Use of scholarly sources: You will need to use at least five scholarly sources for your essay (books and articles), including at least one primary source, though two are preferred. Internet sources must be approved. Google Books are acceptable, Kindle ebooks are not (no page numbers).

The Essay: In a biographical essay, you write about the life and personality of a person who actually lived. A biographical essay should have the following characteristics:

–    a real life subject
–    a thesis statement that states a specific idea about the person’s life and achievements
–    an account of one or more major events in the subject’s life
–    a description of the subject’s key character traits (though, for very ancient persons, this is more difficult)
–    avoid discussions of your subject’s childhood
–    avoid too much discussion of personality traits as these are often unsupportable assertions.

Assignment: Some tips (

Choose your subject. Choose a person whose life seems especially appealing to you. Once you have decided on a person, make notes about what you already know about his or her life and personality. Try to avoid focusing on your subject’s personal life.

Gather information. Once you have reviewed what you know, think about what areas of this person’s life you would like to focus on. Then, write down some questions to help you direct your research.

Draw conclusions. Based on your research, make some decisions about your subject’s personality. What did he or she value most? Is there a connection between your subject’s character traits and his or her role in history?

Write a thesis statement. You have learned more about your subject and reflected on his or her life, personality, and achievements. You are ready to write a thesis statement.

Decide how to organize your writing. The simplest way to organize a biographical essay is to cover the main events of the subject’s life chronologically. Another type of organization focuses on a few important events in the person’s life, building up to the one that you think is most important.

Write an introduction—but make sure to revise after the body and conclusion is finished. The first paragraph of your essay introduces your subject. The introduction should include your thesis statement, which expresses the ideas you will develop in your essay.

Support your thesis with examples and details. Use the information you have gathered to support and develop your ideas about your subject.

Write a strong conclusion. In your final paragraph, restate your view of the person about whom you are writing. Tell the reader what this individual has contributed to history.

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