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What's new in the Oxford DNB?

Here you'll find details of the dictionary's latest update (May 2016)—plus news of monthly features, our bi-weekly biography podcast, and topical Lives of the Day.


The Oxford DNB online is updated every January, May, and September with new biographies and reference articles. Previous updates


You may also be interested in Taking a tour of the online edition.




Latest online update: May 2016

Our May 2016 online update adds new biographies of 93 men and women active between the 14th and 20th century. Full list of new lives.


  • Women’s lives, 1550-1900: Bristol engineer, Sarah Guppy (1770-1852), whose inventions included a suspension bridge crossing the River Avon, patented in 1811; the Derbyshire colliery owner Ellen Morewood (1741-1824); Anne Hooper (d.1555), one of the earliest wives of a bishop in the post-reformation period; and the salon host Mary Jeune, Lady St Helier (1845-1931), whose political circle brought together Winston and Clementine.

  • Tattooing and physical culture: pioneers of body art George Burchett (1872-1953) and Sutherland Macdonald (1860-1942), who coined the term 'tattooist' to reflect the artistry of his work; and Racton Man (c. 2220 BP), the skeleton of a Bronze Age warrior, about whom a biography of sorts is now possible.

  • Group biographies: essays on historical networks include the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the early modern Erasmus Circle, centred on the great Dutch humanist; participants in the Northern Rising (1559-70); and two acting troupes: Queen Henrietta's Men from the 1620s, and the experimental Group Theatre of the 1930s.

Editor's Introduction    :    Highlights from the new update    :    May 2016 update



September 2016

  • 1666: The Great Fire and the rebuilding of London
  • 1916: Roald Dahl's centenary
  • Coming soon—new upate published on Thursday 6th October
  • Lives of the Day: featured biographies in September include Ludwig Guttmann, founder of the Paralympic Games (7th), Richard I (8th), Alice Ayres (12th), whose heroism led to the creation of a London monument to ‘everyday heroes’; and two centenarians – author Roald Dahl (13th), and the cartoonist Carl Giles (29th). Find out who's currently in the Lives of the week gallery, and sign up for the life of the day.
  • Oxford DNB's biography podcast: selected biographies to download as an iTunes podcast or listen to via Soundcloud: this month, the novelist Barbara Pym and Odo of Bayeux, ahead of the 950th anniversary of the Norman Conquest.
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter
  • More routes to free sample content.

August 2016

  • 3 recipients of the ODNB research bursaries, 2016-17 British Olympians in the Oxford DNB
  • Listen to the life of Ludwig Guttmann, creator of the Paralympics
  • Lives of the Day: featured biographies in August include a packed podium of British Olympians—among them swimmer Jennie Fletcher (8th), athlete Chris Brasher (15th), and Robert Dover, creator of the Cotswold Olympics of 1612 (5th). Anniversaries in August include the centenary of the death of Irish rebel Roger Casement (3rd), the birth of ‘spycatcher’ Peter Wright (9th), and the tercentenary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (30th). Find out who's currently in the Lives of the week gallery, and sign up for the life of the day.
  • Oxford DNB's biography podcast: selected biographies to download as an iTunes podcast or listen to via Soundcloud: this month, the eighteenth-century Chinese artist Chitqua and the story of the Great Fire of London
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter
  • More routes to free sample content.

July 2016

  • Somme, 1916: life and work of Geoffrey Malins whose film 'Battle of the Somme' was seen by 20 million Britons in summer 1916.
  • Wimbledon, 1936: Fred Perry wins in SW19.
  • Latest update: 93 new lives, 4000 years of British history
  • Lives of the Day: featured biographies in July include Raymond Asquith, son of the prime minister, H.H. Asquith, who was killed on the Somme on 1 July 1916. On 9th we mark the centenary of the birth of the Conservative prime minister, Edward Heath, who took Britain into the then EEC in 1973. Other people who'll appear in July include the seventeenth-century artist Artemisia Gentileschi (8th), astrologer John Dee (13th), and novelist and philosopher, Iris Murdoch (15th). Find out who's currently in the Lives of the week gallery, and sign up for the life of the day.
  • Oxford DNB's biography podcast: selected biographies to download as an iTunes podcast or listen to via Soundcloud: this month, Alice Bryene, medieval landowner, and crime writer, Raymond Chandler.
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter
  • More routes to free sample content.

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  • In praise of ... the Dictionary of National Biography
    ‘The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is one of the last great products of the age of print, now giving way with some grace to the digital era … Access, via library subscriptions, is free for almost anyone who wants it, on a home computer. The DNB team even email out a life of the day, an erudite way to clutter your inbox.’
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    Read Stefan Collini's LRB review.

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2005: Special citation: National Book Critics Circle Awards
2005: Trustees' Award for the promotion of history: Longman-History Today Awards

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