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What's new in the Oxford DNB?

Here you'll find details of the dictionary's latest update (May 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: May 2014

Our May 2014 online update includes biographies of 99 people active between the 13th and late-20th century. Full list of new lives.


Highlights from the May update include:

  • History of British cinema: Alma Taylor, Britain’s favourite silent screen actress of 1910s & 20s; Michael Klinger, producer of the 1970s thriller, Get Carter; Charles Hawtrey who became a regular member of the Carry On team; and Robert Stevenson, director of Mary Poppins, marking its 50th anniversary this year, and Disney’s leading director of the 1960s.

  • Early modern convents in exile: new biographies of 20 women religious who—in the wake of the Reformation—founded or entered English convents in exile in continental Europe and North America.

  • Football to Latin America: Charles Miller (1874-1953) and Alexander Hutton (1853-1936) who did much to introduce and promote football—in Brazil and Argentina respectively. And Cuthbert Ottaway (1850-1878), in the news as the first captain of the England national football team, but better known in his lifetime as an Oxford University cricketer.

  • Other lives include: Alonso Cárdenas (c.1592-1666), Spanish ambassador during the civil wars, and principal purchaser of art works from the royal collection after the execution of Charles I; the remarkable story of Christina Carpenter (fl.1329-1332) who was twice enclosed as an anchorite.

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




August 2014

  • Hanoverian succession, 1714: how Georg Ludwig became George I
  • What did the Georgians do for us?
  • The story of the wartime marching song, 'It's a long way to Tipperary', is ODNB's new biography podcast
  • Lives of the day: August lives include Thomas Gainsborough (2nd), Herbert Asquith (4th), Thomas de Quincy (15th), the Roman emperor Carausius (18th), painter and writer on art, Roger Fry (27th), and the author Mary Shelley (30th). 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, two very different Anglo-German stories—marking the centenary of war and the tercentenary of succession.
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter
  • More routes to free sample content.

July 2014

  • Glasgow lives for the Commonwealth Games
  • Hanoverian succession, 1714: how Georg Ludwig became George I
  • Lives of the day: July lives include the Birmingham politician & industrialist Joseph Chamberlain, who died on 2 July 1914; the judge Tom Bingham (8th), literary scholar F.R. Leavis (14th), and Anne of Cleaves (15th). For the start of the Commonwealth games (23rd) we have Robert Clive, first earl of Plymouth, who oversaw an early version of the games, in 1911. 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 creator of Sherlock Holmes and the founder of the Proms.
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter
  • More routes to free sample content.

June 2014

  • New update published: our new update adds biographies of 99 people active between the 13th & 20th century, with a special focus on the history of British cinema and early modern nuns. Highlights. We’ve further film lives in our Infographic, charting a century of British cinema.
  • Full list of the 99 new biographies.
  • Introduction to the new update.
  • Lives of the day: June’s anniversaries include Bernard Montgomery, seventy years after the start of the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944; the king of Scots, Robert I (Robert Bruce), on the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn; and the author Laurie Lee, who was born on 26 June 1914. We’ve also the story of Cuthbert Ottaway, sportsman and the first person to captain an English national football team (on 14th June when England again take to the field); plus Ben Jonson (11th), the Black Prince (15th), and James Black Whyte, inventor of beta-blockers (21st). 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 who took football to Brazil; the woman who brought thousands to Glastonbury.
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter
  • More routes to free sample content.

May 2014

  • New ODNB update, Thursday 29 May: special focus on the history of British cinema & the early modern women religious.
  • New Editor: Professor Sir David Cannadine FBA is to be the next Editor of Oxford DNB. More details.
  • Lives of the day: May lives include the original ‘Mr Spectator’, Joseph Addison, on 1st; Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins for the final of the snooker world championships (4th); author J.M. Barrie (9th); crystallographer Dorothy Hodgkin (12th); the molecular chemist Max Perutz (on his centenary, 19th), and George III on 24th. 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 invention of radar and an unsolved disappearance. 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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