Biographers

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A biographer is a writer who composes and produces an account of a person’s life. The ones who write their own biographies are called autobiographers. There have been innumerable famous people from all fields of life who have walked on this earth from the past several centuries. The credit of documenting the information about these great personalities and preserving such knowledge for the future generations goes to the biographers. Plutarch of ancient Greek was one of the earliest biographers and his work ‘Parallel Lives’, one of the earliest known biographies. During the Middle Ages the task of writing biographies was usually performed by the hermits and monks and priests who wrote about church fathers, popes and saints in a bid to inspire people. The art of writing biography as a distinct genre of writing began emerging in 18th century and evolved into its contemporary form in the 20th century. Richard David Ellmann was a prominent biographer who wrote about James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. The life stories of Mark Twain, Charlie Chaplin, and Ernest Hemmingway were authored by another famous biographer Kenneth Schuyler Lynn. Walter Isaacson recently rose to glory with Steve Jobs’ biography. Read on to learn more about famous biographers from all over the world.

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 1 
Richard Wagner
(Known for His Operas and Music Dramas ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ and ‘Tristan und Isolde’)
Richard Wagner
4
Birthdate: May 22, 1813
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: February 13, 1883
German composer and conductor Richard Wagner is best remembered for his operas and music dramas. He explored the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, which combined many forms of art, including the visual, poetic, and musical. He also established the opera house Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which hosted his works The Ring and Parsifal.
 2 
Jane Hawking
(Writer)
Jane Hawking
6
Birthdate: March 29, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: St Albans, Hertfordshire, England

Jane Hawking is an English teacher and author. She is best known as the ex-wife of popular physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking. She was married to Hawking for 30 years, during which she doubled up as his caretaker. Jane Hawking took good care of Stephen Hawking despite struggling from depression, for which she is much-respected in the scientific community.

 3 
Samuel Johnson
4
Birthdate: September 18, 1709
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lichfield, England
Died: December 13, 1784

Essayist, biographer, lexicographer, and literary critic Samuel Johnson, or Dr. Johnson, is remembered for his A Dictionary of the English Language and Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets. He was also a poet, a playwright, and a staunch Tory. His mannerisms indicated he had Tourette syndrome.

 4 
Piper Kerman
(Known for Memoir of Her Prison Experiences, ‘Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison’)
Piper Kerman
4
Birthdate: September 28, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
 5 
Lee Israel
(American Author Known for Committing Literary Forgery)
Lee Israel
4
Birthdate: December 3, 1939
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: December 24, 2014

Starting as a freelance writer, Lee Israel later penned bestselling biographies of personalities such as Tallulah Bankhead and Estée Lauder. She made headlines when she admitted to forging works of deceased authors and actors to make money. Her memoir, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, was later turned into a film.

 6 
Washington Irving
(Author, Historian, Diplomat)
Washington Irving
4
Birthdate: April 3, 1783
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: November 28, 1859

Widely known as the first American man of letters, Washington Irving penned the legendary tales of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which are also called the first short stories by an American author. He had also had a brief stint as a lawyer.

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 7 
Ève Curie
(Journalist and Pianist Best Known for Writing a Biography of Her Mother “Madame Curie”)
Ève Curie
4
Birthdate: December 6, 1904
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 22, 2007

French and American writer, journalist, and pianist Ève Curie was one of the daughters of scientists Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. She was the only one in the Curie family who did not choose a career in science. She authored her mother’s biography and was actively involved with UNICEF, helping women and children in developing countries.

 8 
Mary Soames
(Youngest Child of Winston Churchill)
Mary Soames
4
Birthdate: September 15, 1922
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chartwell
Died: May 31, 2014

Mary Soames was a British author and the youngest child of Winston Churchill and Clementine. From 1939 to 1941, Soames worked for several public organizations, such as the Women's Voluntary Service and Red Cross. She then joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In 1945, she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), in recognition of meritorious military services.

