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Alfonsi, Petrus (fl. 1106–1126), scholar and translator of scientific works, was born in northern Spain, to Jewish parents. He was baptized a Christian on 29 June 1106 in Huesca, Aragon, with the names of the apostle on whose feast day the baptism took place and of his godfather, ...

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Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909–1997) by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies, 1988 © Lucinda Douglas-Menzies; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Berlin, Sir Isaiah (1909–1997), philosopher and historian of ideas, was born on 6 June 1909 in Riga, Latvia, then part of the Russian empire, the son of Mendel Borisovitch Berlin (1884–1953), a prosperous timber merchant whose main business was supplying wooden sleepers for the Russian railways, and his wife, ...

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Jacob Bronowski (1908–1974) by unknown photographer © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bronowski, Jacob (1908–1974), mathematician, poet, and humanist, was born on 18 January 1908 in Łódź, Poland, the first of the three children of Abram Bronowski, haberdasher, and his wife, Celia Flatto. During the First World War the family lived in Germany, and in 1920 they moved to ...

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Gaster, Moses (1856–1939), scholar and rabbi, was born in Bucharest, Romania, on or about 16 September 1856, the eldest son of Abraham Emanuel Gaster (d. 1926), then the commercial attaché of the Netherlands consulate in that city, and his wife, Phina Judith Rubinstein...

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Lee, Sir Sidney (1859–1926), second editor of the Dictionary of National Biography and literary scholar, was born Solomon Lazarus Lee at 12 Keppel Street, Bloomsbury, London, on 5 December 1859, the elder son of Lazarus Lee, merchant, and his wife, Jessie Davis. He had a younger brother and four sisters, of whom the eldest of the family, ...

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Sir Sidney Lee (1859–1926) by Frederick Hollyer V&A Images, The Victoria and Albert Museum

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Alfred Hyman Louis (1829–1915) by Histed © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Louis, Alfred Hyman (1829–1915), scholar and visionary vagrant, was born in 1829 in Birmingham, the eldest son of Hyman Tobias (or Tobar) Louis, a well-to-do merchant, and his wife, Maria. At fifteen he entered King Edward's School, Birmingham, where he began long friendships with ...