essay about a historical personality

How to Write an Essay About a Historical Person

How to Write an Essay About a Historical Person at

Let’s say a few words about what is expected from you. This type of essay is not exactly a historical essay. On one hand, you really should describe historical events, but on the other, they should be depicted only in relation to the actions of a definite person. You do not need to analyze the causes for any historical event, but rather the reason and personal motivation for the person in question. Another important difference is to be found in the fact that this person may be also on the “evil” side (for example, some of the totalitarian leaders of the 20 th century).

How to write an essay about a historical person – important tips

Short biography.

Begin with a short biography of the person your essay is dedicated to. Write only the most basic facts: when they were born, what was their family background, education, profession, etc. And, of course, write a little bit more about the historical event with which they are associated the most. Try to balance between personal bio, and the historical context. For that reason you have to read about the particular historical era, especially if it concerns Ancient times or the Middle Ages.

What are they famous for?

Well, “your” person is certainly famous for some important action - a revolution, a war, a political reform, or social activism, and so forth. Describe the facts related to their participation in the given event. Refer to certain sources, even if the person is very famous. Do not refer to textbooks or Wikipedia, but rather to academic books (even anthologies or readers).

Remember : you must stay at a distance from the person. Here it is not the right place to estimate the person’s actions. Your opinion should be easily discernible from the facts.

Your personal opinion

It is now your turn to say a word. Every time you want to express your opinion, start out with phrases like: “I think”, “I believe”, “It seems to me”. Why have you chosen particularly this person? What impressed you in them? Here it is allowed to be “more personal” and share the emotions that emerge when you hear or read the name of the person.

Other approaches to the person/event

As with every historical event, the deeds of this historical person can be also treated in different ways. You can present here, for example, some counter-arguments that shed new light upon them. Even the most respected persons have done some mistakes in their career, plans, or predictions.

At the end of the paragraph, you should contrast both viewpoints and assert why your view is the correct one. Be concise: tell it in two sentences.


Even if there are not any references in the essay (not advisable), you need to attach a short list of titles referred to the subject, particularly to the person and their historical era. These should be books or articles, or even documentaries, read/watched by you.

Advice : the bibliography should be formatted according to the Chicago style standards, unless your instructor has recommended another style.

There could be many tips on how to write an essay about a historical person. In all cases, you need to have comprehensive knowledge on the subject, and skills to express your point of view. 

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Historical Figures Essay Examples and Topics

Tips for writing a historical figures essay.

If you’re working on a paper about a famous historical figure who inspires you, essay writing should start with thorough research. Conduct a study on this person’s biography with a focus on them and their life. Make sure you not only cover their life but also evaluate it, demonstrating your understanding of the historical figure essay format.

And keep in mind these few tricks below! They will help you achieve better structure and give you more ideas for your inspirational people and historical figures essay.

When writing essays on biographical studies, you should be using many types of sources.

This requirement means that your paper should reference books, autobiographical evidence, and maybe even paintings and voice recordings. Having supporting information on the history of the period that you are studying is also essential.

Sources of a personal nature, such as a person’s letters, memoirs, and diaries, are valuable, and you should use them in your essay. However, you must also be aware that they may be biased, portraying the person writing them in a much better light.

Do not be afraid to be critical of what you read and, if other trusted authors support your concerns, voice them in your essay. An excellent example of a biography essay is one that does not mindlessly praise their subject.

Covering biographical studies topics requires using sources that may give your subject a negative evaluation. Having titles in your bibliography that oppose the character you are writing about makes your essay well rounded and comprehensive.

Taking the many personalities of the female suffrage movement in the USA as a sample topic, you could use books on both sides of the votes for women argument.

Find more ideas for writing better essays on Biographical Studies on our website!

