Welcome to Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

  • Over 60,000 biographies, 72 million words, 11,000 portraits of significant, influential or notorious figures who shaped British history – browse all biographies
  • Explore the Themes homepage, or select by article type to browse all theme articles. Life of the day now available by email or RSS feed.
  • Have questions about how to use the redesigned website? Check out our Help page for a video demo and detailed instructions or read through our FAQs.

Learn more

Letter from Sir David Cannadine, Editor

Emma, Queen of England

Drawing of Emma (d. 1052)

Emma was born probably in the early 980s, but nothing is known of her upbringing. Her marriage to King Æthelred the Unready has long been regarded as the event which led to the Norman conquest of England, however, Emma assumed a major political role in the 1030s, committed to upholding the interests of the Anglo-Danish political establishment.

Image credit: 'Emma (d. 1052)' via The British Library.

Portraiture in the Oxford DNB

William Hazlitt (1778–1830) self-portrait, c. 1802

One of the innovations of the Oxford DNB is its inclusion of portrait illustrations, based on research in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, London. With more than 10,200 images the dictionary provides the largest selection of national portraiture ever published. Here six experts choose a favourite portrait from the Oxford DNB's collection.

Image credit: 'Self-portrait, c. 1802' via Maidstone Museums and Art Galleries / Bridgeman Art Library.