The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (www.oxforddnb.com) tells the life stories of nearly 60,000 men and women (deceased in or before 2010) who have shaped British history worldwide. Of these, more than 3300 were born or lived in Wales, or left their mark on aspects of Welsh life—from politics to sport, industry to the arts.
Together these subjects span 1500 years of Welsh history, beginning with the sixth-century St Deiniol (bishop of Bangor and monastery founder) and concluding with close contemporaries such as the footballer John Charles (1931–2004), the pioneering organic farmer, Dinah Williams (1911-2009), and Michael Foot (1913-2010), the long-serving Labour MP for Ebbw Vale.
1. Find people With the online edition of the Oxford DNB you can search for people
This means you can quickly discover
2. Search for words, references, and images Online you can also search the Dictionary’s 84 million words of text; its listings of individuals’ archives, likenesses, and wealth at death; and its 11,200 portrait images which accompany 1 in 5 biographies, making this the largest published collection of national portraiture. Which means you can also find:
3. New biographies published three times a year
Since publication in 2004, the Oxford DNB has been extended with online updates published every January, May, and September.
January updates add biographies of men and women who died in the early twenty-first century, while those for May and October add people from the ‘earliest times’ to 2000.
Of the 2100 men and women added to the ODNB since 2004, Welsh examples include:
- Sir Julian Hodge (1904–2004), merchant banker and businessman
- Samuel Brain (1850–1903), brewer
- Winifred Tennant (1874–1956), suffragist and spiritualist medium
- Huw Thomas Edwards (1892–1970), trade unionist and politician
- Felix Powell (1878–1942), composer of the marching song, ‘Pack up your troubles’
- Sarah Jacob [called the Welsh Fasting Girl] (1857–1869), victim of self-starvation
- Leighton Rees (1940–2003), darts player
- David Watts Morgan (1867–1933), miners' leader and wartime recruiter
- Trevor Ford (1923–2003), footballer
4. Themes for quick reference and research
As well as new biographies, updates have added more than 500 articles to create a new Themes area of the online Oxford DNB.
Themes provide an expanding online 'handbook' to the people who shaped British history worldwide. Themes take three forms—lists, groups, and features—and are useful for quick reference, making connections between people, and as routes into the main dictionary (all individuals mentioned link back to the full biography for further reading).
Reference lists provide details of place and office holders: for example, all British prime ministers or Poets laureate or Oscar winners and Olympic gold medallists in the ODNB.
Reference groups provide essays on well-known groups in history, making links between individual members: from the Gunpowder plotters and the Pilgrim Fathers to the Suffragettes and the Goons.
Feature essays allow expert historians to write on popular topics: from Roman Britain to appeasement and from slavery abolition to Life on the Home Front.
5. Getting the most from your subscription