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Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891–1956) by unknown photographer © reserved; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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Ambedkar [formerly Ambavadekar], Bhimrao Ramji (1891–1956), politician, was born at Mhow in central India on 14 April 1891, the youngest of the fourteen children of Ramji Maloji Sakpal, a subahdar-major in the British Indian army and headmaster in a military school, and his wife, ...

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Aung San (1915–1947) by unknown photographer © Popperfoto

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Aung San (1915–1947), politician in Burma, was born on 13 February 1915 at Natmauk, a small town in the Magwe district of central Burma, the youngest of nine children of U Pha, lawyer, and his wife, Daw Su. A sickly child but a gifted student, he was educated as a novice in a Buddhist monastic school and then at a high school to which he won a government scholarship. He was already interested in politics and adept at public speaking when he went to ...

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Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike (1899–1959) by Kenneth J. Somanade, 1959 Getty Images – Kenneth J. Somanade

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Bandaranaike, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias (1899–1959), prime minister of Ceylon, was born on 8 January 1899 at the family home in Horagolla, Veyangoda, the only son of Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike (1862–1946) and his wife, Daisy Ezline, daughter of Sir Solomon Christoffel Obeyesekere...

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Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna (1831–1891), founder of theosophy, was born at Yekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk), Ukraine, at midnight on 30–31 July 1831, the daughter of Colonel Peter Hahn (d. 1873), descended from the counts Rotenstern-Hahn of Mecklenburg, and of his wife, Helena Pavolovna Fadeev. She was a petted, wayward, invalid child whose mother, a novelist who advocated women's emancipation, died when she was small. From girlhood onwards she was a beguiling story-teller. On 7 July 1848 she married an older man, ...

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Bose, Satyendranath [Satyendra Nath] (1894–1974), physicist, was born on 1 January 1894 in Calcutta, the only son and eldest of the seven children of Surendranath Bose (1867/8–1964), an accountant with the East Indian Railways, and later one of the founders of a small chemical and pharmaceutical company, and his wife, ...

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Churchill, Arabella Spencer [Bella] (1949–2007), festival and charity founder, was born on 30 October 1949 at 12 Catherine Place, Westminster, London, the only daughter of Randolph Frederick Edward Spencer Churchill (1911–1968), journalist and politician, and his second wife, June Hermione, née Osborne (1922–1980)...

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Arabella Spencer Churchill (1949–2007) by Ian Hargreaves, 1976 © Ian Hargreaves / National Portrait Gallery, London