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BIOGRAPHY
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[ Also see Anecdotes Autobiography Books History Letters Life Writing ]

Our Grub-street biographers watch for the death of a great man like so many undertakers on purpose to make a penny of him.
      - Joseph Addison

The lives of great men cannot be writ with any tolerable degree of elegance or exactness within a short time after their decease.
      - Joseph Addison

Some one calls biography the home aspect of history.
      - Henry Ward Beecher

Our bodies are apt to be our autobiographies.
      - Frank Gelett Burgess

A true delineation of the smallest man is capable of interesting the greatest man.
      - Thomas Carlyle

Biography is the only true history.
      - Thomas Carlyle

Rich as we are in biography, a well-written life is almost as rare as a well-spent one; and there are certainly many more men whose history deserves to be recorded than persons willing and able to record it.
      - Thomas Carlyle

One anecdote of a man is worth a volume of biography.
      - William Ellery Channing

There is properly no history, only biography.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays--History

As it often happens that the best men are but little known, and consequently cannot extend the usefulness of their examples a great way, the biographer is of great utility, as, by communicating such valuable patterns to the world, he may perhaps do a more extensive service to mankind than the person whose life originally afforded the pattern.
      - Henry Fielding

Of all the species of literary composition, perhaps biography is the most delightful. The attention concentrated on one individual gives a unity to the materials of which it is composed, which is wanting in general history.
      - Robert Hall

Biography, especially the biography of the great and good, who have risen by their own exertions from poverty and obscurity to eminence and usefulness, is an inspiring and ennobling study. Its direct tendency is to reproduce the excellence it records.
      - Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus)

History can be formed from permanent monuments and records; but lives can only be written from personal knowledge, which is growing every day less, and in a short time is lost forever.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

Nobody can write the life of a man, but those who have eat and drunk and lived in social intercourse with him.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

The business of the biographer is often to pass slightly over those performances and incidents which produce vulgar greatness, to lead the thoughts into domestic privacies, and display the minute details of daily life, were exterior appendages are cast aside, and men excel each other only by prudence and virtue.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

The parallel circumstances and kindred images to which we readily conform our minds are, above all other writings, to be found in the lives of particular persons, and therefore no species of writing seems more worthy of cultivation than biography.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

Of all studies, the most delightful and the most useful is biography. The seeds of great events lie near the surface; historians delve too deep for them. No history was ever true. Lives I have read which, if they were not, had the appearance, the interest, and the utility of truth.
      - Walter Savage Landor

A life that is worth writing at all is worth writing minutely.
      - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Boswell is the first of biographers.
      - Thomas Babington Macaulay

Much that is published as a novel is only anonymous biography. Many a man who is a bore in conversation may have qualities which give indescribable charms to narrative; and the egotist, if he only have the art to conceal his identity, can then hold the reader by the powerful grasp of sympathy.
      - Robert Sheldon Mackenzie

Biography, especially the biography of the great and good, who have risen by their own exertions from poverty and obscurity to eminence and usefulness, is an inspiring and ennobling study. Its direct tendency is to reproduce the excellence it records.
      - Horace Mann

As in the case of painters, who have undertaken to give us a beautiful and graceful figure, which may have some slight blemishes, we do not wish then to pass over such blemishes altogether, nor yet to mark them too prominently. The one would spoil the beauty, and the other destroy the likeness of the picture.
      - Plutarch

To be ignorant of the lives of the most celebrated men of antiquity is to continue in a state of childhood all our days.
      - Plutarch

The cabinets of the sick and the closets of the dead have been ransacked to publish private letters and divulge to all mankind the most secret sentiments of friendship.
      - Alexander Pope

Biography is the best form of history.
      - Henry Wheeler Shaw (used pseudonyms Josh Billings and Uncle Esek)


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