Oxford DNB from March 2018

From March 2018, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford DNB) offers biographies of 60,509 men and women who have shaped the British past, contained in 62,752 articles. 11,493 biographies include a portrait image of the subject—researched in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, London.

As ever, we have a free selection of new entries, together with a full list of new biographies. Nearly all libraries across the UK subscribe to the Oxford DNB, which means you can access the complete dictionary for free via your local library. Libraries offer 'remote access' that enables you to log in at any time at home (or anywhere you have internet access). Elsewhere the Oxford DNB is available online in schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions worldwide. Full details of participating British public libraries, and how to gain access to the complete dictionary, are available here.

Introduction to the update by David Cannadine

David Cannadine

Welcome to the thirty-eighth update of the Oxford DNB which adds biographies of 216 individuals who died in the year 2014 (it also includes five subjects who died before 2014, and who have been included with new entries). Of these, the earliest born is the film mogul Sir Run Run Shaw (in 1907) and the latest born is the campaigner Debbie Purdy (in 1963). Run Run Shaw is one of eight centenarians included in this update, and Debbie Purdy one of twenty-one new subjects born after the Second World War. The vast majority (160, or 74%) were born between 1918 and 1939. 66 of the new subjects who died in 2014 (or just over 30% of the cohort) are women.

There is no one, single, dominant public figure among those who died in 2014, in the way that Margaret Thatcher towered above those who entered the Oxford DNB the year before. But there were three politicians who, although not of the first rank, were undeniably significant in their day and, albeit for different reasons, have remained controversial since their deaths. Tony Benn, previously Anthony Wedgwood Benn, and sometime Viscount Stansgate, was born to privilege and power in the Labour Party, made his name disclaiming the peerage he inherited from his father, and would later become the darling of the Labour left. Ian Paisley was a hard-line Protestant and Ulster Unionist, whose visceral loathing of Catholicism might even have surprised Martin Luther, but who ended his life in the same devolved government with a very different Martin, namely the Sinn Féin leader, Martin McGuinness. And Jeremy Thorpe was a charismatic leader of the Liberal Party, brought low by his raffish personal life, resulting in a criminal prosecution (albeit ending in his acquittal), and later by the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease. Benn’s massive and carefully-nurtured archive will be a major and controversial source for historians of British politics during the second half of the twentieth century; Paisley’s legacy remains contested, and will continue to be so for as long as the political situation in Northern Ireland remains tense and uncertain; while Thorpe’s glittering yet tragic career is a salutary reminder of the threats that wayward private proclivities did pose, and can still pose, to public reputations.

The fact that these second-ranking politicians were all men only serves to put Thatcher’s extraordinary success, both despite yet also because of her gender, into even sharper relief. On the other hand, almost one third of this year’s new entries are for women, which is one of the largest proportions of recent times. Three of them pursued what might be described as ‘traditional’ female roles: one as the chatelaine of a great house (Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire); another as the author of crime novels (P.D. James); and the third as a femme fatale involved in the twentieth century’s most famous sex scandal (Mandy Rice-Davies). Yet there were other women who pursued more pioneering careers: Marilyn Butler as a scholar of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century English literature; Dame Julia Polak as a research scientist and also one of the first patients to receive a heart and lung transplant; and Leonore Davidoff, a major influence on the developments of women’s history and gender studies. Among my own favourites are Karl Miller, an outstanding literary critic and founder of the London Review of Books; Richard Attenborough, by turns an actor, director, and ornament of the liberal establishment; and Richard Hoggart, the cultural critic, whose son Simon, the journalist and parliamentary sketch-writer, died in the same year. Yet the most moving entry is that on Debbie Purdy who, stricken with multiple sclerosis, fearlessly campaigned for the right to die with dignity. As her biography reminds us, the ways in which people die can be as important and as influential as the lives that they have lived.

-- David Cannadine

General Editor, Oxford DNB

Political heavyweights

Born into the Labour Party purple, Anthony Wedgwood (Tony) Benn (1925-2014) first entered Parliament in 1950 and for much of the second half of the twentieth century was one of the most prominent, and either loved or reviled, Labour politicians of his generation. Following an unusual trajectory, from conformist Gaitskellite to reforming minister to leader of the Labour left and finally conscience of the socialist and pacifist movements, Benn was renowned both for his oratorical skills and for his personal ambition, Hugh Dalton noting early on that he was ‘very useful, moves through life like a cat … but not quite to be trusted’. He perhaps made his greatest marks on British politics through his ultimately successful campaign to be allowed to renounce his peerage, and his unsuccessful campaigns against British membership of the European Communities and for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party. He also left an immense legacy for historians, in the form of nine volumes of published diaries chronicling his political life from 1940 to 2013.

