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Acton, Sir Harold Mario Mitchell (1904–1994), aesthete and author, was born at his parents' magnificent villa at La Pietra, a mile north of Florence, on 5 July 1904, the son of Arthur Mario Acton (d. 1953) and his wife, Hortense Mitchell (...

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Alison, Archibald (1757–1839), Scottish Episcopal clergyman and writer on aesthetics, was born in Edinburgh, the son of Archibald Alison (1730–1794), lord provost of the city, originally of Newhall, Coupar Angus, and Margaret Harte (d. 1811), of Listerick, near Edinburgh. Alison was educated at ...

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Angerstein, John Julius (c. 1732–1823), insurance broker and connoisseur of art, was of Russian extraction, though his precise origins are obscure. According to family tradition he took his surname from the German doctor who delivered him, and his parents were the Empress Anne...

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Arnold, Janet (1932–1998), costume historian, was born on 6 October 1932 at Duncan House, Clifton Down Road, Bristol, the only child of Frederick Charles Arnold (1898–1976), ironmonger, and his wife, Adeline, née Jacob (1895–1985), a nurse, daughter of the Revd Thomas Jacob and his wife, ...

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Asquith, Anthony (1902–1968), film director and aesthete, was born on 9 November 1902 in London, the youngest son of Herbert Henry Asquith, first earl of Oxford and Asquith (1852–1928), the Liberal statesman and future prime minister, and his second wife, Margaret Emma Alice (Margot) Asquith (1864–1945)...

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Austin, William (1721/1733–1820), drawing-master and engraver, was apprenticed to George Bickham junior in 1747. This suggests that he was born about 1733, although he was said to have died aged ninety-eight, and a man named Austin was listed as an eminent painter in 1748. In 1756 ...

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Balch, Herbert Ernest (1869–1958), cave explorer and museum curator, was born in St Thomas Street, Wells, Somerset, on 4 November 1869, the second of six children of William Balch, brushmaker, and his wife, Sarah Ellen, née Smith. Aged seven, he won a scholarship to ...

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Balfour, Henry (1863–1939), museum curator, was born at 6 Bedford Villas, Dingwall Road, Croydon, on 11 April 1863, the son of Lewis Balfour (1833–1885), silk broker of Croydon, and Sarah Walker Comber (1836?–1916). Educated at Charterhouse School and Trinity College, Oxford, Balfour obtained a second class in natural science (biology) in 1885. As a result of the influence of ...

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Barry, Sir Gerald Reid (1898–1968), journalist and Festival of Britain administrator, was born at Fairfax, Berrylands Road, Surbiton, Surrey, on 20 November 1898, the fourth child of George Duncan Barry (1864–1945), who was then curate of St Mark's, Surbiton, and his wife, Edith Geraldine Reid (1859–1898)...

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Beit, Sir Otto John, first baronet (1865–1930), financier, philanthropist, and art connoisseur, was born on 7 December 1865 in Hamburg, Germany, twelve years after his brother Alfred Beit. He was the third son of Siegfried Beit (1818–1881), silk merchant, and his wife, Laura Caroline Hahn (...

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Bell, (Arthur) Clive Heward (1881–1964), art critic and writer, was born on 16 September 1881 at East Shefford, Berkshire, the second son of William Heward Bell (1849–1927), civil engineer, and his wife, Hannah Taylor Cory (1850–1942). In the words of his son Quentin...

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Bell, Quentin Claudian Stephen (1910–1996), art historian and potter, was born into the heart of the Bloomsbury group on 19 August 1910, the younger son of (Arthur) Clive Heward Bell (1881–1964), art critic, and his wife, Vanessa Bell (1879–1961), painter, and the daughter of ...

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Kingsley Amis

revised by M. Clare Loughlin-Chow

Betjeman, Sir John (1906–1984), poet, writer, and broadcaster, was born on 28 August 1906 at 52 Parliament Hill Mansions, north London, the only child of Ernest Edward Betjemann (1872–1934), a furniture manufacturer, and his wife, Mabel Bessie Dawson (1879–1952). The family name, of Dutch or German origin, can be traced back to an immigration in the late eighteenth century. The poet adopted his style of it about the age of twenty-one....

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Binyon, (Robert) Laurence (1869–1943), poet and art historian, was born on 10 August 1869 at 1 High Street, Lancaster, the second of the nine children of Frederick Binyon (1838–1900), vicar of Burton in Lonsdale, Yorkshire, and his wife, Mary (1839–1919), daughter of Robert Benson Dockray (1811–1871)...

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Bloxam, Matthew Holbeche (1805–1888), architectural historian, was born at midnight on 12 May 1805 in a boarding-house at the corner of Lawrence Sheriff Street and Sheep Street, Rugby, opposite Rugby School, where his father was an assistant master. Matt, as he was known, was the eighth of the ten children of ...

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Michael Kitson

revised by Miranda Carter

Blunt, Anthony Frederick (1907–1983), art historian and spy, was born at Holy Trinity vicarage, Bournemouth, Hampshire, on 26 September 1907, the third and youngest son (there were no daughters) of the Revd (Arthur) Stanley Vaughan Blunt (1870–1929) and his wife, Hilda Violet (1880–1969)...

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Boxall, Sir William (1800–1879), portrait painter and museum director, was born on 29 June 1800 in or near Oxford, the son of Thomas Boxall, clerk to the collector of excise, and the brother of Anne (d. 1846), later wife of the Revd Charles Boxall Longland...

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Brett, Sir Charles Edward Bainbridge (1928–2005), solicitor and architectural historian, was born on 30 October 1928 at Glenard, Holywood, co. Down, the eldest son of Charles Anthony Brett (1897–1988), solicitor, and his wife, (Elizabeth) Joyce, née Carter. His father was senior partner of ...

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Brighton, Albert George [Peter] (1900–1988), palaeontologist and curator, was born on 29 December 1900 at 13 Conyers Road, Streatham, London, the son of George Freeston Brighton, gardener, and his wife, Susan Alice Jayne. He was educated at St Leonard's School, Streatham, and Westminster City School...

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Brittan, Leon, Baron Brittan of Spennithorne (1939–2015), politician, was born on 25 September 1939 at the City of London Maternity Hospital, 102 City Road, Finsbury, London, the second son of Joseph Brittan (1899–1972), medical practitioner, and his wife, Rebecca (Riva...