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Adams, Francis William Lauderdale (1862–1893), writer, was born on 27 September 1862 at Valletta in Malta. The grandson of the Scottish classicist and medical scholar Francis Adams (1796–1861), he was the first of two sons born to Andrew Leith Adams (1827–1882), army surgeon and natural historian, and his wife, ...

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Aitken, (Adam) Jack (1921–1998), lexicographer and philologist, was born on 19 June 1921 in Edinburgh, the only son and eldest of the three children of Adam Aitken (1896–1958), miner, and his first wife, Alexandrina Sutherland (1896–1931). He was baptized into the Church of Scotland...

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Alexander, Sir Kenneth John Wilson [Ken] (1922–2001), economist, university administrator, and public servant, was born on 14 March 1922 at 12 Kilmaurs Terrace, Edinburgh, the only son of William Wilson Alexander (1888–1930), lawyer, and his wife, Mary Logan Grahame, née Wilson (1888–1975), tailoress. He won a scholarship to ...

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Andrews, Michael James (1928–1995), artist, was born on 30 October 1928 at 142 Glebe Road, Norwich, the second child of Thomas Victor Andrews, an insurance clerk, and his wife, Gertrude Emma, née Green. Reared a Methodist and readied by his parents for a job for life in the ...

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Boris Vasilyevich Anrep, Count Elmpt in the nobility of the Holy Roman empire (1883–1969) by Pierre Roy, 1949 [Boris Anrep in his Studio, 65 boulevard Arago] © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London, 2010; photograph Tate, London, 2004

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Anrep, Boris Vasilyevich, Count Elmpt in the nobility of the Holy Roman empire (1883–1969), mosaicist, came of a noble Russian family. He was born on 28 September 1883 in St Petersburg, the son of Vasily Konstantinovich von Anrep (1852–1927), a doctor who became the minister of education for ...

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William Archer (1856–1924) by Sir Emery Walker, 1891 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Archer, William (1856–1924), theatre critic and journalist, was born at 6 North Methven Street, Perth, Scotland, on 23 September 1856, the eldest son of the nine children of Thomas Archer (1823–1905) of Glasgow and his wife, Grace Lindsay Morison (1832–1911), the daughter of ...

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William Armstrong, Baron Armstrong of Sanderstead (1915–1980) by Arnold Newman, 1978 Arnold Newman / Getty Images; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Armstrong, William, Baron Armstrong of Sanderstead (1915–1980), civil servant and banker, was born in the Salvation Mothers' Home, Mare Street, Clapton, London, on 3 March 1915, the elder son of William Armstrong, of Stirling, and his wife, Priscilla Hopkins. Both his parents were ...

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Arouet, François-Marie [known as Voltaire] (1694–1778), writer and philosopher, was born in Paris on 21 November 1694 according to the notice of baptism. He was the fifth of five surviving children born to François Arouet (1649–1722), lawyer and minor official, and his wife, ...

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Awolowo, Obafemi (1909–1987), politician in Nigeria, was born on 6 March 1909 at Ikenne, a small town about 40 miles from Lagos, in Ijebu Remo division, the son of David Sopolu Awolowo (d. 1920) and his wife, Mary Sofowora Efunyela. The Ijebu are a subgroup of the ...

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Aylmer, Gerald Edward (1926–2000), historian, was born on 30 April 1926 at Stoke Court, Greete, Shropshire, the only child of Captain Edward Arthur Aylmer (1892–1974), naval officer, and his wife, (Gwladys) Phoebe, née Evans (1891–1968). On his father's side he was descended from a distinguished Anglo-Irish family with strong naval connections, and there were two admirals on his mother's side. He was educated at ...

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Banting, Sir Frederick Grant (1891–1941), physician and medical researcher, was born near the town of Alliston, Ontario, Canada, on 14 November 1891, the fourth son and fifth and youngest child of William Thompson Banting (1849–1929), a farmer of Irish descent, and his wife, ...

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Samuel Barclay Beckett (1906–1989) by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1964 © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Beckett, Samuel Barclay (1906–1989), author, was born on 13 April 1906 at Cooldrinagh, Kerrymount Avenue, Foxrock, co. Dublin, the second of two children of William Frank Beckett (1871–1933), a quantity surveyor, and his wife, Maria, known as May (1871–1950), daughter of Samuel Roe...

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(Frank) Graham Bell (1910–1943) by Olivier Bell, 1938 [painting Dover Front] private collection

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Bell, (Frank) Graham (1910–1943), painter and writer, was born on 21 November 1910 near Brakpan, Johannesburg, Transvaal, the eldest of the three sons of Frank Graham Bell (1874–1948), a British mining engineer, and his wife, Marjorie, née Hewitt (1888–1979). The family spent from 1915 to 1922 in ...

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Sir (Harold) Idris Bell (1879–1967) by Walter Stoneman, 1955 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bell, Sir (Harold) Idris (1879–1967), papyrologist and scholar of Welsh literature, was born on 2 October 1879 at Epworth, Lincolnshire, the son of Charles Christopher Bell (b. 1845), chemist, and his wife, Rachel Hughes (d. 1880). His father's family had been yeoman farmers in the north midlands and had marked literary leanings, his father not least; but the Welsh inheritance from his mother meant more to ...