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Listen to a life story: 200+ episodes

We’ve recorded 200+ life stories from the Oxford DNB – Boudicca to Bobby Moore, Mrs Simpson to Mills & Boon. You can download an individual life or subscribe to our fortnightly biography podcast, released on iTunes as ‘Oxford Biographies’. Each episode lasts between 10 and 25 minutes.



Current podcast:
James Maxwell and Charles Tuke, architects of Blackpool Tower





Biographies for download


Don't forget: you can read these and over 59,000 other biographies—free, anywhere at any time—via nearly all UK public libraries and colleges and universities worldwide.


Or view some topical Lives of the Week.


Current life

Current podcast: James Maxwell and Charles Tuke, architects of Blackpool Tower > listen to or download James Maxwell and Charles Tuke’s biography


Coming soon: …will do better next time…


1. Wartime lives

Wilfred Owen, poet > listen to or download Wilfred Owen’s biography

Nella Last > listen to or download Nella Last’s biography

Flora MacDonald, Jacobite heroine who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape > listen to or download Flora MacDonald’s biography

Edward Harrison, army officer and inventor of the gas mask > listen to or download Edward Harrison’s biography

Lord Haw-Haw, fascist and propaganda broadcaster > listen to or download Lord Haw-Haw’s biography

John Simpson Kirkpatrick, war hero at Gallipoli, known as the ‘Man with the Donkey’ > listen to or download John Simpson Kirkpatrick’s biography

The Unknown Warrior, the First World War soldier buried at Westminster Abbey > listen to or download the biography of The Unknown Warrior

John Travers Cornwell, boy naval hero and Victoria Cross holder (1916) > listen to or download John Travers Cornwell’s biography

Edith Cavell, nurse and First World War war heroine > listen to or download Edith Cavell’s biography

Jack Crawford, sailor and naval hero > listen to or download Jack Crawford’s biography

Christian Fletcher, royalist heroine > listen to or download Christian Fletcher’s biography

Albert Ball, WW1 airman and VC holder > listen to or download Albert Ball’s biography

Hannah Snell, 18th-cent. female soldier > listen to or download Hannah Snell’s biography

Charles Lucas, first recipient of the Victoria Cross > listen to or download Charles Lucas’s biography

Harry Patch, last surviving veteran of the First World War > listen to or download Harry Patch’s biography

Herbert Burden, WW1 soldier, executed for desertion > listen to or download Herbert Burden’s biography

2. Criminal lives

The Kray brothers, criminals > listen to or download the Kray brothers’s biographies

Catherine Ferrers, alleged highwaywoman > listen to or download Catherine Ferrers’s biography

Friar Tuck, legendary outlaw and one of Robin Hood’s ‘Merrie Men’ > listen to or download Friar Tuck’s biography

Harold Davidson, Church of England clergyman and circus performer > listen to or download Harold Davidson’s biography

Bogo de Clare, medieval churchman and figure of scandal > listen to or download Bogo de Clare’s biography

Dr Crippen, murderer > listen to or download Dr Crippen’s biography

Princess Caraboo, nineteenth-century impostor > listen to or download Princess Caraboo’s biography

Alan May, physicist and Soviet spy > listen to or download Alan May’s biography

Moll Cutpurse, thief > listen to or download Moll Cutpurse’s biography

Guy Fawkes, conspirator > listen to or download Guy Fawkes’s biography

Wat Tyler, leader of the peasants' revolt, 1381 > listen to or download Wat Tyler’s biography

Robert Maxwell, businessman >listen to or download Robert Maxwell’s biography

3. Stage and screen

Ian Dury, popular singer, songwriter, and actor > listen to or download Ian Dury’s biography

Cary Grant, actor > listen to or download Cary Grant’s biography

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, comedians and popular entertainers > listen to or download the Morecambe and Wise podcast

Alistair Cooke, broadcaster and writer > listen to or download Alistair Cooke’s biography