Still more ambitious and mercurial, the flamboyant Jeremy Thorpe (1929-2014) was also born into a political family, though by the age of ten he had foresworn his parents’ Conservatism and announced his intention to become Britain’s future Liberal prime minister. The prize of course eluded him, though as leader of the Liberal Party from 1967 to 1976 he presided over an impressive Liberal revival which saw the party’s vote increase to over six million at the February 1974 general election, and he himself became prominently associated with various liberal causes, notably human rights, the campaign against the death penalty, and the opposition to white minority rule in Southern Rhodesia. Ultimately, however, it was not politics but Thorpe’s personal life (and in particular his attempts to silence a former male lover) which proved his undoing, and while he was acquitted of conspiracy and incitement to murder, his own reputation was destroyed, and he spent the last thirty-five years of his life largely out of the public eye. A man of remarkable talents but also enormous faults, his life, as Victor Hugo said of Lord Palmerston, ‘reads more like fiction than history’.

From a very different background and with a very different temperament, the Revd Ian Paisley (1926-2014) cast an even longer shadow over Northern Irish politics. The founder successively of Ulster Protestant Action, the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, and the Democratic Unionist Party, he was hailed by many Unionists as their most steadfast champion, hated by many Republicans as the figurehead of Protestant extremism, and for most of his career evinced a combination of bafflement and despair among politicians and the media on the mainland, where it was all too easy to paint him as a figure stuck intellectually in the seventeenth century. He mobilised Protestant opinion against the Sunningdale agreement and the Anglo-Irish agreement, and initially opposed the peace process and the Good Friday agreement, but eventually shifted his ground, and ended his political career as first minister of Northern Ireland in a power-sharing executive which included Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness as his deputy. Debating his legacy for Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom will keep historians busy for many years to come.

Paisley is joined in the dictionary by the more moderate Ulster Unionist Sir Robert Porter (1923-2014), a supporter of the reformist Terence O’Neill and then of James Chichester-Clark, who was the minister for home affairs responsible for requesting the deployment of British troops in response to the ‘Battle of the Bogside’ in 1969. He later resigned from the Unionist Party and joined the Alliance Party, of which he became deputy leader. Sir John Gorman (1923-2014) came from a Catholic Unionist family, and won an MC while serving with the Irish Guards in northern France before joining the RUC. He subsequently worked as head of security for the British Overseas Airways Corporation, and then as head of the Northern Ireland housing executive, before chairing the Northern Ireland Forum for Political Dialogue. A key supporter of the peace process, in 1998 he was elected MLA for North Down, representing the Ulster Unionist Party, and becoming deputy speaker of the assembly until 2002.

Margo MacDonald (1943-2014) trained as a PE teacher and with her husband ran a pub in Blantyre while nurturing a political career which saw her spectacularly win Glasgow Govan for the Scottish National Party in a by-election in 1973. She spent just seventy-eight days as an MP (losing the seat at the subsequent general election) but made an immediate impact and remained a popular and well-known figure in Scottish politics. Convinced that the SNP needed to move to the left, she at various points clashed with the party hierarchy, and although she was elected an MSP on the party list in 1999 she sat from 2003 as an independent. Immensely charismatic, and known for her dress sense as well as her political views, she was memorably described as ‘Dorothy Parker meets Dorothy Paul’.

Among the other politicians who died in 2014 and who are now included in the dictionary are Joel Barnett (1923-2014), whose name will forever be associated with the formula for allocating public spending to the constituent parts of the United Kingdom; the immensely talented John Freeman (1915-2014), once tipped as a future leader of the Labour Party, whose varied and restless career included presenting the strikingly un-deferential television interview programme Face to Face, serving as British ambassador in Washington, and chairing London Weekend Television; the equally multi-talented Sir Christopher Chataway (1931-2014), world record-holder for the 5000 metres and chairman of LBC as well as long-serving Conservative MP and minister; and three memorable Conservative women MPs, Dame Peggy Fenner (1922-2014), Dame Elaine Kellett Bowman (1923-2014), and Sheila Faith (1928-2014).

Campaigners and reformers

The human cost of the ‘Troubles’ can be seen in the life of Gerry Conlon (1954-2014), a victim of a miscarriage of justice as one of the ‘Guildford Four’, sentenced to life imprisonment in 1974 on the basis of forced confessions and faulty forensic evidence (the judge at his trial saying that if capital punishment was available as a sentencing option, he would have used it). Conlon was eventually freed, in 1989, but his father had died in prison, and such were the psychological scars of his own treatment that Conlon endured several years of alcohol and drug dependence and at least one suicide attempt before learning to cope with his ‘demons’ and becoming a widely-respected human rights campaigner.

