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Definition of biography

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So You've Been Asked to Submit a Biography

In a library, the word biography refers both to a kind of book and to a section where books of that kind are found. Each biography tells the story of a real person's life. A biography may be about someone who lived long ago, recently, or even someone who is still living, though in the last case it must necessarily be incomplete. The term autobiography refers to a biography written by the person it's about. Autobiographies are of course also necessarily incomplete.

Sometimes biographies are significantly shorter than a book—something anyone who's been asked to submit a biography for, say, a conference or a community newsletter will be glad to know. Often the word in these contexts is shortened to bio , a term that can be both a synonym of biography and a term for what is actually a biographical sketch: a brief description of a person's life. These kinds of biographies—bios—vary, but many times they are only a few sentences long. Looking at bios that have been used in the same context can be a useful guide in determining what to put in your own.

Examples of biography in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'biography.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Late Greek biographia , from Greek bi- + -graphia -graphy

1665, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Dictionary Entries Near biography


Cite this Entry

“Biography.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/biography. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

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Kids definition of biography, more from merriam-webster on biography.

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about biography

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Definition of Biography

Common examples of biographical subjects, famous examples of biographical works, difference between biography, autobiography, and memoir, examples of biography in literature, example 1:  savage beauty: the life of edna st. vincent millay  (nancy milford).

One of the first things Vincent explained to Norma was that there was a certain freedom of language in the Village that mustn’t shock her. It wasn’t vulgar. ‘So we sat darning socks on Waverly Place and practiced the use of profanity as we stitched. Needle in, . Needle out, piss. Needle in, . Needle out, c. Until we were easy with the words.’

Example 2:  The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens  (Claire Tomalin)

The season of domestic goodwill and festivity must have posed a problem to all good Victorian family men with more than one family to take care of, particularly when there were two lots of children to receive the demonstrations of paternal love.

Example 3:  Virginia Woolf  (Hermione Lee)

‘A self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living’: so too with the biography of that self. And just as lives don’t stay still, so life-writing can’t be fixed and finalised. Our ideas are shifting about what can be said, our knowledge of human character is changing. The biographer has to pioneer, going ‘ahead of the rest of us, like the miner’s canary, testing the atmosphere , detecting falsity, unreality, and the presence of obsolete conventions’. So, ‘There are some stories which have to be retold by each generation’. She is talking about the story of Shelley, but she could be talking about her own life-story.

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What Is a Biography?

What is a biography?

Learning from the experiences of others is what makes us human.

At the core of every biography is the story of someone’s humanity. While biographies come in many sub-genres, the one thing they all have in common is loyalty to the facts, as they’re available at the time. Here’s how we define biography, a look at its origins, and some popular types.

“Biography” Definition

A biography is simply the story of a real person’s life. It could be about a person who is still alive, someone who lived centuries ago, someone who is globally famous, an unsung hero forgotten by history, or even a unique group of people. The facts of their life, from birth to death (or the present day of the author), are included with life-changing moments often taking center stage. The author usually points to the subject’s childhood, coming-of-age events, relationships, failures, and successes in order to create a well-rounded description of her subject.

Biographies require a great deal of research. Sources of information could be as direct as an interview with the subject providing their own interpretation of their life’s events. When writing about people who are no longer with us, biographers look for primary sources left behind by the subject and, if possible, interviews with friends or family. Historical biographers may also include accounts from other experts who have studied their subject.

The biographer’s ultimate goal is to recreate the world their subject lived in and describe how they functioned within it. Did they change their world? Did their world change them? Did they transcend the time in which they lived? Why or why not? And how? These universal life lessons are what make biographies such a meaningful read.

Origins of the Biography

Greco-Roman literature honored the gods as well as notable mortals. Whether winning or losing, their behaviors were to be copied or seen as cautionary tales. One of the earliest examples written exclusively about humans is Plutarch’s Parallel Lives (probably early 2 nd century AD). It’s a collection of biographies in which a pair of men, one Greek and one Roman, are compared and held up as either a good or bad example to follow.

In the Middle Ages, Einhard’s The Life of Charlemagne (around 817 AD) stands out as one of the most famous biographies of its day. Einhard clearly fawns over Charlemagne’s accomplishments throughout, yet it doesn’t diminish the value this biography has brought to centuries of historians since its writing.

Considered the earliest modern biography, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) by James Boswell looks like the biographies we know today. Boswell conducted interviews, performed years of research, and created a compelling narrative of his subject.

The genre evolves as the 20th century arrives, and with it the first World War. The 1920s saw a boom in autobiographies in response. Robert Graves’ Good-Bye to All That (1929) is a coming-of age story set amid the absurdity of war and its aftermath. That same year, Mahatma Gandhi wrote The Story of My Experiments with Truth , recalling how the events of his life led him to develop his theories of nonviolent rebellion. In this time, celebrity tell-alls also emerged as a popular form of entertainment. With the horrors of World War II and the explosion of the civil rights movement, American biographers of the late 20 th century had much to archive. Instantly hailed as some of the best writing about the war, John Hersey’s Hiroshima (1946) tells the stories of six people who lived through those world-altering days. Alex Haley wrote the as-told-to The Autobiography of Malcom X (1965). Yet with biographies, the more things change, the more they stay the same. One theme that persists is a biographer’s desire to cast its subject in an updated light, as in Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn (2016).

Types of Biographies

Contemporary Biography: Authorized or Unauthorized

The typical modern biography tells the life of someone still alive, or who has recently passed. Sometimes these are authorized — written with permission or input from the subject or their family — like Dave Itzkoff’s intimate look at the life and career of Robin Williams, Robin . Unauthorized biographies of living people run the risk of being controversial. Kitty Kelley’s infamous His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra so angered Sinatra, he tried to prevent its publication.

Historical Biography

The wild success of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton is proof that our interest in historical biography is as strong as ever. Miranda was inspired to write the musical after reading Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton , an epic 800+ page biography intended to cement Hamilton’s status as a great American. Paula Gunn Allen also sets the record straight on another misunderstood historical figure with Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat , revealing details about her tribe, her family, and her relationship with John Smith that are usually missing from other accounts. Historical biographies also give the spotlight to people who died without ever getting the recognition they deserved, such as The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks .

Biography of a Group

When a group of people share unique characteristics, they can be the topic of a collective biography. The earliest example of this is Captain Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pirates (1724), which catalogs the lives of notorious pirates and establishes the popular culture images we still associate with them. Smaller groups are also deserving of a biography, as seen in David Hajdu’s Positively 4th Street , a mesmerizing behind-the-scenes look at the early years of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña as they establish the folk scene in New York City. Likewise, British royal family fashion is a vehicle for telling the life stories of four iconic royals – Queen Elizabeth II, Diana, Kate, and Meghan – in HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style by style journalist Elizabeth Holmes.


This type of biography is written about one’s self, spanning an entire life up to the point of its writing. One of the earliest autobiographies is Saint Augustine’s The Confessions (400), in which his own experiences from childhood through his religious conversion are told in order to create a sweeping guide to life. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first of six autobiographies that share all the pain of her childhood and the long road that led to her work in the civil rights movement, and a beloved, prize-winning writer.

Memoirs are a type of autobiography, written about a specific but vital aspect of one’s life. In Toil & Trouble , Augusten Burroughs explains how he has lived his life as a witch. Mikel Jollett’s Hollywood Park recounts his early years spent in a cult, his family’s escape, and his rise to success with his band, The Airborne Toxic Event. Barack Obama’s first presidential memoir, A Promised Land , charts his path into politics and takes a deep dive into his first four years in office.

Fictional Biography

Fictional biographies are no substitute for a painstakingly researched scholarly biography, but they’re definitely meant to be more entertaining. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler constructs Zelda and F. Scott’s wild, Jazz-Age life, told from Zelda’s point of view. The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict brings readers into the secret life of Hollywood actress and wartime scientist, Hedy Lamarr. These imagined biographies, while often whimsical, still respect the form in that they depend heavily on facts when creating setting, plot, and characters.

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Meaning of biography – Learner’s Dictionary

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  • biographical

(Definition of biography from the Cambridge Learner's Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

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to become dry, smaller, and covered with lines as if by crushing or folding, or to make something do this

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Look up a word, learn it forever.

/baɪˈɑgrəfi/, /baɪˈɒgrəfi/.

Other forms: biographies

A biography is an account of somebody's life written by somebody else, complete with details of the most important parts.

These days, anyone, of any age, can be the subject of a biography: Justin Bieber, at the tender age of 17, had one written about his life. A biography is not to be confused with an autobiography, an account of someone's life written by the subject himself. You'll find biographies in printed form (remember books?), but also increasingly in the form of e-books, TV dramatizations, and cinematic "bio-docs."

  • noun an account of the series of events making up a person's life synonyms: life , life history , life story see more see less examples: Parallel Lives a collection of biographies of famous pairs of Greeks and Romans written by Plutarch; used by Shakespeare in writing some of his plays types: show 4 types... hide 4 types... autobiography a biography of yourself hagiography a biography that idealizes or idolizes the person (especially a person who is a saint) profile biographical sketch memoir an account of the author's personal experiences type of: account , chronicle , history , story a record or narrative description of past events

Vocabulary lists containing biography

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Practice this vocabulary list and explore words that contain the Greek roots graph ("write/writing") and gram ("written thing").

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What is a Biography? Definition, Elements, and More

definition of a biography

Have you found yourself browsing the biography section of your favorite library or bookstore and wondered what is a biography book ? 

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Plenty of people wonder “What is a biography vs autobiography?” or “What is a biography vs memoir?” And today we are here to set the record straight.

