some memoirs of his Lordship, could tell me scarcely any thing ...'
- Talking of biography, I said, in writing a life, a man's peculiarities should be mentioned, because they mark his character. JOHNSON. 'Sir, there is no doubt as to peculiarities : the question is, whether a man's vices should be mentioned ...' ... 'If a man is to write A Panegyrick, he may keep vices out of sight ; but if he professes to write A Life, he must represent it really as it was ...'
- James Boswell, Life of Johnson, Volume II.—(1776–1784). London: H. Frowde. 1904. p. 118.
- There is no heroic poem in the world but is at bottom a biography, the life of a man; also it may be said, there is no life of a man, faithfully recorded, but is a heroic poem of its sort, rhymed or unrhymed.
- Thomas Carlyle, Sir Walter Scott. London and Westminster Review, 1838.
- When I read the book, the biography famous,
And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man's life?
And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught of my life,
Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real life,
Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections
I seek for my own use to trace out here.)