Helen Bamber (1925-2014) found her vocation when she was part of a Jewish Relief Unit which entered the recently-liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Thereafter, listening ‘without recoil’ and bearing ‘witness to the past and to the continued suffering of the living’ became the hallmarks of her life’s work with the victims of persecution and torture, initially through the Committee for the Care of Children from Concentration Camps, then through the Amnesty Medical Group, the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, and finally the Helen Bamber Foundation, all of which she founded. Sadly, the need for such organizations never abated, and she questioned whether ‘the language used by the media and politicians today [is] so very different to that used to reject people fleeing pogroms of the early 20th century, or the Nazis a few decades later’.

Efua Dorkenoo (1949-2014) first encountered the devastating physical and psychological consequences of female genital mutilation while training as a midwife in Sheffield. From that moment she made it her mission to research and campaign tirelessly against the practice, at first in the UK, and then globally through the World Health Organization. Insisting that it be known as female genital mutilation (not ‘cutting’ or ‘circumcision’), she succeeded in debunking many of the myths surrounding the practice, and in casting it as a human rights, and not just a health, issue. Known to friends and colleagues as ‘Mama Efua’, she was widely acknowledged as the mother of the movement to end FGM, and just eight days before she died saw the launch of a new international umbrella organization of campaign groups, Girl Generation: Together to End FGM, which she brought together, and of which she was the first programme director.

Debbie Purdy (1963-2014) also put human dignity at the heart of her campaign—though in her case it was the campaign for the right to die with dignity, and more particularly for the right to die in the presence and with the knowledge of family and friends without the latter being prosecuted for abetting a suicide. Diagnosed in 1995 with progressive multiple sclerosis, in 2009 she took a landmark case all the way to the House of Lords, arguing that the lack of clarity in the law was a violation of the right to respect for private and family life, and succeeded in forcing the director of public prosecutions to issue new guidelines which effectively ruled out prosecution of relatives in cases where the victim was able to reach his or her own clear and informed decision. Unable herself to afford to travel to Switzerland to die, she ended her own life in a Bradford hospice.

Other campaigners in this update include Ann Hunt (1938-2014), a chemist and medical researcher who founded the Tuberous Sclerosis Association and campaigned for those with tuberous sclerosis complex; Jocelyn Hay (1927-2014), founder of the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, described as 'possibly the best lobbyist in the whole UK'; and Stephen Lloyd (1951-2014), a solicitor who worked for many charitable organisations and social enterprises, and invented the Community Interest Company.

For King (or Queen) and Country

Few lives were as colourful as that of Sir Tommy Macpherson (1920-2014), who, after Fettes College (where he took eight seconds off the school record for the mile), was called up and served first with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders then 11 (Scottish) commando. Captured during a reconnaissance of the Libyan coast, he endured two years as a prisoner of war in north Africa, Italy, Austria, and finally Poland before succeeding in escaping and making his way back to Britain. His adventures not yet over, he joined SOE and operated behind enemy lines first in France and then in north-eastern Italy. He was awarded an MC with two bars and awards from France and Italy. After the war he pursued a distinguished career in business, including as managing director and chairman of the Mallinson-Denny Group. He lived latterly in the Highlands and listed his recreation in Who's Who as 'Outdoors as much as possible'. His fellow Scotsman Sir Robert Richardson (1929-2014) was commissioned into the Royal Scots in 1949, and rose to be general officer commanding Northern Ireland at the height of the 'Troubles'. Macpherson is also joined in this update by a fellow SOE veteran, the 'absolutely fearless' Sonia d'Artois (1924-2014), who took great risks and endured great hardships while working with the French Resistance.

Yet another Scotsman, Gabe Bryce (1921-2014), enlisted in the RAF in 1939 and spent most of the Second World War with Transport Command before becoming chief test pilot first of Vickers-Armstrong and then of the British Aircraft Corporation, testing most of the new British aircraft of the postwar years, from the experimental Viking in 1948 to the BAC One-Eleven in 1963, and surviving many brushes with death. Lisburn-born Terry Bulloch (1916-2014) joined the RAF on a short service commission and, operating out of Nutts Corner and later Iceland, became one of the service’s most successful U-boat hunters, with numerous confirmed ‘kills’ and being awarded a DSO and bar. Later he flew passenger planes for BOAC, British Airways, and (having reached BA’s retirement age) the Portuguese airline, TAP. By the time he finally retired he had made well over 1000 transatlantic crossings.