In this brief guide to what a biography is, we’ll explore the definition of a biography, along with its purpose, how you might write one yourself, and more. Let’s get started.

Need A Nonfiction Book Outline?

In this article, we’ll explore:

What is a biography of a person .

What is a biography? A biography is what we call the written account of someone’s life. It is written by someone other than whom the book is about. For example, an author named Walter Isaacson has written biographies on Steve Jobs , Leonardo da Vinci , and Einstein . 

A biography is what focuses on the significant events that occurred in a person’s life, along with their achievements, challenges they’ve overcome, background, relationships, and more. 

They’re an excellent way to get a comprehensive understanding of someone you admire. 

So now you understand what a biography is, but what is the point of a biographical story?

What is the point of a biography? 

Biographies have a few purposes. They can serve as historical records about a notable figure, inspire and educate readers, and give us more insight into how the folks we’re interested in lived their lives. 

And, if you are studying a notable figure, like Einstein, a biography is what you will use as a research resource !

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Does a biography cover someone’s entire life? 

Biographies typically encompass most of a person’s life. Obviously, if the subject of the book is still alive, their entire life cannot be written about. 

If the person lived a long and eventful life with many achievements, the author may cover only an especially noteworthy period of the subject’s life. 

Even so, the point of a biography is to learn about your subject beyond just what they achieved, so there will likely still be contextual information about the subject’s childhood, formative experiences, and more. 

Is a biography always nonfiction? 

Surprisingly, a biography is not always nonfiction . There is a genre called biographical fiction in which the author uses real-life people and events to inspire their fictional narrative . 

This genre is fun because the author can postulate about what their subject may have been thinking, feeling, and more in a way they may not be able to with a nonfiction biography. 

Just keep in mind that biographical fiction blends facts with made-up information, so it can’t be used as a primary research source. That said, it’s a fun supplement to learning about a figure you’re interested in, and can help generate curiosity and insights about their lives. 

If you’d like to read a biographical fiction book, check out books like: 

  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  •   The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
  • The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin 

Biography vs autobiography

What is a biography vs autobiography? Well, a biography is written about another person. An autobiography is when the writer writes about their own life. So Becoming by Michelle Obama would be an autobiography, not a biography. It's only a biography if another author decides to write about Michelle Obama.

Biography vs memoir

What is a biography vs memoir? This distinction is a bit harder to define. A memoir is usually written around a theme or a specific time period in someone's life, and the author is writing about their own memories. Whereas a biography is in chronological order and follows (more or less) the whole lifetime of a person, but it is a person other than the author.

So if someone is telling stories about their travels through South America, that isn't covering their life story, and it is written about themself, so it would be a memoir instead of a biography.

Now that you know what a biography is, and the importance of biographies, let's discuss why someone would want to write one.

Why would someone write a biography? 

An author may want to write a biography about someone because they’re inspired by them and want to educate the public about them. Or, they want to create a historical resource for scholars to study. 

An author may even have a commercial motivation for writing a biography, like a lucrative celebrity profile or a biography that has the potential to be adapted into a film or television series. 

Is it possible to write a biography about yourself? 

If you write a book about yourself, it’s called an autobiography or a memoir—not a biography. So, when you start writing your book, make sure you don't get caught in the autobiography vs biography or biography vs memoir maze.

If you’d like a book written about you that you’re not the author of, you can hire a writer to create one for you. You may choose to do this if you feel your writing skills are not up to par or you don’t have time to write your own biography .

Hiring a writer to write your biography can also make sense if you’d like to make sure the book is as objective and professional as it can be. Of course, this means you have to surrender control of the narrative! 

Some folks may also feel that a biography has more credence than an autobiography or memoir since the book’s subject doesn’t get to decide what is said about them. So hiring a writer for your biography can be a good way to credibly get your story out there. 

Can you write a biography about anyone you’d like? 

When it comes to writing about other people’s lives, it’s wise to proceed with an abundance of caution. After all, you don’t want to be sued for defamation or find yourself in other legal hot water. 

We highly suggest you look into the legal ramifications of writing about your chosen subject before you begin writing about them, but here are a couple of general things to know: 

  • Typically, you don’t need permission to write about someone who is a public figure. However, the definition of a public figure can vary depending on your jurisdiction and more, so you’ll need to do your research.
  • Even if you discover that you can write about your subject without permission, it’s still advisable to contact the subject and or their family. Not only is it good manners, but it may afford you some insider information about your subject. 
  • If your subject or the family of your subject tells you they don’t want a biography about them, you may still legally be able to proceed—consult a lawyer—but you might face backlash when the book is published, limited access to information about your subject, and perhaps a pressing sense of guilt. Not worth it, if you ask us! 

Examples of biographies

What's a biography that is really good? Here are a few of the best biographies you should add to your list: 

  • Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera 
  • Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross
  • Anne Frank: The Biography by Melissa Müller
  • You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington by Alexis Coe
  • The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz
  • Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird

Final thoughts 

Now if anyone asks you “What's a biography?” You should be able to tell them (and give them some great examples).

Reading a biography is a great way to get inspired, learn from other people’s experiences, and more. And writing a biography can be an excellent educational experience in its own right! If you’d like to publish a biography but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. Simply schedule a book consultation to get started. 

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Definition of biography noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

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What Is a Biography? Definition & 25+ Examples

Have you ever wondered what lies beneath the surface of history’s most influential figures?

Imagine a chance to delve into the intricate tapestry of their lives, unraveling the threads that have woven together the very essence of their character, and unearthing the pivotal moments that shaped their destinies.

Welcome to the enthralling world of biographies, where you are invited to embark on a captivating journey into the lives of the extraordinary. Prepare to be captivated by the compelling tales of human resilience, ingenuity, and ambition that lie at the heart of each biography.

Table of Contents

Defining Biography

A biography is a detailed account of a person’s life, written by someone other than the subject. The term “biography” is derived from two Greek words: “bio,” which means life, and “graphy,” which signifies writing. Thus, a biography is the written history of someone’s life, offering an in-depth look at their experiences, achievements, and challenges.

Biographies typically focus on the life of notable individuals, such as historical figures or celebrities, and provide a comprehensive view of their personal and professional journey.

Biographers, the authors of these works, aim to offer an accurate, well-researched portrayal of their subjects by studying various sources and conducting interviews if possible. This thorough research and attention to detail ensure that the resulting narrative is both informative and engaging.

Biographies are a subgenre of non-fiction literature, as they chronicle the lives of real people. However, not all life stories fall under the category of biography.

Autobiographies and memoirs, for instance, focus on the author’s own experiences and are written from a first-person perspective. While autobiographies aim to present an overarching narrative of the author’s life, memoirs tend to focus on specific incidents or periods.

When crafting a biography, it is essential for the biographer to maintain a neutral tone, avoiding any judgment or personal bias. This objectivity allows readers to form their opinions based on the presented facts, gaining a broader understanding of the subject.

Elements of a Biography

A well-crafted biography contains several key elements that provide a comprehensive picture of the subject’s life. These elements help readers gain a deeper understanding of the subject while fostering an emotional connection. Below are some essential aspects of a biography:

Personal and Family Background

The personal and family background section of a biography provides an essential foundation for understanding the subject’s journey and the factors that shaped their life. By exploring the subject’s early years, readers gain insight into the environment and experiences that influenced their character, values, and aspirations.

This section typically begins with an overview of the subject’s birthplace, family origins, and cultural heritage. It delves into the family dynamics, including descriptions of the subject’s parents, siblings, and extended family, shedding light on the relationships that played a crucial role in their development.

The personal and family background section also addresses significant life events, challenges, and milestones that occurred during the subject’s upbringing. These formative experiences may include pivotal moments, such as moving to a new city, attending a particular school, or encountering a mentor who had a lasting impact on their life.

Education and Career

The education and career section of a biography is crucial for understanding the intellectual and professional development of the subject. By tracing the subject’s academic journey and career progression, readers gain a clearer picture of the knowledge, skills, and experiences that shaped their path and contributed to their success.

This section begins by outlining the subject’s educational background, including the schools they attended, the degrees or qualifications they obtained, and any specialized training they received. It also highlights the subject’s academic achievements, such as scholarships, awards, or distinctions, and any influential mentors or teachers who played a significant role in their intellectual growth.

The education and career section also delves into the subject’s professional life, chronicling their work history, job titles, and key responsibilities. It explores the subject’s career trajectory, examining how they transitioned between roles or industries and the factors that influenced their choices.

Major Events and Turning Points

The major events and turning points section of a biography delves into the pivotal moments and experiences that significantly influenced the subject’s life, shaping their character, values, and destiny.

By exploring these transformative events, readers gain a deeper understanding of the forces and circumstances that drove the subject’s actions and choices, as well as the challenges and triumphs they faced along the way.

This section encompasses a wide range of events, which could include personal milestones, such as marriage, the birth of children, or the loss of a loved one.

These personal events often provide insights into the subject’s emotional landscape and reveal the support systems, relationships, and personal values that sustained them through difficult times or propelled them to greater heights.

Influences and Inspirations

The influences and inspirations section of a biography delves into the individuals, ideas, and events that had a profound impact on the subject’s beliefs, values, and aspirations.

By understanding the forces that shaped the subject’s worldview, readers gain a deeper appreciation for the motivations driving their actions and decisions, as well as the creative and intellectual foundations upon which their accomplishments were built.

This section often begins by identifying the key figures who played a significant role in the subject’s life, such as family members, mentors, peers, or historical figures they admired.

