A modern book length biography of Johnson would certainly have
chapters for different stages in his life (though Boswell wrote his in
chronological order by year, but otherwise in a single continuous
sequence (with the result that in the usual modern edition, the 4 vol.
work needs a 2 vol. index.).
An article on it, print or encyclopedia, would have subheadings. The
virtue of summary style is not just subdivision, but that our readers
have multiple goals in mind, and the summary articles act as brief
accounts. But we never should be writing a book-length biography,
although we could in many cases find the necessary material, based
entirely on secondary & tertiary sources. We could do even more: there
are book-length works based on specific periods in his life
(Kaminski's "Early career of Samuel Johnson"; Clifford's
Johnson : Samuel Johnson's middle years".
David Goodman, Ph.D, M.L.S.
On Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 2:04 PM, Carcharoth <carcharothwp(a)googlemail.com> wrote:
On Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 1:34 PM, Charles Matthews
Andrew Gray wrote:
I think we can easily distinguish, though; the
notability-by-association thing really needs most of the set to be
desirable topics for articles (*most* ski runs are interesting, or at
least let us assume they are for this discussion!) and for that set to
be well-defined (you can always tell if a ski run is in Australia or
Yes, this is exactly the sort of gradation we should have and should be
able to implement, but is also the sort of gradation that the
NOTINHERITED group of editors seek to stamp out. The notability guidance
has also become a spanner in the works of Summary Style. You can't now
split an article up if it is too long unless you split it in a way such
that each separate article is notable by itself. And even if you manage
to do that, there are editors who will accuse you of forking.
Rightly, in my view. I come down on the (conservative) side of this
discussion, and agree with the now-ancient decision that article space
should not admit subpages (which is what subarticles without credible
free-standing topics amount to).
An example I saw recently that made me think of the discussions over
NOTINHERITED, and notability of daughter articles, and how far summary
style should go, was a recent featured article:
It helps that the main article is also featured:
And there is plenty of precedent for expanding on long articles
25 there and counting:
*Pope Benedict XVI
*George W. Bush
*George Gordon Byron
*Pope John Paul II
*Pope Pius XII
*Joseph Smith, Jr.
Some you would expect there to be enough material for this sort of
treatment. Others less so. I like the idea of doing this sort of thing
for very long biographcal articles, but seeing how it has developed in
some cases, I'm not so sure. There are some articles I think should
not be treated this way. The material out there is enough for one
article, and that should be enough.
I did look for a category of "middle years" (or "middle life") and
"later years" (or "later life") articles, but those seem less
In fact, we seem to only have two "later life" articles:
We seem to have no actual articles on "middle years". Most such
articles are probably specific ones about events and periods in a
person's career and life. e.g. Darwin's Beagle Voyage.
There are templates grouping such life "segments" (or chapters) together:
That's 6 subarticles (actually, one is a link to a section in the main article).
Barack Obama seems to have 14 subarticles:
More examples of biographical navboxes here:
It seems a given that for some topics where there is a lot of material
and a lot of writers and a lot of interest, there will be a sprawl
across lots of articles clustering around a central topic. Whether
that is good in the long run, I'm not sure. The focus should be on the
main article, but sometimes building up the surrounding articles
(while the main article remains in a relatively poor state) can help
build towards the main article being re-written as a summary of the
subarticles. The other approach is to write the main article, and then
spin sections off into new article as more material is added. I've
seen both approaches used and both argued against (for different
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