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Preface, September 2011
By Lawrence Goldman
Welcome to the twenty-first online update of the Oxford DNB, in which, as in every May and September, we extend the dictionary’s coverage of men and women ‘from the earliest times’ to the twenty-first century. The September 2011 update adds biographies of 106 individuals active between the tenth and the late twentieth century, with a special focus on modern British architects.
September’s release also continues two long-term research projects (begun last year) to extend the dictionary’s coverage of teachers and promoters of modern languages, and of black and Asian figures who shaped national life. In this update you’ll also find new entries on the founders of the Royal British Legion, which marks its ninetieth anniversary in 2011; on army officers involved in two often forgotten campaigns—the Third Anglo-Afghan War of 1919 (a reminder of Britain’s long-term military involvement in that region) and the Burma campaign of 1942–5; and a selection of teachers and researchers who fashioned the academic disciplines of physical and human geography.
As ever, full details of the September 2011 update are available from the new online contents page, and a free selection of extracts and highlights is available here. The complete dictionary (57,874 biographies and 500 theme articles) is available, free, in nearly all public libraries in the UK, most of which now offer remote access that enables library members to log in at any time at home (or anywhere they have internet access). Elsewhere the Oxford DNB is available online from schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions worldwide. Full details of participating British public libraries, and how to gain access to the complete dictionary, are available here.
On its completion in May 2012 Renzo Piano’s Shard, London Bridge, will become Britain’s (and the European Union’s) tallest building at 1017 feet. In doing so it rises above several former tallest buildings—the Blackpool Tower (1894), the New Brighton Tower (1898), and the Post Office Tower (1965)—whose creators are among thirty new architects now added to the Oxford DNB.
One hundred and twenty years ago this month work began on the Blackpool Tower. Modelled on the Eiffel Tower, Blackpool’s structure was designed by the Manchester partnership of James Maxwell (1838–1893) and Charles Tuke (1843–1893), who had previously made their name with designs for seaside towns along the north-west coast. The tower’s architects both died prior to its completion, Maxwell on the day that the flagstaff was lowered into position. When finished, the Blackpool Tower stood 518 feet 9 inches, and comprised 5 million bricks, 2500 tons of steel, and 90 tons of wrought iron. On its first day open to the public it attracted 70,000 visitors. Following the deaths of James and Charles, the firm of Maxwell and Tuke was continued by Maxwell’s son, Frank Maxwell (1863–1941), who oversaw the construction of a second, taller tower at New Brighton, near Liverpool. Completed to a similar design as Blackpool’s, the New Brighton Tower was 567 feet 6 inches tall and stood over what was then the country’s largest theatre outside London and a ballroom in which 1000 couples could take to the floor. However, the fortunes of the two towers were markedly different: while Blackpool’s became a national landmark, New Brighton’s fell into disrepair and was dismantled in 1921, leaving (until its final destruction by fire in 1969) the theatre as the focal point of an amusement park.
By the late 1960s Britain’s tallest building was the Post Office Tower, London, designed by Eric Bedford (1909–2001), on which work began fifty years ago in June 1961. The tower was required to project microwaves for telecommunications at a height above London’s rising skyline and over outlying geographical features. Completed in 1965, Bedford’s 620 foot structure remained Britain’s tallest until the opening of the NatWest Tower in 1981. The first message was broadcast by Harold Wilson in October 1965 and the tower was opened to the public a year later by Tony Benn and Billy Butlin. In its first year it attracted 1.5 million visitors, many of whom made use of the viewing platforms and the rotating thirty-fourth-floor restaurant which offered diners a city panorama every twenty-two minutes. Bedford’s other designs included the new British embassy in Washington, DC (completed 1961), and a much-hated government office complex at Marsham Street, Westminster; dubbed the ‘ugliest building in London’, it was pulled down in 2003 to make way for Terry Farrell’s new Home Office.