It explores the nature of these relationships and how they shaped the subject’s perspectives, values, and ambitions. These influential individuals can provide valuable insights into the subject’s personal growth and development, revealing the sources of inspiration and guidance that fueled their journey.

The influences and inspirations section also delves into the ideas and philosophies that resonated with the subject and shaped their worldview. This could include an exploration of the subject’s religious, political, or philosophical beliefs, as well as the books, theories, or artistic movements that inspired them.

This section examines the events, both personal and historical, that impacted the subject’s life and inspired their actions. These could include moments of personal transformation, such as a life-altering experience or an epiphany, or broader societal events, such as wars, social movements, or technological innovations.

Contributions and Impact

The contributions and impact section of a biography is pivotal in conveying the subject’s lasting significance, both in their chosen profession and beyond. By detailing their achievements, innovations, and legacies, this section helps readers grasp the extent of the subject’s influence and the ways in which their work has shaped the world around them.

This section begins by highlighting the subject’s key accomplishments within their profession, such as breakthroughs, discoveries, or innovative techniques they developed. It delves into the processes and challenges they faced along the way, providing valuable insights into their creativity, determination, and problem-solving abilities.

The contributions and impact section also explores the subject’s broader influence on society, culture, or the world at large. This could include their involvement in social or political movements, their philanthropic endeavors, or their role as a cultural icon.

In addition to discussing the subject’s immediate impact, this section also considers their lasting legacy, exploring how their work has continued to inspire and shape subsequent generations.

This could involve examining the subject’s influence on their successors, the institutions or organizations they helped establish, or the enduring relevance of their ideas and achievements in contemporary society.

Personal Traits and Characteristics

The personal traits and characteristics section of a biography brings the subject to life, offering readers an intimate glimpse into their personality, qualities, and views.

This section often begins by outlining the subject’s defining personality traits, such as their temperament, values, and passions. By exploring these attributes, readers gain insight into the subject’s character and the motivations driving their actions and decisions.

These qualities could include their perseverance, curiosity, empathy, or sense of humor, which may help explain their achievements, relationships, and outlook on life.

The personal traits and characteristics section also delves into the subject’s views and beliefs, offering a window into their thoughts and opinions on various topics. This could include their perspectives on politics, religion, culture, or social issues, providing readers with a clearer understanding of the context in which they operated and the factors that shaped their worldview.

Anecdotes and personal stories play a crucial role in illustrating the subject’s personality and characteristics, as they offer concrete examples of their behavior, actions, or interactions with others.

Quotes and first-hand accounts from the subject or those who knew them well can also be invaluable in portraying their personal traits and characteristics. These accounts offer unique insights into the subject’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences, allowing readers to see the world through their eyes and better understand their character.

Types of Biographies

Biographies come in various forms and styles, each presenting unique perspectives on the lives of individuals. Some of the most common types of biographies are discussed in the following sub-sections.

Historical Fiction Biography

Historical fiction biographies artfully weave together factual information with imaginative elements, creating a vibrant tapestry of the past. By staying true to the core of a historical figure’s life and accomplishments, these works offer a unique window into their world while granting authors the creative freedom to delve deeper into their emotions, relationships, and personal struggles.

Such biographies strike a delicate balance, ensuring that the essence of the individual remains intact while allowing for fictional embellishments to bring their story to life. This captivating blend of fact and fiction serves to humanize these iconic figures, making their experiences more relatable and engaging for readers who embark on a journey through the pages of history.

Here are several examples of notable historical fiction biographies:

  • “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel (2009)
  • “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain (2011)
  • “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier (1999)
  • “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory (2001)
  • “Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan (2007)

Academic Biography

Academic biographies stand as meticulously researched and carefully crafted scholarly works, dedicated to presenting an accurate and comprehensive account of a subject’s life.

Authored by experts or researchers well-versed in their field, these biographies adhere to rigorous standards of accuracy, sourcing, and objectivity. They delve into the intricacies of a person’s life, achievements, and impact, scrutinizing every aspect with scholarly precision.

Intended for an educated audience, academic biographies serve as valuable resources for those seeking a deeper understanding of the subject’s contributions and influence. By placing the individual within the broader context of their time, these works illuminate the complex web of factors that shaped their lives and legacies.

While academic biographies may not always carry the same narrative flair as their fictional counterparts, their commitment to factual integrity and thorough analysis make them indispensable resources for scholars, students, and enthusiasts alike

Here are several examples of notable academic biographies:

  • “Einstein: His Life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson (2007)
  • “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson (2011)
  • “John Adams” by David McCullough (2001)
  • “Alexander the Great” by Robin Lane Fox (1973)
  • “Marie Curie: A Life” by Susan Quinn (1995)

Authorized Biographies

Authorized biographies offer a unique perspective on the lives of their subjects, as they are written with the explicit consent and, often, active participation of the individual in question.

This collaboration between the biographer and the subject can lead to a more accurate, detailed, and intimate portrayal of the person’s life, as the author is granted access to a wealth of personal information, documents, and anecdotes that might otherwise be inaccessible.

When working on an authorized biography, the biographer is typically given permission to access personal documents, such as letters, diaries, and photographs, which can provide invaluable insights into the subject’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences.

This primary source material allows the biographer to construct a narrative that is grounded in fact and captures the essence of the individual’s life and personality.

Here are several examples of notable authorized biographies:

  • “Mandela: The Authorized Biography” by Anthony Sampson (1999)
  • “Marilyn Monroe: The Biography” by Donald Spoto (1993)
  • “Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words” by Malka Marom (2014)
  • “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life” by Alice Schroeder (2008)
  • “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (2015)

Fictionalized Academic Biography

Fictionalized academic biographies merge the best of both worlds, combining the rigorous research and scholarly integrity of academic biographies with the engaging storytelling of historical fiction.

Authors of these works expertly navigate the delicate balance between maintaining factual accuracy and venturing into the realm of imagination.

This approach allows them to explore the subject’s personal life, relationships, and the broader historical context in a compelling manner, while ensuring the narrative remains firmly rooted in well-researched facts.

Here are several examples of notable fictionalized academic biographies:

  • “The Women” by T.C. Boyle (2009)
  • “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” by Therese Anne Fowler (2013)
  • “The Marriage of Opposites” by Alice Hoffman (2015)
  • “Vanessa and Her Sister” by Priya Parmar (2014)
  • “The Last Days of Night” by Graham Moore (2016)

Prophetic Biography

Prophetic biographies delve into the rich and profound narratives of religious figures or prophets, meticulously weaving together insights from sacred texts, religious traditions, and historical accounts.

By providing a comprehensive portrayal of the individual’s life, teachings, and impact on society, these biographies serve as an invaluable resource for understanding the pivotal role these figures played in shaping the course of religious history and the lives of the faithful.

Here are several examples of notable prophetic biographies:

  • “Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources” by Martin Lings (1983)
  • “The Life of Moses” by F.B. Meyer (1893)
  • “The Life of the Buddha: According to the Pali Canon” by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli (1972)
  • “The Quest of the Historical Jesus” by Albert Schweitzer (1906)
  • “The Lives of the Saints” by Alban Butler (1756)

Biography Development Process

A biography is a comprehensive written account of an individual’s life, and the development process involves several essential components to ensure the biography’s accuracy and readability.

A biographer’s primary responsibility is to conduct extensive research in order to gather a comprehensive array of facts about the subject. This meticulous process involves reviewing various documents and sources that shed light on the individual’s life and experiences, as well as the historical context in which they lived.

Key documents, such as birth and death certificates, provide essential information about the subject’s origins and family background. Personal correspondence, letters, and diaries offer invaluable insights into the subject’s thoughts, emotions, relationships, and experiences. News articles, on the other hand, can reveal public perceptions of the subject, as well as their impact on society and culture.

Archives often serve as treasure troves of information for biographers, as they contain a wealth of primary sources that can help illuminate the subject’s life and times. These archives may include collections of personal papers, photographs, audio recordings, and other materials that offer first-hand accounts of the individual’s experiences or shed light on their accomplishments and impact.

Consulting relevant books and articles is another crucial aspect of a biographer’s research process, as these secondary sources provide context, analysis, and interpretation of the subject’s life and work.

By delving into the existing scholarship and engaging with the works of other researchers, biographers can solidify their understanding of the individual and the historical circumstances in which they lived.

Interviewing people who knew the subject personally is a vital component of a biographer’s research process, as it allows them to access unique insights, personal stories, and firsthand accounts of the individual’s life.

Friends, family members, co-workers, and colleagues can all offer valuable perspectives on the subject’s character, relationships, achievements, and challenges, thereby enriching the biographer’s understanding of their life and experiences.

While subjective anecdotes offer a more intimate glimpse into the subject’s personality and personal life, it is essential for biographers to balance these accounts with factual research.

By corroborating and contextualizing personal stories with objective information gleaned from primary and secondary sources, biographers can ensure that their portrayal of the individual’s life remains accurate and well-rounded.

This process of balancing subjective anecdotes with factual research also allows biographers to present a more nuanced and comprehensive view of their subject. By weaving together personal stories with historical context, biographers can create a richer and more engaging narrative that captures the complexity and multifaceted nature of the individual’s life.

In addition, by considering various perspectives and sources of information, biographers can address potential biases or discrepancies in their account, resulting in a more reliable and credible portrayal of the subject.

This careful attention to detail and commitment to accuracy not only enhances the quality of the biography but also helps establish trust between the biographer and their readers.

Chronological Narration

Organizing a biography in a chronological manner is a highly effective approach, as it allows readers to follow the subject’s life events in a logical and coherent sequence.

