Here are the answers to last week’s biography pop quiz. All answers can be found in my new book Real Lives Revealed: A Guide to Reading Interests in Biography.
Multiple Choice Questions
1. In Eminent Victorians, Lytton Strachey did not write about (b) Matthew Arnold. Strachey wrote about Thomas Arnold.
2. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall wrote a biography of (c) George Washington
3. Sheriff Pat Garrett shot the outlaw know as (d) all of the above, which were names used by the outlaw known as Billy the Kid.
4. Journalist Martha Gellhorn died from (b) suicide.
5. On Illustrious Men (De Viris Illustribus) was written by (d) all of the above. It was popular name to use in Latin collected biographies.
6. Singer Michael Jackson claimed that his life was changed by reading a biography of (c) P. T. Barnum, who wanted to present the "greatest show on earth."
7. Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a dog named (c) Flush, who was dog-napped several times. The author defied her father to pay the ransoms. This may have helped her finally break away from her domineering parents.
8. President Abraham Lincoln's friends did not included (b) the late David Herbert Donald who was a Lincoln biographer, not a contemporary, though you might suspect he would have liked to be a Lincoln friend.
9. After their baseball careers ended, Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth developed a friendship while (c) golfing.
10. J. Randy Taraborrelli has not written a biography of (c) Barbara Streisand.
True or False?
11. True - Ray Charles learned to play boogie-woogie piano before he was classically trained.
12. True - The pirate William Dampier was also a noted scientist who chartered ocean currents and drew tropical birds.
13. True - Ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev was born on a train near Lake Baikal in Siberia.
14. True - Martha Washington burned all of her letters to and from her husband George.
15. False - Jonas Salk DID NOT suffer from polio as a child.
16. Name the author of the first biography?
d. Ion of Chios is the best answer, as he wrote sketches of Pericles and Sophocles in the fifth century BCE. Scholars, however, do not agree on what a biography is, so the question is really hard to answer.
If you got any of the answers right, consider yourself pretty well-read.