In the 1950s many of the country’s finest, and most ambitious, young architects joined the London county council’s architects’ department to work on public housing schemes. Among them was Colin Lucas (1906–1988), who made his name in the 1930s with influential modernist houses and his experimental use of concrete as a building material. This was also a favoured form of another London architect, Sir Anthony Cox (1915–1993), one of the founders of the highly influential, and still flourishing, Architects’ Co-Partnership, which came to international prominence with the Bryn-Mawr rubber factory (1946–51), comprising nine concrete domes enclosing a giant working space. Post-war, Colin Lucas turned his attention from bespoke private homes to mass housing schemes such as that at Alton West, Roehampton (1959). Lucas favoured the ‘hard’ design forms promoted by the French architect Le Corbusier and was a determined critic of the ‘soft’ Scandinavian styles adopted by other architects on the Roehampton site—a distinction later characterized as the clash of the Corbusian ‘carnivores’ and the Scandinavian ‘herbivores’. Mass public housing was also the life’s work of Edward Hollamby (1921–1999), who was responsible for the Brandon estate, Kennington; the Pepys estate, Deptford; and the early designs of what became the Thamesmead estate. With its combination of forty low-rise and six eighteen-storey point blocks—together with community centres, shops, and streets—Hollamby’s Brandon estate (1960) saw the first use of residential high-rise in the capital. Housing was also a focus for Charles Quennell (1872–1935), who, with the Crittall window manufacturers, designed a series of modernist-style ‘model villages’ in Essex during the 1910s and 1920s. Forty years on, the partnership of Donald McMorran (1904–1965) and George Whitby (1916–1973) combined work on London housing developments with a series of police stations and an imposing extension to the Old Bailey (1960–72). Meanwhile housing of a rather more refined kind was the life’s work of Patrick Gwynne (1913–2003), who attracted attention in his late twenties for The Homewood, Esher, Surrey—an elegant private house (built for Gwynn’s parents) which introduced British audiences to the domestic possibilities of Le Corbusier’s and Mies van der Rohe’s modernism.
Two very different visions for post-war London emerged from the work of Warren Chalk (1927–1987) and the designer and conservationist Theo Crosby (1925–1994). Chalk was a member of the radical Archigram group (1961–1973), a sextet of young designers who sought to combine architecture with comic art, space technology, and pop culture. The result was futuristic visions of a ‘walking city’ and a ‘plug-in city’ which, while literally unbuildable, influenced designs such as the Pompidou, Paris, and, more recently, appreciation of the use of transitory, multi-purpose structures. Contemporaneously with Chalk’s and Archigram’s radicalism the Pentagram designer Theo Crosby pioneered an urban conservation movement which argued for existing buildings to be made sustainable and viable in a climate keen to pull down and begin anew. Crosby found an ideal expression for his interests from the early 1970s as architect of the New Globe theatre on London’s South Bank—a building he refused to construct using modern methods, and which required London’s first use of thatched roofing since the great fire of 1666.
It was in his native Prague that Eugene Rosenberg (1909–1977) gained a love of the white tile as a simple, modernist decoration. Rosenberg came to Britain just before the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and joined Francis Yorke and Cyril Mardell in creating the celebrated architectural practice YRM. It was YRM, and Rosenberg in particular, who pioneered the use of the white tile in Britain, often to impressive effect as at Rosenberg’s St Thomas’s Hospital, London (1962–76), and the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford (1964–72). Equally striking, though more controversial, was his use of tiling at the new Warwick University. Here the design led to student protests against what was seen as an impersonal corporate finish, a situation worsened when sections of the tiling began to fall from the walls. More practical—and less controversial—was the design in the early 1970s of the Open University, Milton Keynes, by the pioneering female architect Dame Jane Drew (1911–1996). Drew made her name (working with her husband, Maxwell Fry) with a series of commissions in Nigeria and Ghana that culminated in University College, Ibadan (1948–57). During the 1950s she also designed housing, shopping areas, and the hospital for Chandigarth, the new capital of Indian Punjab, where she worked with Fry and Le Corbusier. Institutional commissions were also a major part of the work of the Welsh architect Sir Alex Gordon (1917-1999), whose modernist, often challenging, designs provoked mixed responses: some like his work at Cardiff University proved popular, while others—notably his grey concrete Welsh Office (1972–9)—were condemned as symbolizing ‘closed, inaccessible government’.