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 9 
Monica Crowley
(Radio personality, Biographer, Journalist)
Monica Crowley
4
Birthdate: September 19, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Arizona

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs, Monica Crowley is also known as a Fox News political analyst. She has penned two bestsellers about her experience of working with Richard Nixon and has also contributed to the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

 10 
Robert Osborne
(Actor, Television actor, Biographer, Film actor, Historian, Journalist, Screenwriter, Cinematographer, Film producer)
Robert Osborne
4
Birthdate: May 3, 1932
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Colfax
Died: March 6, 2017

Best known for his over two-decade-long stint as a Turner Classic Movies host, Robert Osborne also gained fame for his penning The Official History of the Academy Awards and the National Film Book Award-winning 50 Golden Years of Oscar. A qualified journalist, he also wrote columns for The Hollywood Reporter.

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 11 
Margot Frank
(Second World War victim)
Margot Frank
4
Birthdate: February 16, 1926
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany
Died: March 9, 1945
 12 
Bill Bryson
(American–British author of Nonfiction Books on Topics Including Travel, the English language, and Science)
Bill Bryson
4
Birthdate: December 8, 1951
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Des Moines, Iowa, United States
Best known for his books on travel, travel, languages, and science, Bill Bryson had been a journalist before he ventured into writing. Notes From a Small Island gained him the initial attention, while the award-winning and bestselling A Short History of Nearly Everything established him as a seasoned author.
 13 
David McCullough
(American Historian & Author)
David McCullough
4
Birthdate: July 7, 1933
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died: August 7, 2022

David McCullough was an American historian, author, narrator, and lecturer. Over the course of his illustrious career, McCullough received two National Book Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, and two Francis Parkman Prizes among other prestigious awards. In 2006, he was honored with America's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also received over 40 honorary degrees.

 14 
Ron Chernow
(Writer, Historian, Journalist, Biographer)
Ron Chernow
4
Birthdate: March 3, 1949
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow is best known for his books Washington: A Life and The House of Morgan. Educated at Yale and Cambridge, he started his career as a freelance journalist and later turned into a master biographer. He also reviews books and is a radio/TV commentator.

 15 
John Eisenhower
(Diplomat, Military historian, Author, Writer, Biographer)
John Eisenhower
4
Birthdate: August 3, 1922
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Denver
Died: December 21, 2013

U.S. Army officer John Eisenhower was the son of military-general-turned-president Dwight D. Eisenhower. He had donned many hats, from teaching English to serving on his father's White House staff. He also assisted his father in writing his memoirs and had been the American ambassador to Belgium, too.

 16 
Dave Pelzer
(Autobiographer Best Known for His 1995 Memoir of Childhood Abuse, 'A Child Called It')
Dave Pelzer
4
Birthdate: December 29, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Daly City, California, United States

Best known for his 1995 memoir, A Child Called "It", David James Pelzer is an American author of four autobiographical work and three self-help books. Raised by abusing parents until the age of twelve, he has described his childhood, adolescence and adulthood in the first three books. Also a motivational speaker, his message is all about triumph of human spirit.

 17 
Jim Carroll
(Known for His 1978 Autobiographical Work ‘The Basketball Diaries')
Jim Carroll
4
Birthdate: August 1, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York, United States
Died: September 11, 2009

Punk musician and author Jim Carroll is best remembered for his autobiographical depiction of his struggle with drugs in his teenage years, The Basketball Diaries, which was later turned into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Part of The Jim Carroll Band, he was known for the single People Who Died.

 18 
Ann Rule
(Author of True Crime Books, Famous for Her Book 'The Stranger Beside Me', About Serial Killer Ted Bundy)
Ann Rule
4
Birthdate: October 22, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lowell, Michigan, United States
Died: July 26, 2015

True crime author Ann Rule had initially been a policewoman and was also well-versed in criminology and psychology. She first gained attention with her book The Stranger Beside Me, which relates her experiences of working with Ted Bundy, a volunteer at a suicide hotline, who later murdered several women.

