7 junio, 2024

Biographical text: what it is, characteristics, what it is for, example

We explain what biographical texts are, their characteristics, what they are for, how to do it and we give an example.

What is a biographical text?

A biographical text It is a narrative where the life of an important person is told, from birth to death, chronologically and highlighting the most relevant events. For example, the life of Albert Einstein, Walt Disney or Alexander the Great.

The biographical text is a very old subgenre, already practiced by the ancient Greeks and Romans, which straddles history and narration, and generally deals with famous people such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, in fact with an educational or moralizing intention.

This way of telling lives changed in the 19th century, becoming more objective, and today tries to stick to the facts when telling a person’s story; You can find examples of biographical text about athletes, movie stars, singers, politicians, businessmen, inventors, etc.

Characteristics of the biographical text

Chronological order and data

A biographical text tries to narrate the life of a person from beginning to end, from birth to death. The data to be highlighted are generally place and date of birth, parents, studies, responsibilities and occupation, and events or works for which the person being biography is remembered.

It’s a narrative

Although it deals with historical facts, the biographical text is a narrative and as such must have the traditional parts: introduction, development and conclusion.

time and person

Biographical texts are usually written in the past tense and in the third person. For example: «Julius Caesar was a prominent Roman politician and military man, born 100 BC and assassinated by conspirators in the Senate in 44 BC.»

It is a literary genre

The biographical text is associated with other forms of writing that are found between history, journalism and literature, such as memoirs, portraits, autobiography, chronologies, obituaries or biographical or bibliographic reviews, and even Curriculum vitae.

What is a biographical text for?

The biographical text allows us to know important figures from the past of our country and the world, the way in which people have contributed to making this world what it is today, for better or for worse.

In Antiquity, biographical texts, also known as biographies, had a moralizing intention, and today they maintain an educational intention, showing us different paths taken by human beings of all times to do good or evil.

That is why it is possible to find biographical texts of any important person, even if they are considered disastrous for humanity.

On the other hand, knowing how to write biographical texts teaches us to separate the wheat from the chaff, that is, to highlight the most important events in a person’s life.

How to write a biographical text?

Collect the information about the character and organize the data chronologically

Once you have selected the character you are going to write about, you have to document yourself, either through a history book or through the different pages and digital encyclopedias. It is advisable to use more than one source, and that it be from a recognized publication.

The information must be ordered chronologically, from the date of birth to his death, to better understand the development of the character’s life.

Prioritize the information

Many things happen in a person’s life, important and less important, and the former stand out in biographical texts. A person can stand out for various reasons, and the biographer tends to give more importance to one aspect over the others.

For example, imagine an actress who is also a film director, producer, and writer, but you are primarily interested in her role as a director. It is likely that she mentions the films she directed more than her performances or published books of hers.

Style

For biographical texts, it is advisable to write with the tenses corresponding to the past (he was born, lived, studied, etc.), as well as using the third person singular. It is also convenient to prepare a draft before making the final biographical text.

Title and subtitle

Often the title is the name of the character whose life is narrated, and the subtitle indicates which aspect of his life is to be highlighted. Continuing with the previous example, and using a well-known American actress, the title and subtitle could be: “Jodie Foster: from established actress to exceptional director”.

Introduction

The character is introduced by placing him in his historical, political or cultural context, depending on which features of his life are going to be highlighted. For example, if it is a text about Napoleon Bonaparte, mention the French Revolution.

body or development

The life of the character is developed: birth, childhood and youth, achievements, failures and death, or current situation, if he is still alive.

Conclusion

Those aspects for which this person has transcended are mentioned and a personal or critical comment can be added.

Bibliographic reference

It is always convenient to mention where the information for the preparation of the biographical text was taken from. The minimum information for a reference should be: author, title of the text, year of publication (between parentheses), country and publisher; and if it is digital, name of the link or link.

Example of biographical text

Qualification

Joan of Arc: the most famous French woman in history

Introduction

At the beginning of the 15th century, the English and their allies controlled more than half of French territory, thanks to a conflict that went down in history as the «Hundred Years’ War». But this situation began to change in 1429, thanks to a girl who in her visions received the mandate to save France.

body or development

Jeanne D’Arc was born at Domrémy in 1412, the daughter of a farmer and tax collector and Isabelle Romée, who would play a pivotal role in her future glory. Joan of Arc, as she is known in Spanish, began having visions in 1425, at the age of 13: she saw the Archangel Michael, Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Margaret, who entrusted her with the mission of expelling the English from France and accompany the dauphin, Charles VII, to his coronation in Reims.

Juana made all kinds of efforts and ran many risks to reach the court, including crossing territory controlled by the Burgundians, disguised as a soldier, who were enemies of the Dauphin and allies of the English.

At the age of 17, Juana met with the heir at the Royal Court, and convinced him to let her go with the army that was going to break the siege of the city of Orleans. The maiden, dressed as a warrior (with armor, sword, horse and banner), accompanied the army that fought a successful battle against the Anglo-French troops, saving the city.

From there, and while Juana accompanied the French army, successes followed, putting the English to flight. That same year, 1429, the royal army entered Reims, where Charles VII crowned himself King of France.

The following year Juana comes to the aid of another besieged city, Compiègne, but there she falls into an ambush and is captured by the Burgundians, who shortly after hand her over to the English.

Juana was tried in Rouen, accused of heresy and transvestism (for dressing like a soldier) by English and Burgundian judges and religious, who sentenced her to die at the stake on May 30, 1431.

conclusion or closure

Much has been written about the mental condition of Joan of Arc, whether they were really visions or she had mental problems, but everyone agrees that her participation contributed to changing the course of the war and the history of France.

Several years later, her mother, Isabelle Romée, managed to get Juana’s religious trial reopened and she was acquitted.

At the beginning of the 20th century, she was canonized and today she is known as one of the great women of history and a figure of great importance in France. She was also known as «the maiden of Orleans».

References

Joan of Arc: Her Story in a Minute (2021). lavanguardia.com.

Joan of Arc (2021). en.wikipedia.org.

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