The impact of individual architects across Britain is seen in the lives of other new additions to the Oxford DNB. In Liverpool the legacy of John Alexander Brodie (1858–1934) includes his huge ‘circumferential boulevard’, Queen’s Drive, which joined the north and south of the city, and on which Brodie’s successor as city architect, Sir Lancelot Keay (1883–1974), built new low-rise housing as part of a programme of slum clearance and modernization. Keay also introduced Berlin-style inner-city high-rise (notable for its use of ‘healthy’ external balconies) and construction from the 1930s of the ultimately unsuccessful Speke new town to the south of the city. As a pioneer of concrete-based structures John Alexander Brodie had also planned a network of intercity highways and worked on the first English trunk road between Liverpool and Manchester. In the 1920s he came out of retirement to work as co-architect of the Mersey Tunnel, which became the world’s longest and largest underwater road tunnel when finished in 1934. Brodie’s, however, was a remarkably varied career since he is also remembered as the inventor of the football goal net—his ‘pocket in which a ball may lodge after passing through the goal’—which was awarded a patent in 1890. Within a year nets had become compulsory for all FA league matches. The career of Sir Arnold Thornely (1870–1953) was also spent principally in Liverpool, where he designed the waterfront Port of Liverpool building, the first of the so-called ‘Three Graces’. However, his best-known work is Parliament Buildings, Stormont (1926–33), commissioned for the government and parliament of the new Northern Ireland. Classical, conservative, and imposing, Stormont became a controversial symbol of political change, and more recently home to the new Northern Ireland assembly.
Other architects with strong local associations include Sir George Oatley (1863–1950), whose career was spent in his native Bristol where he built extensively for the university—most famously the Wills Memorial Tower (1912–27), one of the largest and finest examples of modern Perpendicular Gothic, and one of Britain’s last great secular Gothic designs. In Norfolk Oatley’s contemporary George Skipper (1856–1948) made his name with exuberant baroque designs for Cromer seafront, with Edwardian country homes such as Sellowes for the Cook family of travel agents, and in Norwich with the Norwich Union building (1906). In Nottingham, T. Cecil Howitt (1889–1968) drew on the neo-Baroque for his Council House, Market Square (1927–9), which sought to combine the spirit of nineteenth-century Milan with the domed grandeur of St Paul’s Cathedral. By contrast the domestic and industrial designs of Gordon Ryder (1919–2000) and Peter Yates (1920–1982) were characterized by an elegant modernism, best seen in their Norgas House (1963–5), near Newcastle.
A final selection of architects is remembered for contributions to ecclesiastical design, both as creators and conservationists. After commissions for several Roman Catholic churches, which he undertook in his trademark modernist style, Francis Pollen (1926–1987) began work on a new abbey church for the Benedictine community at Worth, Sussex, for whom he created a large, austere domed structure, consecrated in 1975. In marked contrast to Pollen’s modernism the three churches of Randall Wells (1877–1942)—of which the largest is St Andrew’s, Roker, Sunderland (1906)—are widely considered the finest examples of arts and crafts church design, displaying Wells’s characteristic attention to local craft traditions and materials. Ecclesiastical restoration, meanwhile, shaped the careers of Frederick Eden (1884–1944), who specialized in church interiors and stained glass, and of the York-based architect George Pace (1915–1975), who is best known for his restoration and remodelling of Llandaff Cathedral after wartime bomb damage. Though himself an architect of modest productivity and reputation, Hugh Thackeray Turner (1853–1937) is known today principally as a conservationist. As the long-serving secretary to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (founded by William Morris in 1877) Turner travelled the country to impose Morris’s vision in architectural preservation and his belief that buildings were, and should remain, unmediated expressions of the societies in which they were built. By contrast the writing of Robert Furneaux Jordon (1905–1978) offered a far less sympathetic interpretation of the synthesis of architecture and social history. Principal of the Architectural Association from 1949, Jordan was a champion of left-wing students (including Anthony Cox) and a provocative teacher, television broadcaster, and writer—nowhere more so than in his Victorian Architecture (1966), which described a ‘self-assured and vulgar’ age but was itself widely attacked for its perceived political agenda.
