Today’s publication of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography’s September 2014 update—marking the Dictionary’s tenth anniversary—contains a chronological bombshell. The ODNB covers the history of Britons worldwide ‘from the earliest times’, a phrase which until now has meant since the fourth century BC, as represented by Pytheas, the Marseilles merchant whose account of the British Isles is the earliest known to survive
By Philip Carter
Way back in 2007, when Twittering truly was for the birds, a far-sighted editor at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography piped up: maybe people would like to listen as well as read? So was devised the Oxford DNB‘s biography podcast which this week released its 200th episode—the waggerly tale of Charles Cruft (1852-1938), founder of the eponymous dog show held annually in early March.
We’re just five days away from Dictionary Day, the annual celebration of all things lexicographical held every 16th of October. Commemorating the anniversary of Noah Webster’s birth in 1758, it’s largely an opportunity for US school teachers to organize classroom activities encouraging students to build their dictionary skills and to exult in the joy of […]
In the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography you’ll currently find biographies of 6340 women who’ve shaped British history and culture between the 1st and 21st century — making it one of the most extensive accounts of women’s contribution to national life. Who are these women?
When it was first published in September 2004, the Oxford DNB included biographies of people who had died (all in the ODNB are deceased) on or before 31 December 2001. In the subsequent ten years we have continued to extend the Dictionary’s coverage into the twenty-first century—with regular updates recording those who have died since 2001. Of the 4300 people whose biographies have been added to the online ODNB in this decade, 2172 died between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2010.
Today is National Libraries Day in the United Kingdom, and hundreds of activities and events are taking place in public libraries of all shapes and sizes — from the multi-million pound Library of Birmingham, to the tiniest local libraries run by volunteers — in order to celebrate our wonderful librarians, and the libraries they run. To celebrate National Libraries Day, we asked a few of our staff what they love about public libraries.
By Chris Williams
Friedrich Engels once dismissed the Welsh, amongst others, as a ‘non-historic’ people, destined to be absorbed into the grander story of the English nation-state. Much of the subsequent history of Wales has proven him wrong, at least on that point, but carving out a distinct niche for the written history has always been a challenge.
Ever wondered what the Latin word for owl is? Or what links Fred Perry and Ping Pong? Maybe not, but you may be able to find the answers to these questions and many more at your fingertips in your local library. As areas for ideas, inspiration, imagination, and information Public Libraries are stocked full of not only books but online resources to help one and all find what they need.
By Mark Curthoys
The London Games have unsurprisingly stimulated renewed interest in Britain’s Olympic heritage. The National Archives has made available online records of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Games. Chariots of Fire (1981), the film which tells the story of the sprint gold medals won in Paris in 1924 by Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, has been re-released. English Heritage commemorative blue plaques have recently been unveiled in London at the homes of Abrahams and his coach Sam Mussabini.
When it was first published in September 2004, the Oxford DNB brought together the work of more than 10,000 humanities scholars charting the lives of nearly 55,000 historical individuals. Collectively it captured a generation’s understanding and perception of the British past and Britons’ reach worldwide.
A few questions for Casper Grathwohl.
Here at Princeton, the new academic year is very much upon us, and I shall soon begin teaching a junior seminar on ‘Winston Churchill, Anglo-America, and the “Special Relationship”’, which is always enormously enjoyable, not least because one of the essential books on the undergraduate reading list is Paul Addison’s marvellous brief biography, published by OUP, which he developed from the outstanding entry on Churchill that he wrote for the Oxford DNB.
How do you write a person’s life story? For contributors to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography this is a familiar question and its answer depends, in large part, on who’s under discussion.
A link to the biography of Edward Winslow to celebrate Thankgsiving.
Leonardo da Vinci was the illegitimate son of the Florentine notary Ser Piero da Vinci, who married Albiera di Giovanni Amadori, the daughter of a patrician family, in the year Leonardo was born. Little is known about the artist’s natural mother, Caterina, other than that five years after Leonardo’s birth she married an artisan from Vinci named Chartabriga di Piero del Veccha.
By Philip Carter
As the First of April nears you may be planning the perfect joke, hoax or act of revenge. If so—and if you’re looking for inspiration—may we recommend some of British history’s finest hoaxers, courtesy of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. So this year, how about …