A Brief History of the Author Bio

30,000 BP (Before Present)—The first recorded Author Bio is created by a caveman in the Chauvet Caverns who, upon realizing that taking credit for a recently completed tableau depicting a successful hunting expedition might increase his sexual prospects amongst the female members of his tribe, mashes his paint-stained palm against a cave wall.

30,001 BP—The first irreverent Author Bio is created when that same caveman, disparaging of the fact that other members of his tribe are now marking their drawings with palm prints, some bigger and bolder than his own, breaks his pinky finger before ‘signing’ a sketch of a bison.

1952 – Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is published in Life magazine, accompanied by a biography that eerily predicts the date and time of Hemingway’s death down to the very minute.

1966—Reader’s of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood are shocked when in place of a traditional bio, the back cover of the first edition features a photograph of Capote standing over the grave of Perry Smith, totally nude, with a stack of one-hundred dollar bills balanced on his erect penis.

1979—Sprightly science fiction author Harlan Ellison makes history by crafting a 10,000 word Author Bio to accompany his 3,000 word short story Verily, the Calligrapher Cried.

1984 – The Iowa Writers’ Workshop offers the first ever 12-week course devoted to crafting the perfect Author Bio. The class is cancelled after twenty minutes into its first meeting when everyone in attendance simultaneously realizes they have accomplished absolutely nothing.

1991— Brett Easton Ellis expands an Author Bio originally written to accompany The Rules of Attraction and publishes it under the title American Psycho.

1996 – The Author Bio for David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest features the last part of a cipher that, when combined with material in the novel, reveals the location of a vast fortune hidden somewhere in the continental United States. To this day the fortune remains undiscovered, although some claim that they’ll really get around to finishing the book soon, maybe over the holidays.

2005 – James Frey courts controversy when his novel My Friend Leonard, a sequel to his hit A Million Little Pieces, features an Author Bio claiming his birthdate as September 12, when in reality he was born right at midnight and technically should probably celebrate his birthday on the 13th.

2014 – The Author Bio for Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage features a long description of a cat eating a bowl of cold spaghetti and the complete track listing for Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie’s 1950 collaboration Bird and Diz, but no information at all about the author.