What’s New: April 2024

April 9, 2024

Welcome to the 109th update of the Oxford DNB, which adds biographies of 276 individuals who died in the year 2020: 264 with their own entries and twelve added to existing entries as 'co-subjects'. It also adds the lives of two co-subjects who died before 2020, as part of one of the new entries. Of the new entrants who died in 2020, the earliest born is the allergist Alfred William (Bill) Frankland (1912–2020) and the latest born is the charity founder Jonathan Crown (1964–2020). Frankland is one of eight centenarians included in this update, and Crown one of fifty-one new subjects born after the Second World War. A further forty-two new subjects were born during the war. The majority (183, or around two-thirds) were born in the 1920s and 1930s. Eighty-one of the new subjects who died in 2020 (or around 30% of the cohort) are women. Sixty-two of the new articles include portrait images.

From April 2024, the Oxford DNB offers biographies of 65,230 men and women who have shaped the British past, contained in 62,961 articles. 12,187 biographies include a portrait image of the subject—researched in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Explore the full list of the new biographies.

Many public libraries across the UK subscribe to the Oxford DNB, which means you can access the complete dictionary for free via your local library. Libraries offer 'remote access' that enables you to log in at any time at home (or anywhere you have internet access). Elsewhere the Oxford DNB is available online in schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions worldwide. Full details of participating British public libraries, and how to gain access to the complete dictionary, are available.

2020 was the year in which Covid-19 first spread around the world. In the UK, sadly, it led to a 15% increase in mortality, which is reflected in our coverage being about 15% higher than in previous years. Covid was a known cause of death of at least twenty-nine of our new subjects – including Bill Frankland, who was one of the earliest victims at the age of 107.

Read more about the lives of individuals in the following sectors.

Politics and campaigning
Community and faith
Crime and the law
The service of the state
Business lives
Literary lives
Lives in the media
Stage and screen
Musical lives
Design, art, and architecture
Medicine and health
Science, mathematics and engineering
Scholars and teachers
Sporting greats

Politics and campaigning

John Hume (1937–2020) won the Nobel peace prize in 1998 (jointly with David Trimble) for his contributions to the peace process in Northern Ireland. A pioneer of the credit union movement and then a founder member of the SDLP and its leader from 1979 to 2001, he represented his party in the Northern Ireland Parliament, the European Parliament, the UK Parliament, and the Northern Ireland Assembly. He showed great personal courage in confronting extremism and in trying to find a peaceful solution to Northern Ireland’s problems. He is joined in this update by his long-time deputy, Seamus Mallon (1936–2020), a teacher and headmaster who became involved in the civil rights movement and eventually became the first deputy first minister of Northern Ireland from 1998 to 2001, serving alongside Trimble. Betty Williams (1943–2020) also won the Nobel peace prize, in 1976 (jointly with Mairead Corrigan) for her role in founding Women for Peace, which called for an end to the violence in Northern Ireland. She was later a founder of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. 

From the mainland, this update includes a clutch of politicians from each of the main parties. James Ramsden (1923–2020) was a Conservative politician who was MP for Harrogate from 1954 to 1974 and has the distinction of being the last secretary of state for war (in 1963-4). Timothy (Tim) Renton, Baron Renton of Mount Harry (1932–2020), was Conservative MP for Mid-Sussex from 1974 to 1997, a junior minister and then chief whip under Margaret Thatcher (playing a key and controversial role in her downfall), and then minister for the arts under John Major (where he initiated the National Lottery). Tristan Garel-Jones, Baron Garel-Jones (1941–2020), Conservative MP for Watford from 1979 to 1997, also served in the whips’ office under Thatcher for seven years, where he gained a reputation for Machiavellianism. A prominent Europhile, he was a central figure in the ‘Catherine Place conspiracy’ which supposedly played a role in her political demise.

