We’ve all written the dreaded resumes and cover letters. These documents tell prospective employers about our education, experience, and the occasional personal anecdote. Well, biographies do the same. Not only do they relay factual details about a person, but also intimate details, deeper insight into their lives, and an overall personality assessment.
One of the earliest biographies is Cornelius Nepos’ Excellentium Imperatorum Vitae, in 44 B.C. In the early Middle Ages, biographies were generally restricted to church priests, popes, and saints. However, this trend seemed to change in the late Middle Ages with biographies of kings, tyrants, and knights.
Biographies started to include deeper insight into their subject with the emergence of psychology. In recent times, biographies have expanded to films, documentaries, articles, and pictorials.
Here are some must-read biographies!
1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (2011)
Steve Jobs gave reporter Walter Isaacson full access to his personal life. Not only was it authorized, but Jobs didn’t ask for any control over what was written in his biography. He just requested that Walter’s interviewees speak honestly and freely.
This book presents a straightforward perspective into the Apple co-founder. A life of struggle, innovation, and ground-breaking technology development is explored. However, the account was criticized by Job’s close acquaintances as they found his portrayal to be harsh. Nevertheless, the book, which got released 11 days after Job’s death, was an instant best-seller in the United States.
2. The Brontë Myth by Lucasta Miller (2001)
Although not a traditional biography, Lucasta Miller’s The Bronte Myth provides a literary study of the life of the Bronte sisters. She reflected on her knowledge, notes and known accounts, and biographies written by others.
Regarded as literary geniuses of their time, Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte transformed the way women are represented. In this book, Miller sets out to clear the rumors, doubts, and haze surrounding their legacy. From Elizabeth Gaskell to Ted Hughes, Lucasta Miller analyzed every author’s account of these amazing sisters to give a comprehensive look into their lives.
3. The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell (1791)
Regarded as a landmark for modern biographies, The Life of Samuel Johnson is a look into the great English writer Dr. Samuel Johnson. Known as the man of letters, Johnson made lasting contributions to the development and enrichment of English literature with his poems, journals, and essays.
Boswell set out to create Johnson’s life “in scenes.” Most of the accounts in his book were based on the notes he took while he was with Johnson. The rest came from secondary sources. Nevertheless, critics consider it to be a well-executed biography of an extraordinary man.
4. Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914–1948 by Ramachandra Guha (2018)
This 1000-page account of the person who changed the world with his ideologies is described in utmost detail by author Ramachandra Guha. He writes this to appeal to the upcoming generation by giving a realistic and blunt view of Gandhi’s life.
Many aspects of this biography praise Gandhi for his heroic deeds. Some look at him through a more critical lens. In this book, Guha depicts Gandhi with nuance. Details are fleshed out, not glossed over, to provide a comprehensive look into a beloved man’s life.
5. Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith (2012)
Sally Smith gives readers a detailed perspective of Queen Elizabeth II and her over-50-year reign. The Queen is shown not just as a monarch and the ruler of an empire but also as a mother and a wife. The biography gives an overview of the protocols, standards, and intricacies of the British monarchy.
Although a royal family supporter, Sally relays the cracks present in the British system. This is a delightful read for anyone itching to learn more about the controversial institution.
6. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson (2007)
Describing Albert Einstein’s life, author and journalist Walter Isaacson gives an analytical account of the great physicist’s struggles and discoveries. The book delves into previous works written on Einstein and uses collaboration with other scientists.
Much emphasis is given to the theory of relativity and its insolent spirit. Despite Einstein’s impressive legacy, he fell on hard times. The book dives into these stories of inspiration. Einstein’s discoveries had an irreplaceable impact on future generations and the development of science, and this biography is an excellent account.
We hope you found some new biographies to devour!