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Essay On Historical Figures

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: President , England , Thomas Jefferson , Society , Politics , War , History , United States

Words: 1500

Published: 12/08/2019


Arguably, every country in the world has significant historical figures, whose activities are attributed liberation, independence, revolutions, as well as war. Others have steered the country into radical political, economic, and social changes. Certainly, these leaders are the basis of the contemporary situations. Some of these historical figures include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Hancock.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson is one of the famous and important personality in the history of United States. Jefferson was a philosopher, American political leader, and essayist. He was the third president of U.S. Jefferson was born on 1743 in Albemarle county Virginia, and died in the year 1826. Thomas carried out his college education at William and Mary College to study law Norton, & Sheriff, 2011). Certainly, he was one of the founding fathers of in American history. Thomas Jefferson is remembered as the principal author of the 1776. During American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson was a continental congress, representing the state of Virginia. In the year 1779-1781, Jefferson became the governor of Virginia during wartime. After the conflict and war, Thomas became a diplomat and a commissioner whose function was to negotiate on commercial treaties (Greene, 1995). British passed out coercive acts, which according to Jefferson were not fair to Americans. Therefore, he came up with resolutions that were against the acts. The resolutions later became expanded to the summary of British American rights. Additionally, Thomas Jefferson is a key iconic personality, especially in the democracy of United States. He was viewed as an Agrarian democrat who in one way or another shaped the thinking of the world and United States on democratic issues (Norton, & Sheriff, 2011). According to Vernon Louis, Jefferson embodied the idealism philosophies during the great world revolution. Certainly, Thomas Jefferson envisioned various forms of democracy in society. Jefferson became the bearer of the modern diplomacy, which is founded by confidence of virtuous and free people. The revolutions that took place in the world changed American history. Jefferson Thomas envisaged United States hence becoming one of the greatest world, and the empire of liberty (Greene, 1995). Through Jefferson’s efforts, America became the model republicanism and democracy. Furthermore, he was the most famous and articulate spokesperson during the revolution.

George Washington

Another important figure in the history of American Revolution is George Washington; he contributed to development of various revolutions. He was born in the year 1732, in Westmoreland County. George Washington became the first president of United States from 1789 to 1797. People nicknamed him the Father of his country, for the contributions, he brought about. George Washington is one of the men who were fully behind the American Revolution. Being the first president, George Washington was the commanding general in times of American Revolution. Up to date, he is the most famous and prominent figure in the history of America (Norton, & Sheriff, 2011). His legacy goes beyond his presidential post. This is because, in the year 1777, he led the American troops to a historic war during the revolution at the Germantown. George Washington led the army against Sir William who was the British commander. The move marked a tremendous progress in building the confidence of American army. They later challenged the British army on Harlem heights, White Plains, Long Island as well as New York. Through his leadership, America army fought various wars with British. After the war, Washington give up as a commander, but continued to be part of the group that drafted a new document to be part of their constitution. The efforts of Washington are felt today through the constitution. He led the convention and presided the entire debate on the constitution. The delegates in the year 1789 ratified the U.S constitution and in the same year, George Washington was elected the first president of U.S (Norton, & Sheriff, 2011). During his era as the president of U.S, numerous positive changes took place of which most of them shaped the American history. He supported the bill of rights and its addition to specify individual rights as a citizen (Greene, 1995). During revolutions, George Washington through his provisions established the basis of solid national debt as well as fiscal stability. Later he declared American state of neutrality when France declared war on Netherlands, Spain, and Britain. George Washington always believed in a standing army. His significance during the revolutions remains paramount in the history of United States.

