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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



June 2016

  • New update adds biographies of 93 men and women who were active in Britain between the 14th and late 20th century. Highlights.
  • Full list of new lives and an Introduction to the update.
  • Listen to the life of tattoo pioneer, Sutherland Macdonald (1860-1942), one of the new additions to the Dictionary in May 2016.
  • Lives of the Day: June's lives include the composer Edward Elgar (2nd); the army officer Lord Kitchener, on the centenary of his death (5th June); Margaret Boswell, wife of James (11th), the writer Harriet Martineau (12th), and Mrs Thatcher's deputy, Willie Whitelaw (28th). 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 suffragettes of the Women's Social and Political Union and the garden designer Capability Brown, for the tercentenary of his birth.
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter
  • More routes to free sample content.

May 2016

  • On 26th May: we're publishing a new update
  • Oxford DNB Research Bursaries, 2016: we're offering 3 research bursaries to work with us on a scholarly project. More.
  • We've joined up with Historic Royal Palaces to promote their new Capability Brown exhibition.
  • Lives of the Day: May's centenaries include the broadcaster Huw Wheldon (born on 7 May 1916) and the SOE officer Jacqueline Nearne (27 May 1916). Other lives include Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament (12th), the eighth-century abbot Alcuin (19th), Mary Wollstonecraft (20th), and the artist Walter Sickert (31st). 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, we’ve the pioneering woman photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron, and the Russian émigré Aleksandr Litvinenko.
  • Daily lives, regular podcast episodes, and other historical news is also available via Follow odnb on Twitter
  • More routes to free sample content.

April 2016

  • Oxford DNB Research Bursaries, 2016: we’re offering 3 research bursaries to work with us on a scholarly project. One award is offered jointly with the Oxford Centre for Life Writing at Wolfson College, Oxford. More.
  • 400 years of Shakespearean lives: Oxford DNB and Shakespeare scholarship.
  • Lives of the Day: April anniversaries include the bicentenary of the birth of Charlotte Brontë (21st) and the centenary of the birth of Yehudi Menuhin (22nd). Shakespeare’s death is marked on 23rd, while three biographies (including those of Constance Markievicz and W.B. Yeats) mark the centenary of the Easter Rising from 24th April. 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, we’ve the historian Eric Hobsbawm and the 18th-century landscape gardener, Capability Brown.
  • 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
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    Read Stefan Collini's LRB review.

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