In September 2010 Oxford DNB editors began a research project to extend the dictionary’s coverage of noteworthy black and Asian subjects who shaped national life, within Britain and overseas. Then our focus was on black Britons. Here we continue this theme while also introducing figures from the Indian sub-continent and Far East. They include the dancers Uday Shankar (1900–1977) and Ram Gopal (1912?–2003), both of whom were born in India and spent periods of their life there but who came to prominence as performers in London. Shankar, whose career was launched in the 1920s with the help of Anna Pavlova, went on to form a dance company to emulate Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, performing at Dartington Hall in the inter-war period. Having arrived in London in 1939, Ram Gopal soon attracted widespread acclaim for his classical choreography, while his flamboyance and dramatic temperament brought him many admirers in the post-war years. It was as the lead in Alexander Korda’s Elephant Boy (1937) that the Mysore-born film actor Sabu Dastagir (1924–1963) came to the attention of British audiences. Sabu was chosen as the film’s star after he had been seen fearlessly riding an elephant across a swollen river, and he was one of the few Indian actors Korda brought to London to continue the making of the film. Thereafter Sabu worked predominantly in Hollywood, though he returned to Britain for a small but memorable role in Michael Powell’s Black Narcissus (1947). Other people with ties to the Indian sub-continent include the author Govindas Desani (1909–2000)—whose experimental novel, All About H. Hatterr (1948), is now considered an important development of the Indian English novel—and the anthropologist Cedric Dover (1904–1961), who, having settled in London in 1934, wrote on eugenics and theories of race.
It is for their creative achievements that several others are now added to the dictionary. Isaac Dickerson (d. 1900) was born into slavery in Virginia but gained note as one of the Fisk Jubilee Singers who toured Britain in the 1870s, receiving praise from Queen Victoria and requests to perform in Westminster Abbey. Dickerson’s fellow American and close contemporary Henry Downing (1846–1928) spent twenty-two years in Britain during which time, in novels, plays, and film scripts, he sought to develop the economic and political status of Africans. It was as a champion of Britain’s black communities that the author and physician Robert Cole (1907–1995), born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, became the president of the League of Coloured Peoples in 1947. Cole combined his interest in Anglo–West African relations with a successful medical career, being the first black doctor to practise in Newcastle upon Tyne and, in 1944, the first black fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. In 1933 the South Carolinian singer and actress Nina McKinney (1912–1967) became the first black artist to be seen on British television and earned a reputation as the ‘black Garbo’ for headline music hall and film appearances later in the decade. It was as ‘the bronze girl with the charming voice’ that the singer Ida Shepley (1908–1975) was known to radio listeners in the 1930s and 1940s. She was born in Cheshire, the daughter of a west African herbalist, and her career later developed to include theatre and television performances. Entertainment of a different kind was provided (often at the expense of English cricket fans) by the Barbadian bowler Malcolm Marshall (1958–1999), whose fast, aggressive deliveries skittled batsmen around the world, but also delighted followers of Hampshire county cricket where he played for fourteen years in a career that saw over 2000 test and county wickets. Other West Indian figures now added include the social anthropologist Michael Garfield Smith (1921–1993), noted for his studies of the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica and theories of racial pluralism in Britain, undertaken as a scholar at UCL London and Yale University.
