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Every May 16th
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Any biographer must of necessity become a pilgrim a peripatetic, obsessed literary pilgrim, a traveler with four eyes.

Leon Edel

Biographers don’t get enough credit for the work they do; that’s why there’s Biographer’s Day! This holiday commemorates the history of biographers as a classical literature art form and helps people explore writing biographies as a way to discover other people’s lives. Want to know more about what you can do to celebrate Biographer’s Day? Read more to learn about the history of biography writing and how you can celebrate this exciting and engaging holiday.

History of Biographer’s Day

Biographer’s Day takes place on the anniversary of the meeting of Samuel Johnson and his biographer James Boswell; however, biographies have existed much longer than their meeting. Originally, biographies were written historically, with one of the first biographies written during the time of the Roman Empire. The first found record of this kind of journal was written by Cornelius Nepos in 44 BC, who wrote an extensive biography on the most famous generals of the Roman and Greeks. During the Middle Ages, priests, monks, and hermits would write memoirs, mostly because much of the writing back then was written for the Roman Catholic Church. The same also went for the medieval Islamic cultures as well. However, even as more and more biographies were written during the 1500’s, it wasn’t considered to be a form of literature.

That’s where the story of Samuel Johnson came into play. When he and James Boswell published The Life of Samuel Johnson in 1791, Boswell’s research and narrative style on Johnson’s life helped set the standard for biographers, as during that time it was considered to be one of the best biographies in the English language. Even if biographies stagnated during the 19th century, autobiographies became more popular, and in today’s media-centered world, memoirs have become an innovative and quick way for people to research who people are on the Internet.

How to celebrate Biographer’s Day

If you want to learn more about biographer’s, research about some of the most famous biographers in history, such as the Greek biographer Plutarch or the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle. If you find biographies interesting, find a portrait of a person you admire and take the day to read about them. Share this holiday on social media using the hashtag #biographersday and let everyone know what day it is today.