Among the civilian servants of the Crown in this update are the diplomats Catherine Hughes (1933-2014) and Sir Nicholas Browne (1947-2014); Sir Christopher France (1934-2014), permanent secretary at the departments of health and defence; codebreaker and head of CGHQ, Sir Arthur Bonsall (1917-2014); and MI6 officer Allan Rowley (1922-2014), who was required by Foreign Office rules to decline the Malaysian government's offer to make him a 'Tan Sri' ('Lord').

Framing the news

The multi-talented Nigel Ryan (1929-2014) joined ITN's Roving Report in 1961 and went on to become ITN's editor and chief executive at a time when it was generally agreed to have the edge over BBC News. He later wrote books, including one based on his experiences with Sandy Gall and the mujahideen in Afghanistan, and translated French novels. His fellow broadcasting executive Ian McIntyre (1931-2014) launched the BBC's radio current affairs programme Analysis and was a controversial controller of Radio 4 and then Radio 3 but was passed over for the corporation's top job. In retirement he wrote several biographies, including one of Lord Reith. Colin Shaw (1928-2014) worked for both the BBC and the IBA before becoming the first director of the Broadcasting Standards Council; in retirement he wrote several books on broadcasting and chaired the Voice of the Listener and Viewer Trust.

Jane Bown (1925-2014) literally framed the way many people in the news were seen, her portrait photographs for many years gracing the pages of the Observer; highly acclaimed, she later published ten collections of photographs. Roger Mayne (1929-2014) was by contrast known for his photographs of street life, and in particular of Southam Street in Notting Dale in the late 1950s, on the cusp of change; his photographs have come to be regarded as classics of photojournalism.

Words rather than images were the stock in trade of journalist Philip Howard (1933-2014), whose elegant and scholarly articles on the English language were for many years a highlight of the Times. Tom Margerison (1923-2014) and Nigel Calder (1931-2014) were pioneering science journalists, both of them involved in the early days of the New Scientist before moving into wider fields. Chapman Pincher (1914-2014) also began as a science journalist but later made defence and espionage his area of specialism; he was well known for his scoops, and for embarrassing and infuriating successive governments in the 1960s and 1970s. Felix Dennis (1947-2014) left his own mark on the 1960s and early 1970s as one of the editors of Oz, tried under the Obscene Publications Act in 1971; he later made a fortune from publishing computer and lifestyle magazines but remained at heart a child of the 1960s. From a younger generation, Georgina Henry (1960-2014) explored the potential of new technologies as editor of the first newspaper commentary website, for the Guardian; she is joined by Beatrix Miller (1923-2014), who as long-serving editor of Vogue helped shape the intellectual as well as sartorial tastes of a generation.

Stars of stage and screen

Richard Attenborough, Baron Attenborough (1923-2014) will perhaps be best remembered for his biopic of one of the greatest campaigners of the twentieth century, Gandhi (1982), for which he won an Oscar for best director. But his triumphs as a director included Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Cry Freedom (1987), and Grey Owl (1999). He had an even longer career as an actor, from In Which We Serve (1942) to Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996), and taking in such memorable performances as Brighton Rock (1947) and 10 Rillington Place (1971).

The short, stocky, but expressive Bob Hoskins (1942-2014) fell into acting almost by accident after trying his hand as a porter at Covent Garden and a trainee accountant for Pickfords. He went on to become a much-admired actor, perhaps most memorably in Pennies from Heaven (BBC, 1978), The Long Good Friday (1980), and Mona Lisa (1986). Sir Donald Sinden (1923-2014) enjoyed a distinguished fifty-year career as an actor, his triumphs ranging from Shakespearean tragedy to contemporary farce. Richard Pasco (1926-2014) enjoyed an equally long career, including many roles on television, though he was most admired for his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The anarchic Rik Mayall (1958-2014) created many of the most memorable comic characters on British television from the 1980s onwards, starting with The Young Ones (1982-4) and perhaps most memorably including the 'loathsome' Conservative MP Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman (1987-92).

Clarissa Dickson-Wright (1947-2014), daughter of a wealthy surgeon, qualified as a barrister and led a fast life in London before falling on her luck and turning to cooking, of which she made a great success. She and the equally colourful Jennifer Paterson (1928-1999) enlivened the nation's television screens in the late 1990s as Two Fat Ladies.