Of the remaining additions, two were born in China and two in Sudan. It is as a Sussex landowner and philanthropist that John Hochee (1789–1869), born in Ho Chi, Canton, is remembered—being the beneficiary of his employer’s will in which he was bequeathed over 500 acres of farmland. At his own death Hochee left an estate valued at almost £40,000, part of which funded the creation of almshouses that now bear his name. By contrast Ping Lun (c.1861–1904), a member of Liverpool’s Chinese community, achieved note as the defendant in a widely reported murder trial in 1904. Ping Lun’s conviction prompted calls for the death sentence to be commuted on the grounds that a ‘Chinaman’s view of life’ was quite different from that of an Englishman. The case was rejected by the Home Office, and Ping Lun’s death established the principle that the court’s treatment of ‘people of colour’ should be equal to that of English defendants, which was not then the case in the British empire or the United States. Our two Sudanese figures are Selim Aga (c.1826–1875) and Salim Wilson (c.1859–1946), both of whom were born into slavery. Purchased by the British commercial consul in Alexandria, Selim Aga travelled in Britain, where he published an autobiographical study that provides the only known first-hand account of north African Muslim slavery. Resident in London from the 1840s, he later accompanied the explorer Richard Burton on expeditions along the Nile, Niger, and Congo rivers. As a child Salim Wilson was likewise brought to England by his master, and in the mid-1880s (amid the excitement of the Gordon relief exhibition) toured northern England dressed in turban and leopard skin, as a slave freed by Gordon. Like Selim, Wilson later returned to Africa on missionary expeditions, and continued this work for the Methodists in Scunthorpe, where he lived, was buried, and is now commemorated as one of the first Sudanese to find refuge in Britain.
2011 is the ninetieth anniversary of the creation of the Royal British Legion. To mark the anniversary the latest edition of the Oxford DNB includes biographies of two men—Sir Frederick Lister (1886/7–1966) and Sir Jack Cohen (1886–1965)—who were principal figures in its formation in 1921, and central to its activities in the decades to come. Having been severely wounded and discharged from the army in 1916, Frederick Lister, a lance-bombardier in the artillery, experienced the hardships of veterans. In 1918 he was appointed president of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers, and was instrumental in bringing together the various campaigning bodies that had been formed during the war. From these unity conferences came the British Legion in July 1921, of which Lister (alongside Earl Haig) can rightly be considered a co-founder. As its first chairman Lister was not overawed by men senior in age and rank, and ensured that the British Legion developed to become the nationally recognized organization for former servicemen and women.
Jack Cohen was, like Lister, severely wounded during the First World War and, prior to the British Legion’s creation, served as a representative of the Officers’ Association and as MP for Liverpool (Fairfield) from 1918. As an attendee of the unity conferences Cohen shaped the legion’s constitution and thereafter was known as its representative in parliament. He presented to parliament the legion’s public petition of 1925 (the largest since the Chartist campaigns of the 1840s) to raise awareness of inequities in the provision of war pensions. A campaigner for disabled ex-servicemen, Cohen was also well known for his appearances at the annual Remembrance day procession, in which he participated in his motorized wheelchair.
A concern for the service widows and orphans left by late-Victorian colonial wars had prompted the charitable efforts of a militia officer, Sir James Gildea (1838–1920), who in 1885 founded the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association. Its greatest early challenge came in 1899, with the outbreak of the South African War, during which it distributed about £1,250,000 to 200,000 families. During that conflict the quarrelsome Sir Arthur Paget (1851–1928) upset both the Australian and New Zealand volunteers in his force, as well as his superiors, and proved to be an unfortunate personality to hold command in Ireland during the home rule crisis of 1914. His reports sparked the Curragh mutiny of officers unwilling to coerce Ulster into a home rule Ireland. During the First World War his command was limited to the Salisbury Plain training area.
