Biography Outline Examples

Writing a biography about someone else’s life may seem daunting but it is one memorable experience. Getting to know a certain person make you change your whole perspective about this person and appreciate them even more. However, it’s no secret that this task is absolutely crucial especially to the person you are writing about. Before starting the writing process, it’s important to do some outlining to organize the flow of your biography. So here are some helpful tips that can make writing a biography a piece of cake. You may also  see essay outlines.

Before outlining the biography of person that you intend to write, if you have the freedom, choose a person that you admire. It may be a celebrity, a politician, an author, a friend, a family member, a special someone or anyone who you wish to tell the tale of their life story. If you are writing about a famous person, it’s important you do some extensive research first to avoid any factual errors and to avoid embarrassing yourself. You may also see free outline examples.

Making up a story about this person’s life and pass it off that it happened in real life is the biggest thing you should avoid. The purpose of writing a biography is defeated when you decide to do this. Furthermore, you are disrespecting the person you are writing about. If you have the resources, you may interview your main source about their life. If you don’t have this access, you can interview their close friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or family. You may also see program outlines.

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1. Early Life and Childhood

A good outline will work through the key events of a person’s life chronologically. First you start my discussing the early life and childhood.

1. Introduce first the person’s name, date of their birth and where they were born. You can also include more detailed facts like interesting facts about their name, the day of their birth (did anything interesting happened during their birthday?) and the birthplace, since this will give more context about their development in the coming years. Below is an example of a biography of a famous classic Hollywood actress, Audrey Hepburn, about her early life. You may also see speech outlines.

Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston (or also known as Edda Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston) on May 4, 1929 at Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium.

2. Next feature the person’s parents. Include the name of their father’s or mother’s names, along with the names of the rest of their family members names. Include also a little background of their parents. You can also include the relationship of their parents, whether they are separated, widowed or still together. You may also see book outlines.

Hepburn’s father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston, was a British-Hungarian consul born in Auschitz, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary. His father was Victor John George Ruston with British and Austrian descent and his mother was Austrian Anna Wels. 

Before Joseph married Hepburn’s mother, he was an honorary British consul in Samarang in the Dutch East Indies and he had been married to a Dutch heiress. Even though Joseph’s surname was Ruston, he added Hepburn to his surname as he believed he had descended from the aristrocatic husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, James Hepburn.

Hepburn’s mother, Baroness Ella van Heemstra, was from a Dutch ancestry. Her father was the mayor of Arnhem from in the 1910s and then the governor of Dutch Suriname in the 1920s. At a young age, Ella married, an oil businessman executive based in Batavia, Dutch East Indies. The two of them had two sons before they divorced in 1925. Hepburn’s parents then met and were married in Batavia in 1926. During this time, Joseph worked for a trading company, but soon after, they went back to Europe, where he worked for a loan company.

3. Next, talk about the place, education and the upbringing of the person during their childhood. Write details where the person grew up. Highlight only the events that suggest a major change of this person’s life, such as moving to another city or town, suffering terrible health issues, or dealing with difficult family problems. You may also see rough outlines.

Although she was born in Brussels, her family moved to several countries in which she learned to speak many languages. Hepburn spent some years in a boarding school in England. When World War II broke out, she studied in Arnhem Conservatory in the Netherlands. During the Nazi invasion, Hepburn and her mother struggled to survive. Her father left them to support the Nazis, leaving them struggling on food shortages mayhem caused by the war. According to the New York Times, she helped the resistance movement against the Nazi’s by delivering messages.  

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2. Adulthood

1. Next talk about further details of the person’s education or their first job. This part will focus of the person’s transition from a teenager to a young adult. Mention where they went to college or university. Mention what they studied and what date they attended that school. If this is not applicable, you can write what was their first job. You may also see tentative outlines.

After the war, Hepburn continued to pursue an interest in dance. She studied ballet in Amsterdam and then in London. In 1948, Hepburn made her stage debut as a chorus girl.  In 1951, Hepburn made her feature film debut in One Wild Oat, in an uncredited role. She then starred in films such as Young Wives’ Tales (1951) and The Lavender Hill Mob (1951). 

2. Talk about the person’s career. You can elaborate more on the person’s job at various institutions or companies. Highlight the development of their talents and skills in their profession while working in their jobs. You may also see course outlines.