This update also includes the Shakespearean actress Renée Asherson (1915-2014), Barbara Murray (1929-2014), whose credits ranged from Passport to Pimlico (1949) to The Plane Makers (1963-5), and Linda Bellingham (1948-2014), whose role as the perfect 'Oxo' mum was at odds with a turbulent private life. They are joined by the cinematographer Ossie Morris (1915-2014), who won an Oscar for Fiddler on the Roof (1971) and the Hong Kong-based film mogul and philanthropist Sir Run Run Shaw (1907-2014).

Sporting heroes

Sir Tom Finney (1922-2014), reckoned one of the greatest footballers ever, with 187 goals in the football league, and another thirty from seventy-six appearances for England, left school at fourteen and worked throughout his footballing career as a plumber; he retired the year before the abolition of the maximum wage. Unusually, the whole of his career was with one club, Preston North End. Jack Kyle (1926-2014) was the Belfast-born doctor voted in 2002 the greatest Irish rugby player of all time, who won forty-six caps for Ireland and another six for the British and Irish Lions, and whose skill led one journalist to describe him as ‘That paragon of pace and guile / That damned elusive Jackie Kyle’. After retiring from the sport he spent over thirty years working as a surgeon in Zambia. Brought up a Presbyterian, he was determinedly un-sectarian, and in 1966 wrote to the Irish Times to condemn Ian Paisley for ‘sowing seeds that create evil from which springs despicable action’. Ray Williams (1927-2014), from Wrexham, was a physical education instructor who achieved some success as a rugby player, but found his true métier when appointed national coaching officer to the Welsh Rugby Union in 1967 (the first full-time professional rugby coach). He revolutionised rugby coaching, and inter alia was credited with the revival of rugby in Australia, following the introduction of a national coaching plan modelled on his advice.

The high jumper Dorothy Tyler (1920-2014) was just sixteen when she took part in the Olympics in Berlin in 1936; she won silver, and was widely reported as describing Hitler as just a 'small man in a big uniform'. She won silver again in 1948, and last competed in the 1956 Olympics, having represented Great Britain in international competitions a record twenty-one times. Another sportswoman who sprang to fame in the 1930s, typist and stenographer Billie Fleming (1914-2014), became 'besotted' with cycling and on New Year's Day 1938 set off on a challenge to cycle every day for a year. She arrived back in London a year later, having ridden a record 29,604.3 miles. She went on to set many other long-distance cycle speed and endurance records.

These sportsmen and women are joined in this update by, among others, Barbara West (1913-2014), who played hockey for England and was later an important figure in the sport's administration; Dame Mary Glen Haig (1928-2014), who competed in four Olympics as a fencer and later became only the third woman elected to the International Olympic Committee; and the mountaineer and broadcaster Ian McNaught-Davis (1929-2014), as well as the racehorse trainer Anne Fitzalan-Howard, Lady Herries of Terregles (1938-2014), the boxing promoter Mickey Duff (1929-2014), and the racing driver and engineer Sir Jack Brabham (1926-2014).

Musical icons

The harpsichordist, conductor, and musicologist Christopher Hogwood (1941-2014), who probably did more than anyone to research and promote the use of period instruments for early music, is just one of a number of new entrants to the dictionary included for their contributions to the nation's musical life. He is joined by fellow musicologist David Brown (1929-2014), who made Tchaikovsky the focus of his life's work; Michael Kennedy (1926-2014), doyen of classical music critics; Sir George Christie (1934-2014), chairman of Glyndebourne; the composer and for almost four decades presenter of Talking about Music, Antony Hopkins (1921-2014); and opera singers Anna Reynolds (1930-2014), John Shirley-Quirk (1931-2014), and Ann Howard (1934-2014).

