Source Guardian: their list of the very best factual writing, organised by category, and then by date.
BiographyLives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari (1550)
Biography mixes with anecdote in this Florentine-inflected portrait of the painters and sculptors who shaped the Renaissance
The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell (1791)
Boswell draws on his journals to create an affectionate portrait of the great lexicographer
The Diaries of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys (1825)
"Blessed be God, at the end of the last year I was in very good health," begins this extraordinarily vivid diary of the Restoration periodView Guardian article