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This April fools’ day, learn from the experts

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 …

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The Oxford DNB at 10: new research opportunities in the humanities

The publication of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography in September 2004 was a milestone in the history of scholarship, not least for crossing from print to digital publication. Prior to this moment a small army of biographers, myself among them, had worked almost entirely from paper sources, including the stately volumes of the first, Victorian ‘DNB’ and its 20th-century print supplement volumes. But the Oxford DNB of 2004 was conceived from the outset as a database and published online as web pages, not paper pages reproduced in facsimile.

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Celebrating Scotland: St Andrew’s Day

St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, is rather a mysterious figure; very little is actually known about his life. Meanwhile, St Andrew’s Day, on 30th November, is well-established and widely celebrated by Scots around the world. The bestselling Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and the Little Oxford Dictionary of Quotations include quotes from a wide-range of people, on an even wider-range of subjects. Here are some contributions from some of Scotland’s most treasured wordsmiths.

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Oh, I say! Brits win Wimbledon

By Philip Carter
It’s 1 July 1977: the Jacksons are Number 1 in the UK charts; a pint of beer costs 40 pence, milk per pint is 11p; Elvis has just given what will be his final concert; Virginia Wade becomes the last British player to win the women’s singles tennis championship at Wimbledon. – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/?p=45004&preview=true#sthash.r1cxNYqs.dpuf

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An Oxford Companion to Valentine’s Day

By Daniel Parker
It’s big, it’s red, and it’s here. Valentine’s Day strikes fear into the hearts of men and women around the Western world like nothing else can. But you needn’t run scared of the Hallmark branded teddy bears. Oh no. Follow the sprinkling of rose petals, the sweet aroma of scented candles, and the dulcet tones of Phil Collins up the stairs to the luxury boudoir that is Oxford University Press.

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‘And the Oscar went to …’

In his acceptance speech at the 1981 Oscars (best original screenplay, Chariots of Fire), Colin Welland offered the now famous prediction that ‘The British are coming!’ There have since been some notable British Oscar successes: Jessica Tandy for Driving Miss Daisy (1989); director Anthony Minghella for The English Patient (1996); Helen Mirren (in The Queen, 2006).

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What is marriage?

As I write, a committee is meeting to decide which two names to submit to the British prime minister for the post of archbishop of Canterbury. Whoever gets the job, a major issue that he will have to deal with is that of gay marriage, which the British government has pledged to introduce, and which the Church of England, along with most other religious confessions inBritain, opposes. The current debate about gay marriage forces all religions, as well as the government and the general public, to re-examine both their views on homosexuality, and their definitions of exactly what marriage is.

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Looking back on looking back: history’s people of 2012

By Philip Carter
2012 — What a year to be British! A year of street parties and river processions for the Jubilee; of officially the best Olympics ever; of opening and closing ceremonies; of Britons winning every medal on offer; of the (admittedly, not British) Tour de France, of David Hockney’s Yorkshire, and a new James Bond film. Even a first tennis Grand Slam since the days when shorts were trousers and players answered to ‘Bunny’.

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Jericho: The community at the heart of Oxford University Press

We’re delighted to announce that the Oxford University Press Museum, based at OUP’s Oxford publishing office, reopens today following extensive refurbishment. Archivist Martin Maw celebrates the occasion by taking a look at the historic links between OUP and Jericho, the local area.

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Celebrating Dylan Thomas’s centenary

Today, 27 October sees the centenary of the birth of the poet, Dylan Marlais Thomas. Born on Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, and brought up in the genteel district of Uplands, Thomas’s childhood was suburban and orthodox — his father an aspirational but disappointed English teacher at the local grammar school.

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An ODNB guide to the people of the London 2012 opening ceremony

By Philip Carter
Where do you stand on Friday’s opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games? Delighted, inspired, a little bit baffled? There’s a possibility, we realize, that not all of the show’s 1 billion-strong audience will have caught every reference. So here’s the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography guide to some of those who made it possible.

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New lives added to the Oxford DNB include Amy Winehouse, Elizabeth Taylor, and Claude Choules

The New Year brings with it a new instalment of Oxford DNB biographies which, as every January, extend the Dictionary’s coverage of people who shaped British life in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. This January we add biographies of 226 men and women who died during 2011. These new biographies were commissioned by my predecessor as editor, Lawrence Goldman, but having recently assumed the editor’s chair, I take full and appreciative responsibility for introducing them.

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World War I in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

Coverage of the centenary of the outbreak of World War One has made us freshly familiar with many memorable sayings, from Edward Grey’s ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe’, to Wilfred Owen’s ‘My subject is War, and the pity of war/ The Poetry is in the pity’, and Lena Guilbert Horne’s exhortation to ‘Keep the Home-fires burning’.

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