Sheila Stewart (1935-2014) was born into a Scottish Traveller family at the Angus Hotel in Blairgowrie, and became one of the most recognised exponents of Scottish Traveller culture, as a singer, storyteller, and author. In 1976 she performed on the Mall in Washington DC and sang at the White House as part of the bicentennial celebrations, and in 1982 she performed for Pope John Paul II at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow. Her fellow Scot Jack Bruce (1943-2014) was expelled from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music for playing in a dance band. He later achieved worldwide success as one-third of the ‘power-trio’ Cream, with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. His financial success enabled him to buy a Scottish island (Sanda, off the southern tip of the Kintyre peninsula). Sheffield-born Joe Cocker (1944-2014) stormed to success at the Woodstock festival in 1969 with his rendition of the Beatles' 'With a Little Help from my Friends'; thirty-three years later he sang the song as part of Party at the Palace, to celebrate the Queen's golden jubilee. Alvin Stardust (1942-2014), whose real name was Bernard William Jewry, was one of the most prominent (and parodied) stars of Glam Rock, with such hits as 'My Coo-Ca-Choo' and 'Jealous Mind'. The talented songwriter, singer, and pianist Lynsey de Paul (1948-2014) overcame many hurdles, both personal and professional, to enjoy a successful career, though she will perhaps be best remembered for her 1977 Eurovision song contest entry, 'Rock Bottom' (which prompted the Daily Telegraph's critic to describe her as one of Britain's 'biggest national embarrassments'). She is joined in this release by jazz trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler (1930-2014), one of the leading exponents of modern jazz; the clarinettist and bandleader Acker Bilk (1929-2014), best known for the exquisitely poignant 'Stranger on the Shore'; the impresario Jeff Kruger (1931-2014), who was one of the first to see the commercial possibilities in rock'n'roll, and whose Flamingo Club was at the centre of the new music scene; and Prince Rupert Loewenstein (1933-2014), the banker who for forty years was 'a combination of bank manager, psychiatrist and nanny' for the Rolling Stones—though they later fell out when he suggested they retire.

The visual arts

The visual arts are also well represented in this update, with new entrants ranging from Roger Ackling (1947-2014), best known for his artworks produced by burning lines onto driftwood using a magnifying glass, to the Scottish painter Alan Davie (1920-2014), renowned for his borrowings from world cultures and his deeply philosophical approach to painting, and from the cartoonist, art historian, and broadcaster Frank Whitford (1941-2014) to the art dealer and collector Monika Kinley (1925-2014), champion of 'outsider art'. Also included are the sculptor and stained-glass artist Geoffrey Clarke (1924-2014), the youngest artist included in the famous 'geometry of fear' group chosen to represent Britain at the 1952 Venice Biennale; the abstract painter Robyn Denny (1930-2014), who represented Britain in Venice in 1966; the potter and ceramicist Ann Stokes (1922-2014), renowned among other things for her zoomorphic kitchenware and ceramic tableaux; and Rose Kinn-Felcey (1945-2014), creator of remarkable avant-garde performance art, sound sculptures, and interactive artworks.

The work of the Scottish architect Kathryn Findlay (1953-2014) crossed the boundaries between art and architecture; her strikingly original designs included the Truss Wall House, with swirling concrete loops surrounding the rooms within, and the Soft and Hairy House, a courtyard house with roughcast walls and exuberant natural foliage on the roof, both in Tokyo. More conventional but no less radical was the work of two leading modernist architects, Sir Philip Dowson (1924-2014), whose work included the Snape Maltings concert hall in Suffolk, and Sir Richard MacCormac (1938-2014), whose work ranged from new student accommodation to Southwark tube station, but whose most ambitious design, for Broadcasting House, was eventually emasculated.

Writing the nations

Cardiff-born playwright, novelist, autobiographer, and poet Dannie Abse (1923-2014), the younger brother of politician Leo Abse, wore, as he put it, both white and purple cloaks, combining his writing career with that of a physician at the Middlesex Hospital. Balancing perfectly his multiple Welsh, London, and secular Jewish identities, in his much-loved poems he explored the tensions between the visible and invisible and the rational and spiritual. He was also a performance poet par excellence, and for two generations of Welsh writers was ‘our man in London’. Rhiannon Davies Jones (1921-2014) was a lecturer in Welsh at Caerleon College of Education and then Normal College, Bangor, and ‘one of the best stylists of late twentieth-century Welsh prose’. Her historical novels—all meticulously researched, and exhibiting an enormous talent for historical empathy—won her many prizes at the National Eisteddfod. She was perhaps best known for her trilogy set in the Wales of the princes. National identity was also central to the work of Gerallt Lloyd Owen (1944-2014), a Welsh language poet and publisher who twice won the bardic chair in the National Eisteddfod, and who, along with Dic Jones and Alan Llwyd, was credited with reinstating cynghanned poetry (the old medium of medieval Welsh praise poets) to a position of canonical importance in Welsh literature. An uncompromising nationalist, he was perhaps best known for his poems protesting against the investiture of Prince Charles as prince of Wales in 1969 and his historical poems lamenting the loss of native rule.

David MacLennan (1948-2014), son of an eminent Glasgow gynaecologist, turned his back on a medical career in favour of one in radical political theatre, and in 1971, with his sister Elizabeth and her husband John McGrath, set up the 7:84 Theatre Company (so called because at that point 7 per cent of Britain’s population owned 84 per cent of its wealth). The company’s first production, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil (1973) was the first of many triumphs. Later MacLennan set up the music-theatre company Wildcat, which put on more than fifty of his musicals, and later still he pioneered the lunchtime theatre concept at Òran Mór in Glasgow’s West End.

