Archive for the ‘Biography Books’ Category

Biography books

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

A biography is the written account of a person’s life or, when it is the life of the author recorded by themselves, it is referred to as an autobiography. As a genre there are many divisions that spreads right across the categories of practically every category you can think of. Biographies have been written of sports’ personnel, of artistes and celebrities; of criminals and, conversely, of judges and lawyers; British royalty, architects and the general everyday person who has done something to remember themselves by: Mother Theresa, Alexander Fleming, Princess Diana – or even people most of the world may never of heard of such as Greg Mortenson who built a series of schools in the poorest parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. His story is told in the lovely book entitled “Three Cups of Tea”.  This is a book you will want to read – it’s about the endurance of the human spirit and the kindness shown to strangers. You need to read it to find out the rest of the story. The lives of British royalty, as well as poets and playwrights and political figures all have biographies written about them.  

The History of the Biographical Genre
Biographies have been found to have been written as far back as 5BC and beyond, originally with the intention of praising the person being written about – as in the ‘Life of Evagoras’ that was written by Isocrates. This early format gave way to church-orientated biographies, featuring notable people within the Church, later superseded biographies about the British royal family in antiquity – stories of Royal kings and queens who lived during the Middle Ages. This period in history also led to a variant of the traditional biography – that of the fictional biography such as that written by Sir Thomas Malory: ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ about the life of the fictional King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

Biographies began to evolve as the centuries wore on and, from the 18th century onwards, biography and autobiography became synonymous with the lives of people in the public eye. Samuel Johnson had a lot to do with enabling the biography genre to evolve, including narratives and anecdotes rather than just acting as a chronicler of a person’s life. Meanwhile, a certain division appeared between the English representation and that of its American counterpart, the latter propounded by Thomas Carlyle. Carlyle asserted that biography was an essential and necessary part of history and should be treated as such, eventually emerging with an identity all its own.  Nowadays biographies covered people’s lives in many other fields such as science, mathematics and technology; theatre and performance art and sports’ personnel.

Have You Met Your Waterloo?
What does Ulysses S Grant have in common with Sir Claude Auchinleck, Sergei Gorchkov, Wellington, Montgomery and Sitting Bull? Do you give up? The answer is given to you in the book published by The Times, with the foreword written by William Hague who is also the author of this book: ‘Great Military Lives: leadership and courage – from Waterloo to the Falklands in Obituaries’. What makes a great hero? In fact, what gives somebody that extra ‘something’ which enables them to produce such courage in adversity that they pay the ultimate price?   

This book represents an assortment of military commanders whose obituaries have been collected in this book. This is a biography about amazing leaders of men: their obituaries are commented upon in this book by The Times’ writer of military obituaries, Major-General Michael Tillotson. While their exploits are bound to capture the imagination of the reader, the author himself, William Hague, has also had a chequered background, being one of the youngest up-and-coming UK Conservatives to jump to prominence, finally becoming Secretary of State for Wales in 1995 and later Shadow Foreign Secretary. This book is written with insight and power, as is the story about Harry Patch who was the last surviving veteran from the First World War trenches. The book, written by Harry Patch himself and co-written by Richard van Emden, gives an amazing insight into trench warfare of a bygone era and contemporary society at that time. Harry Patch passed away recently, on 25th July 2009 at the incredible age of 111 years of age. 

Is There Magic Within Our Pages?
Within the magical pages of our website you will find a huge range of different genres. The is represented within our biography section with a cornucopia of delights: artists, architects and photographers; British royalty; people in the world of business and finance who have caught the imagination of authors; biographers of children’s and young adult authors plus those whose essays, journals and letters have brought delight to their readers; and celebrities from film, television and music are always fair game for biographers’ pens. Meanwhile, the gay and lesbian scene nowadays certainly lends itself to being the subject of manuscript, while those people in the public eye who have decided to ‘come out of the closet’ are also a popular subject for the biographers to write about. Plenty has been written about medical, legal and social sciences and, equally, about novelists, poets and playwrights.  

There has been a lot of literature in the past about the events of the holocaust and people who have played a major part during that time. The historical significance is another facet that biographers tend to focus on when writing about the events of the holocaust. Political figures and sport personnel will always have a large following and biographers always seem to find a new angle when writing about these famous people. Meanwhile, tragic life stories and true crime is particularly popular – it has been for many years and the interest amongst the readers never seems to diminish. We also have many books written about famous religious people, people who have featured in science, mathematics and technology and even social and health issues. In fact, regardless of the subject, biographers will hunt out individuals of interest: if somebody has accomplished something that is likely to sell a book, then you can guarantee that a biographer will find sufficient about that person to write about.