By presenting the information in a linear fashion, the biographer enables readers to trace the subject’s journey from their early years to their later accomplishments, making it easier to understand the context and progression of their life.

To effectively arrange a chronological narrative, the biographer should begin by highlighting significant milestones and accomplishments in the subject’s life. These key events serve as anchor points in the story, helping to structure the narrative and maintain the reader’s interest.

By focusing on these pivotal moments, the biographer can illustrate the subject’s growth, development, and achievements over time, providing a clear and engaging overview of their life’s trajectory.


Contextualizing the subject within their historical and cultural framework is a crucial aspect of biographical writing, as it enables readers to gain a deeper understanding of the individual’s life, choices, and significance.

Embedding the subject within their historical context involves examining the political, social, and economic landscape of the time. This includes exploring major events, trends, and issues that affected the subject’s life and decisions, such as wars, social movements, technological advancements, or cultural shifts.

Additionally, considering the subject’s cultural context is essential for understanding their beliefs, values, and creative expression. This involves examining the artistic, intellectual, and philosophical currents of the time, which may have influenced the subject’s work, ideas, or relationships.

Moreover, contextualizing the subject within their historical and cultural framework can help to humanize them, revealing the complexities, contradictions, and struggles that are often inherent in the human experience.

This approach offers readers a more nuanced and empathetic understanding of the subject, allowing them to see the person as a product of their time and circumstances, rather than as an isolated figure.

Famous Biographies and Biographers

The life of samuel johnson, ll.d. by james boswell (1791).

“The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.” is a biography of the English writer and literary critic Samuel Johnson, written by his friend and contemporary James Boswell. Published in 1791, it is often considered one of the greatest biographies in the English language and a pioneering work in the development of modern biography as a literary genre.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was a prominent figure in 18th-century English literature, known for his wide-ranging knowledge, wit, and moral authority. He is best remembered for his dictionary, “A Dictionary of the English Language,” published in 1755, which became the standard English dictionary for over a century. He was also a prolific essayist, poet, and critic.

James Boswell (1740-1795) was a Scottish lawyer, diarist, and author who became friends with Johnson in 1763. Over the course of their friendship, Boswell made detailed notes of their conversations and observations, which he later used as the basis for his biography.

“The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.” is a comprehensive and vivid portrait of Johnson’s life, character, and work. Boswell covers Johnson’s early years, education, and struggles with poverty and illness, as well as his rise to prominence as a writer and his involvement in the vibrant literary circles of 18th-century London.

The biography also delves into Johnson’s friendships and relationships, including his long association with Hester Thrale, a prominent society hostess, and writer.

What sets Boswell’s biography apart is his skill in capturing Johnson’s personality, wit, and conversation. By presenting Johnson’s thoughts and opinions on a wide range of topics, as well as anecdotes and reminiscences from those who knew him, Boswell creates a vivid and engaging portrait of his subject.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010)

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is a non-fiction book written by Rebecca Skloot, published in 2010. The book tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge or consent during a biopsy in 1951. These cells, known as HeLa cells, became the first immortal human cell line, reproducing indefinitely under laboratory conditions.

HeLa cells have been used extensively in medical research, contributing to significant scientific breakthroughs, such as the development of the polio vaccine, gene mapping, and cancer research.

Henrietta Lacks was a young mother of five when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cervical cancer at the age of 31. She received treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where a sample of her cancerous tissue was taken without her knowledge. Henrietta passed away in 1951, but her cells continued to live on, revolutionizing medical research.

Rebecca Skloot spent more than a decade researching Henrietta Lacks’ life and the scientific history of HeLa cells. Skloot also interviewed Lacks’ surviving family members, who were unaware of Henrietta’s contribution to science until the 1970s.

The book explores the ethical issues surrounding the use of human tissue in research, the question of consent, and the lack of compensation for the Lacks family.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (2004)

“Alexander Hamilton” is a comprehensive biography of the American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, written by historian and biographer Ron Chernow. Published in 2004, the book provides an in-depth look into Hamilton’s life, from his humble beginnings in the West Indies to his significant contributions as a statesman, economist, and influential figure in early American history.

Chernow’s biography delves into Hamilton’s early life as an orphan in the Caribbean, his immigration to the American colonies, and his education. It also explores his involvement in the American Revolutionary War, where he served as an aide to General George Washington and later as an artillery officer.

The book details Hamilton’s role in the development of the United States Constitution and his work as the first Secretary of the Treasury under President Washington, where he was instrumental in establishing the nation’s financial system.

“Alexander Hamilton” also examines Hamilton’s personal life, including his relationships, marriage, and infamous extramarital affair, as well as his longstanding political rivalries with figures such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Aaron Burr. The biography concludes with the story of Hamilton’s tragic death in a duel with Burr in 1804.

It received critical acclaim and won several awards, including the George Washington Book Prize. The biography also inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to create the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton,” which premiered in 2015 and went on to achieve widespread popularity and numerous accolades, further solidifying Alexander Hamilton’s place in popular culture and history.

Notable Biographies in Different Fields

Science and technology.

Biographies in the field of science and technology offer fascinating insights into the lives and minds of extraordinary individuals who have made significant advancements in their respective fields.

These biographies often provide an in-depth look at the personal and professional lives of scientists, inventors, engineers, and other innovators, highlighting their discoveries, inventions, and contributions to human knowledge and progress.

Arts and Literature

Biographies of artists, actors, and writers often provide captivating and inspiring accounts of the lives of these creative individuals. By examining their personal and professional journeys, these biographies allow readers to gain a deeper understanding of the inspirations, motivations, and challenges that have shaped their subjects’ artistic achievements.

These biographies often delve into the early lives of their subjects, exploring formative experiences that may have influenced their creative paths. They also examine the artistic processes and the development of the subjects’ distinctive styles, providing valuable insights into their creative methodologies, influences, and inspirations.

Sports and Athletics

Biographies of athletes provide riveting accounts of the lives and careers of remarkable individuals who have achieved greatness in the world of sports. These stories often serve as powerful sources of inspiration, showcasing the dedication, perseverance, and triumphs of athletes who have overcome obstacles and pushed the boundaries of human potential.

These biographies delve into the formative experiences of their subjects, exploring how early influences, innate talent, and personal motivations led them to pursue athletic excellence. They also provide insights into the rigorous training regimens, discipline, and sacrifices that athletes make to achieve their goals, highlighting the incredible determination and work ethic that underpin their success.

Additionally, biographies of athletes often touch on the personal challenges and setbacks these individuals have faced, such as injuries, controversies, or personal struggles.

Historical Figures

Biographies of historical figures offer a unique window into the lives, personalities, and experiences of individuals who have left lasting impacts on the world. By delving into the stories of these influential people, readers can gain a deeper understanding of the political, social, and cultural contexts that shaped their actions and decisions, as well as the lasting legacies they left behind.

These biographies often provide richly detailed accounts of their subjects’ lives, including their upbringing, education, relationships, and personal struggles. By exploring the complex facets of these individuals, biographies help to humanize historical figures, providing a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of their motivations, beliefs, and actions.

In addition to personal narratives, biographies of historical figures often weave together broader historical contexts and events. This allows readers to gain valuable insights into the social, political, and cultural forces that influenced their subjects’ lives and decisions.

Writing a Compelling Biography

A captivating biography requires more than just a simple retelling of a person’s life events. It delves into their personal experiences, relationships, and accomplishments, while maintaining an objective and authentic approach.

Being Objective and Authentic

An essential aspect of a well-written biography is its objectivity. The narrative should portray the real person, depicting their experiences and beliefs accurately.

While it can be tempting to embellish facts or minimize flaws, striving for authenticity is crucial in presenting a credible account. This involves thorough research and verification of facts, even when they contradict the author’s initial assumptions.

Authenticity also extends to the respectful portrayal of a subject’s relationships and exploration of their inner world, while avoiding speculation or gossip.

Balancing Personal and Public Life

When writing a biography, one must strike a balance between the subject’s personal and public life. This includes weaving together stories from their childhood, personal relationships, and major life events that may have shaped their character. The integration of both personal and public aspects contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of their vita.

However, careful consideration must be given to privacy concerns, and it is important to determine which aspects of the individual’s life are appropriate to disclose. Ultimately, the reader should gain insight into the person’s journey without feeling intrusive.

Creating Engaging Storylines

Just as in a novel, a great biography should feature engaging storylines that keep readers interested. This can be achieved by organizing the narrative around important events, challenges, and accomplishments that are relevant and compelling. To maintain a smooth flow, strategically transitioning between these key moments helps maintain reader interest.

The use of different perspectives, anecdotes, and historical context can also enhance the storyline. Paint vivid pictures of the settings, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the subject’s world. Furthermore, showcasing the subject’s resilience, growth, and impact, can contribute to a powerful and memorable biography.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can biographies be fictional or purely factual.

Biographies usually aim to present an accurate and factual representation of someone’s life. However, some authors might take creative liberties and incorporate fictionalized elements for dramatic or storytelling purposes.

It is crucial for readers to be aware of the author’s intentions and approach when reading such biographical works.

Can biographies be biased?

Biographies, like any form of writing, can be subject to biases depending on the author’s perspective, beliefs, or intentions.

It is essential for readers to critically evaluate biographies by considering factors such as the author’s credentials, potential biases, and the sources used in the research process.

By comparing multiple biographies on the same subject or cross-referencing with other sources, readers can develop a more comprehensive and balanced understanding of the individual’s life and achievements.

Are biographies always based on famous or historical figures?