Benjamin Franklin

Another founding father and liberator of United States is Benjamin Franklin. He was born in the year 1706 and died on April 1790. In one was of the leading political theorist, printer, author, diplomat, civic activist, musician, as well a public official. Hence, he was one of the influential people during the war and revolutions. Franklin worked together with George Washington in championing the independence of United States. In his career, he became an abolitionist in society, freeing slaves. Due to his abolitionist activities, he finally became the president and the leader of Pennsylvania Abolition society. Additionally, he contributed during revolutions by being a delegate to Philadelphia convention (Norton, & Sheriff, 2011). Above all, he remains the only American founding father who sighed the four most important documents that dealt with founding United States. These treaties that founded U.S during the revolution are Treaty of alliance, U.S constitution, Declaration of independence, as well as treaty of Paris. Certainly, later years as a congress, Benjamin Franklin dealt with the issue of slavery in depth. He did so by use of books, and articles to convince his readers to abolish slavery and support all documents that advocated for the abolition of slavery. According tom Benjamin Franklin, abolishing slavery and integrating blacks in American community was the best move to positive changes. During the era, of revolutions, he established splendid plans in Philadelphia; this included improved transportation and communication, as well as protecting property and aiding insurance plans. Through his diplomatic brilliance, he became the ambassador to thirteen nations despite the fact that France and Britain were not in substantial terms. After the war, many people used Franklin for their own advantage, especially in making the American alliance (Greene, 1995). He negotiated with French politician on the treat that concerned the sovereignty and independence of America. Franklin advocated for republicanism in society. He emphasized on how being virtuous was important in developing and building a new republic. In his entire life, he exhausted on the role of personal and civic virtues. During revolutions and war individual should thing of being virtuous to own self and the public. Furthermore, the historical figure believed that organized form of religion was an essential tool in keeping men good to other people. His presence in American history he is remembered for advocating the wellspring of man and morality in society (Norton, & Sheriff, 2011). Franklin is famous in America for tolerating, promoting, and respecting all churches. He cultivated characters in society using the thirteen virtues.

John Hancock

Possibly, another man who stands out in the history of America is John Hancock. He is rarely remembered in America, yet he made a lot of changes in United States history. He was born in the year 1737, and died in 1793. In his life, he was a prominent patriot, merchant, political leader as well as a loyalist during American Revolution. John Hancock became the 1st and the 3rd governor of Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and served as the president of the 2nd continental congress (Greene, 1995). Of all his contributions to the American revolutions, he is famous for his stylish and large signature on U.S Declaration of independence. In fact, the term John Hancock has become a synonym in United States for signature. In the year 1965, John opposed the stamp act that was enacted in England. The act was unconstitutional and oppressed the American people. He held a party in his own house to celebrate the revoked stamp act. In the year, 1768 people elected him to be representative of Massachusetts (Norton, & Sheriff, 2011). Due to his effort, many changes took place. He served as a governor for nine years. In 1988, Hancock used his fame and power to ensure that his people ratified the U.S Constitution. During the revolution, John Hancock commanded approximately six thousand men from England who participated in the campaign at Rhodes Island. Additionally, Hancock was among the leaders during the crisis and conflicts that led to American revolutionary war. The legacy of John Hancock is remembered in many ways. Many things and place in U.S are in his honor. These include USS Hancock, which is a U.S Navy vessel, Liberty Ship, Hancock County, Insurance company, as well as institutions. The four significant figures in the history of America will always remain in the mind of the people. The America of today was built by these great figures.

Greene, J. (1995). Understanding the American Revolution: Issues and Actors. London: Wiley. Norton, B. & Sheriff, C. (2011). A People and a Nation: History of United States. New York: Wadsworth.


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Home — Essay Samples — History — Historical Figures

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How to Write an Essay About a Famous Person in History

Last Updated: December 13, 2022 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 85,285 times.

There are lots of things to think about when writing a paper about a famous person from history. Your teacher may have given you this assignment with exact instructions on who to write about and what information to include, or they may have just asked you to write about someone from history that you admire without telling you exactly what information to include. When writing the essay, take your time and rely on good information that you have collected from books and respected internet resources. Don’t underestimate the time you will need to edit your essay in order to have a final product that you can feel proud of.

Preparing to Write Your Essay

Step 1 Read the assignment carefully.

