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National Libraries Day UK

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.

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The Oxford Companion to the London 2012 Opening Ceremony

Many questioned how the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games Opening Ceremony was going to make a mark after the spectacular Beijing Olympics only four years earlier. While Beijing presented the Chinese people moving as one body — dancing, marching, and presenting a united front to the world — the British answer was a chaotic and spirited ceremony, shifting from cricket matches to coordinated dance routines, Mr Bean’s comedic dream to a 100-foot Lord Voldemort.

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A new era at the American National Biography

In April 2012, the American National Biography gladly received a new general editor: Susan Ware. Mark Carnes welcomed his successor, saying, “A superb choice! Susan Ware is an outstanding biographer, a proven editor, and a wonderful person. She will thrive in a job whose importance does not preclude it from being great fun.” We’re excited to have Susan leading the ANB and she’s offered a sneak peak of her plans for improving and extending this fantastic resource.

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Beside the seaside: Blackpool and national biography

By Sue Arthur
Memories of your summer holiday may be fading, but the latest update of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography seeks to rekindle the summer—or at least summers past—with one of the new additions from its latest update, published today. For forty years Reginald Dixon (1904-1985) played the Wurlitzer at the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool, turning a former cinema organist into a recording star, known worldwide for his signature tune, ‘I do like to be beside the seaside.’ Here Dixon’s biographer, Sue Arthur, describes the man who became ‘Mr Blackpool’, and the interwar resort he helped to make a national attraction.

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International Women’s Day: Mona Caird

These days, not many people outside of academia seem to know who Mona Caird was. I certainly didn’t until I was studying for my Masters degree and decided to write on the New Woman writers of the late 19th century. Through that I came to read her novel, The Daughters of Danaus (1894), which is the story of Hadria, a girl from the Scottish Borders who wants to be a composer. However, the pressure to fulfil the traditional roles of wife and mother is insurmountable and her musical ambitions are ultimately sacrificed to her family obligations. The book is rightly regarded as something of a feminist classic, and it has become one of my very favourite books.

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Dictionary Day is Coming…

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 […]

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Five facts about Thomas Bodley

This week marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Sir Thomas Bodley, diplomat and founder of the Bodleian Library. After retiring from public life in 1597, Bodley decided to “set up my staff at the library door in Oxon; being thoroughly persuaded, that in my solitude, and surcease from the Commonwealth affairs, I could not busy myself to better purpose, than by reducing that place (which then in every part lay ruined and waste) to the public use of students.”

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Friday procrastination: M(o)ustache edition

It’s the close of WOTY week everyone and I’m GIFed out. Welcome new followers! And goodbye to those who quickly OD’ed on Oxford content. You will be missed. First off, it’s Movember, when men around the world sprout moustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Our own Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is presenting a moustachioed man (no women) every day this month on Twitter.

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