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Ackland, Rodney (1908–1991), playwright, was born Norman Ackland Bernstein on 18 May 1908, at 5 Palmeira Gardens, Southend, Essex, the only son of Nathan Bernstein, a Jewish mantle manufacturer originally from Warsaw, and his wife, Emily Diana Lock (c.1874–1959), a former musical comedy artiste specializing in pantomime boys under the stage name ...

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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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Adams [née Campin], Mary Grace Agnes (1898–1984), television producer and programme director, was born on 10 March 1898 at Well House Farm, Hermitage, Berkshire, the elder of two daughters (her sister died aged three) and second of four children of Edward Bloxham Campin...

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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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Sir Lawrence Airey (1926–2001) by unknown photographer, 1979 Crown copyright reserved; private collection

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Airey, Sir Lawrence (1926–2001), civil servant, was born on 10 March 1926 at 44 Collingwood Road, Haverton Hill, Billingham, co. Durham, the only child of Lawrence Clark Airey (1897–1929), a metallurgist at a steelworks, and Isabella Marshall Pearson (1890–1967), who was before her marriage a bookkeeper. His father died when he was three years old, and he was brought up by his mother, who ran a boarding-house, and encouraged his education. He attended the ...

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Aldington, Edward Godfree [Richard] (1892–1962), writer, was born on 8 July 1892 at 50 High Street, Portsmouth, the eldest among the two sons and two daughters of Albert Edward Aldington (1864–1921), bookseller and stationer, and later solicitor's clerk and amateur author, and Jessie May Godfree (1872–1954)...

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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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Ambler, Eric Clifford (1909–1998), writer, was born on 28 June 1909 at Wellington Road, Charlton, south-east London, the eldest child in the family of two sons and one daughter of Alfred Percy Ambler (1882–1929), an advertising executive and part-time entertainer whose family had moved to ...

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John Anderson (1893–1962) by Sir William Dobell, 1962 © DACS 2010; University of Sydney Art Collection, John Anderson Testimonial Fund, 1962. Reproduced courtesy of Sir William Dobell Art Foundation

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Anderson, John (1893–1962), philosopher and social critic, was born in Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, 30 miles south-west of Glasgow, on 1 November 1893, the third of the five children of a radical schoolmaster, Alexander Anderson (1863–1947), and his wife, Elizabeth Brown (d. 1942), teacher, pianist, and poet....

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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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Aston, Trevor Henry (1925–1985), historian and editor, was born at 24 Gowan Avenue, Fulham, London, on 14 June 1925, the first child of Oliver John Aston (1899–1969), an ironmonger's assistant, and his wife, Florence May Woods (1900–1986). Soon after the birth of Trevor's...