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What's new in the Oxford DNB?

Here you'll find details of the dictionary's latest update (January 2017)—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: January 2017

Our January 2017 online update adds new biographies of 223 men and women who died in 2013. Full list of new lives. A press release is available.


  • The Iron Lady: the highlight of this release is the entry on Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013), prime minister of the United Kingdom. It is the longest entry published since the main run of the dictionary was published in 2004, and will be the subject of a five-part podcast.

  • Nobel Laureates: the new update also includes the lives of six Nobel laureates, from Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) and Doris Lessing (1919-2013) for Literature, to Frederick Sanger (1918-2013) and Sir John Cornforth (1917-2013) for the sciences.

  • Entertainment and news: the broadcaster Sir David Frost (1939-2013) was a constant presence on UK television screens for decades. Joining him in this update are other figures from the film and television industry: the director Michael Winner (1935-2013), and Richard Griffiths, known for his roles in Withnail & I and The History Boys.

Editor's Introduction    :    Highlights from the new update    :    January 2017 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.

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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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