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John Ballance (1839–1893) by Alfred Martin, 1875–89 Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa / Tesla Studios Collection (G-70344-1/2)

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Ballance, John (1839–1893), newspaper proprietor and premier of New Zealand, was born on 27 March 1839 at Ballypitmave, near Glenavy, co. Antrim, Ireland, the eldest of the eleven children of Samuel Ballance (1800–1879), a tenant farmer, and his wife, Mary McNiece, the daughter of ...

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Barlow, Joel (1754–1812), poet and diplomatist, was born on 24 March 1754 at Redding, Connecticut, the fourth child of Samuel Barlow, farmer, and his second wife, Esther Hull. For several generations the Barlow family maintained a reputation as respectable farmers in America, and ...

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Bevington [married name Guggenberger], Louisa Sarah (1845–1895), poet and anarchist, was born on 14 May 1845 in St John's Hill, Battersea, Surrey, to Louisa and Alexander Bevington. The eldest of eight children (seven of whom were girls), she was brought up a Quaker. An early enthusiasm for science was fostered by her father. Later, interested by evolutionism, she became a friend of ...

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Eric Arthur Blair [George Orwell] (1903–1950) by Felix H. Man, c. 1947 © Estate of Felix H. Man / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Blair, Eric Arthur [pseud. George Orwell] (1903–1950), political writer and essayist, was born in Motihari, Bengal, India, on 25 June 1903, the only son of Richard Walmesley Blair (1857–1938), a sub-deputy opium agent in the government of Bengal, and his wife, Ida Mabel Limouzin (1875–1943)...

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Brendan Rendall Bracken, Viscount Bracken (1901–1958) by unknown photographer, 1941 © reserved; collection Science & Society Picture Library; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bracken, Brendan Rendall, Viscount Bracken (1901–1958), politician and publisher, was born on 15 February 1901 at Church Street, Templemore, co. Tipperary, the second son and third of the four children of Joseph Kevin Bracken (1852–1904), builder and monumental mason, and his second wife, ...

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Childers, (Robert) Erskine (1870–1922), author and politician, was born in London on 25 June 1870, the second son of Robert Caesar Childers (1838–1876), a distinguished orientalist, and his wife, Anna Mary Henrietta (d. 1883), daughter of Thomas Johnston Barton of Glendalough House, co. Wicklow...

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Cook, Ida [pseud. Mary Burchell] (1904–1986), author and campaigner for Jewish refugees, was born on 24 August 1904 at 37 Croft Avenue, Sunderland, the second of four children of William James Cook (1865–1959), surveyor of customs and excise, and his wife, Mary, ...

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See Cook, Ida [pseud. Mary Burchell]

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Richard Howard Stafford Crossman (1907–1974) by Bassano, 1947 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Crossman, Richard Howard Stafford (1907–1974), politician and diarist, was born on 15 December 1907 in Porchester Terrace, Bayswater, London, the third of six children (three boys and three girls) of Sir (Charles) Stafford Crossman (1870–1941) of Buckhurst Hill House, Essex, and his wife, ...

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Davies, David Richard (1889–1958), writer, political agitator, and minister of religion, was born at Pontycymer, Glamorgan, on 19 February 1889, the son of Richard Davies and his wife, Hannah. He was the youngest of four children. His father had been a miner, but had broken his back in a colliery accident before ...

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Davies, (William Thomas) Pennar (1911–1996), poet, novelist, and Welsh nationalist, was born in Mountain Ash, Glamorgan, on 12 November 1911, the eldest of four children and only son of Joseph Davies, a coalminer, and Edith Anne (née Moss), his wife. Despite the family's disadvantaged circumstances, ...

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Foote, George William (1850–1915), radical journalist and secularist, was born at 2 How Street Cottages, Plymouth, on 11 January 1850, the son of William Thomas Foot, customs officer, who died when he was about four. He was brought up an Anglican by his mother, ...

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Fox, Henry Edward, fourth Baron Holland of Holland and fourth Baron Holland of Foxley (1802–1859), diarist and diplomatist, was born on 7 March 1802 at Holland House, Kensington. He was the only surviving legitimate son of Henry Richard Fox, third Baron Holland (1773–1840)...

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(George) Julian Harney (1817–1897) by unknown engraver, pubd 1894 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Harney, (George) Julian (1817–1897), Chartist and journalist, was born on 17 February 1817 at Deptford, Kent, the son of George Harney, sailor, and his wife. Brought up in poverty, he was educated at dame-schools and by his own reading. In 1828 he entered the ...

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John Charles Hatch, Baron Hatch of Lusby (1917–1992) by unknown photographer © News International Newspapers Ltd