Robert (Bob) Maclennan, Baron Maclennan of Rogart (1926–2020), was MP for Caithness and Sutherland (then Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) from 1966 to 1981. He initially sat as a Labour MP, but defected to the SDP in 1981, becoming its third and final leader in 1987-8 before its merger with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Democrats, of which he served as joint leader (with David Steel) for another four months. Diana Maddock, Baroness Maddock (1945–2020), shot to national prominence when she won the Christchurch by-election for the Liberal Democrats in 1993. Her major achievement in parliament was the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995. After losing her seat in 1997 she was a frontbench spokesperson in the Lords, and also an active local politician in Northumberland (following her marriage to fellow MP Alan Beith).

From the Labour benches, Maria Fyfe (1938–2020), MP for Glasgow Maryhill from 1987 to 2001, was a passionate advocate for women’s rights and for progressive causes worldwide; among her important achievements (having been the only woman among fifty Scottish Labour MPs elected in 1987) was to ensure that women comprised half the Labour candidates in the 1999 Scottish Parliament elections. From an earlier generation, Alun Gwynne Jones, Baron Chalfont (1919–2020), was a former army officer and a respected defence journalist when in 1964 Harold Wilson elevated him to the House of Lords, where he served for six years as a minister of state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He wrote several books on military history and strategy, was a champion of the Welsh language and culture, and filled several public service roles. Thomas Edward (Ted) Graham, Baron Graham of Edmonton (1925–2020) was a leading figure in the Co-operative Movement and Labour and Co-operative MP for Edmonton from 1974 to 1983, serving as a government whip under James Callaghan. Made a peer on losing his seat, he was Labour’s chief whip in the House of Lords from 1990 to 1997. Joe Ashton (1933–2020) was the long-serving Labour MP for Bassetlaw from 1968 to 2001 and a highly successful newspaper columnist named ‘columnist of the year’ in 1984. A column in 1974 alleging that MPs were available ‘for hire’ led to the establishment of a compulsory register of MPs’ financial interests. 

Ted Knight (1933–2020) was never an MP but he was one of the most widely recognised Labour politicians of the 1970s and 1980s as the left-wing (and self-proclaimed Marxist) leader of Lambeth Council from 1978 until he was disqualified in 1986 as a result of the rate-capping rebellion. Out of favour with successive Labour leaders, his political career enjoyed an Indian summer under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Even further to the left was Stuart Christie (1946–2020), a Scottish anarchist who became something of a cause célèbre in 1964 when he was arrested in Spain while carrying explosives with which to assassinate General Franco. Released after four years, back in the UK he was a leading figure in the anarchist movement as an author, editor, and publisher. He entitled his memoir My Granny Made Me an Anarchist (2002).

Community and faith

A former teacher, Saroj Lal (1937–2020) was a leading figure in the South Asian community and in race relations in Scotland, notably as director of Lothian Community Relations Council, and the first female South Asian JP in Scotland. A driving force behind the Edinburgh Hindu Mandir, she was also involved in many interfaith initiatives. Also from the Punjab (though from a Muslim family), Muhammad Anwar (1945–2020) was a sociologist and race relations expert who studied ethnic minority participation in the political system, including as head of research at the Commission for Racial Equality and then as a professor at the University of Warwick, where he was head of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations. Fuad Nahdi (1957–2020) was a British Muslim journalist and activist (born in Tanzania of Yemeni and Indonesian descent) who founded two humorous publications, MuslimWise and Q-News (the former modelled on Private Eye), and in the wake of the 9/11 bombings founded Radical Middle Way to combat both Islamic extremism and Islamophobia. He was the first Muslim to address the general synod of the Church of England.

Trinidad-born Dame Jocelyn Barrow (1929–2020) was another leader in community relations in the UK. Originally a teacher, she was closely involved in the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination in the 1960s and one of the first members of the Community Relations Council. She founded many organisations, conducted many notable reports, and was the first black female governor of the BBC, in 1981. Paulette Wilson (1956–2020), from Trinidad, moved to England to live with her grandparents at the age of twelve. Having worked all her life and never travelled abroad, she became the human face of the Windrush scandal when in 2017 she was detained and held at a removal centre at Heathrow pending deportation to Jamaica; the subsequent outcry led to the resignation of the Home Secretary (Amber Rudd), and a prolonged campaign for justice.

