written account of a person's life
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A biography is the story of a person's life. The word comes from the Greek words bios (which means life) and graphein (which means write). When the biography is written by the person it is about, it is called an autobiography.

A written biography is a part of literature. Biographies can also be made as movies (often called biopics) or told as stories.

The oldest written biographies that historians have were written to record rulers' lives. Some were written in Assyria, ancient Babylonia, ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia. Biographies were an early form of history. Another early form of biography was called hagiography, meaning writing about holy people.[1]

In ancient China, a biography was one of the basic forms of a history book. In India, biographies of Buddha and his reincarnated lives were written. In ancient Greece, people wrote biographies of people that were not rulers too. Xenophon wrote a biography of Socrates and gave this book the name Memorabilia (Memories). During the Roman Empire, Plutarch wrote Parallel Lives about ancient Greek and Roman politicians, and Suetonius wrote biographies of the Roman emperors. The Gospels were also biographies of Jesus Christ.

In West Africa, griots tell histories which often include biographies.[2]

Many written biographies today are released by publishers as products for sale.



  1. Delehaye, Hippolyte (1907). The legends of the saints : an introduction to hagiography. Robarts - University of Toronto. London: Longmans, Green. p. 2. ISBN 9780841436572.
  2. Webster, N'Kaela (2017-03-27). "This Man Embodies A Thousand Years Of West African Oral History". Audible. Retrieved 2020-11-18.