  • Should you choose your person or has one been assigned?
  • Does your teacher want you to use a citation style? For example, they may want you to use the MLA format or maybe they want you to use Chicago Style. [1] X Research source If your teacher says they don't care, then there's nothing to worry about, but make sure that you include a “References” page at the end of your essay. On this page, you should include all of the different websites, books, and/or magazines that you used to write the essay.
  • Is there a word limit? Does your teacher require a specific font or font size? Should you double-space the essay? If you're not sure, ask you teacher.

Step 2 Choose a person that did a lot in their life.

  • Try to think about the things you know the person has done. Did they live a pretty normal life, but did one really cool thing? A person who was more or less “normal” could be harder to write about if your teacher wants a ten page essay. For example, although Adolf Hitler was not in any way an admirable human being, writing a historical essay about his life would be pretty easy because he did a lot of different things.
  • On the other hand, if there is a historical figure you are really interested in, you will have a good time researching and writing about your person whether they led very busy lives or not. The most important thing is to choose someone you find fascinating. Try making a list of your hobbies and interests and then run a Google search to find famous people who also had one of these hobbies or interests.
  • 3 Brainstorm a list of questions. Write down all of the questions you want to answer about your person. If your teacher told you what questions to answer, then use those. If your teacher did not, then this is up to you. Make sure you talk about when and where they were born, whether they had a good childhood or not, what makes them special and interesting, what they accomplished (whether good or bad), and why you find them interesting. [2] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source

Step 4 Research the questions you want to answer in your essay.

  • Write down anything you find interesting and want to include. At the same time that you do this, write down the source of that information. For example, the name and author of the book or the address of the website.
  • If you are having a hard time finding information about your person in the library, ask the librarian to help you search. They’re there to help you, and may have ways of finding information that you hadn’t thought of. Plus, if you find the information through the library, there is a better chance that you will find high quality information.
  • Make sure that you understand what is considered an acceptable source of information by your teacher. For example, some teachers may consider it OK to use websites such as Wikipedia, while other teachers may not. If you’re not sure, just ask them.
  • Try to include at least one primary source that was written by the person you are researching, such as a letter, journal entry, or speech. This will help you get to know the person better than you would by only using secondary sources, such as articles and textbooks.

Step 5 Outline your essay.

  • Write your outline so that the information is in the same order that it will be in in the paper. For example, don't put questions about how the person died before the questions about where they were born and who their parents were.

Step 6 Review other essays.

  • Don’t plagiarize though! If you copy someone else's work without giving them credit for their work, this is called plagiarism. If you do find something interesting that you want to include, be sure to give credit to that person. Plagiarism is a big deal, so it’s best to learn early that it isn’t worth the risk.

Writing the Essay

Step 1 Start with the body of the essay.

  • In the body, you will write about all of the information that you found when you were researching. It is the part of the paper where you answer any and all questions you have come up with.
  • Your essay will be more clear if you separate different parts of this person’s life into paragraphs. For example, the first paragraph might start out by explaining when, where, and to whom this person was born. In this paragraph you might talk about what kind of childhood this person had, and whether they had any big experiences that made them into the person they were.
  • In later paragraphs, you can talk about what the person did that made them famous. You might also want to include interesting things that you found about this person’s personal life. For example, whether or not they got married or whether or not they suffered from any mental disorders.

Step 2 Write the conclusion.

  • Don't write more than one or two paragraphs for your conclusion. It should simply go over what you have written in the body about who this person was and why they were interesting and important.
  • For example, you might write, “In summary, Martin Luther King Jr. was a driven man who, although his life was tragically cut short, accomplished amazing things in his life. Though his upbringing presented many challenges, he went on to become a great man who wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in.”
  • In the next paragraph, you can summarize what you wrote about why you find him so interesting. For example, “This great man inspires me every time I read about him. I hope that I too can stand up for the right thing if I am ever in a position to do so, even if it is difficult or scary to do so.”

Step 3 Finish your first draft by writing the introduction.