Hepburn went to star in the Broadway production of Gigi. In this production, she caught the eyes of Hollywood producers and a couple of years later, she starred in her lead debut in the film Roman Holiday (1953) with Gregory Peck. She then made some consecutive successful films  in the 1950s such as Sabrina (1954), Funny Face (1957), War and Peace (1956),  The Nun’s Story (1959). In 1961, she then made her most iconic and popular film role as a New York socialite Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tifanny’s. 

3. Mention the relationships the persons had in their adult life. This can vary from platonic, romantic, working relationships of this person. You can discuss how they met and how they successfully maintained their relationships with each other. Highlight the instances that are important to the person’s development, both in their personal and professional lives. You can also mention the person’s children if applicable. You may also see outline examples.

In the early 1950s, Hepburn was engaged to her long time friend, James Hanson. However, she called off her engagement. At a party by her friend, Gregory Peck, she met American actor Mel Ferrer. They collaborated in a stage play in which they started a relationship. Months later, they got married. In the 1950s, she suffered two miscarriages, one in 1955 and one in 1959, when she fell off a horse when filming for a movie. When she became pregnant again, she gave birth to her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, was born in July 1960. In the 1960s, she suffered two more miscarriages.

Hepburn and Ferrer divorced in 1968. She then met her second husband, Andrea Dotti, an Italian pyschiatrist. They married in 1969 and their son, Luca Dotti was born on February 1970. They divorced in 1982. For the rest of her life, she was in a relationship with Robert Wolders, a Dutch actor.

4. Mention the person’s achievements and accomplishments. Present the heyday and glorious moments in the person’s life. You may also juxtapose the person’s setbacks and then describe how they manage to overcome it. You may also see resume outlines.

Hepburn’s performance in Roman Holiday was so brilliant that she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in her portrayal as Princess Ann. In her performance in the stage play Odine, alongside her husband, Mel Ferrer, she won the 1954 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. She was then nominated an Academy Award for Best Actress in her film The Nun’s Story in which she played as Sister Luke. In her role as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tifanny’s she earned another Academy Award nomination.

3. Current Life (If the Person is Still Alive) or Later Life (If the Person is Deceased) and Their Legacy

1. If the person is still alive, tell the details on where they are now and what they are doing. Mention any latest projects they are working on–or what not. Mention also where they reside now, and whether they are staying with their family or not. You can also mention their future goals that they plan to achieve.

2. If the person is no longer living, mention their later years and the cause of their deaths. You can also mention further their accomplishments and setbacks they had in this particular stage of their life. You may also see report outlines.

For the rest of the 1960s, Hepburn widened her variety of roles. She starred in Charade (1963), My Fair Lady (1964), Two for the Road (1967) and her last film before her long hiatus, Wait Until Dark (1967) in which she was nominated again for an Academy Award. She resumed in the film industry in 1976 in the film Robin and Marian. She also starred in Bloodline. In the 1980s, she starred in two films, They All Laughed (1981) and Always (1989), the latter in which is her last screen role.

In the late 1980s, She became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. She travelled around the world to raise awareness about the children in need. She was involved in UNICEF projects in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Through her advocacy, she was awarded a special Academy Award in 1993. In 1992, she reportedly  suffered from abdominal pains. She was then later diagnosed with colon cancer. Audrey Hepburn died on January 20, 1993 at her home in Tolochenaz, Switzerland.

3. Last but certainly not the least, put the person’s legacy. Put their impact in the society or in their field. Mention how they influenced other people to continue their work or inspire them to do the same thing the person did in their life. Include how they change a certain aspect in a field (e.g. cinema, fashion, music, arts, medicine, science). In this part, you may mention any younger generations who have been looking up at this person as his/her inspiration. You may also see presentation outlines.

Hepburn’s legacy ranges from film to fashion and to humanitarian causes. She was undoubtedly, a fine actress, having earned Academy nominations and awards, she is also one of the few to win all prestigious awards: Academy, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Awards. She also earned herself a Golden Globe and BAFTA award. 

She was also ranked by the American Film Institute as the third-greatest female screen legend in Golden Age Hollywood and was inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. She was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

She is also lauded by the fashion world as a classic and elegant fashion icon, as her impeccable style was celebrated thanks to her friend Hubert de Givenchy. Her little black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of the most popular dresses in the 20th century.

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And so there you go, once you have a proper and good outline, you’re good to go. Remember to enjoy the writing process. Writing a biography is a rewarding experience. Once your work is completed, you can pat yourself on the shoulder for a job well done.

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