Aldwyn Roberts, calypso singer > listen to or download Aldwyn Roberts’s biography

Fanny Cradock, television chef > listen to or download Fanny Cradock’s biography

Jacqueline Du Pré, cellist > listen to or download Jacqueline Du Pré’s biography

Jimi Hendrix, rock musician > listen to or download Jimi Hendrix’s biography

George Harrison, musician and composer, of the Beatles > listen to or download George Harrison’s biography

Madame Tussaud, founder of London’s waxworks exhibition > listen to or download Madame Tussaud’s biography

Maurice Gibb, singer and songwriter, of the Bee Gees > listen to or download Maurice Gibb’s biography

Thora Hird, actress > listen to or download Thora Hird’s biography

Eric Thompson, actor and creator of the Magic Roundabout > listen to or download Eric Thompson’s biography

Lotte Berk, dancer and fitness trainer > listen to or download Lotte Berk’s biography

John Lennon, musician, composer, and political activist > listen to or download John Lennon’s biography

John Peel, broadcaster > listen to or download John Peel’s biography

Freddie Mercury, singer and song-writer > listen to or download Freddie Mercury’s biography

Audrey Hepburn, film actress > listen to or download Audrey Hepburn’s biography

Humphrey Lyttelton, jazz musician and broadcaster > listen to or download Humphrey Lyttelton’s biography

Sandy Denny, folk singer > listen to or download Sandy Denny’s biography

Sir Peter Pears, singer > listen to or download Peter Pears’s biography

Norman Painting, radio actor (Archers) > listen to or download Norman Painting’s biography

4. Literary lives

Beryl Bainbridge, novelist > listen to or download Beryl Bainbridge’s biography

Christopher Isherwood, writer > listen to or download Christopher Isherwood’s biography

William Minor, military surgeon, asylum inmate, and contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary > listen to or download William Minor’s biography

Olaudah Equiano, author and slavery abolitionist > listen to or download Olaudah Equiano’s biography

George Orwell, political writer and essayist > listen to or download George Orwell's biography

J. R. R. Tolkien, writer and philologist > listen to or download J. R. R. Tolkien’s biography

Angela Carter, writer > listen to or download Angela Carter’s biography

James Murray, first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary > listen to or download James Murray’s biography

Ian Fleming, writer and creator of James Bond > listen to or download Ian Fleming’s biography

Alice Liddell, prototype of the character Alice (in Wonderland) > listen to or download Alice Liddell’s biography

Mills and Boon, romantic publishers > listen to or download the Mills and Boon podcast

Roger Hargreaves, children’s author and creator of the Mr Men and Little Miss books > listen to or download Roger Hargreaves’s biography

Helene Hanff, writer and Anglophile in the USA (84 Charing Cross Road) > listen to or download Helene Hanff’s biography

Dee Wells, journalist > listen to or download Dee Wells’s biography

Barbara Cartland, romantic novelist > listen to or download Barbara Cartland’s biography

Vita Sackville-West, writer and gardener > listen to or download Vita Sackville-West’s biography

Roald Dahl, writer > listen to or download Roald Dahl’s biography

Philip Larkin, poet, writer, and librarian > listen to or download Philip Larkin’s biography

Douglas Adams, writer > listen to or download Douglas Adams’s biography

Mary Wesley, novelist > listen to or download Mary Wesley’s biography

Sir Allen Lane, publisher > listen to or download Allen Lane’s biography

Malcolm Bradbury, writer and literary scholar > listen to Malcolm Bradbury’s biography

Ignatius Sancho, author > listen to or download Ignatius Sancho’s biography

Vera Brittain, writer > listen to or download Vera Brittain’s biography

P. G. Wodehouse, writer > listen to or download P. G. Wodehouse’s biography

Agatha Christie, writer > listen to or download Agatha Christie’s biography

Enid Blyton, children's writer > listen to or download Enid Blyton’s biography

Mrs. Beeton, writer on household management > listen to or download Mrs. Beeton’s biography