While biographies often focus on famous or historical figures, they can also be written about lesser-known individuals with compelling stories or unique experiences.

These “everyday” biographies can provide valuable insights into the lives of ordinary people and the challenges they face, offering a broader understanding of the human experience and fostering empathy and connection among readers.

Are there any ethical considerations when writing a biography?

Yes, ethical considerations play a significant role in writing biographies.

Biographers must respect the privacy and dignity of their subjects, particularly when dealing with sensitive or personal information. They should also strive for accuracy and fairness, avoiding sensationalism or misrepresentation of facts.

Additionally, biographers should acknowledge and address any potential biases or conflicts of interest that may affect their portrayal of the subject.

Biographies offer us unparalleled access to the lives and legacies of remarkable individuals, spanning diverse genres and approaches.

From historical fiction to academic rigor, prophetic accounts to fictionalized narratives, biographies captivate our imagination and enrich our understanding of the human experience. These literary gems remind us that behind every great achievement lies a story of struggle, triumph, and unwavering determination.

So, let us continue to explore these remarkable journeys, as we delve deeper into the pages of history and the hearts of those who have shaped our world.

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- an account of the series of events making up a person's life , , , , , - a record or narrative description of past events; "a history of France"; "he gave an inaccurate account of the plot to kill the president"; "the story of exposure to lead" - a biography of yourself - a biography that idealizes or idolizes the person (especially a person who is a saint) - biographical sketch
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bi•og•ra•phy      n., pl.    ]Boswell wrote a famous biography of Samuel Johnson. ] such writings thought of as a group.See -graph-.
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bi•og•ra•phy   rə fē, bē-),USA pronunciation n., pl.    See bio-, -graphy
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Features Of A Biography

definition of a biography

A biography is an account of someone’s life written by another person. Biographies provide detailed accounts of an individual’s life, often including family background, education, work history, and relationships. While biographies can be written about anyone, they are usually limited to famous or influential figures. Biographies tend to emphasize certain aspects of someone’s life, such as their major accomplishments or the events that shaped them. They can also provide insight into the person’s character and the motivations behind their actions. There are several features that make a biography stand out from other types of writing.

Definition of a Biography

A biography is a written account of someone’s life. It can tell the story of an individual’s life from birth to death, or it can focus on a specific period or event. Biographies can range from formal to informal, and can be written in a variety of styles. Regardless of the style, a biography will generally include details about the person’s childhood, the people and events that shaped their life, and the successes and accomplishments they achieved. Through a biography, a reader can learn about the person’s experiences, values, and beliefs, as well as their major life milestones. A biography can be a powerful way to understand an individual’s life and legacy.

Types of Biography

Biographies can be written about any person, living or dead. But regardless of the subject, all biographies are composed of certain features that are essential to the genre. Biographies can be divided into three main types: traditional biographies, autobiographies, and biographical sketches.

Traditional biographies are written by an outside author who researches and writes about the life of a person. This type of biography typically focuses on major events in the person’s life. It may include personal details, such as family background, education, and career accomplishments, as well as the person’s impact on society.

Autobiographies are written by the person themselves. This type of biography focuses on the individual’s personal experiences and reflections. It is often more detailed than a traditional biography, since the author has access to their own memories and emotions.

Biographical sketches are documents that focus on a brief period of a person’s life. This type of biography is usually written by an outside author, but it is much shorter than a traditional biography. This type of biography is often used to capture a particular moment or event in a person’s life.

Whatever type of biography is written, it is important to ensure that the content is engaging, informative, and optimized for search engines. Writing a biography is an art, and when done correctly, it can provide readers with a unique insight into the life of the subject.

Common Elements of a Biography

A biography is a detailed written account of a person or group’s lives, often with the purpose of illuminating the subject’s accomplishments and contributions. Biographies can range from short, basic accounts of a person’s life to lengthy, complex works that capture the nuances of a person’s life and influence. Despite their difference in length and complexity, most biographies contain common elements and features that provide readers with a comprehensive view of the subject.

A good biography will give readers insight into a person’s life by covering important details from childhood to adulthood, including education, family and relationships, and major events and accomplishments. It will also explain the subject’s influence on culture, society, and history, and how they have impacted the world. Additionally, biographies are often written with the purpose of showcasing the subject’s unique perspective and experiences.

Biographies should also feature primary sources, such as firsthand accounts, interviews, and personal papers, to give the story an added layer of credibility. It should also include research from secondary sources, such as books, magazine articles, and newspaper clippings. The writing should be engaging and interesting, as it should capture the reader’s attention and keep them engaged with the story. Finally, the work should be well-researched and accurate, giving readers an honest and balanced view of the subject.

By incorporating these common elements, biographers can create compelling stories that give readers an in-depth look at the person or group’s life, accomplishments, and influence.

Guide to Writing a Biography Worksheet - Writing Resources

Benefits of Writing a Biography

Biographies can provide us with a unique insight into the lives of amazing people and inspire us to achieve greatness. Writing a biography is an excellent way to document a person’s life and share it with others. There are many benefits of writing a biography, such as gaining a better understanding of the individual, learning from their experiences and mistakes, and inspiring others.

By writing a biography of someone, you can gain a better understanding of their beliefs, motivations, and the events that shaped their lives. You can learn valuable lessons from their successes and failures, and gain insight into their achievements. It can also provide an opportunity to reflect on their legacy and how they impacted the world around them.

Writing a biography can also be an inspirational experience. By learning more about the subject of the biography, you can be inspired to pursue your own goals and dreams. This can help you understand the importance of making the most of every opportunity and pushing yourself to reach your full potential.

In addition, writing a biography can help you develop important writing skills. You can learn how to craft an engaging story, conduct research, and edit your work. These skills can be useful in other areas of your life, such as writing essays or creating resumes.

Overall, writing a biography can be a rewarding experience that offers numerous benefits. It can provide you with a better understanding of the subject, help you learn valuable lessons from their successes and failures, and inspire you to pursue your own dreams. It can also help you develop important writing skills that can be useful in other areas of your life.

Writing a Biography: Tips and Tricks

Writing a biography is no easy feat. It requires research, understanding, and a lot of creativity. But don’t be discouraged, there are some tips and tricks you can use to make the process easier.

First, research is key. Make sure you understand the person’s life, their accomplishments, and their experiences. To do this, you’ll want to look through their archives, articles, and any other sources you can find. This will help you develop a better understanding of who the person is and will help you craft a more detailed narrative.

Second, focus on the structure of the biography. Think about the structure you’ll use, how the story will flow, and which elements and facts to include. It’s important to create a narrative that is both engaging and informative. To do that, you’ll want to break the story up into sections, use quotes, and use vivid language.

Third, remember to stay true to the person’s life. Don’t exaggerate events or fabricate information. You want to stay as true to the facts as possible. It’s also important to consider the person’s perspective and how they would want their life to be portrayed.

Finally, it’s important to edit and revise your work. Make sure you check for typos, grammar mistakes, and any inconsistencies in the narrative. Also, consider having another set of eyes read it over for feedback.

Writing a biography is a daunting task, but with the right tips and tricks, you can create a compelling and engaging story. Research, structure, accuracy, and revisions are all key components to a successful biography.

Examples of Successful Biographies

Biographies are an essential part of our culture, whether it’s a book about a famous person or the personal story of a relative. A good biography has the potential to inspire and teach us about someone else’s life and struggles. But what makes a successful biography?

To answer this question, let’s look at some of the most popular biographies of all time. For example, Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson was a tremendous success, as was Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken. Both of these biographies are written in a captivating style that draws readers into the story and evokes emotions.

Successful biographies are also incredibly detailed, often incorporating primary sources such as interviews and documents. Isaacson’s book, for example, includes over forty interviews with Jobs’ family, friends, and competitors. Unbroken is also filled with striking details, such as Hillenbrand’s description of a prisoner’s experience on a Japanese submarine during World War II.

At the same time, successful biographies are compelling and relatable. They don’t just tell the story of someone’s life; they also reveal universal truths and themes. Jobs’ biography, for example, is a story of ambition, passion, and innovation, while Unbroken is a tale of resilience and triumph over adversity.

By looking at successful biographies, we can see that the keys to a great biography are compelling storytelling, detailed research, and a universal message. With these elements, a biography can be a powerful and inspiring record of someone’s life.

FAQs About the Features Of A Biography

Q1: What are the main features of a biography?

A1: The main features of a biography include the telling of a person’s life story, highlighting their accomplishments, as well as the challenges and obstacles they have faced. It may also include details about the person’s personal life, their family, their education, and their career.

Q2: Does a biography need to include an introduction?

A2: It is not necessary to include an introduction in a biography, although it can be used to provide context or background information about the person.

Q3: What kind of writing style is used in a biography?

A3: Biographies are typically written in a narrative style, which allows the author to tell the story of the person’s life. The tone of the writing should be neutral and objective, while still conveying the emotions and struggles of the subject.

A biography is a detailed account of a person’s life. It is a comprehensive story about an individual’s experiences, achievements, and struggles. Biographies often provide insight into the life of the person being written about and can be both interesting and informative. They can provide readers with an understanding of how the individual overcame challenges and made their mark on history. Biographies can also be used to explore the motivations and actions of people in different time periods and cultures. The features of a biography can vary widely, but typically include a narrative of the individual’s life, their accomplishments, and their lasting impact.

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Expert Panel Develops New Definition of Long COVID


Key Takeaways

A new definition for Long COVID could help people get the treatment they need

As many as 200 different symptoms and conditions can be involved with the chronic illness

The expert panel that crafted the definition recommends that federal officials adopt it

TUESDAY, June 11, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- A new proposed definition for Long COVID could help patients get the help they need, a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says.

