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What's new in the Oxford DNB?

Here you'll find details of the dictionary's latest update (January 2014)—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: Selected reviews and Prizes or in Taking a tour of the online edition.



Latest online update: January 2014

Our January 2014 online update includes biographies of 219 people who died in the year 2010. Full list of new lives.


Highlights from the January update include:

  • Political and legal lives: Michael Foot, parliamentarian, writer, and leader of the Labour party in the early 1980s; the judge, Tom Bingham, who filled all the highest judicial offices (including as senior law lord) and paved the way for the creation of the Supreme Court.
  • Literary lives: novelists Beryl Bainbridge and Alan Sillitoe; poets Peter Porter and Edwin Morgan, and the journalists Claire Rayner and Tony Howard.
  • Music and design: Malcolm McLaren, impresario behind the Sex Pistols; the fashion designer Alexander McQueen; Robin Day, creator of the stackable plastic chair, and classical musicians Joan Sutherland and Charles Mackerras.
  • Other lives include: pharmacologist and Nobel laureate, James Whyte Black, inventor of ‘beta-blockers’, used in the treatment of heart disease; restaurant reviewer Egon Ronay; David Qualye, DIY entrepreneur and the Q in ‘B&Q’; and Jayaben Desai, leader of the one of the most celebrated strikes of the 1970s, at the Grunwick film processing plant at Willesden, north London.

Editor's Introduction    :    Highlights from the new update    :    January 2014 update




April 2014

  • New Editor announcement: Professor Sir David Cannadine FBA is to succeed Dr Lawrence Goldman as the Editor of Oxford DNB, from October 2014. More details.
  • No fool like an old fool: 10 lives for the 1st.
  • William Shakespeare at 450.
  • Lives of the day: April anniversaries include the centenary of the birth of Alec Guinness (2nd), actor, and the bicentenary of the philanthropist, Angela Burdett-Coutts (21st). Two days later we celebrate the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare and on 26th it’s 125 years since the birth of the philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein. In between there’s James Blyth, inventor of the wind turbine (4th), and Violet Piercy, the first British woman to run a modern marathon as the event comes to London (13th). Find out who’s currently in the Lives of the Week gallery, and sign up for the life of the day.
  • Oxford DNB podcasts: new biographies, and some old favourites, as downloads and podcasts: this month, building Blackpool Tower & a gun in the glove compartment. Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter

March 2014

  • New Editor announcement: Professor Sir David Cannadine FBA is to succeed Dr Lawrence Goldman as the Editor of Oxford DNB, from October 2014. More details.
  • 200th episode of ODNB’s podcast is out: browse our new e-brochure.
  • The story of Mothering Sunday.
  • Lives of the day: March lives include the Oscar-winning cinematographer Jack Cardiff (2nd), the First World War psychiatrist, W.H.R. Rivers (born 150 years ago on 12 March 1864), meteorologist and ‘namer of clouds’, Luke Harding (21st, who died in 1864), and the child actor, Freddie Bartholomew, who made his name in Hollywood as Little Lord Fauntleroy (28th). Find out who’s currently in the Lives of the Week gallery, and sign up for the life of the day.
  • Oxford DNB podcasts: new biographies, and some old favourites, as downloads and podcasts: this month, Labour (Old and New) and the making of the Women’s Institute. Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter

February 2014

  • Latest update: biographies of 219 people who died in 2010. Selected lives.
  • Lives of the day: February’s lives include Margot Asquith, diarist and wife of the wartime prime minister H.H. Asquith (2nd), Lucienne Day, designer of ‘mid-century modern’ fabrics (5th), the king of fish & chips, Harry Ramsden (10th), the Hanoverian actor David Garrick (19th) and the cartoonist Sir John Tenniel, best known for his illustrations of Alice in Wonderland, on 25th. Find out who’s currently in the Lives of the Week gallery, and sign up for the life of the day.
  • Oxford DNB podcasts: new biographies, and some old favourites, as downloads and podcasts: this month, ‘the man behind Margaret Thatcher’ and a ‘Cambridge Communist’. Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter

January 2014

  • New update: biographies of 219 people who died in 2010. Selected lives.
  • Full list of 219 new biographies
  • Editor’s introduction to the January 2014 update
  • Lives of the day: January’s centenaries include the SOE agent Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan (born on 2 Jan 1914), Roy Plomley, creator of Desert Island Discs (20th), and Kaye Webb, pioneering publisher for Puffin (26th). We also have the artist Augustus John (4th), Ralph Miliband, political scientist and father of Ed and David (7th), and the engineer and scientist, James Watt (19th). Plus, from Thursday 16th, selected lives from the new release: people who died in the year 2010. Find out who’s currently in the Lives of the Week gallery, and sign up for the life of the day.
  • Oxford DNB podcasts: new biographies, and some old favourites, as downloads and podcasts: this month, ‘Eleven women in a team’ vs. ‘Every man for himself’.
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter


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Reviews and comments

  • ‘I play a little game thinking: “I bet they haven’t got him or her,” and truly they usually have … You can’t go wrong with the DNB: there’s a story on every page’
  • Jeremy Paxman, 1 January 2012


  • ‘I have long thought that if more people sold the family car and bought the ODNB, the nation would not only be better informed but much happier too. Actually, there's no need to go the whole hog. Public libraries provide free online access in the privacy of your own laptop.
  • Christopher Howse, Daily Telegraph, 12 April 2010


  • 14 November 2009: the ODNB is one of the Times’s 100 ‘best books’ published between 2000 and 2010.


  • 30 October 2009: the ODNB features in the Daily Telegraph’s ‘defining cultural moments of the noughties’


  • 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.’
  • The Guardian, Leader page, 8 January 2007


  • 'The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has refreshed and fortified our sense of what can still be meant by the collective endeavour of "scholarship"'.
  • Stefan Collini, London Review of Books, 20 Jan 2005

    Read Stefan Collini's LRB review.

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Prizes and awards

2007: Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education
2005: Best user experience: International Information Industry Awards
2005: Best book, scholarly, academic, and reference category: British Book Design and Production Awards
2005: Besterman/McColvin Medal for the outstanding electronic reference work of the year: Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals
2005: Dartmouth Medal for the creation of a reference work of outstanding quality and significance: American Library Association
2005: Special citation: National Book Critics Circle Awards
2005: Trustees' Award for the promotion of history: Longman-History Today Awards

More about the Oxford DNB

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