Arthur C. Clarke, writer > listen to or download Arthur Clarke’s biography

J.G. Ballard, writer > listen to or download J.G. Ballard’s biography

Sylvia Plath, poet > listen to or download Sylvia Plath’s biography

Nora Joyce, wife of James > listen to or download Nora Joyce’s biography

Elizabeth David, cookery writer > listen to or download Elizabeth David’s biography

Sir John Betjeman, poet laureate > listen to or download Sir John Betjeman’s biography

5. Political lives

John Smith, Labour Party leader > listen to or download John Smith’s biography

Sir Gordon Reece, public relations consultant who created Mrs Thatcher’s image > listen to or download Sir Gordon Reece’s biography

Paul Robeson, US actor, singer, and political activist > listen to or download Paul Robeson’s biography

Denis Thatcher, prime ministerial consort > listen to or download Denis Thatcher’s biography

Mo Mowlam, New Labour politician > listen to or download Mo Mowlam’s biography

John Profumo, politician and social worker > listen to or download John Profumo’s biography

Nancy Astor, society hostess and politician >listen to or download Nancy Astor’s biography

Emily Davison, suffragette >listen to or download Emily Davison’s biography

Margaret Roper, scholar and daughter of Thomas More, Henry VIII's chancellor >listen to or download Margaret Roper’s biography

St Augustine, first archbishop of Canterbury >listen to or download St Augustine’s biography

Gwyneth Bebb, legal reformer >listen to or download Gwyneth Bebb’s biography

Alfred Roberts, father of Margaret Thatcher > listen to or download Alfred Roberts’s biography

6. Science and invention

George Hersee, television engineer > listen to or download George Hersee’s biography

Charles Rolls, motor car promoter and aviator; Sir Henry Royce, engineer and motor car designer > listen to or download Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce’s biographies

William Bowler, hatter and inventor of the bowler hat > listen to or download William Bowler’s biography

George Bennie, inventor of the railplane > listen to or download George Bennie’s biography

Forrest Mars, the man behind the Mars Bar > listen to or download Forrest Mars’s biography

Anne Darwin, daughter of Charles Darwin and subject of experiments into human behaviour > listen to or download Anne Darwin’s biography

Charles Macintosh, inventor of mackintosh waterproof fabrics > listen to or download Charles Macintosh’s biography

Percy Shaw, inventor of cats-eye road studs > listen to or download Percy Shaw’s biography

Charles Isham, bringer of garden gnomes to England > listen to or download Charles Ishams’s biography

John Logie Baird, inventor of television > listen to or download John Logie Baird’s biography

Alexander Fleming, bacteriologist and discoverer of penicillin > listen to or download Alexander Fleming’s biography

Rosalind Franklin, crystallographer > listen to or download Rosalind Franklin’s biography

Reginald Mitchell, aircraft designer > listen to or download Reginald Mitchell’s biography

William Morris, automobile manufacturer > listen to or download William Morris’s biography

Alan Turing, pioneer of computer science > listen to or download Alan Turing’s biography

Frank Pantridge, physician and inventor of the heart defibrillator, 1960s > listen to or download Frank Pantridge’s biography

Sir Rowland Hill, inventor of penny postage > listen to or download Sir Rowland Hill’s biography

Luke Howard, namer of clouds > listen to or download Luke Howard’s biography

Edward Stone, 18th cent. discoverer of the active ingredient in aspirin > listen to or download Edward Stone’s biography

Albert Durrant, designer of the London Routemaster bus > listen to or download Albert Durrant’s biography

Edwin Budding, inventor of the lawn mower > listen to or download Edwin Budding’s biography

Gustav Jaeger, dress reformer > listen to or download Gustav Jaeger’s biography

7. Explorers and pioneers

Captain Scott, naval officer and Antarctic explorer > listen to or download Captain Scott’s biography