September’s release also contains a selection of lives of soldiers whose careers were mainly spent in India. George Reynolds Scott Burrows (1827–1917) held administrative posts in the Bombay army for thirty-five years until, in 1880, he was placed in command of a brigade during the Second Afghan War. Outnumbered, outgunned, and in the heat of summer, he launched an attack at Maiwand which led to a disastrous defeat, whose circumstances were and remain debated. Broken by the disaster, Burrows spent the rest of his life in obscurity. On the outbreak of the Third Afghan War in May 1919, Sir Arnold Barrett (1857–1926), who had served in India since 1875, was appointed commander of the north-west frontier force. The war followed the seizure of Kabul by Amir Amanullah, whose declaration of jihad led Afghan troops and Pathan tribesmen to invade British India. Barrett’s command proved extremely challenging given the intense summer heat and the shortages of men and equipment faced by the post-war British army. Sir Skipton Climo (1868–1937), who had served in the tribal wars on the north-west frontier in the 1890s and the Mesopotamian campaign during the First World War, was appointed commander of a British force to suppress the 1919 tribal rising in Waziristan. The operation proved difficult and Climo’s forces—young, inexperienced, and with limited training—were almost defeated in December 1919 before a settlement was reached with the tribesmen in the following May. The officer Climo appointed to lead the suppression was Sir Andrew Skeen (1873–1935), whose command was severely tested by the conditions and the limited resources available to him. During his professional career Skeen reckoned that he had walked or ridden most of the terrain on India’s north-west border with Afghanistan, and in retirement he codified his experiences of frontier soldiering for the benefit of young officers starting their careers in the region. Passing it On: Short Talks on Tribal Fighting on the North-West Frontier went through four editions in the twentieth century and has recently been republished.
Three of the commanders of the so-called ‘forgotten army’, who fought in the Burma campaign (1942–5) and who are included in the release, had taken part in the Waziristan border campaigns between the world wars: David Cowan (1896–1983), Thomas Wynford Rees (1898–1959), and Sir Harold Briggs (1894–1952). As commander of the 17th Indian division Cowan was instrumental in regrouping the British forces in India following their retreat from the Japanese in 1942. In the ensuing assault in 1945 Cowan led the bid to cut the Japanese supply lines, allowing General Slim’s Fourteenth Army to capture Mandalay. Cowan’s was the longest continuous tenure of divisional command among the western allies during the Second World War, almost all of it in direct contact with the enemy. Rees was given divisional command in Burma, where he took part in the allied advance in 1945. Briggs had fought with the Eighth Army in north Africa before being given divisional command, serving under Slim. Brought out of retirement in 1950 in response to the Malaya emergency, he became best known for drawing up the so-called ‘Briggs plan’ to eliminate the Communist insurgents who threatened the British presence in Malaya, though he did not live to see the successful implementation of his strategy. When Sir Montagu Stopford (1892–1971) arrived in Burma in 1944 he was ordered to relieve the garrison at Kohima, and he followed this success by leading the assault on Mandalay and Rangoon in 1945. Stopford later negotiated the Japanese surrender at Rangoon and was British representative at the ceremony in October 1945.
Another research project started in 2010 considers people notable for studying and observing the languages, literatures, and cultures of continental Europe. On that occasion we published the first twenty entries and here we continue the project with the release of further biographies highlighting the lives of scholars and translators between the mid-nineteenth and late twentieth centuries.