 19 
Jon Meacham
(Writer, Reviewer, Historian and Presidential Biographer)
Jon Meacham
4
Birthdate: May 20, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States

Jon Meacham is an American historian, writer, reviewer, and presidential biographer. Over the years Meacham has contributed to popular publications like The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek. In 2009, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his work American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. He has also received honorary doctorates from many universities including the University of Tennessee.

 20 
Livy
(Roman Historian)
Livy
3
Birthdate: 0059 BC
Birthplace: Padua, Italy
Died: 0017 BC

Livy was a Roman historian. His seminal work, Ab Urbe Condita, covers the history of Rome through several centuries. A respected figure in society, he was on friendly terms with members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He wrote during the reign of Emperor Augustus, who was reportedly his friend. Livy was married and had at least two children. 

George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood
4
Birthdate: February 7, 1923
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chesterfield House, London, England
Died: July 11, 2011

George Lascelles, the 7th Earl of Harewood, was one of those British royalty members who gained more fame for their work than for their lineage. An art and music lover, he headed the English National Opera. An avid football fan, too, he was also the Leeds United president.

 22 
Carl Sandburg
(Writer & Editor)
Carl Sandburg
3
Birthdate: January 6, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Galesburg, Illinois, United States
Died: July 22, 1967

Carl Sandburg had begun working since age 11 and been employed in various odd jobs, such as a truck driver, a harvester, and a brickyard hand, before being part of the Illinois Infantry. The two-time Pulitzer-winning poet and biographer late also won a Grammy for his recording of Lincoln Portrait.

 23 
Anna Leonowens
(British Travel Writer, Educator, and Social Activist)
Anna Leonowens
4
Birthdate: November 5, 1834
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ahmednagar, India
Died: January 19, 1915

Indian-born British author Anna Leonowens is best remembered for her memoir The English Governess at the Siamese Court, which related her experience as a governess of the children of King Mongkut of Siam. The musical The King and I and the novel Anna and the King of Siam were inspired by her life.

 24 
William Kamkwamba
4
Birthdate: August 5, 1987
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dowa, Malawi
 25 
Anh Do
(Author)
Anh Do
3
Birthdate: June 2, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vietnam
 26 
Rachel Corrie
(American Activist and Diarist)
Rachel Corrie
3
Birthdate: April 10, 1979
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Olympia, Washington, United States
Died: March 16, 2003

Crushed to death in Gaza by an Israeli armored bulldozer, peace activist Rachel Corrie was also a member of pro-Palestine International Solidarity Movement. Born and raised in USA, she had gone there as part of her college assignment and met her death while trying to stop the demolition of Palestinian houses by Israeli forces, causing international furore.

 27 
Nancy Mitford
(English Novelist and Biographer Who is Known for Writing Popular Historical Biographies)
Nancy Mitford
3
Birthdate: November 28, 1904
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: June 30, 1973

Born to the 2nd Baron Redesdale, Nancy Mitford and her siblings were all homeschooled. Known as one of the brightest of the Mitford sisters, she became famous for writing semi-autobiographical novels such as The Pursuit of Love. She pioneered the use of language to distinguish between social classes in books.

 28 
Walter Isaacson
(Author, Journalist, President and CEO of the 'Aspen Institute')
Walter Isaacson
4
Birthdate: May 20, 1952
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Once an inspiring journalist, Walter Isaacson now teaches history at the Tulane University. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, he has been the chair of CNN, the CEO of Aspen Institute, and an editor at Time. He has also penned biographies of personalities such as Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci.

 29 
Stephen E. Ambrose
(Historian Known for His Biographies of U.S. Presidents 'Dwight D. Eisenhower' and 'Richard Nixon')
Stephen E. Ambrose
3
Birthdate: January 10, 1936
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Decatur, United States
Died: October 13, 2002

Stephen Edward Ambrose was an American biographer and historian. A respected figure, Ambrose was honored with several prestigious awards during his lifetime. In 1998, he was honored with the National Humanities Medal. The same year, he also won the Golden Plate Award as well as the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize. In 2001, he received the Theodore Roosevelt Medal.

 30 
Howard Marks
(Welsh Drug Smuggler and Author of the Bestselling Autobiography, ‘Mr. Nice’)
Howard Marks
4
Birthdate: August 13, 1945
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kenfig Hill, Glamorgan, Wales
Died: April 10, 2016

An Oxford alumnus, Dennis Howard Marks was an aspiring teacher before chose the world of drugs. He went from consuming cannabis to selling it, and was eventually jailed for 7 years. He used numerous pseudonyms, such as Mr. Nice and Marco Polo, and also penned a bestselling memoir.

 31 
Karl Ove Knausgard
(Norwegian Writer Known for His Six Autobiographical Novels Titled 'My Struggle')
Karl Ove Knausgard
4
Birthdate: December 6, 1968
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Oslo, Norway

Karl Ove Knausgard is a Norwegian author who achieved international prominence for writing six autobiographical novels named My Struggle. A critically acclaimed writer, Knausgård has won several prestigious awards such as the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature, Brage Prize, Jerusalem Prize, and Swedish Academy Nordic Prize.

 32 
Dorothy Bush Koch
4
Birthdate: August 18, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Harris County, Texas

The author of the New York Times bestseller My Father, My President, Dorothy Bush Koch is the sixth child of former U.S. president George H.W. Bush, and the sister of George W. Bush. A Eucharistic minister, she is also the founder of BB&R Wellness Consulting, centered on health and well-being.

Deborah Cavendish, dowager duchess of Devonshire
3
Birthdate: March 31, 1920
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Asthall Manor, England
Died: September 24, 2014

Deborah Cavendish, the duchess of Devonshire, was the youngest of the popular Mitford sisters. An aristocrat and a socialite, she was one of the rare people who had met both Adolf Hitler and John Kennedy. She played a key role in commercializing Chatsworth Estate and also wrote books on it.

 34 
Carl Bernstein
(Investigative Journalist of 'The Washington Post' Who Exposed the 'Watergate Scandal' that Lead to the Resignation of President Richard Nixon)
Carl Bernstein
4
Birthdate: February 14, 1944
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Investigative journalist Carl Bernstein is best known for his reporting on what later came to be known as the Watergate Scandal and led to U.S. president Richard Nixon’s resignation. During the COVID-19 crisis, he termed President Donald Trump a “war criminal.” He is also known for co-authoring All the President's Men.

 35 
Robert Caro
(American Journalist and Author Known for His Biographies of 'Robert Moses' and 'Lyndon B. Johnson')
Robert Caro
3
Birthdate: October 30, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

Known for his extensive research, Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Caro began his career as journalist. Fascinated by the vast power enjoyed by Robert Moses, he published a biography on him, concurrently dealing in prevalent political practices. Taking up Lyndon B. Johnson as his next subject, he has already published four volumes on him and is currently working on the fifth.   

 36 
Dominique Jackson
(For her leading role of Elektra Abundance on the FX television series Pose)
Dominique Jackson
0
Birthplace: Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago
 37 
James Boswell
(Best Known for His Biography of His Friend and Older Contemporary the English Writer 'Samuel Johnson')
James Boswell
3
Birthdate: October 29, 1740
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: May 19, 1795

Best known for his biography of his friend Samuel Johnson, 18th-century biographer and diarist James Boswell was also a qualified lawyer. Know for his reckless lifestyle and his trysts with prostitutes, he had contracted gonorrhea and had also fathered many children, including two illegitimate ones.

 38 
Michael Chaplin
3
Birthdate: March 7, 1946
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, United States

Michael Chaplin is an American actor best known as Charlie Chaplin's eldest son from his fourth marriage to actress Oona O'Neill. Michael Chaplin is also known for his book I Couldn't Smoke The Grass On My Father's Lawn, a memoir of drugs and rebellion against Charlie Chaplin.

 39 
Margaret Drabble
(English Novelist, Biographer and Critic)
Margaret Drabble
3
Birthdate: June 5, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sheffield, England

English author Margaret Drabble mostly writes about women protagonists and their experiences through marriage, motherhood, and intellectual development. Her novels such as The Gates of Ivory and A Summer Bird-Cage have earned her honors such as the DBE. She is the younger sister of novelist A.S. Byatt.