Captain Oates, Antarctic explorer on Scott’s 1912 expedition > listen to or download Captain Oates’s biography

Constance Markievicz, Irish republican and first woman elected to UK parliament > listen to or download Constance Markievicz’s biography

Victoria Woodhull, women's rights campaigner and first female presidential candidate in the United States of America > listen to or download Victoria Woodhull’s biography

Phyllis Pearsall, map publisher and creator of the London A to Z > listen to or download Phyllis Pearsall’s biography

Pocahontas, Algonquian Indian princess > listen to or download Pocahontas’s biography

Deen Mahomed, nineteenth-century founder of Britain’s first curry house > listen to or download Deen Mahomed’s biography

Amy Johnson, international aviator > listen to or download Amy Johnson’s biography

Fanny Coker, freed slave commemorated in Bristol > listen to or download Fanny Coker’s biography

Lola Montez, adventuress in Latin America > listen to or download Lola Montez’s biography

Pasqua Rosee, founder of London’s first coffee-house, 1656 > listen to or download Pasqua Rosee’s biography

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, civil engineer > listen to or download Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s biography

James Blyth, electrical engineer and university teacher > listen to or download James Blyth’s biography

Charles Fortnum and Hugh Mason, 18th cent. grocers and founders of F&M > listen to or download Fortnum and Mason’s biography

William Penny Brookes, 19th century originator of the Olympic movement > listen to or download William Penny Brookes’s biography

John Alcock and Arthur Brown, first people to fly non-stop across the Atlantic > listen to or download Alcock and Brown’s biography

William Hillary, founder of the RNLI > listen to or download William Hillary’s biography

8. Sporting lives

Lily Parr, footballer > listen to or download Lily Parr’s biography

Stanley Matthews, football player > listen to or download Stanley Matthew’s biography

Matthew Webb, first person to swim the English Channel > listen to or download Matthew Webb’s biography

Robert Dover, organizer of the Cotswold Olimpick games from 1612 > listen to or download Robert Dover’s biography

The Busby Babes, Manchester United footballers and victims of the Munich air crash > listen to or download the Busby Babes podcast

Fred Perry, tennis player > listen to or download Fred Perry’s biography

Bobby Moore, footballer and captain of England, 1966 > listen to or download Bobby Moore’s biography

Barry Sheene, racing motorcyclist > listen to or download Barry Sheene’s biography

Charles Blondin, tightrope walker > listen to or download Charles Blondin’s biography

Douglas Jardine, cricketer > listen to or download Douglas Jardine’s biography

George Best, footballer > listen to or download George Best’s biography

Alf Ramsey, footballer and football manager > listen to or download Alf Ramsey’s biography

Brian Clough, football manager > listen to or download Brian Clough’s biography

Lucy Morton, 1924 Olympic swimmer > listen to or download Lucy Morton’s biography

Ludwig Guttmann, creator of the Stoke Mandeville Games, later Paralympics, 1945 > listen to or download Ludwig Guttmann’s biography

Ivo Bligh, cricketer and bequeather of the ‘Ashes’ > listen to or download Ivo Bligh’s biography

Archibald Leitch, designer of football stadiums > listen to or download Archibald Leitch’s biography

9. One-offs

Margaret Watt, founder of the WI > listen to or download Margaret Watt’s biography

Charles Cruft, founder of Crufts dog show > listen to or download Charles Cruft’s biography

Lionel Logue, speech therapist > listen to or download Lionel Logue’s biography

St Godric, trader and hermit > listen to or download St Godric’s biography

Abram Lyle, shipowner and sugar refiner > listen to or download Abram Lyle’s biography

Diana, princess of Wales > listen to or download Diana's biography

Dick Whittington, merchant and mayor of London > listen to or download Dick Whittington’s biography

Margaret Clitherow, Roman Catholic martyr > listen to or download Margaret Clitherow’s biography

Pannonica de Koenigswarter, musical patron > listen to or download Pannonica de Koenigswarter’s biography