Hispanists are particularly prominent in this latest selection, of whom the earliest is the priest and translator Lorenzo Lucena (1807–1881). Born in Cordoba, Lucena was appointed teacher of Spanish at the Taylor Institute, Oxford, in 1858—forty years before modern languages became a degree subject at the university. Lucena’s contribution was to equip the Taylorian Library with an extensive collection of Hispanic works—history, philology, and archaeology as well as literature—which laid the foundations for Spanish studies at Oxford. Other Hispanists closely associated with universities include Marguerite Hamilton (1907–1982) of King’s College, London, and Walter Starkie (1894–1976), professor of Spanish at Trinity College, Dublin, and translator of Don Quixote (1964), who combined scholarly life with wanderings (with his violin) across continental Europe. Catherine Hartley (1866/7–1928) was another who travelled extensively in Spain, publishing widely on art history until a change of direction saw her become a prolific commentator on sex, marriage, and motherhood, interests she shared with her one-time husband and fellow traveller Walter Gallichan (1862–1946), who, after books on Galicia (and his divorce from Hartley), became a pioneer of sex education literature. Born in Barcelona, John Gili (1907–1998) moved to England in 1934 where he established the Dolphin Book Company and bookshop which, during the Spanish Civil War, became a centre for republican supporters and exiles—to such an extent that Gili received threats from the Franco regime. (It is an distinctive feature of this update that it also includes an entry on Gili’s son, the film-maker Jonathan Gili (1943–2004), whose many works included documentaries for the BBC’s 40 Minutes and Timewatch series.)
Away from the Iberian peninsula the dictionary’s latest release adds two notable translators and teachers of Scandinavian languages, Mary Sandbach (1901–1990), best known for her editions of Strindberg, and Inga-Stina Ewbank (1932–2004), who combined English literary criticism with translations of Ibsen. It was as a supreme interpreter of Diderot that Jean Seznec (1905–1983) is now remembered in a career that culminated in his appointment as Oxford’s Foch professor of French literature in 1950, while it is as an archaeologist, Byzantinist, and Greek scholar that Romilly Jenkins (1907–1969) made his mark at Cambridge, London, and Harvard. In Erich Fried (1921–1988) we have someone who is known principally as a creative artist, rather than an interpreter of the works of others. Having arrived as a refugee from Vienna in 1938, Fried spent the rest of his life in England where he combined a career at the BBC German Service with writing political poetry for which (though still little known in Britain) he received numerous awards in the German-speaking world. An earlier political refugee from France, Ferdinand Gasc (1826–1904), became a schoolmaster in Brighton before compiling dictionaries of English and French which became widely used by English students of French in the early twentieth century. Julius Kettridge (1876–1951), the son of an Austrian subject who settled in east London, became an accountant, but relatively late in life turned to compiling French–English dictionaries, which continued to be reprinted after his death.
The dictionary’s coverage of the social and physical sciences is extended with the addition of entries on sixteen British geographers, many remembered within the discipline as influential university teachers and proponents of new fields of study. Among the physical geographers now included is the Arctic specialist William Balchin (1916–2007), who oversaw the subject’s introduction and growth at the University of Wales; the Oxford scholar Robert Beckinsale (1908–1998), an expert in landforms and environmental litigation; the geomorphologist and climate change specialist George Dury (1916–1996); the Edinburgh cartographer and glaciologist Alan Ogilvie (1887–1954); and Joseph Jennings (1916–1984), another geomorphologist whose claim that the Norfolk broads were naturally formed was later disproved by Joyce Lambert (herself a recent addition to the Oxford DNB)—a revision to which Jennings responded with characteristic generosity and intellectual enthusiasm.
Africa was the focus of other scholars noted for their contributions to the study of human societies: among them were Robert Steel (1915–1997), the Liverpool and later University of Swansea scholar of tropical peoples, and Peter Gould (1932–2000), who was at the forefront of the quantitative revolution in human geography, as well as a remarkable range of topics ranging from the AIDS pandemic, the Chernobyl disaster, and his own discipline in books such as The Geographer at Work (1985). Others with a strong association with place include the London academic Francis Carter (1938–2001), who became an expert on the Balkans and eastern Europe, before and after the collapse of the communist regimes; the LSE’s Llwellyn Jones (1881–1947), whose North America (1924) offered the first serious regional geography of the continent; the Cambridge historical geographer Robert Donkin (1928–2006), whose interest in Latin America led to studies on the global dispersal of cochineal, one of the most valuable exports of the Spanish Indies; and the China specialist Keith Buchanan (1919–1997), whose work drew on the related disciplines of history, sociology, and economics—as did that of a fellow New Zealander, Robert Buchanan (1894–1980), whose early work on pastoralism developed in to wider studies of economic geography.
Closer to home was the research by Charles Fawcett (1883–1952), whose work on British regionalism made a powerful case for reform of England’s then archaic administrative structure; and the Newcastle scholar John William House (1919–1984), who oversaw the expansion of the university’s geography department while pursuing studies of industrial Teesside and international migration more generally. Finally the work of Lionel Lyde (1863–1947) and Norman Pounds (1912–2006) is remembered principally for its contribution to the study of geography in schools and by general readers. As an instructor of students taking non-subject-specific degrees, and of schoolteachers enhancing their qualifications, Lyde produced a series of geography textbooks that sold 4 million copies by his death. Norman Pounds likewise began his career as a schoolteacher and, having moved to Indiana University, maintained his enthusiasm for communicating his subject through numerous popular texts and lectures which he continued to give for the University of the Third Age until the age of ninety-two.
Of the 106 people included in the September update, the earliest is Eadgyth (c.911–946), daughter of the Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Elder, whose marriage to Otto I, king of the East Franks, gave Eadgyth and her sisters a central role in continental dynastic politics. In 2008 remains excavated at Magdeburg Cathedral were identified as those of the queen, providing remarkable insights into Eadgyth’s life including her approximate age at death, probable diet, and childhood illnesses. In the starkest possible contrast is the musician Noel Redding (1945–2003), who achieved fame in the late 1960s as bass player with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but whose later life was dogged by legal disputes and creative disappointments. In the intervening 1000 years, the update extends the dictionary’s medieval and early modern coverage with two earls of Oxford, Thomas (d. 1371) and Richard de Vere (1385–1417), both of whom prospered from, and were enthusiastic participants in, conflict—Thomas with the resumption of war with France in 1369 and Richard with the reopening of the Hundred Years’ War in 1412. Prominent female subjects include Jaquetta de Luxembourg (c.1416–1472)—who married John, duke of Bedford, and then benefited from wise use of her late husband’s fortune, enabling her to thrive under both the Lancastrian and Yorkist courts—and Annas Keith (c.1540–1588), wife of James Stewart, earl of Moray, whose similarly assured handling of the Moray estates permitted her husband to withdraw from Scotland after Lord Darnley’s murder in 1567. Other early modern figures include a trio of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century printers and booksellers: William White (d. 1618), who made a significant contribution to the publication of Shakespeare’s plays; Joseph Barnes (1549/50–1618), the Oxford bookseller who in 1584 was loaned £100 to establish a printing house (from which grew the university press); and Thomas Yate (c.1604–1681), the Oxford college head who, following the restoration of Charles II, implemented ambitious plans for the expansion of the press and its running on behalf of the university.
Finally, among later literary lives, we include the D. H. Lawrence scholar Vivian de Sola Pinto (1895–1969), one of those who testified in 1960 in favour of an unexpurgated edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and the historian Iris Origo (1902–1988), best known for her diaries of life in wartime Italy and for the renovation of the gardens at La Foce, Tuscany. And a last artistic life returns us to the Blackpool Tower with which we began. Situated at the foot of Maxwell and Tuke’s structure, the Tower Ballroom became, and remains, a popular venue for millions of dancers. Here, from 1930, visitors were entertained by Reginald Dixon (1904–1985), a Sheffield-born former cinema organist who was given a year to prove himself on the ballroom’s new Wurlitzer, the first to be installed in the UK. His jaunty or ‘bouncy’ playing style proved a hit, capable of carrying the music across a large, crowded floor, and he stayed for forty years. From the 1930s Dixon also made numerous recordings and radio broadcasts and was best known for his signature tune, ‘I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside’ (composed in 1909), a performance that gave rise to the nickname ‘Mr Blackpool’.
Our next online update will be published on Thursday 5 January 2012 and will add biographies of 213 men and women who died in the year 2008.
Lawrence Goldman, editor