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Godwin, William (1756–1836), philosopher and novelist, was born on 3 March 1756 at Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, the seventh of thirteen children of John Godwin (1723–1772), a dissenting minister, and his wife, Anne (c.1723–1809), the daughter of Richard Hull, a shipowner engaged in the ...

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Maker: James Northcote

William Godwin (1756–1836) by James Northcote, 1802 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Dame (Jean) Iris Murdoch (1919–1999) by Tom Phillips, 1984–6 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Murdoch, Dame (Jean) Iris (1919–1999), novelist and philosopher, was born on 15 July 1919 at 59 Blessington Street, Dublin, the only child of Irene Alice Cooper Richardson (1899–1985) and (Wills John) Hughes Murdoch (1890–1958). Since her birth occurred seven months after her parents married on 7 December 1918, the marriage was probably hasty. Her father was a quiet, unambitious civil servant, who in 1950 retired from a ‘personal grade’ of assistant registrar-general, working at ...

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Sinclair, Mary Amelia St Clair [May] (1863–1946), novelist and philosopher, was born on 24 August 1863 in Thorncote, Rock Park, Rock Ferry, near Birkenhead, Cheshire, the youngest of six surviving children of William Sinclair (1829–1881), part owner of a Liverpool shipping business, and ...

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Mary Amelia St Clair Sinclair (1863–1946) by Walter Tittle, 1923 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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(William) Olaf Stapledon (1886–1950) by Howard Coster, 1938 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Stapledon, (William) Olaf (1886–1950), philosopher and science fiction writer, was born at 49 Falkland Road, Poolton cum Seacombe, Cheshire, on 10 May 1886, the only child of William Clibbett Stapledon (1860–1932) and his wife, Emmeline, née Miller (1852–1935). His father worked for fifty years in the ...