Friday, June 17, 2005

Updates to Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The second update of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online is now live! This update adds 140 new biographies of men and women who left a mark on some aspect of the British past between the thirteenth and twentieth centuries, along with 18 new ready reference lists and eight feature articles for ready reference.

Building and extending on the Oxford DNB's coverage of people from all walks of life, this update adds biographies of 140 people in 132 articles. The earliest new entry is soldier and writer, Sir Roger Stanegrave (fl. 1276-1336), and the latest (by death date) is politician, Inga-Stina Robson, Baroness Robson of Kiddington (1919-1999). Of the new biographies 36 are of women.


Each update spotlights distinct groups of people with a shared identity or common link. This update examines three areas (90 biographies in total), all with an introductory essay:

* European exiles and visitors to Britain -- people who came to Britain as exiles or visitors from mainland Europe, including Georgi Markov (1929-1978), the Bulgarian dissident poisoned by assassins on Waterloo Bridge, London, and gunpowder manufacturer, Francis Grueber (c.1657-1730; whose premises exploded with spectacular effect in 1703).

* Women in politics -- women active in political life from the seventeenth century onward, with notables from Jacobean courtier Mary Villiers, countess of Buckingham (c.1570-1632), to Rotha Lintorn-Orman (1895-1935), who founded the British Fascisti in 1923 intending to protect the nation from communism. This update also includes coverage of all (deceased) female British MPs

* Household names -- entrepreneurs from cocktail inventor James Pimm (1798-1866) to John Lea (1791-1874) and William Perrins (1793-1867), inventors of a savory sauce that originated with a barrel of inedible condiment they later re-opened by chance.

Our remaining biographies are of men and women who left their mark in the arts, diplomacy, the military, trade, religion, and education.


Ranging from "Rulers of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms" to "Captains of the English cricket team," the 18 new ready reference lists included in this update are sure to provide new avenues into the Dictionary.

The eight new topical essays include a look at eighteenth-century India from P.J. Marshall, an exploration of twentieth-century English music from Stephen Banfield, and an examination of medieval science from John D. North.

Corrections and amendments to articles consist of known factual errors-verified by the research staff and, where necessary, contributors or external reviewers, and the addition of new material (for example, family life dates) submitted by readers or derived from recent publications. Articles are identified in the citation at the foot of the entry, and previous versions are available for consultation on the website.

No comments: