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Preface, January 2008By Lawrence Goldman
Welcome to the tenth online update of the Oxford DNB, in which, as every January, we extend the dictionary's coverage further into the twenty-first century. Our latest update adds biographies of 211 men and women who died in 2004, as well as entries on five people who died before this date, included within new articles. A selection of biographies from the new update is also freely available along with a full list of the new lives. Of the 211 new subjects who died in 2004 forty-four are women, fifty-seven were born before the outbreak of the First World War, and five were born after the conclusion of the Second World War. The oldest of the new set, the harpist Sidonie Goossens, was born in 1899; the youngest, the rock musician John McGeoch from the band Siouxsie and the Banshees, was born in 1955.
Lives in science
The January 2008 update includes five Nobel prize-winners: Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins (1962, physiology or medicine) for the discovery of the structure of DNA; Sir Godfrey Hounsfield (1979, physiology or medicine) for the development of the CT or CAT scanner; Sir John Vane (1982, physiology or medicine) for research into prostaglandins; and Sir John Pople (1998, chemistry) for advances in computational methods in quantum chemistry. The collaboration of Crick, Wilkins, and James D. Watson in uncovering the double helix structure of DNA has been the subject of extensive discussion and controversy ever since. At the time it required more than a little good fortune. As our articles explain, Crick and Watson in Cambridge almost gave up work on DNA after Sir Lawrence Bragg tried to move them to what he thought would be more fruitful fields, and Wilkins at King's College, London, was temporarily sidelined in consequence of a disagreement with the crystallographer Rosalind Franklin, who died in 1958. Had she lived, she might have shared the Nobel prize with them. Godfrey Hounsfield was the archetypal British eccentric who developed the idea for the CT scanner on long walks in Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire. He worked throughout his career at the EMI laboratories in Hayes. The Beatles recorded with EMI, ensuring that the company was flush with funds for research during the 1960s. The first clinical trial of a CT scanner took place in 1971, and whole-body scanners were launched in 1975. John Vane's work was immensely important for the development of anti-inflammatory drugs. John Pople's research made widely available computer programs to aid research in quantum chemistry.
These five are joined by other notable figures from the worlds of science and medicine. Norman Heatley was a key figure in another legendary British scientific breakthrough, the development of penicillin in Oxford during the Second World War. His genius for improvisation, using a Heath-Robinson style of contraption, allowed him to solve the problem of extracting and purifying penicillin. As Sir Henry Harris has put it: 'without Fleming, no Florey or Chain; without Chain no Florey, without Florey no Heatley, without Heatley no penicillin'. Frank Pantridge developed the portable defibrillator in the 1960s while working at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast , and reflecting there on the appalling mortality caused by myocardial infarction. In consequence, during the 1960s Belfast was described as 'the safest place to have a heart attack'. Katharina Dalton coined the term 'premenstrual syndrome 'in 1953 and did much through her career to raise awareness of the physiological and behavioural effects associated with menstruation. The virologist Fred Brown elucidated the structure of the foot-and-mouth virus, distinguishing it from other infectious agents causing similar symptoms, and then led in the development of vaccines to fight the disease. He was highly critical of the control procedures used by the British government during the 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which did not include vaccination.
Among engineers included in this update are the space scientist Sir Robert Boyd; the telecommunications pioneer John Bray, who worked on the first transatlantic television broadcasts; and Jack Pateman, whose contribution was to aviation electronics, or avionics as it became known. The astrophysicist Thomas Gold worked with Fred Hoyle in Cambridge in the development of steady-state cosmology during the 1950s and 1960s, a theory of the universe subsequently discarded. John Maynard Smith was an evolutionary biologist with a talent for explaining his subject to the uninitiated. Charles Pereira was a hydrologist and expert in tropical agriculture. Frank Farmer made important contributions to medical physics.
Broadcasters to a nation
This remarkable constellation of scientific and medical experts, most of whom were at the height of their powers in the 1950s and 1960s, is joined by a very distinguished group of journalists and broadcasters, pioneers in many cases of new styles of communication using new media. That many of them became famous in their own right, rather than for what they told us or played to us, is evidence enough that in our age 'the medium is the message'.
The measured and mellifluous tones of Alistair Cooke, who, according to Simon Jenkins, 'never wrote a dull sentence', entertained and interested listeners to BBC radio for more than half a century. His Letter from America, started in 1946, was due to last for only thirteen weeks but carried on for fifty-eight years and 2869 episodes and was a vital source of information and reflection on the remarkable events in post-war America. Cooke's broadcasts set a standard and model for the radio essay as a genre. Bernard Levin was another household name of this period through his columns in The Times. His fame dated from his appearances as an upstart interviewer on the iconoclastic BBC television programme That Was The Week That Was in 1963-4. He found a most effective way to deal with irritating correspondents, beginning his replies, 'I felt I should let you know that an unregistered lunatic has obtained a supply of your notepaper'. Anthony Sampson began his career as the editor of Drum, a pictorial magazine for non-whites in South Africa, and remained attached to that country and an observer of its politics for the rest of his life. But he made his name in 1962 with the book The Anatomy of Britain, subsequently updated several times and always compelling, which caught the mood of the early 1960s exactly: 'young socialists saw it as a dissection of the ruling class and young conservative careerists used it as a route map to the top'. Compared with this trio of high-minded and intellectual columnists Lynda Lee-Potter was a very different type of writer who aimed at, and usually reached, the mind of middle England. Born in Leigh, Lancashire, in her own words she 'got on a train at Warrington Bank Quay Station with a Lancashire accent and got off at Euston without it'. Paul Foot followed an opposite trajectory. He was the son of a peer who had been governor of Jamaica and Cyprus; he was educated at Shrewsbury School and Oxford. But he was converted to Trotskyism on leaving university and he remained committed to the Socialist Workers Party for the rest of his life, editing Socialist Worker as well as writing regularly for Private Eye and the Daily Mirror. A 'steadfast beacon of integrity', he was the pre-eminent campaigning and investigative journalist of his generation who defended the innocent, among them the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six, those convicted of killing Carl Bridgewater, and Colin Wallace.
John Peel began his career as a disc jockey in the American south in the 1960s when anyone from Liverpool, sounding like one of the Beatles, could be sure of an audience. He went on to educate the musical tastes of diverse British listeners on a nightly basis for much of the rest of his life as a fixture on Radio 1—but a fixture whose interests and enthusiasms were always developing, changing, and challenging. Remarkably, he also became a highly skilled and much loved general broadcaster with a devoted audience among the middle-aged and middle-class for his reflective Radio 4 magazine programme on family life and personal experience, Home Truths. His self-deprecating wisdom and humour made him a celebrity despite himself, and one whose sudden death was felt keenly by all ages. A similarly unerring eye for popular taste characterized Andrea Wonfor's career as a television producer and executive, responsible for The Tube, Byker Grove, Eurotrash, and The Big Breakfast . Fred Dibnah, from Bolton, Lancashire, the son of a bleacher's beetler, was Britain's most famous steeplejack, whose 'discovery' in 1978 by the BBC catapulted him to celebrity in more than one sense. His enthusiasm for the nation's industrial heritage, and for steam engines in particular, conveyed in several series of television programmes, helped to reignite popular interest in a world of work that seemed to have been lost. Milton Shulman, the flamboyant theatre critic of the Evening Standard for nearly forty years up to 1991, savaged many a London production. He had an equal passion for gambling, at which he was 'notably unsuccessful', though he had the satisfaction of taking his bookmaker to court and winning.
A third group of significant deaths in 2004 comprised figures from the world of association football, more than ever the national sport despite the repeated failings of the national teams. Among players of the game now included in the Oxford DNB the great centre-forward (and centre-half) John Charles was a hero in three countries— Wales, England, and Italy. Born in Swansea, he played for Leeds and then for Juventus, where he was much loved and admired by the discerning Italian fans, who named him 'il Buon Gigante'. In 1956-7 he scored thirty-eight goals for Leeds, a haul only exceeded once since then in the top division. Sadly his career in business after retiring from football was much less successful. George Hardwick was a hero in Middlesbrough and captained England in a 10-0 victory over Portugal in Lisbon in 1947. He also dated Ava Gardner, Kay Kendall, and 'the Wicked Lady' Margaret Lockwood. Emlyn Hughes was another England captain, who led the team out on 23 occasions and won 62 caps in all. He was spotted by the Liverpool manager Bill Shankly at nineteen, and became a fixture for Liverpool and England in the late 1960s and 1970s. He was nicknamed Crazy Horse for his 'arm-flapping, head-down, all-action running style', itself a figuration of the enthusiasm he brought to the game as both player and pundit.