  • For example, you can say, “In this essay, I will be discussing a man that nearly everyone has heard of. He was a minister who became famous during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s for standing up for the rights of not only African Americans, but for all human beings.”
  • After you introduce your person, you will state what you will be telling your reader about this person. For example, “In this essay, Martin Luther King Jr.’s life will be discussed beginning with his birth in Georgia, to his travels to Germany where he officially began to be known as ‘Martin,’ to his untimely death in 1968.”
  • Don’t give everything away in the introduction. Think of the introduction like a movie preview. You want to give enough information to get the reader interested, but not so much information that they will already know everything else written in the essay before they read it.

Step 4 Write a second draft.

  • Don’t expect the second draft to come out perfectly either. The purpose of the second draft is to fix up any major spelling mistakes or grammar errors, and to see how you feel about the information you’ve written now that it’s all out there.
  • A second draft is what you will give to anyone who has offered to proof read your essay, so make sure that it is easy to read. It is best to have this version typed and double-spaced so it will be easy for whoever is helping you to make notes on things you can improve in your final draft.

Editing Your Essay

Step 1 Ask someone to proofread your essay.

  • For example, a good proofreader might point out to you that your paragraph about the death of your person might be better if you put it before your paragraph which talks about the legacy this person left behind.
  • Try asking a classmate to read your essay. It's a win-win for both of you because you can offer to read their essay in return. Meet up a few days after reading to talk about errors and ways to make each of your papers better.
  • If the person has done a good job, they may have a lot of things to say about your paper. Try not to take anything bad they say about your paper personally. They're not trying to make you feel bad, they just want to help you get a good grade.
  • Give them a physical copy of the paper that is double-spaced. This will make it easy for them to make corrections and write notes on your paper.

Step 2 Proofread the essay on your own.

  • Make notes as you read in a bright colored pen on a physical copy of your paper.
  • Read your paper twice. The first time, focus on what you've written, and don't look for spelling mistakes or other grammar errors. While you're reading think about whether it is easy to follow and whether or not it makes sense. This will be the time to consider rearranging any information, adding anything extra, or removing anything that doesn't seem important.
  • Read through the article a second time to check for grammar and spelling issues. Mark any misspelled words or typos, and make a note of any awkward sentences that you want to go back and change.

Step 3 Read the essay backwards.

  • You should also read the essay out loud. Reading the essay out loud will help you find sentences that sound strange.

Step 4 Type your final draft.

  • Make sure to follow any instructions your teacher has given you about how to format the document. For example, with regard to font, font size, and line spacing.
  • By now, you should feel confident that you have a well-written paper. If you still feel unsure, you can ask a different person to read your essay to reassure yourself that you have caught any mistakes.
  • If your teacher said they don’t care about the formatting, then stick to the defaults of your word processing program. Generally, it is a good idea to stick to font size 12 and a standard font such as Times New Roman. To make your paper easier to read, consider changing the line spacing to 1.5 or 2, unless your teacher has said not to do this.
  • Your teacher probably expects you to turn in a typed copy of your essay. Unless your teacher has specifically asked for handwritten papers make sure you turn in a neat, typed copy.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Don’t put off writing your essay. As soon as you receive the assignment you can start thinking about who you want to write about and begin writing your essay outline. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Keep in mind the due date. Write down the due date in your calendar, and make sure that you hand your paper in on time. Your teacher may not accept it if is late, which means you’ve wasted a lot of time and energy for nothing. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • For some people, it can be helpful to hand write the first draft. If you are having a hard time getting started at the computer, then try switching to paper and pen to get past your initial writer’s block. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

essay about a historical personality

  • Never ever plagiarize or copy someone else’s work without giving them credit for what they have written. Plagiarizing someone else’s work can get you into big trouble at school. If you do find something that someone else wrote and want to include it in your essay, then you can do this, but be sure to cite your sources in the format required by your teacher. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Don't pay someone to write your paper for you. There are many websites online where you can supposedly pay someone to write your essay for money. Don’t try it. There is a good chance you will get caught and the website may or may not be a scam. If it is a scam you will have wasted your money and still have to write the essay yourself. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 1

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