Phyllis James, Baroness James of Holland Park (1920-2014), the crime novelist P. D. James, worked as a civil servant in the Home Office's police and criminal policy departments before resigning to write full-time. Her experiences were 'an absolute goldmine' for her work. Her novels featuring the detectives Adam Dalgliesh and Cordelia Gray won both critical acclaim and a wide readership. She was also widely respected in a huge range of public service roles. Another much-loved writer, Sue Townsend (1946-2014), described herself as a 'child of the municipal', and began writing The Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 (the first of an enduring and hugely popular series) while a single mother with three children and a job for each. She also wrote six stand-alone novels, twelve plays, and two non-fiction books.

Other writers in this update include the novelist and critic Dan Jacobson (1929-2014); the reclusive poet Rosemary Tonks (1928-2014); the children's author Josephine Pullein-Thompson (1924-2014), writer of numerous story books featuring horses, included with her equally horse-mad sister Christine Pullein-Thompson (1925-2005); the lyricist and playwright Sandy Wilson (1924-2014), best known for The Boy Friend; and Kevin Elyot (1951-2014), whose play My Night with Reg took a later generation of audiences by storm. Among literary critics and historians, the dictionary now includes Karl Miller (1931-2014), who was literary editor of the Spectator then the New Statesman before editing the Listener and founding the London Review of Books; Mary Cadogan (1928-2014), an acclaimed scholar of children's literature; Marilyn Butler (1937-2014), an authority on Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen, and Mary Wollstonecraft; and Jon Stallworthy (1935-2014), best known for his work on Wilfred Owen and other First World War poets.

The frontiers of science and medicine

The chemist and planetary scientist Colin Pillinger (1943-2014) was one of the first researchers outside the USA to receive samples of moon rock brought back by the Apollo 11 astronauts. He achieved national fame through his leadership of the Beagle 2 space project, to send a mass spectrometer to Mars to search for signs of previous life. Beagle 2 was eventually launched in 2003 but failed to transmit messages back to earth, and Pillinger's project went down as an heroic failure; a few months after his death, however, images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showed that Beagle 2 had in fact landed correctly but that only three of its four solar arrays had deployed. Equally pioneering, though nearer to earth, was the work of Peter Marler (1928-2014), an ethologist who researched birdsong and discovered that different acoustic structures served different purposes. Later widening his studies to include apes and monkeys, his work contributed strongly to the growing evidence that non-human calls and vocalizations can carry complex semantic information.

From mathematics, science, and engineering this update also includes Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw (1912-2014), an expert on magic squares, and John Bryce McLeod (1929-2014), noted for his work on differential equations; the leading chemist Jack Lewis, Baron Lewis of Newnham (1928-2014); the glaciologist and polar scientist Charles Swithinbank (1926-2014), who made huge contributions to mapping the geology of Antarctica; the biologist and fungal geneticist Lorna Casselton (1938-2014); the ichthyologist Rosemary Lowe-McConnell (1924-2014), a pioneer in the study of tropical freshwater fish; Johanna Weber (1910-2014), the aerodynamics expert whose work was instrumental in the design of Concorde's wings; and David Lockspeiser (1927-2014), test pilot and engineer, who pioneered the design of light utility aircraft.

Dame Julia Polak (1939-2014) left her native Argentina in 1968, and made enormous contributions to histochemistry and the development of new technologies which had many clinical applications; as a research scientist she was best known for elucidating the role of peptides in control of the nervous system. Diagnosed with fatal pulmonary hypertension, in 1995 she underwent a heart and lung transplant, later using herself as a case study for medical students.

Other leading figures from medicine now included in this update are the cell biologist Sir Henry Harris (1925-2014), whose discovery of artificial cell fusion had far-reaching consequences in cell biology, genetics, and cancer research; Donald Nixon Ross (1922-2014), the cardiologist who carried out Britain's first heart transplant; the physiologist Olga Hudlická (1926-2014), whose work on blood flow and capillary growth in skeletal and cardiac muscle led to new therapies; Lorna Wing (1928-2014), a psychiatrist who identified the 'spectrum' of autism and devised the term 'Asperger's syndrome'; and Elizabeth Newson (1929-2014), included with her husband and collaborator John Newson (1925-2010), developmental psychologists who pioneered new ways of assessing and remediating developmental delays, including through specially designed toys.