 40 
Conor Cruise O'Brien
3
Birthdate: November 3, 1917
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sandymount, Dublin, Ireland
Died: December 18, 2008
 41 
Colleen McCullough
(Novelist, Writer, Neurologist, Biographer, Science fiction writer)
Colleen McCullough
3
Birthdate: June 1, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Wellington
Died: January 29, 2015

Australian author Colleen McCullough soared to fame with her bestselling novel The Thorn Birds, which was also made into a hit miniseries. Fans also lover her Masters of Rome and Carmine Delmonico series of novels. A former neuropsychologist, she has previously taught at the Yale School of Medicine.

 42 
Nasser Hussain
(Cricketer)
Nasser Hussain
3
Birthdate: March 28, 1968
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Madras, India

Born to an Indian Muslim father and a British mother in Madras, Nasser Hussain moved to England with his family, as a child. At 12, he was the youngest to join the Essex Under-15 cricket team. He grew up to become one of the best English Test cricket captains.

 43 
Merlin Holland
(writer, editor, poet, journalist)
Merlin Holland
3
Birthdate: 1945 AD
Birthplace: London

Better known as legendary author Oscar Wilde’s grandson, Merlin Holland is also a renowned biographer and journalist. His research on his grandfather has resulted in numerous collections such as The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde. He has also worked as a wine writer and a features writer.

 44 
Cathy O'Brien
3
Birthdate: December 4, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Muskegon, Michigan, United States

Cathy O'Brien is an American author and conspiracy theorist. She gained national attention when she claimed that the US government is running a secret program called Project Monarch which is designed to control people's minds. She also claimed that she has been a victim of the program and that Project Monarch was part of the Central Intelligence Agency's Project MKUltra.

 45 
Stephen Humphrey Bogart
(Writer, Television news producer)
Stephen Humphrey Bogart
0
Birthdate: January 6, 1949
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
 46 
Michael Eric Dyson
(Historian, Biographer)
Michael Eric Dyson
4
Birthdate: October 23, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Detroit

Michael Eric Dyson is an American author, academic, radio host, and ordained minister. He is currently serving as a professor at Vanderbilt University and in the College of Arts and Science. Over the course of his illustrious career, Dyson has received a couple of NAACP Image Awards as well as an American Book Award for his skills as a writer.

 47 
Peter Ackroyd
(British Biographer, Novelist and Critic with a Particular Interest in the History and Culture of London)
Peter Ackroyd
3
Birthdate: October 5, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: East Acton, London, England

English author and critic Peter Ackroyd is mostly known for his novels that depict the history of London. The Cambridge and Yale alumnus had initially worked at The Spectator. Apart from writing award-winning novels such as Hawksmoor, he has also penned biographies of T.S. Eliot and Dickens, among others.

 48 
Ruth Benedict
(Anthropologist, Folklorist, University teacher, Poet, Sociologist, Biographer)
Ruth Benedict
3
Birthdate: June 5, 1887
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City
Died: September 17, 1948

Ruth Benedict was an American folklorist and anthropologist. Benedict, who played an important role in the American Folklore Society, also served as the American Anthropological Association's president; the association gives away an annual prize named after Ruth Benedict. In 2005, she was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 49 
Thomas à Kempis
(German-Dutch Canon and Author of 'The Imitation of Christ')
Thomas à Kempis
3
Birthdate: 1380 AD
Birthplace: Kempen, Germany
Died: July 25, 1471

German-Dutch clergy Thomas à Kempis is largely believed to be the author of Imitatio Christi, or Imitation of Christ. Part of the Devotio Moderna, or the Modern Devotion movement, he was the son of a blacksmith and had moved from Rhineland to the Netherlands, where he was inspired by Gerard Groote’s followers.

 50 
Susan Berman
(Memoirist of Easy Street, detailed her life as a mobster's daughter)
Susan Berman
0
Birthdate: May 18, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Died: December 23, 2000