Oxford DNB home page
page layout image
Subscriber home page
page layout image

What's new in the Oxford DNB?

Here you'll find details of the dictionary's latest update (October 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: October 2016

Our October 2016 online update adds new biographies of 89 men and women active between the 16th and 21st century. Full list of new lives.


  • Hull, City of Culture, 2017: 40 new biographies of prominent city figures ahead of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture. Entries include the Maister family of Baltic merchants (whose former family home, Maister House, is now owned by the National Trust); Thomas Thompson (1754-1828), the first Methodist to sit as an MP in the House of Commons; Hull-born musician, Ethel Leginska (1886-1970), who became a notable composer and conductor in the United States; and Jean Hartley (1933-2011), co-creator of the Marvell Press, which published The Less Deceived, the first volume by Philip Larkin.

  • Legacies of British Slave-ownership: in collaboration with the new Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership at University College London, 37 biographies of prominent slave-owners who benefited from compensation awards following the abolition of slavery in 1833.

  • 60,000th biography in the Oxford DNB: artist Tirzah Garwood (1908-1951) is the 60,000 person to be added to the Dictionary. The ODNB now includes entries on 60,061 men and women from the Roman occupation to the year 2012.

  • New external links: 2500 additional links to external resources, including to the new Art UK website, allowing readers to view works by artists in ODNB.

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



December 2016

  • Coming soon—new upate published on Thursday 12th January 2017
  • Listen to a life: Agatha Christie
  • Lives of the Day: featured biographies in December include Arthur Thistlewood for the 200th anniversary of the Spa Fields riots (2nd); the birth of poet Christina Rossetti (5th); Edward VIII on the 80th anniversary of the abdication crisis (11th); the centenary of novelist Penelope Fitzgerald (17th); the centenary of noted historian Noel Gilroy Annan (25th). 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, Madame Tussaud, founder of the waxwork exhibition, and Maurice Gibb, member of the Bee Gees.
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter
  • More routes to free sample content.

November 2016

  • New update: adds biographies of 89 men and women active in Britain between the 16th and 21st century. Highlights.
  • Full list of new lives and an Introduction to the update.
  • Remember, remember: listen to the life of Guy Fawkes, conspirator
  • Lives of the Day: featured biographies in November include Alan Turing (12th), on the 80th anniversary of his presentation “On Computable Numbers”, Marian Evans (22nd), otherwise known as George Eliot, and William Williamson (24th), the English naturalist. 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, William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, and Annie Darwin, beloved daughter of Charles Darwin.
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter
  • More routes to free sample content.

October 2016

  • New update: adds biographies of 89 men and women active in Britain between the 16th and 21st century. Highlights.
  • Full list of new lives and an Introduction to the update.
  • 60,000th person added to the Oxford DNB: artist Tirzah Garwood (1908-1951).
  • Lives of the Day: October's lives include a trio for the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings which falls this month: Harold (14th), William (15th) and Odo of Bayeux (16th). October also marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Ramsay MacDonald (12th), the first Labour Party prime minister, and the 800th anniversary of the death of King John (19th). 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, Richard Brandon, executioner of Charles I, and the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter
  • More routes to free sample content.

>Back to top


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.

>Back to top


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

>Back to top

Copyright © Oxford University Press 2016
Privacy Policy and Legal Notice