Cultural studies and other disciplines

The study of human cultures and societies was the preoccupation of many of the other new entrants to the dictionary. Richard Hoggart (1918-2014) wrote one of the seminal books in cultural studies, The Uses of Literacy (1957), and went on to found the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham, before moving on to UNESCO and Goldsmiths' College, London. A prolific essayist and lecturer, his work crossed the boundaries between literary criticism, sociology, anthropology, and journalistic commentary. Sadly, he was predeceased by his son, the journalist and parliamentary sketchwriter Simon Hoggart (1946-2014), who also features in this update.

Richard Hoggart's deputy and successor at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, often regarded as the father of cultural studies as an academic discipline, Stuart Hall (1932-2014), arrived in England from Jamaica as a Rhodes Scholar in 1951. His position as a 'familiar stranger' (the title of his posthumous autobiography) and his grounding in 'new left' Marxism informed a hugely influential career that included seminal articles on Thatcherism (published before Thatcher herself had come to power) and in media studies, and saw him become a familiar face on late-night television and later a leading figure in the black arts movement.

Among the many other scholars added to the dictionary in this update are the sociologists Chelly Halsey (1923-2014), perhaps best known for his work on the sociology of education, and David Lockwood (1929-2014), a leading figure in the sociology of class and status; the anthropologists Ioan Lewis (1930-2014) and Sally Chilver (1914-2014), leading figures respectively in Somali and Cameroon studies; the town planner and geographer Sir Peter Hall (1932-2014); the economist Sir Alan Peacock (1922-2014), whose ideas influenced Thatcherism; and the historians Sir James Holt (1922-2014), doyen of medieval studies, Isabel de Madariaga (1919-2014), rehabilitator of Catherine the Great, and Leonore Davidoff (1932-2014), a key figure in women's history and gender studies.

Building brands

Wally Olins (1930-2014) was a pioneer in corporate identity and brand building, who co-founded Wolff Olins and later Saffron Brand Consultants, wrote widely on the subject, and advised major organisations, including Lloyds of London, Orange, and 3i, though he was less successful in his re-branding of Guinness as Diageo and his emphasis on logos was frequently criticised. He also advised on nation and place branding, including for London and Northern Ireland. Perhaps in need of his advice was Sir Eric Parker (1933-2014), chief executive of the conglomerate Trafalgar House, at one point described as 'Britain's least admired company'.

Brands don't come much bigger than Ford and Jaguar, and Sir Nicholas Scheele (1944-2014) turned around the fortunes of the latter while working for the former in the 1990s; he was later president and chief operating officer of the parent Ford Motor Company. Sir Maurice Hodgson (1919-2014) was a chemist who rose to become chairman of ICI, and later of British Home Stores. Sir Robert Scholey (1921-2014) was an abrasive chief executive and later chairman of the British Steel Corporation who presided over its privatisation and oversaw massive closures but returned the company to profitability.

After working in the United States Edward Haughey, Baron Ballyedmond (1944-2014), decided to build his own brand, and set up his own pharmaceutical company, Norbrook Laboratories, based in Newry, which became one of Northern Ireland’s most successful companies, and which by 2013 had made him the richest person in the province. Made a life peer in 2004 (sitting as a Unionist then a Conservative), he was only the third person to have sat in both the reformed post-1937 Irish Senate and the House of Lords. Tragically, he died in a helicopter crash in a field on his Norfolk estate.

Among the other businessmen and women now included in the dictionary for the first time are the banker Sir Robin Ibbs (1926-2014), who was charged by the Thatcher government with reviewing the work of the civil service and lent his name to a report which fundamentally altered the structures of government, through the creation of executive agencies; Sir John Hoskyns (1927-2014), a key adviser to Thatcher who nevertheless criticised her management style; Alistair McAlpine, Baron McAlpine of West Green (1942-2014), scion of the housebuilding dynasty who served as treasurer of the Conservative Party, but whose last months were clouded by a legal battle against unsubstantiated allegations of child abuse; and Liliana Archibald (1928-2014), the first woman broker at Lloyd's.

Other lives

As always, this update includes the biographies of many other men and women who have left their mark on national life in the UK, ranging from Deborah (Debo), Duchess of Devonshire (1920-2014), one of the celebrated Mitford sisters and a noted chatelaine of Chatsworth House, to Mandy Rice-Davies (1944-2014), the model at the centre of the Profumo scandal; from the law lord Sydney Templeman, Baron Templeman (1920-2014) to the criminal 'Mad' Frankie Fraser (1923-2014); and from Nessim Dawood (1927-2014), celebrated translator of the Koran, to Philip Somerville (1930-2014), milliner to the Queen and Diana, princess of Wales.

A full list of new subjects can be found here.