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Edward Alleyn (1566–1626) by unknown artist by permission of the Trustees of Dulwich Picture Gallery

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Alleyn, Edward (1566–1626), actor, theatre entrepreneur, and founder of Dulwich College, was born on 1 September 1566 in the London parish of St Botolph without Bishopsgate, 'near Devonshire House, where now is the sign of the Pye'. He was baptized the following day in the parish church, the son of ...

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Bartlett, Abraham Dee (1812–1897), taxidermist and zoo superintendent, was born in London on 27 October 1812, second son of John Bartlett, hairdresser and brush maker, and Jane Dunster. As a boy he was allowed to play in the beast room of the Royal Menagerie, Exeter 'Change, London...

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Brown, Henry [known as Henry Box Brown] (d. 1897), slavery abolitionist and magician, was born a slave on a plantation in Louisa county, about forty-five miles from Richmond, Virginia, USA, about 1815. His first master was relatively kind but when he died ...

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Buxton, Aubrey Leland Oakes, Baron Buxton of Alsa (1918–2009), television executive and conservationist, was born at 153 Banbury Road, Oxford, on 15 July 1918, the younger son and third of four children of Leland William Wilberforce Buxton (1884–1967), army officer and farmer, and his wife, ...

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Castle, Roy (1932–1994), entertainer and charity campaigner, was born on 31 August 1932 in Holme Valley Memorial Hospital, Holmfirth, West Riding of Yorkshire, the only child of Hubert Castle, an insurance agent, and his wife, Eliza Alice Swallow, a mill worker. His childhood was spent in ...

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Hilton, John (1880–1943), social scientist and broadcaster, was born at 14 Rumworth Street, Bolton, Lancashire, on 28 December 1880, the first son and the last of seven children of John Hilton (b. 1841) and his wife, Mary, née Bowden. He avoided much of the poverty that the rest of his family had had to endure. His father had risen steadily from spindle polisher to become ...

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(Michael) Derek Elworthy Jarman (1942–1994) by David Thompson, 1992 © David Thompson; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Jarman, (Michael) Derek Elworthy (1942–1994), film-maker, painter, and campaigner for homosexual rights, was born on 31 January 1942 at the Victoria Nursing Home, Pinner Hill, Middlesex, the elder child of Wing Commander Lancelot Elworthy Jarman (1907–1986), RAF officer, and his wife, Elizabeth Evelyn (Betts; 1918–1978)...

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Magnus Magnusson (1929–2007) by unknown photographer, 1987 © BBC

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Magnusson, Magnus (1929–2007), Icelandic scholar, broadcaster, and environmentalist, was born on 12 October 1929 in Reykjavik, Iceland, the son of Sigursteinn Magnússon (1899–1982), European export manager of the Icelandic Co-operative, and later Icelandic consul-general for Scotland, and his wife, Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir (1905–1983). The second youngest of four children, he had a brother, ...

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John Adetayo Otolorin (c. 1886–1963) by unknown photographer, 1950s collection of Val Wilmer

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Otolorin, John Adetayo (c. 1886–1963), landlord, theatrical agent, and community leader, was born in Ilesha, Nigeria. His parents were Yoruba. He left Nigeria in 1919 as a seaman, came to Britain, and settled in Cardiff, where he worked as a motor mechanic and labourer while going to sea intermittently. He formed a relationship with a woman named ...

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Rix, Brian Norman Roger, Baron Rix (1924–2016), actor-manager and disability campaigner, was born at Gairloch, Hull Road, Cottingham, Yorkshire, on 27 January 1924, the fourth and last child and younger son of Herbert Dobson Rix (1885–1966), a prosperous shipowner, and his wife, ...

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Silvey, Robert John Everett (1905–1981), developer of broadcasting audience research, was born on 19 June 1905 at 38 Hammelton Road, Bromley, Kent, the son of Robert Silvey (1865–1915), Baptist minister, and his wife, Maud Caroline Everett (1874–1924). He completed his education at Taunton School...

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Tomlinson, (Philip) Richard Henry (1943–2006), teacher and theatre director, was born on 10 August 1943 at 32 Mansion House Road, Glasgow, the only son (there were two daughters) of David Alan Tomlinson, chartered accountant and teacher, and his wife, Dorothy Maria, née Owston...

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Travers, William Inglis Lindon [Bill] (1922–1994), actor and conservationist, was born on 3 January 1922 at 16 Grosvenor Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, the son of William Halton Lindon Travers, an actor and theatre manager, and his wife, Florence Wheatley. His older sister was the actress ...