Two utterly contrasting but equally successful football managers are paired in this release: the self-effacing Bill Nicholson, who managed Tottenham Hotspur for sixteen years, during which they won eight major trophies including the first 'double' (winning the football league and the FA cup in the same season). Nicholson would not allow his wife and daughters to attend a match and looked askance at the money and fame given to a more recent generation of players. Brian Clough, on the other hand, revelled in self-publicity ('I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business, but I was in the top one'). His own highly promising career as a footballer cut short by injury, he specialized in taking unfashionable clubs like Derby County and Nottingham Forest to the very top of the football league and added victory in the European cup in 1979 and 1980 while manager of the latter. Always at the heart of controversy, Clough's ego was legendary: 'We talk about it for twenty minutes and then we decide I was right'. Nicholson and Clough are joined by a far less successful manager, Ally MacLeod, whose boasts and then travails as manager of Scotland at the 1978 world cup in Argentina (for which England did not qualify) were the stuff of personal and national humiliation.
Our release also includes two writers on football, Percy Young and Arthur Hopcraft. Young's Football Facts and Fancies (1950) and The Appreciation of Football (1951) 'began the sport's long day's journey into art'. Hopcraft's The Football Man (1968) captured the spirit of 'a sport still rooted in the class relations and attitudes of an earlier age now confronting a new age of affluence and media-driven glamour'. These various footballing lives, and the contrasting personalities and fortunes of these players, managers, and writers, present a fair reflection of the strengths and weaknesses of the 'beautiful game' as played in Britain.
They are joined by several representatives of other sports: Fred Winter, the jockey and trainer, and Robert Sangster, the racehorse owner, from the world of racing; Cyril Kieft, who designed, made, and drove racing cars; Vivian Jenkins, who played and wrote about rugby union; Vernon Bell, the sometimes controversial founder of the British karate movement; and Buzzer Hadingham, a figure from Wimbledon's past.
As always, those who made their careers in politics and public life feature prominently in our additions to the dictionary. The Labour politicians John Diamond and Hugh Jenkins are balanced by the Conservatives Peter Emery and Sir Anthony Meyer, the so-called 'stalking horse' who challenged Margaret Thatcher, then prime minister, for the leadership of her party in 1989. Joe Cahill, the IRA's chief of staff, and Harry West, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, who was central to events in the province in the 1970s, show contrasting faces of the history of Northern Ireland. A clutch of notable trade unionists who were national figures in the different politics of the 1960s and 1970s—Len Murray, general secretary of the TUC, Hugh Scanlon (engineers), Frank Chapple (electricians), and Sid Greene (railwaymen), all of them ennobled as life peers—now figure in the Oxford DNB. A group with strong royal connections has also been added: Princess Alice, duchess of Gloucester, aunt of Elizabeth II; Sir Angus Ogilvy, the husband of Princess Alexandra; and Frances Shand Kydd, the mother of Diana, princess of Wales. From the legal profession the January 2008 update includes a group of leading figures: lords Scarman and Hobhouse; Sir Robert Jennings, who served at the end of a distinguished academic career as president of the International Court of Justice; Sir William Wade, who brought administrative law to prominence; the barrister Sir David Calcutt, who was associated with the investigation and regulation of the press; and Allan Levy, the advocate of children's rights. From the voluntary sector we include Dame Sheila McKechnie, who worked for Shelter and the Consumers' Association, David Kinnersley from Water Aid, and Tony Smythe, who worked for the National Council for Civil Liberties and the mental health charity Mind.
From the worlds of business and commerce the dictionary now includes James Hanson (Lord Hanson) of the Hanson Trust, who joins his former business partner Gordon White in our pages; Sir Julian Hodge of the Bank of Wales, who was personally associated with the leadership of the Labour Party in the 1970s; Kenneth Keith (Lord Keith of Castleacre), a key figure in the City of London at the bankers Hill Samuel; and Sir Alastair Morton, who led the development of the channel tunnel. The inclusion of entries on Eleanor Macdonald and Dame Hilary Cropper highlight two who did much to change the face of business in the late twentieth century. In 1951 Macdonald became one of the first women appointed to the board of a British company and later led Women in Management, while as the chief executive of F International (later Xansa) Cropper created one of Europe's most successful computer services firms and was twice named Britain's highest-paid businesswoman.
