A biography is the true story of a person’s life. How do we find out enough about other people to write their biographies? Suppose you wanted to write the life story of someone you know. How would you find out about her? You could talk to her, and ask her questions about what happened in her life. You could find out about her from her parents, relatives, and other people who know her well. You could learn about her from her letters, if she let you look at them.
But suppose you were writing about someone who lived two hundred years ago. Suppose nobody who knew the person is still alive. How could you find out about the person’s life? You would have to use mainly writings that people left behind, like old letters, and diaries, and newspaper stories.
Biographies are very interesting stories because they show the many different ways people can achieve things; may be we can avoid those mistakes. But most of all, biographies satisfy our curiosity about people, and help us understand other people as well as ourselves.
Some people write biographies of themselves. These are called autobiographies, because auto means self. An automobile is a car that goes by itself. An autograph is your name written by yourself. An autopilot on an airplane lets the plane fly by itself. SO, it makes sense that an autobiography is the name for your own life written by yourself.
What would you write about if you wrote your autobiography? Things that happen to you can be exciting, if you write about them in an interesting way. Most autobiographies are written in prose, but you can also write your autobiography in poetry or as a play or a song.
We read autobiographies to learn about the things people did, and the times they lived in. For example, you might read the famous autobiography of a German girl named Anne Frank. She wrote about what happened to her as a four – teen – year – old girl when she stayed in an attic with her family to hide from enemies during wartime. Or you could read about Frederick Douglass, an African – American man who escaped from slavery and wrote a book about his own life.
Fiction and Nonfiction
Fiction is the name we use for stories that are make – believe, such as fairy tales, or Pollyanna and Alice in Wonderland. But fiction isn’t always different from the way things usually are. It can be so close to the truth that it seems as fantastic ans the most unbelievable fairy tale.
Nonfiction, on the other hand, is all about true things. Nothing is made up. Someone’s biography is nonfiction; so is your autobiography. So are articles in your local newspaper, and school reports on science. History is nonfiction, too. Imagine writing history about the 1989 San Francisco eartquake, or a report about a high school sports team.