Where would we be without biographies of famous people, and more so without the people who write them? I think biographies are so popular because we like to know what makes other people tick, or what adversities they overcame to achieve their status in life. We like to have the back story of how a famous person started as just another little kid in a poor town in the Midwest, or any other location or learn how famous sports stars learn to deal with throngs of admirers and spend their money, or what foundations they start to help others. The list could go on to include famous scientists, politicians, historical figures, movie stars, artists, musicians and teachers. I’m sure I missed someone.
According to the National Day of Calendar post for this day “the best biographers were those who ate, drank and “lived in social intercourse” with those about whom they wrote. The post is talking about Scots-born James Boswell who met his friend Samuel Johnson at a bookshop near Covent Garden. Nearly 30 years later he published The Life of Johnson, which became the most celebrated English biography.” I have to admit, I don’t know who either of these men are. Maybe that should be todays research project.
A biography is a story about someone written by another person. I know some biographers work only from interviews and that’s fine. We get the facts and timeline of the famous person’s climb to becoming a household name. What is left out of that is what the person is like behind closed doors. Say for instance the fact they get really grumpy when they are hungry or they have a wee tiny bladder and visit the rest room more often than most or their clothes are covered with dog hair just like ours when they are home. These little tidbits aren’t really important, but to me it would make the person more real and less untouchable, but then again, they are famous, maybe they should be untouchable by the general public for their own sanity sake. Another idea to ponder.
A good biographer can take the facts about another person and turn them into an interesting story that often feels like it was written by the person being discussed. It is an art. Today is the day to acknowledge the fact if we didn’t have biographers we would miss out on a lot of good reading and we wouldn’t be able to get to know the people we admire from the past and present. Thank you to all the biographers out there.