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Douglas Noël Adams (1952–2001) by Brian Griffin, 1986 © Brian Griffin; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Adams, Douglas Noël (1952–2001), writer, was born on 11 March 1952 at the maternity hospital in Cambridge, the son of Christopher Douglas Adams (d. 1985) and his wife, Janet Dora Sydney, née Donovan.

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Aikenhead, Thomas (bap. 1676, d. 1697), freethinker and blasphemer, was baptized on 28 March 1676, the son of James Aikenhead (d. in or before 1683), apothecary and burgess of Edinburgh, and his wife, Helen (d. 1685), daughter of Thomas Ramsey, former minister of ...

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Dave Allen (1936–2005) by Trevor Leighton, 1999 Camera Press, London

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Allen, Dave [real name David Edward John Archer Cullen Tynan-O'Mahony] (1936–2005), comedian, was born on 6 July 1936 at Merrion House, Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin, the youngest of three sons of (Gerard John) Cullen Tynan-O'Mahony (b. 1900), journalist and managing editor of the ...

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Allen, James John [Jim] (1926–1999), playwright and scriptwriter, was born on 7 October 1926 at 31 Higher Duke Street, Miles Platting, Manchester, the second child of John (Jack) Allen, a railway labourer, and his wife, Catherine (Kitty) Lee. The family was of Irish descent. After attending local Roman Catholic schools, ...

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Anderson, William Crawford (1877–1919), politician, was born on 13 February 1877 at Findon, Banffshire, Scotland, the son of Francis Anderson, a blacksmith, and Barbara (née Cruikshank), who were married in 1868. His mother was an intelligent and widely read woman of strong, radical, Presbyterian views who encouraged ...

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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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Aveling, Edward Bibbens (1849–1898), Marxist campaigner, was born on 29 November 1849 at 6 Nelson Terrace, Stoke Newington, the fifth of eight children of Thomas William Baxter Aveling (1815–1884), Congregationalist minister, and his wife, Mary Ann (d. 1877), daughter of Thomas Goodall...

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Maker: John Cochran

Joseph Barker (1806–1875) by John Cochran, pubd 1880 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Barker, Joseph (1806–1875), Methodist minister and politico-religious controversialist, was born on 11 May 1806 at Bramley, near Leeds. His ancestors, originally of Keighley, had been settled in this area for several generations as farmers and manufacturers. The identity of his parents has not been discovered, though it is known that his father was employed in woollen manufacture and served for some time in the militia, and that ...

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Bax, Ernest Belfort (1854–1926), Marxist theoretician and activist, was born at his parents' home, 27 Clarendon Square, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, on 23 July 1854, the last of four children of Daniel Bax (d. 1882), a manufacturer, and his wife, Eleanor, daughter of ...

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Antonin Besse (1877–1951) by unknown photographer courtesy of St Antony's College, Oxford

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Besse, Antonin (1877–1951), entrepreneur and benefactor, was born on 26 June 1877 at Carcassonne in southern France, the third son and fourth child in the family of four boys and three girls of Pierre Besse, leather merchant, and his wife, Marie Bonnafous. In failing health ...

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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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Billington, William (1825–1884), poet, was born at Samlesbury in the Ribble valley, Lancashire, on 3 April 1825, when his unemployed hand-loom weaver parents, Benedict and Ann, née Bolton, were working as road navvies. He was baptized at St Mary's Roman Catholic Church in ...

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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