Long COVID is a chronic condition that occurs after COVID-19 infection and is present for at least three months, the new definition holds.

Federal officials asked the National Academies to take up the issue of defining Long COVID, given that the lack of a consensus definition for it has led to difficulties in diagnosis and treatment of the disorder.

“The lack of a consistent definition for Long COVID has hampered research and delayed diagnosis and care for patients,” said Dr. Harvey Fineberg , president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and chair of the authoring committee.

“Our committee hopes this single definition, crafted with input from across research and patient communities, will help to educate the public about this widespread and highly consequential disease state,” he added in an academy news release .

The committee that prepared the new definition received input from more than 1,300 people, the experts said.

The report recommends that federal agencies adopt the new definition and implement it in the United States.

“Long COVID is a devastatingly persistent result of the COVID-19 pandemic that the medical community has yet to fully address,” said Dr. Victor Dzau , president of the National Academy of Medicine. “Serving this patient population through better-coordinated care, more definitive diagnoses and more efficient and streamlined research are important next steps for addressing its impact.”

The definition holds that Long COVID manifests in multiple ways across any organ system of the human body.

Overall, a complete list of signs, symptoms and conditions associated with Long COVID would have more than 200 entries.

Long COVID can start just after the initial infection or it can be delayed in onset by weeks or months, the definition says. A person could have suffered from no symptoms during their initial infection and still get Long COVID.

Patients with Long COVID can present with one or many symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough, persistent fatigue, post-exertional malaise, difficulty concentrating, memory changes, recurring headache, lightheadedness, rapid heart rate, sleep disturbance, problems with taste or smell, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.

Long COVID patients also might have one or more diagnosable medical conditions, researchers added. These could involve any of the major systems and organs in the body, and even mental disorders like depression and anxiety.

What’s more, Long COVID can exacerbate existing health conditions as well as presenting as a new condition.

These symptoms and conditions can range from mild to severe, and can resolve within months or persist for years, the panel said.

Anyone can get Long COVID, regardless of their age, sex or background, experts said.

Unfortunately, there are no clinical tests yet available that can conclusively demonstrate the presence of Long COVID, the panel said. Diagnosis must be made based on observed symptoms and conditions.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about Long COVID .

SOURCE: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, news release, June 11, 2024

What This Means For You

Long COVID can include any of as many as 200 different symptoms and conditions, and can be linked to mild and severe cases of COVID.

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10 'breathtaking' photos of our galaxy from the 2024 Milky Way Photographer of the Year contest

From dangerous lion reserves to high mountain peaks, photographers go all out to capture the most spectacular images of our galaxy in this year's Milky Way Photographer of the Year competition.

Milky way photographed above a castle in France

The Milky Way has long fascinated humanity, covering the night sky with its familiar constellations and dense streams of stars. The full beauty of our galaxy is hard to see with the naked eye, but with the help of modern cameras, photographers can capture it in vibrant detail.

The annual Milky Way Photographer of the Year competition showcases awe-inspiring images that bring the greatness of our celestial home into view. Here, we explore our breathtaking galaxy through the lens of this year's winners.

"Lightning lake" — Tom Rae

Milky way photographed above a glacier in Aoraki, Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

The bold ribbon of the Milky Way parts the sky as it strikes the peak of Aoraki / Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. Tom Rae journeyed through a glacial valley to capture the glowing sky against the cyan-blue lake and icy terrain on a winter night. 

"Lions den" — Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti

Milky way arc photographed above a mound of rocks in Atacama Desert, Chile

Lorenzo Ranieri Tenti took this captivating image of the multicolored hues of the Milky Way in the night sky. This image was taken at a mountain lion reserve in the Atacama Desert in Chile — home to several astronomical telescopes, including the forthcoming Vera C. Rubin Observatory, as well as cougars ( Puma concolor ).

"Atmospheric fireworks" — Julien Looten 

As if taken in the center of a bubble, this panoramic image captures the entire arc of the Milky Way alongside a stunning airglow that lights up the night sky in the southwest of France.

Julien Looten took and merged panoramic photos of 40 different exposures to capture the multicolored bands. "This natural phenomenon occurs due to a chemical reaction in the upper atmosphere, emitting faint light known as chemiluminescence," Looten said in a statement .

Related: Some of the oldest stars in the universe found hiding near the Milky Way's edge — and they may not be alone

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"Blooming bottle tree" — Rositsa Dimitrova

Milky way photographed above a bottle tree in Socotra island,Yemen.

This stunning photo captures the Milky Way above a blooming bottle tree ( Adenium socotranum) — a tree endemic to Socotra island in Yemen.

Rositsa Dimitrova took advantage of the island's total lack of light pollution to capture this spectacular photo. "The night sky in Socotra is categorized as Bortle 1 on the dark sky scale — the darkest you can possibly get," Dimitrova said in the statement. 

"The vanity of life" — Mihail Minkov 

Milky way photographed between two tall cliffs with a lone man standing in the center

In Jordan's Wadi Rum Desert, also known as the Valley of the Moon, Mihal Minkov captured a lone figure in an otherworldly landscape. Overhead, the shining stars of the Milky Way shimmer.

"Starry hoodoo wonderland" — Stephanie Thi 

Milky way photographed above hoodoos in Kanab, Utah, USA

Photographed over Kanab, Utah, the Milky Way covers the sky above a scenic landscape of balanced rock formations, known as hoodoos. These toadstool formations are shaped over millions of years by erosion.

"Starlight therapy" — Kavan Chay

Milky way arc photographed above a lone camping tent on top of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand

In this stunning photograph, the Milky Way arches gracefully over some campers on the rugged mountain of Aoraki / Mount Cook. Kavan Chay made the ascent to camp under the ethereal glow of the night sky — a scene he described as "breathtaking" in the statement.

"Road to winter paradise" — Andrea Curzi 

Milky way arc photographed above Passo Giau, Italy

Above the high mountain pass of Passo Giau in Italy, the luminous band of the Milky Way shines down on the untouched, snow-covered ground. Andrea Curzi captured this approximately 300-degree field of view of the galaxy while temperatures were at a frigid 17 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 8 degrees Celsius).

"The celestial symphony above a high desert lagoon" — Kerry-Ann Lecky Hepburn 

Milky way photographed above a bright blue pool in Atacama Desert, Chile

In this image, taken at about 15,000 feet (4,500 meters) above sea level, a calm lagoon glows under a tapestry of the Milky Way's stars in the Atacama Desert. Kerry-Ann Lecky Hepburn noticed that during the day the sun's beams bounced off the pool of water and replicated this by using a flashlight to capture the magical scene at night.

"Milky Way at morning glory pool" — Jerry Zhang 

Milky way photographed above the morning glory hot spring in Yellowstone National Park, USA

— Space photo of the week: 'God's Hand' leaves astronomers scratching their heads

— Most massive stellar black hole in the Milky Way discovered 'extremely close' to Earth

— Group of 60 ultra-faint stars orbiting the Milky Way could be new type of galaxy never seen before  

In this image, dense stars reflect off of the renowned Morning Glory hot spring in Yellowstone National Park. The pool mirrors the constellations Scorpius and Antares.

The hot spring was named for its likeness to a colorful flower. But its famous crystal blue waters have changed to a bright green because of pollution, Zhang said in the statement. 

To see the full list of winners, check out the official Milky Way Photographer of the Year website.

Elise studied marine biology at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. She has worked as a freelance journalist focusing on the aquatic realm. Elise is working with Live Science through Future Academy, a program to train future journalists on best practices in the field.

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Definition & Facts for Gallstones

In this section:

What are gallstones?

Do gallstones have another name, what is the biliary tract, how common are gallstones, who is more likely to develop gallstones, what are the complications of gallstones.

Gallstones are hard, pebble-like pieces of material, usually made of cholesterol or bilirubin , that form in your gallbladder . Gallstones can range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. The gallbladder can make one large gallstone, hundreds of tiny stones, or both small and large stones.

When gallstones block the bile ducts of your biliary tract , the gallstones can cause sudden pain in your upper right abdomen . This pain is called a gallbladder attack, or biliary colic. If your symptoms continue and they’re left untreated, gallstones can cause serious complications .

However, most gallstones don’t cause blockages and are painless, also called “silent” gallstones. Silent gallstones usually don’t need medical treatment.

Types of gallstones

The two main types of gallstones are

  • cholesterol stones
  • pigment stones

Cholesterol stones are usually yellow-green in color and are made of mostly hardened cholesterol. In some countries, cholesterol stones make up about 75 percent of gallstones. 1

Pigment stones are dark in color and are made of bilirubin. Some people have a mix of both kinds of stones.

What some kinds of gallstones can look like: yellow pebbles.

Cholelithiasis is the name doctors sometimes call gallstones.

Your biliary tract, which is made up of your gallbladder and bile ducts, helps with digestion by releasing bile .

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that stores bile and is located in your upper right abdomen, below your liver .

The bile ducts of your biliary tract include the hepatic ducts, common bile duct , and cystic duct . Bile ducts also carry waste and digestive juices from the liver and pancreas to the duodenum .

Your liver produces bile, which is mostly made of cholesterol, bile salts, and bilirubin. Your gallbladder stores the bile until it’s needed. When you eat, your body signals your gallbladder to empty bile into your duodenum to mix with food. The bile ducts carry the bile from your gallbladder to the duodenum.

Illustration of the anatomy of the gallbladder; shows the liver, common hepatic duct, cystic duct, common bile duct, pancreas, and small intestine. The inset shows the liver, bile ducts, gallbladder, pancreas, and small intestine.

