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May 2014 update

Alma Taylor

The May 2014 update of the ODNB adds biographies of 99 men & women who shaped British history from the 13th to late-20th century. Here’s a selection, click on a portrait to read on.


A full list is also available, along with the introduction. Online access to all 99 new biographies, together with the ODNB’s 59,003 existing entries, is freely available—anywhere, any time—via UK public libraries, and university & college libraries worldwide.



History of British cinema

Charles Hawtrey Michael Klinger Jill Esmond Nigel Green

May’s update has a special focus on the history of British cinema: from the silent stars of the 1910s to the actors, directors, and producers of later 20th-century films such as Get Carter and Carry On.


Among those now included are Alma Taylor, Britain’s favourite silent screen actress; Michael Klinger, producer of Get Carter (as well as Ted Lewis, on whose novel the film was based); Charles Hawtrey who became a regular member of the Carry On team; and Disney’s leading director of the 1960s, Robert Stevenson, whose best-known film, Mary Poppins, marks its 50th anniversary this year. Two other films marking 50 years are Zulu (whose cast included Nigel Green) and Becket, whose director of photography Geoffrey Unsworth, recreated the interior of Canterbury Cathedral at Shepperton Studios. Unsworth also won Oscars for Cabaret and 2001: a Space Odyssey.

Alma Taylor Ted Lewis John Gregson Adrian Brunel

We’ve further film lives in our Infographic, charting a century of British cinema.


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Early modern nuns

The May update adds new biographies of 20 women religious who—in the wake of the Reformation—founded or entered English convents in exile in continental Europe and North America. They include Margaret Clement (1539-1612), prioress of St Ursula’s, Louvain; Anne Cary (d.1671), Benedictine nun & founder of Our Lady of Good Hope Convent, Paris; and Frances Dickinson (1755-1830), prioress at Port Tobacco Carmel, Maryland. Among the chroniclers now added are the Brigettine nun and writer, Elizabeth Sander (d.1607) and the Poor Clare abbess, Mary Browne (d. in or before 1694).


Further details and extracts from this new research project are available here.

Margaret Clement Mary Dennett Frances Dickinson Margaret Throckmorton

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Football to Latin America, & other lives

Giovanna Sestini Alonso Cardenas Cuthbert Ottaway William Bourchier Alexander Hutton Humphrey Newton

Other new biographies include Charles Miller (1874-1953) and Alexander Hutton (1853-1936) both of whom did much to introduce and promote football—in Brazil and Argentina respectively. We’ve also the story of Cuthbert Ottaway (1850-1878), recently in the news as the first captain of the England national football team, but better known in his lifetime as an Oxford University cricketer.


Earlier biographies added in May 2014 include the opera singer, Giovanna Sestini (d.1814); Alonso Cárdenas (c.1592-1666), Spanish ambassador to London during the civil wars, and principal purchaser of art works from the royal collection after the execution of Charles I. There’s also Humphrey Newton (1466-1536), whose record books provide a rare insight into the life of the late 15th-century gentry; and the remarkable story of Christina Carpenter (fl.1329-1332) who was twice enclosed as an anchorite.


The biography of Charles Miller (1874-1953)—football administrator in Brazil—is also available as an episode in the ODNB’s free biography podcast.


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Annivesaries: Bannockburn & the Hanoverian succession

George I Robert Bruce Joseph Addison Edward II Frederick Lewis

New thematic essays mark the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn, when Robert Bruce defeated the forces of Edward II, and the 300th anniversary of the Hanoverian succession.


Two essays explore Bannockburn from the perspectives of the Scots & the English, while three articles consider the road to the 1714 succession; literary responses to King George I; and the legacies of Georgian Britain, 1714-1830. Click on the portraits above to read on.


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New portraits we’ve added

May’s update also adds first-time portraits to existing Oxford DNB biographies. Below you’ll find a selection of new likenesses: Archibald McIndoe, pioneer of plastic surgery; Mary Honywood, matriarch and sustainer of protestant martyrs; Venetia Digby, gentlewoman; Frances Greville, countess of Warwick; Roger Fry, painter and art critic; and the portrait photographer, Alexander Bassano, whose work illustrates 232 entries in the ODNB.


Archibald McIndoe Mary Honywood Venetia Digby Frances Greville Roger Fry Alexander Bassano

A full list of new portraits added in May 2014 is available here.


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Oxford DNB: who would you like to meet?

Horatio Nelson Nyree Dawn Porter Constantine I Anne Boleyn Winston Churchill Eileen Agar

  • the Oxford DNB online is freely available via public libraries across the UK. Libraries offer ‘remote access’ allowing members to log-on to the complete dictionary, for free, from home (or any other computer) twenty-four hours a day.
  • as well as 59,102 life stories, the ODNB offers a free, twice monthly biography podcast with over 200 life stories now available.
  • you can also sign up for a Life of the Day: a topical biography delivered to your inbox.
  • or follow us on Twitter for people in the news Follow odnb on Twitter


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