Literature, the arts, and scholarship
In the areas of the arts and music the dictionary's range is similarly broad. From the various visual arts this update includes the sculptors Frank Martin and Don Potter (who taught many leading artists of our age); the painters Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Peter Coker; the 1960s 'happening artist' Jeff Nuttall; the cartoonists Norman Thelwall and Stanley Franklin; and the architects Lionel Brett, Raglan Squire, and Patrick Nuttgens (whose books and articles were especially influential). Sidonie Goossens, the harpist, is joined by the violinist and conductor Iona Brown. The musicologists Cyril Ehrlich, Eric Sams, and Denis Stevens also now appear in the dictionary. From the worlds of popular and rock music John Peel and John McGeoch are joined by the highly successful record producer Norman Newell. The ballet dancers Dame Alicia Markova, Sally Gilmour, and Maude Lloyd are joined by the songwriter Sydney Carter, whose 'Lord of the Dance, based on a Shaker melody, was written in 1963.
In literature Thom Gunn, whose poetic talent burnt so brightly in the 1950s and 1960s, is joined by the novelist Bernice Rubens, the pulp-novelist Arthur Hailey (author of Airport and Hotel), and the creator of those hapless schoolboy heroes Jennings and Darbishire, Anthony Buckeridge. Buckeridge's 'gift was for the affectionate portrayal of the nearly extinct educational ecosystem of the English boys' preparatory school'. The playwrights David MacDonald, Peter Barnes, and Jack Rosenthal (whose best work was written for television) are included and are joined by the pioneer of theatre studies, Glynne Wickham. The update includes the Welsh writers Islwyn Ffowc Elis and Alun Richards and the Indian authors Mulk Raj Anand and Dom Moraes. Mollie Kaye, the author of the immensely popular Far Pavilions, is also included. Frances Partridge reminds us of the long and continuing influence of the Bloomsbury group, which she chronicled, over English letters, while Nigel Nicolson wrote perceptive studies of his famous parents, Sir Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West, as well as co-founding the publishers Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
Historians of contrasting types are also added to the dictionary in this update. Alan Bullock was a modern historian who analysed the most heinous abuses of power in his biographies of Hitler and Stalin and who combined the highest scholarship with institutional leadership and innovation. Conrad Russell brilliantly illuminated the politics of the early seventeenth century, and Ben Pimlott charted public life in the late twentieth century. The update also includes the ancient historian Michael Grant and the cartographic historian David Woodward. Robert Burchfield, the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and the philosopher Stuart Hampshire are added. The sociologists Meg Stacey, famous for community studies, and Bryan Wilson, who worked on the sociology of religion, join Margaret Simey, an active campaigner for many causes in Liverpool and the co-author with her husband (who now enters the dictionary as a co-subject) of a biography of the Victorian social investigator Charles Booth. The recent religious life of the nation is represented by the Scots preacher Murdo Ewen Macdonald and the biblical scholar William McKane, the expert on medical ethics Gordon Dunstan, and the rabbi Albert Friedlander.
In notable contrast this update also includes diverse figures from the worlds of entertainment. Margaret Kelly danced with, led, and directed the Bluebell Girls of Paris, combining glamour, courage during the Second World War, and steely determination in business. The theatre producer Helen Montagu collaborated with Cameron Mackintosh, the author of her Oxford DNB article, to bring Stephen Sondheim's music to the West End. Max Geldray played the harmonica and took several smaller parts with the Goons on the radio Goon Shows of the 1950s. The actresses Judy Campbell, Anna Lee, and the star of silent films Joan Morgan are also newcomers to the dictionary, as are the Scottish entertainers Rikki Fulton, a hogmanay institution, and Molly Weir, best known as Hazel the McWitch in the children's series Rentaghost. But final billing must go to a man who could have entered the dictionary in any one of several guises: as playwright, actor, raconteur, conversationalist, comedian, writer, or cultural ambassador. Take a bow, Sir Peter Ustinov—you made us laugh for more than half a century.
Our next online update
Our next online update will be published in May 2008 and will focus on men and women active from the 'earliest times' to the later twentieth century. May's update will have a special focus on creators of well-known British country houses and on landscape architects, as well as continuing our two long-term projects—started in 2007— to extend the dictionary's coverage of people who shaped the British empire and early Commonwealth, and to provide a complete biographical record of the pre-Reformation English episcopate. May will also see publication of the next set of reference groups, which provide essays on well-known historical clubs, gangs, and sets— with new articles ranging chronologically from the ninth-century scholars at King Alfred's court to the Kitchen Sink artists of the 1950s, and geographically from the literary Cockney School to the Chindits who fought in Japanese-occupied Burma during the Second World War.
Lawrence Goldman, editor