Mayborn National Biography Writing Contest

Posted May 25, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Here is information about the Mayborn National Biography Writing Contests from the Mayborn School of Journalism in Denton, Texas.  To submit your work and qualify to take advantage of this incredible opportunity, please visit their website.  The deadline is June 1st.

ELIGIBILITYHigh school and community college students, 14-25 years old are eligible for this contest.


The top 10 biographies will be selected by a jury pool of prominent biographers and narrative nonfiction writers. These 10 winners will each be invited as guests of The Mayborn to attend the most renowned narrative nonfiction conference in the country, The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference in Grapevine, TX, July 20- 22, 2012. The award also includes each winner selecting a teacher at his or her school to join him or her at the Mayborn Conference. The award includes registration, hotel and meals for the students and their teachers (20 people total). Transportation costs are the responsibility of the winners and their teachers.

Winners will have their biographies evaluated and critiqued in a workshop held Friday, July 20, starting at 9 a.m. and concluding at 4 p.m. The workshop will be conducted by James McGrath Morris, author of Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power, and executive director of Biographers International Organization. The top 10 winners will also have their biographies published by The Dallas Morning News. The winners will be honored at the Mayborn Conference’s Literary Lights Gala on Saturday evening, July 21. All activities are held in the conference hotel. See details on the conference at:


In considering the subject of your biography, keep in mind that we’re looking for a factual account of the life of a little-known person, living or past, who left a deep and lasting legacy in his or her community. You are responsible for the research and writing of the biography. You may receive help, advice and counsel from your teachers, parents and other adults on the research. Contest sponsors are providing handouts on the biographers craft to help you prepare your biographies. You may also obtain assistance in typing your paper, but the writing, thoughts and conclusions must be your own.

The biography may not have been previously published anywhere. Sources of information, including direct quotations, must be cited using either Kate L. Turabian, Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations or The Chicago Manual of Style.

Submissions should be printed single sided, paginated, double spaced and set with one-inch margins. The biography cannot exceed 20 pages, double spaced, or 5,250 words. Please use Times New Roman style, 12-point type. Please include a cover sheet that lists the title of the biography and the date.

No identification should be on any pages of the submission.

Your application and submission must be sent in the following two ways:

Hard-copy application and submission:

  • Two hard copies of your submission – printed, unstapled and in two separate folders
  • One hard copy of your application – signed in blue ink

Electronic submission:

  • One electronic copy of the submission only (Word Document only) – submitted via e-mail

Self and Other: Writing Biography

Posted July 11, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

Writing biographies is fun!  Many children love researching the lives of people that they admire and then producing mini-books about them.

I’ve also found that children respond with delight when they use the 3rd person to describe themselves or write the biography of imaginary characters!

Here is an example of a boy whose autobiography was predictable and mundane (I am 9 years old.  I have one sister.  I like Pokémon), but his biography (based on an interview he did with himself) is clever and full of voice.

Adam wants to be a college professor when he grows up because they make more money than teachers.  He knows a lot about science and animals (did you know a cricket uses its teeth to chirp?).  He loves to go to school because he gets to learn about things like magnets (did you know the cow magnet is the strongest of the weak magnets and it only has to be 3 cm away from metal to attract it?).   In his free time Adam likes to play Pokémon.  He likes that they have mysterious powers (did you know that some Pokémon’s contain electricity in their cheek pouches and when they get too much they are magnetized?).  Adam’s favorite book series is Diary of a Wimpy Kid because it’s so funny.

By Adam, 3rd grade

Third person gave Adam the distance he needed to see what makes him unique and wonderful!

by Marcia Chamberlain, Writers in the Schools