Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

10 facts about Galileo Galilei

One of the most prolific scientists of all time, Galileo’s life and accomplishments have been studied and written about in detail. From his discovery of the moons of Jupiter to his fight with Pope Urban VIII, noted authors and playwrights have been fascinated with both Galileo’s life and work.

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The Clooneys and the Kennedys

By Ken Crossland
The story of Rosemary’s Clooney’s rise, fall, and rise again to the summit of American music is a story unparalleled in American showbiz history. From her emergence at the archetypal girl-next-door in the Fifties, through to her late life renaissance as an interpreter par excellence of jazz and popular song, Clooney’s 57-year career scaled all the heights.

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Understanding history through biography

At the April 2013 Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians, Susan Ware, General Editor of the American National Biography, discussed her first year in charge of the site and her vision for its future. Ware argues that one of the best ways to understand history is through the lives of history’s major and minor players.

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Untied threads

By Joel Sachs
Unidentified key players are the bane of biographers, who cannot resist the urge to tie all the knots. In my case, writing about the extraordinary life of the composer Henry Cowell, two people resisted identification, both of them connected with the sad story of Cowell’s imprisonment on a morals charge.

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A flag of one’s own? Aimé Césaire between poetry and politics

Aimé Césaire (1913 – 2008) has left behind an extraordinary dual legacy as eminent poet and political leader. Several critics have claimed to observe a contradiction between the vehement anti-colonial stance expressed in his writings and his political practice. Criticism has focused on his support for the law of “departmentalization” (which incorporated the French Antilles, along with other overseas territories, as administrative “departments” within the French Republic) and his reluctance to lead his country to political independence.

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Happy birthday Mr. Orwell

By Robert Colls
Sorry to bother you with serious thoughts on your birthday George, but you’ve become quite a famous chap down here. To your certain horror you’ve even become slightly fashionable and it’s only a matter of time before some lithe young man calling himself ‘Orwell’ comes sashaying down the catwalk in bags and cords, thin tash and Tin Tin hair.

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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: https://blog.oup.com/?p=45004&preview=true#sthash.r1cxNYqs.dpuf

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Letters from your father

By David Roberts
Praised in their day as a complete manual of education, and despised by Samuel Johnson for teaching `the morals of a whore and the manners of a dancing-master’, Lord Chesterfield’s Letters reflect the political craft of a leading statesman and the urbane wit of a man who associated with Pope, Addison, and Swift.

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60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II

On 2 June 1953 Queen Elizabeth II took her coronation oath at Westminster Abbey. Since her accession on 6 February 1952 aged 25, following the death of her father King George VI, the day had been planned in great detail. Our Who’s Who editors take a look at the people who helped to create that historical day.

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Bismarck: as seen by his personal assistant

Jonathan Steinberg
An old English proverb claims that ‘no man is a hero to his valet’. In this, as in so many other respects, Otto von Bismarck defies the rule. In 1875, Christoph Willers von Tiedemann, a youngish Liberal member of the German parliament, became Bismarck’s first personal assistant; the job took up most of his time for the next six years. When he received a formal invitation to tea addressed to Privy Councillor Christoph von Tiedemann from his wife, complete with his home address to remind him where it was, he decided to resign. At the end of his service he sketched a portrait of his remarkable boss.

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People of computing

According to Oxford Reference the Internet is “[a] global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.” Today the Internet industry is booming, with billions of people logging on read the news, find a recipe, talk with friends, read a blog article (!), and much more.

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The Henry Ford you know

By Vincent Curcio
When you hear the name “Henry Ford” do you feel a certain shiver inside? Does a sober look come over your face as you mumble, “Well, he was a terrible anti-Semite”? You aren’t wrong of course, as many books and articles have documented through the years. In fact, that reaction probably places you in the majority. Of course, you know about the Model T and the assembly line too.

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The life of a nation is told by the lives of its people…

America has a rich and diverse history which shows itself in its music, politics, film, and culture. The power of biography helps to illuminate larger questions of war, peace, and justice and in exploring the lives of the figures that helped to shape America’s history we can discover more about our past.

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Top five untrue facts about Hitler

By Thomas Weber
It has been thirty years this month since the master forger Konrad Kujau had his fifteen minutes of fame. Kujau managed to fool Stern magazine in Germany and the Sunday Times into believing that Hitler had secretly kept a diary. On 25 April 1983, Stern went public with the sensational story that Hitler’s diaries – which Kujau had penned in the late 70s and early 80s – had surfaced and that the history of the century had to be rewritten. By 6 May, it had become clear that two of the most venerable German and British publications had become the laughing stock of their nations. While no-one still believes that Hitler kept a diary, many other untrue facts about Hitler have been surprisingly resilient

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