Gallstones are very common, affecting 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. population, which is almost 25 million people. About a quarter of the nearly 1 million people diagnosed with gallstones each year will need to be treated, usually with surgery. 2

Certain groups of people have a higher risk of developing gallstones than others. 3

  • Women are more likely to develop gallstones than men. Women who have extra estrogen in their body due to pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy , or birth control pills may be more likely to produce gallstones.
  • Older people are more likely to develop gallstones. As you age, the chance that you’ll develop gallstones becomes higher.
  • People with a family history of gallstones have a higher risk.
  • American Indians have genes that raise the amount of cholesterol in their bile, and have the highest rate of gallstones in the United States.
  • Mexican Americans are also at higher risk of developing gallstones.

An American Indian man and young girl.

People with certain health conditions

You are more likely to develop gallstones if you have one of the following health conditions:

  • cirrhosis , a condition in which your liver slowly breaks down and stops working due to chronic, or long-lasting, injury
  • infections in the bile ducts, which can also be a complication of gallstones
  • hemolytic anemias, conditions in which red blood cells are continuously broken down, such as sickle cell anemia
  • some intestinal diseases that affect normal absorption of nutrients, such as Crohn’s disease
  • high triglyceride levels
  • low HDL cholesterol
  • metabolic syndrome , which can also raise the risk of gallstone complications
  • diabetes and insulin resistance

People with diet- and weight-related health concerns

You are more likely to develop gallstones if you

  • have obesity , especially if you are a woman
  • have had fast weight loss, like from weight-loss surgery, also called metabolic and bariatric surgery
  • have been on a diet high in calories and refined carbohydrates and low in fiber

Learn more about dieting and gallstones .

Complications of gallstones can include

  • inflammation of the gallbladder
  • severe damage to or infection of the gallbladder, bile ducts, or liver
  • gallstone pancreatitis , which is inflammation of the pancreas due to a gallstone blockage

Many people do not have symptoms of gallstones until they have complications.

If left untreated, gallstones can be deadly. Treatment for gallstones usually involves gallstone surgery.

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

  • Best term policy
  • Best for seniors
  • Best for military members
  • Best for higher policy limits
  • Best for guaranteed acceptance
  • Best for waiting periods
  • How we review no exam life insurance

Best No Exam Life Insurance Companies of June 2024

Affiliate links for the products on this page are from partners that compensate us (see our advertiser disclosure with our list of partners for more details). However, our opinions are our own. See how we rate insurance products to write unbiased product reviews.

Many life insurance companies offer no-exam life insurance, which has the obvious appeal of skipping medical exams. For some people, it's a great option, but keep in mind that this type of life insurance policy will still require some information about your medical history. 

Our Top Picks for the Best No Exam Life Insurance

  • Best term life policy: Ethos Life
  • Best for seniors: AARP Life Insurance
  • Best for military members: USAA Life Insurance
  • Best for higher policy limits: Prudential Life Insurance
  • Best for guaranteed acceptance: Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance
  • Best for waiting period: AAA Life Insurance

Compare No Medical Exam Life Insurance Plans

No medical exam life insurance is particularly good for people seeking insurance later in life, forfeiting death benefit amounts and paying higher premiums to qualify. As such, the best no exam life insurance should have high age eligibility without too much compromise on coverage and costs.

Policies included in our guide on the best no medical exam life insurance insure people up to 85 years old. Read on to learn more.

Best no exam term life insurance 

Ethos life insurance.

Ethos Life accepts applicants up to age 65 with a 100% online application process, and limits are as high as $2 million. 

Ethos Life asks a few basic medical questions, but coverage is effective immediately once approved. In addition, every customer buying policies like this from Ethos Life is eligible for a 30-day look period, which is another way to say you can cancel and get your money back in the first 30 days with no penalties.

  • Health questions: Yes
  • Coverage limits: Up to $2 million
  • Waiting period: May apply
  • Unique feature: Instant quotes available with a streamlined online application

Read our Ethos Life Insurance review here.

Ethos Ethos Life

Apply for life insurance online in just a few minutes with Ethos' simple application. No medical exams are required. Just answer a few health questions—many customers enjoy same-day coverage!

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. 100% online application process, quotes in minutes
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Coverage starts immediately once approved
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Term policies renewable up to age 94 for qualifying applicants
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. No conversion options to turn term policies to whole life for no exam policies
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Whole life policy limits are lower

Best no exam life insurance for seniors

Aarp life insurance.

AARP Life Insurance caters to senior clients for insurance and many other financial products. Older adults between 50 and 74 may qualify as long as they are AARP members. Term policies are available with limits up to $150,000 in most states. Montana and New York residents may be eligible for up to $100,000. Whole life policy limits max out at $25,000.

Whole life policies can be issued without any health exams or medical questions. The term policies, on the other hand, may ask some health questions.

  • Health questions: For term life policies, but not whole
  • Coverage limits: Up to $150,000
  • Unique feature: No medical exam policy caters to older adults

Read our AARP Life Insurance review .

AARP AARP Life Insurance

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. No medical exams required
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Specialized life insurance coverage for older adults
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. No medical exams required, guaranteed coverage available
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. AARP membership is required for purchase
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Only small policies available
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Coverage may be based on medical questions and history

Best no exam life insurance for military members

Usaa life insurance.

USAA Life Insurance is typically associated with military members and their immediate family members, but its insurance products are available to anyone. Pricing is lower, payouts are higher, and customer service is strong. Of course, these services are only available to military and qualifying family members. For the children of a deceased military member to use any USAA products, the military member would need to be signed up before their death.

Guaranteed whole life policies are available in 49 states, excluding Montana. USAA life insurance coverage is available from $2,000 to $25,000 with no medical exam or questions. Applicants who want higher coverage limits can explore medical exam policy options with a licensed agent.

  • Health questions: No
  • Coverage limits: Up to $25,000
  • Waiting period: Two years
  • Unique feature: Below-market product costs available for military members and qualifying family

Read our USAA Life Insurance review .

USAA USAA Life Insurance

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Affordable pricing starting with $12/month on some policies
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. May offer coverage to military members other companies won't cover
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Offers term and permanent life insurance options
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. 2 year waiting period for full benefits on some policies
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. May focus on death benefits only more than other companies
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. All permanent policies are underwritten and serviced by other companies, not by USAA
  • USAA offers life insurance for the military, veterans, and the public.

Best no exam life insurance for higher policy limits

Prudential life insurance.

Prudential Life Insurance  offers up to $3 million in coverage for term life policies. Adults up to 60 years old are eligible for coverage with a short application involving some medical questions. For younger applicants, conversion options may also be available later to make term policies into whole life policies. However, due to the higher limits, Prudential's application process may also be longer.

  • Coverage limits: Up to $3 million
  • Unique feature: High expert and customer rankings with a trusted provider

Read our Prudential Life Insurance review .

Prudential Prudential Life Insurance

Offers aggressive financial plans.

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Available in all 50 states (New York residents may have different plans)
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Buyers can withdraw money to pay for nursing home bills due to severe illness or disability
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Knowledgeable agents who can walk you through your options
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Financial returns are limited
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Limited policy options for seniors and other groups who might struggle to find life insurance

The aggressive financial plans offered by Prudential may appeal to many younger buyers and those with a stable income. However, those with lower income or buyers who aren't sure about the financial system may be more hesitant to engage with Prudential. Like many other industry giants, Prudential is working to change this perception.

Best no exam life insurance for guaranteed acceptance

Mutual of omaha life insurance.

Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance has high financial stability and customer satisfaction ratings across different types of insurance. Guaranteed life policies are available for adults between the ages of 45 and 85. In New York state, the age range is 50-75. Policies can be as small as $2,000 in most states and as large as $25,000 with no health questions or medical exams.

Mutual of Omaha's no medical exam policies have a graded death benefit. If you die within two years of the policy start date, the company will not pay the full policy. Instead, it delivers 110% of the premiums paid. The Mutual of Omaha website boasts same-day payouts on most policies. Policies for children are also available.

  • Age: 45-85 (50-75 in New York State)
  • Unique feature: Company website lists same-day payment on most claims

Read our Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance review .

Mutual of Omaha Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. diverse whole and term life insurance options
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Strong financial ratings and company history
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Wide range of riders to customize plans
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. online applications not available for term applicants
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. May not provide strong investment options for retirement

Best no exam life insurance for waiting periods

Aaa life insurance.

AAA Life Insurance  offers immediate death benefits for qualified applicants between 18 and 75. In other words, once your policy starts, you are eligible for the full policy benefit. Policies are available with limits as low as $25,000 and as high as $500,000. While a medical exam is not required, health questions are.

AAA offers term policies with limits as high as $500,000. For a whole life policy, the limit is $25,000. But applicants can add a rider doubling the payout for accidental death coverage. Younger people have no waiting period for benefits. For applicants over age 45, AAA pays out 130% of the premiums paid up to the date of death for the first two years.

  • Coverage limits: Up to $500,000 term/$25,000 whole
  • Waiting period: Applies after age 45

AAA AAA Life Insurance

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Large life policies available for term customers
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Substantial discounts available for AAA members
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Strong financial ratingSome members may qualify for discounts if combining home and auto policies
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Only small whole life policies to cover a maximum of $25,000
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Non-members may not get competitive rates

How to Choose the Best No Medical Exam Life Insurance Company

The number of life insurance providers can be overwhelming and paralyzing. Asking friends and family about their life insurance policy and using guides like ours can be a great first step toward finding your policy. 

