How to Write a Conclusion for a Biography
A written account of someone's life, known as a biography, should conclude by reflecting on the person's significance and achievements. Accomplishments could include personal or professional accolades. If your biography is about a criminal or a corrupt individual, you might conclude with remarks about why the individual will always be remembered in history. The goal is to leave readers with a final message that sums up the social or historical importance of the person's life.
Place in History
Conclude with a brief summary of the person's most memorable actions or contributions, suggests Sharon Sorenson in her book "Webster's New World Student Writing Handbook". Don't restate facts or examples you mention in your paper; explain how those experiences paved a place in history. For example, if you're writing a conclusion to a biography about Bonnie Parker -- Clyde Barrow's partner in crime during the Great Depression -- explain how she revolutionized societal views of women. Her gun-toting, cigar-smoking, rebellious reputation didn't align with stereotypical female roles during the era. A biography should stress factors that make the person stand out from others.
Sphere of Influence
Focus on ways the person influenced society through his unending support of a particular subject, issue or cause, suggests the East Side High School District in San Jose, California. Conclude by reminding readers that the person's influence extended beyond his life span and into the future. For example, if your biography is about Martin Luther King Jr., you might discuss how his nonviolent protests, rallying speeches and dedication to ensuring that blacks receive equal treatment challenged others to follow in his footsteps.
End on a personal note about the person's family, hobbies, pets, passions or interests. A personal conclusion is especially beneficial if the bulk of the biography is about the person's professional life and you want to add a personal touch. For example, if your biography is about Bill Gates, you might end your biography by discussing his favorite hobbies, such as playing bridge, watching his daughter ride horses and washing the dishes -- none of which have anything to do with technology. This helps readers see the person through a new, more personal lens.
Restate Your Thesis
Make sure your conclusion backs your person-driven thesis and supports the major themes and messages, suggests Writing With Writers at Scholastic. For example, if your biography is about your hard-working, immigrant great-grandmother who came to the United States to make a better life for her family, you might end your paper with heartfelt praise for her devotion and determination. You might say, "She bravely stepped out of her comfort zone to give her family a bright and hopeful future." or "She ventured into the unknown to ensure her family had plentiful opportunities."
- East Side High School District: Biographical Narrative -- Writing Resources
- Webster's New World Student Writing Handbook; Sharon Sorenson; 2009
- East Carolina University: Biographies
- Scholastic: Writing with Writers -- Biography
- Entrepreneur: The 7 Most Fascinating Things Bill Gates Said in His Reddit Chat
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.