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Appulby, Simon [Symon the Anker of London Wall] (d. 1537), religious recluse and author, was the last anchorite to be attached to the church of All Hallows, London Wall. An ordained priest, Simon made his anchoritic profession at the nearby priory of the ...

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Arthur (supp. fl. in or before 6th cent.), legendary warrior and supposed king of Britain, has an attested career that is entirely posthumous. From obscure beginnings in British legend, he became internationally known in the twelfth century, particularly through the success of Geoffrey of Monmouth's...

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Ashford [married name Devlin], Margaret Mary Julia [Daisy] (1881–1972), child writer, was born on 7 April 1881 at Elm Lodge, Petersham, Surrey, the eldest of the three daughters of William Henry Roxburghe Ashford (1836–1912), a former official of the War Office, and his wife, ...

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Margaret Mary Julia Ashford (1881–1972) by unknown photographer, c. 1890 Getty Images

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See Palairet, Sir (Charles) Michael

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Balthere [St Balthere, Baldred, Balther] (d. 756), hermit, is often confused with an earlier saint of the same name. The later and better-known Balthere was described by his near contemporary Alcuin, in his poem on the bishops, kings, and saints of York. The so-called ...

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James Barry (c. 1799–1865) by unknown photographer, c. 1860 [left, with a servant] Trustees of the Army Medical Services Museum

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Barry, James (c. 1799–1865), army medical officer and transvestite, was probably born Margaret, the youngest daughter of Mrs Mary Ann Bulkley or Bulkeley, the sister of the artist James Barry; her paternity is in doubt. From the age of ten she dressed and presented herself as a man, but the woman who laid out her corpse declared that she was female: '...

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Barry, Thomas Bernardine (1897–1980), Irish revolutionary and folk hero, was born on 1 July 1897 in Killorglin, co. Kerry, the eldest son and second of eleven children of Thomas Barry, a policeman, and his wife, Margaret Donovan, both of co. Cork. After Tom...

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Bartholomew of Farne [St Bartholomew of Farne] (d. 1193), hermit, stands second in reputation only to Godric of Finchale among the hermits of northern England in the twelfth century. Just as Godric's fame depends on the life written by Reginald, a monk of ...

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Bertorelli, Joe [Giuseppe Domenico] (1893–1994), restaurateur, was born on 10 June 1893 at Bergazzi di Bardi, Piacenza, Liguria, Italy, the youngest of the four sons of Lazzaro and Marianna Bertorelli. By the time of his birth his father and three elder brothers were already living and working in ...

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Billfrith [St Billfrith] (d. 750x800?), anchorite, is mentioned in the Old English colophon which the scribe Aldred added to the Lindisfarne gospels (BL, Cotton MS Nero D.iv) at some time between 950 and about 970, when they were at Chester-le-Street. After naming ...

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See Blount, Martha

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Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840–1922) by Elliott & Fry © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen (1840–1922), hedonist, poet, and breeder of Arab horses, was born at Petworth House, Sussex, on 17 August 1840, the second son of the three children of Francis Scawen Blunt (1790–1842) of Crabbet Park, Poundhill, and Newbuildings Place, Southwater, Sussex, and his wife, ...

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Borstale, Thomas (supp. fl. 1290), supposed Augustinian hermit, is said by Bale to have come from Norfolk and to have studied in England, and taught theology at the University of Paris c.1290. Bale adds that Borstale died at the Augustinian convent in ...

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Boruwlaski, Joseph [formerly Józef Boruslawski], styled Count Boruwlaski (1739–1837), travelling performer and memoirist, was born in November 1739 near Halicz, Galicia, Poland, the third son of a lower gentry family. The principal source for his life is his own memoirs, published in several editions between 1788 and 1820. When he was nine his father died, leaving a widow with five sons and one daughter. Three sons were very tall, but three children suffered from achondroplasia, an inherited condition in which the cartilage in the bones fails to grow. ...

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Briouze, Loretta de, countess of Leicester (d. in or after 1266), noblewoman and recluse, was one of the children of William (III) de Briouze (d. 1211) and Matilda de St Valéry (d. 1210). Her father was a great man in the Anglo-Welsh marches, and four of her five sisters who survived into adulthood married Welsh or marcher lords; notably ...

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Sonia Mary Brownell [Sonia Orwell] (1918–1980) by unknown photographer, 1949 [left, at the offices of Horizon] UCL, MSSRB, Orwell Archive 3B18

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Brownell [married names Blair, Pitt-Rivers], Sonia Mary [known as Sonia Orwell] (1918–1980), literary editor, writer, and friend of artists and intellectuals, was born Sonia Mary Brownell on 25 August 1918 at Mesra Thaua, Ranchi, Bihar, India, the younger daughter of ...