However, guides and recommendations can only go so far in helping you decide which no medical exam life insurance company is best for you. You'll need to take factors like age, medical history, and your financial goals into consideration when you make your decisions. A qualified insurance professional may be able to help you crunch your numbers and find the best policy. 

Coverage Amount

The most important, and most obvious, consideration when choosing a life insurance policy is the payout your loved ones will receive. The coverage you need will often depend on why you want life insurance. If your main goal is to make sure your final expenses are covered, than you'll have plenty of options. However, if you have long-term goals in mind, you may want to consider other life insurance options. 

It's worth noting that no exam life insurance often has limited death benefits, so your options will be limited. 

Policy Type

Generally speaking, most no exam life insurance fits into two types of life insurance policies: simplified issue and guaranteed issue.

Simplified issue : This is ideal for people who want life insurance but have a moderate health condition that may bar them from other insurance options. It's worth noting that some simplified issue life insurance providers enforce graded death benefits, withholding access to your full death benefits for a few years.

Guaranteed issue:  Guaranteed issue life insurance is for older people looking for final expense coverage, which includes funeral and burial expenses. It limits applicants to those who are 50 and above.

Premiums for no medical exam life insurance are generally higher as applicants tend to be high-risk and requirements are lower. You'll want to keep this in mind as you sort through quotes.

Customer Service

You should peruse customer reviews on websites like Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau while shopping for a life insurance company. You should note how helpful and accessible a company's customer service team is and any issues with receiving payouts. Unresponsive insurance companies are the last thing that anyone wants to deal with after the passing of a loved one.

Why You Should Trust Us: How We Reviewed the Best No Exam Life Insurance

The coverage and riders offered are vital parts of our evaluation. We also look at the speed of payouts, customer satisfaction, and financial strength ratings. All of these factor into the immediate and long-term performance of the life insurance companies we review.

If you're looking for more information about a specific life insurer, our reviews offer a deep dive into individual policies, riders, and more. The same considerations are used for all competitors to ensure readers have the edge to make informed decisions in an ever-changing market.

See our life insurance rating methodology for more details.

Best No Medical Exam Life Insurance FAQs

Most life insurance policies have some waiting period, whether it's a few weeks or longer. However, no medical exam life insurance is sometimes available with no waiting period, and you also have the option to purchase temporary coverage in the interim before your policy takes effect.

There are alternatives to a new medical exam life insurance policy. Insurance agents can quote you medical exam policies if you're denied a no medical exam option. An experienced agent may be able to assess your application before starting the process to avoid official denials. If you're concerned about premium limits, you can explore options like IUL ( indexed universal life ) for permanent life insurance that increases your benefit as long as you make premium payments.

The highest amount of life insurance you can get without a medical exam is lower than what you could get with a medical exam. Guaranteed-issue policies that don't require medical exams typically top out at $25,000 or $50,000 in coverage, while standard life insurance policies can offer millions in coverage.

You'll have to decide whether you prefer a whole or term policy based on your situation if you're getting no medical life insurance. A term policy has an expiration date, and extensions or conversions to a whole life policy are not guaranteed. If anything, your rate may be higher if you try to convert your policy. The insurer looks at you just as it would any other applicant of your age, health, etc. A whole life policy locks in premiums and payouts.

Yes, you can really get life insurance without a medical exam, but your options will be different. That's because you'll need to choose a guaranteed issue policy — a specific type of insurance that lets you bypass the medical exam requirement — and it will probably cost more than a regular policy including a medical exam.

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  • Treasury and IRS release guidance on partnership “basis shifting” transactions

Guidance documents related to certain “basis-shifting” transactions involving partnerships and related parties

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The U.S. Treasury Department and IRS today released three guidance documents related to certain “basis-shifting” transactions involving partnerships and related parties.  

As explained in the related IRS release— FS-2024-21 (June 17, 2024)—the basis shifting transactions targeted in the new guidance generally fall into three groups:

  • Transfer of partnership interest to related party:  In this transaction, a partner with a low share of the partnership’s “inside” tax basis and a high “outside” tax basis transfers the interest in a tax-free transaction to a related person or to a person who is related to other partners in the partnership. This related-party transfer generates a tax-free basis increase to the transferee partner’s share of “inside” basis.
  • Distribution of property to a related party:  In this transaction, a partnership with related partners distributes a high-basis asset to one of the related partners that has a low outside basis. After this, the distributee partner reduces the basis of the distributed asset and the partnership increases the basis of its remaining assets. The related partners can arrange this transaction so that the reduced tax basis of the distributed asset will not adversely impact the related partners, while the basis increase to the partnership’s retained assets can produce tax savings for the related parties.
  • Liquidation of related partnership or partner:  In this transaction, a partnership with related partners liquidates and distributes (1) a low-basis asset that is subject to accelerated cost recovery or for which the parties intend to sell to a partner with a high outside basis. and (2) a high-basis property that is subject to longer cost recovery (or no cost recovery at all) or for which the parties intend to hold to a partner with a low outside basis. Under the partnership liquidation rules, the first related partner increases the basis of the property with a shorter life or which is held for sale while the second related partner decreases the basis of the long-lived or non-depreciable property, with the result that the related parties generate or accelerate tax benefits.

The guidance generally only impacts partnerships when partners are related parties. For purposes of the guidance, partners and other persons would be considered as related if they have a relationship described in section 267(b) (without regard to section 267(c)(3)) or section 707(b)(1) immediately before or immediately after a transaction.  However, the guidance would impact certain transactions not involving related parties – including where a party is tax-exempt, foreign (in certain cases) or has a tax-attribute precluding the recognition of gain (in certain cases).

Notice 2024-54 announces forthcoming regulations

To address these transactions, the Treasury Department and IRS today released Notice 2024-54 announcing two sets of upcoming regulations:

  • The first set would require partnerships to treat basis adjustments arising from covered transactions in a way that would restrict them from deriving inappropriate tax benefits from the basis adjustments. The notice further announces that the covered transactions governed by these regulations would involve basis adjustments under sections 732, 734(b) and/or 743(b).
  • The second set would provide rules to ensure clear reflection of the taxable income and tax liability of a consolidated group of corporations when members of the group own interests in partnerships. According to the guidance, regulations would apply a single-entity approach to partnership interests held by various members of a consolidated group.  

The notice states that the Treasury Department and IRS intend to propose that the first set of regulations apply to tax years ending on or after June 17, 2024. That is, once finalized, the regulations would govern the availability and amount of cost recovery deductions and gain or loss calculations for tax years ending on or after June 17, 2024, even if the relevant covered transaction was completed in a prior taxable year. The effective date for the second set of regulations will be proposed in the upcoming proposed regulations.  

Proposed regulations identifying certain partnership basis shifting transactions as transactions of interest

In addition, the Treasury Department and IRS today released proposed regulations  (REG-124593-23) that would identify certain partnership related-party basis adjustment transactions and substantially similar transactions as transactions of interest (TOI), a type of reportable transaction.

The TOIs generally involve positive basis adjustments of $5 million or more under section 732(b) or (d), 734(b), or 743(b), for which no corresponding tax is paid. The transactions would include either a distribution of partnership property to a partner that is related to one or more other partners in the partnership, or the transfer of a partnership interest in which the transferor is related to the transferee, or the transferee is related to one or more of the partners. In these transactions, the basis increase allows related parties an opportunity for decreasing their taxable income through increased cost recovery deductions or through decreasing their taxable gain (or increasing their taxable loss) on the subsequent transfer of the property in a transaction in which gain or loss is recognized in whole or in part.

The proposed regulations are proposed to apply as of the date of publication of final regulations in the Federal Register. However, taxpayers and their advisors should note that they may be required to report transactions that occurred prior to the date of publication of the final regulations.

Comments on the proposed regulations, as well as requests to speak and outlines for topics to be discussed at a public hearing (scheduled for September 17, 2024, at 10:00 AM ET), are due by August 19, 2024. If no outlines are received by that date, the public hearing will be cancelled. 

Revenue Ruling 2024-14 clarifies application of economic substance doctrine to partnership basis-shifting transactions

Finally, the Treasury Department and IRS today released Rev. Rul. 2024-14 clarifying when the economic substance doctrine may apply to disallow tax benefits associated with basis-shifting transactions involving partnerships and related parties.

In particular, Rev. Rul. 2024-14 announces that the economic substance doctrine will be raised in cases when related parties:

  • Create inside/outside basis disparities through various methods, including the use of certain partnership allocations and distributions
  • Capitalize on the disparity by either transferring a partnership interest in a nonrecognition transaction or making a current or liquidating distribution of partnership property to a partner
  • Claim a basis adjustment under sections 732(b), 734(b), or 743(b) resulting from the nonrecognition transaction or distribution

Read another related IRS release— IR-2024-166  (June 17, 2024)

The purpose of this TaxNewsFlash  is to provide a high-level summary of these guidance documents. Another TaxNewsFlash will be released shortly providing initial analysis and observations on the guidance.

The KPMG name and logo are trademarks used under license by the independent member firms of the KPMG global organization. KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee and does not provide services to clients. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm. The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation. For more information, contact KPMG's Federal Tax Legislative and Regulatory Services Group at: + 1 202 533 3712, 1801 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006.

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  29. Treasury and IRS release guidance on partnership "basis shifting

    In addition, the Treasury Department and IRS today released proposed regulations (REG-124593-23) that would identify certain partnership related-party basis adjustment transactions and substantially similar transactions as transactions of interest (TOI), a type of reportable transaction.. The TOIs generally involve positive basis adjustments of $5 million or more under section 732(b) or (d ...