60,000+ people | 11,000+ portraits | 72 million words | 2,500 years of history
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- What is the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography?
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The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford DNB) is the national record of men and women who have shaped British history and culture, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century. The Dictionary offers concise, up-to-date biographies written by named, specialist authors. It is overseen by academic editors at Oxford University, UK, and published by Oxford University Press. The Oxford DNB's General Editor is Professor Sir David Cannadine.
The Oxford DNB was first published in 2004 in print (60 vols.). Since 2005 regular updates have extended the Dictionary’s coverage, now including biographies of more than 60,000 men and women who died in or before the year 2012—plus 536 ‘Theme’ articles for reference and research.
The Oxford DNB online is updated regularly throughout the year, extending coverage into the 21st century, whilst also adding new biographies across all historical periods. Highlights from the latest update are available, plus details of other recent updates.
Key features of the Oxford DNB include:
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- Searching across multimedia, including images and podcasts where available, making it easier to find different types of content
The Oxford DNB is a subscription service available worldwide.
- If you’re reading this in a university or college you might already have access to the thousands of people in the Oxford DNB. Find out how to login, or speak to your librarian.
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- The Oxford DNB is also available in print (now 61 volumes and over 61,000 pages)
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- Read a brief history of the Oxford DNB: from the first dictionary (1885) to its online publication (2004)
- Find out more about current and past editors of the Oxford DNB
Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson (1758–1805): by Sir William Beechey, 1800. © National Portrait Gallery, London
Anne (c. 1500–1536): by unknown artist, late 16th cent. [original, c.1533–6]. © National Portrait Gallery, London
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874–1965): by Walter Sickert, 1927. © courtesy Estate of Walter Sickert; collection National Portrait Gallery, London
Eileen Forrester Agar (1899–1991): self-portrait, 1927. © Estate of Eileen Agar; collection National Portrait Gallery, London
George Herbert Leigh Mallory (1886–1924): by Duncan Grant, 1912. © National Portrait Gallery, London
Æthelwulf (d. 858): coin. © Copyright The British Museum
Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743–1825): by Richard Samuel, 1778 [top left, hand out in gesture Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo]. © National Portrait Gallery, London
John Ono Lennon (1940–1980): by Annie Leibovitz, 1970. © Annie Leibovitz; collection National Portrait Gallery, London
Richard Fox (1447/88–1528): by Joannes Corvus, 1530–?32. Corpus Christi College, Oxford / Bridgeman Art Library
Robert Carrier (1923–2006): by Barry Marsden, 1998. © National Portrait Gallery, London