Thomas Barnardo, philanthropist and founder of Dr Barnardo's Homes > listen to or download Thomas Barnardo’s biography

Mary Whitehouse, schoolteacher and campaigner > listen to or download Mary Whitehouse’s biography

Anita Roddick, businesswoman >listen to or download Anita Roddick’s biography

Hadrian, Roman emperor > listen to or download Hadrian’s biography

Elizabeth Fry, penal reformer and philanthropist > listen to or download Elizabeth Fry’s biography

Mervyn Griffith-Jones, barrister and judge > listen to or download Mervyn Griffith-Jones’s biography

Edward Smith, captain of the Titanic > listen to or download Edward Smith’s biography

Nellie Boxall, cook and servant to Virginia Woolf > listen to or download Nellie Boxall’s biography

Francis Bacon, painter > listen to or download Francis Bacon’s biography

Billy Butlin, fairground proprietor and founder of holiday camps > listen to or download Billy Butlin’s biography

Elizabeth Pepys, wife of diarist Samuel Pepys > listen to or download Elizabeth Pepys’s biography

Boudicca, queen of the Iceni > listen to or download Boudicca’s biography

Thomas Parr, seventeenth-century centenarian, known as Old Parr > listen to or download Thomas Parr’s biography

Bunny Roger, couturier, socialite, and man of fashion > listen to or download Bunny Roger’s biography

Sidney Bloom, London restaurateur > listen to or download Sidney Bloom’s biography

Nell Gwyn, actress and royal mistress > listen to or download Nell Gwyn’s biography

Anthony Blunt, art historian and spy > listen to or download Anthony Blunt’s biography

Elizabeth Shackleton, diarist > listen to or download Elizabeth Shackleton’s biography

Alice Ayres, domestic servant and heroine > listen to or download Alice Ayres’s biography

James Graham, quack > listen to or download James Graham’s biography

Wallace Hartley, musician and bandleader on the RMS Titanic > listen to or download Wallace Hartley’s biography

Thomas Farriner, baker > listen to or download Thomas Farriner’s biography

Walter Dew > listen to or download Walter Dew’s biography

John Brown, Queen Victoria's servant > listen to or download John Brown’s biography

Wallis Windsor (Mrs Simpson), duchess of Windsor > listen to or download Wallis Windsor’s biography

Albert Osman, pigeon racer > listen to or download Albert Osman’s biography

George Scorey, policeman > listen to or download George Scorey’s biography

Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright, photographers of the ‘Cottingley fairies’ > listen to or download Griffiths and Wright’s biography

Henry Croft, inventor of pearly king's and queen's tradition > listen to or download Henry Croft’s biography

Constance Smith, reviver of Mothering Sunday > listen to or download Constance Smith’s biography

Mr and Mrs Andrews, subjects of a painting by Gainsborough > listen to or download Mr and Mrs Andrews’s biography

Alan Sainsbury, retailer > listen to or download Alan Sainsbury’s biography

Ruth Belville, time seller > listen to or download Ruth Belville’s biography

10. Mystery and fictitious lives

Britannia, allegory of a nation, emblem of empire, and patriotic icon > listen to or download Britannia’s biography

The Sutton Hoo burial > listen to or download the Sutton Hoo burial podcast

Piltdown Man, archaeological hoax > listen to or download the Piltdown Man podcast

Spring-Heeled Jack, nineteenth-century mystery assailant > listen to or download the Spring-Heeled Jack podcast

Lindow Man, archaeological discovery, known as the ‘Body in the Bog’ > listen to or download the Lindow Man podcast

John Bull, fictitious epitomist of Englishness and British imperialism > listen to or download John Bull’s biography

Elizabeth Parsons, [called the Cock Lane Ghost],impostor > listen to or download Elizabeth Parsons’s biography

Sweeney Todd, legendary murderer and barber > listen to or download Sweeney Todd’s biography


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