Jonathan Sacks, Baron Sacks (1948–2020), chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013, was not only the leading figure in orthodox Judaism in the UK of his generation, but also had an impact more widely, particularly through his appearances on Radio 4, his columns in The Times, and his authorship of more than forty books. He frequently courted controversy with fellow Orthodox rabbis through his ecumenism, and at one point had to withdraw a book following a decree by a leading Jerusalem-based Orthodox rabbi.

James Innell Packer (known as J.I. Packer) (1926–2020) was one of the most significant theologians on the low-church, evangelical wing of the Church of England, best known for his book Knowing God (1973) and as general editor of the English Standard Version of the Bible. Much of his later career was spent in Canada, where he was involved in the breakaway, socially conservative Anglican Church in North America. Stuart King (1922–2020) was a former RAF pilot who was co-founder of the Mission Aviation Fellowship, which grew to become one of the largest missionary organisations, ministering to remote communities and providing disaster relief. By contrast Barbara Smoker (1923–2020) was passionate in her belief in the absence of a God, and was a noted humanist campaigner, president of National Secular Society for twenty-four years, and a prominent figure in the South Place Ethical Society and the British Humanist Association.

Crime and the law

Brian Hutton, Baron Hutton (1931–2020) was lord chief justice of Northern Ireland from 1989 to 1997 before becoming a lord of appeal in ordinary (or ‘law lord’) until 2004. Earlier in his career he had prosecuted Bernadette Devlin for incitement to violence and represented the Ministry of Defence at the inquests into the deaths on Bloody Sunday in 1972, but he was perhaps best known for his report into the death of Dr David Kelly, which many regarded as a whitewash (but which he defended in terms of the scope of the inquiry). One of Hutton’s successors as lord chief justice of Northern Ireland (from 2004 to 2009), Brian Kerr, Baron Kerr of Tonaghmore (1948–2020), was the last person appointed to be a law lord, in 2009, and continued as a Supreme Court justice until shortly before his death.

They are joined in this release by a trio of senior and influential judges. Sir John Laws (1945–2020) was a lord justice of appeal from 1999 to 2016 who was one of the leading authorities on public and constitutional law in the UK, albeit controversial for the extent to which he envisaged a ‘higher-order law’ and a separation of powers. Sir Andrew Leggatt (1930–2020) was also a lord justice of appeal (from 1990 to 1997), notable for some important judgements, having as a barrister achieved prominence in trials concerning the James Bond franchise. Later he was the first surveillance commissioner and author of a notable report which led to an overhaul of the UK’s tribunal system. Sir Roy Beldam (1925–2020) was chairman of the Law Commission from 1985 to 1989 which led to many important reforms before becoming a lord justice of appeal from 1989 to 2000. In 1997 he made the national news when he calmly talked down a woman who had entered his court and threatened him and a fellow judge with a gun.

This update also includes three prominent barristers. Leonard Woodley (1927–2020), from Trinidad, was a criminal barrister who specialized in civil liberties and was involved in many landmark cases, including those of the ‘Mangrove nine’ in 1970 and the ‘Newham eight’ in 1983. In 1988 he was the first barrister of Afro-Caribbean ancestry to become a QC. Also from Trinidad, Lincoln Crawford (1944–2020) worked his way through night school to become a barrister, acting as junior counsel to Lord Scarman’s inquiry into the Brixton riots, and conducting many public enquiries. He was an important advocate for equality of access within the legal profession, and also a campaigner for prison reform. Anthony Lester, Baron Lester of Herne Hill (1936–2020), was one of the most notable progressive barristers of his generation; also specialising in civil liberties cases, he was a member of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination, a key influence on the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and Race Relations Act 1976, and later one of the most prominent advocates of a human rights act. From 1993 he was a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords.

Born in Doncaster, Julian Farrand (1935–2020) qualified as a solicitor but spent most of his career as a legal scholar and teacher (including twenty years as a professor at Manchester); he became a leading authority on property law, noted for injecting humour into the driest of subjects. He was a member of the Law Commission; also the insurance then pensions ombudsman; and husband of Brenda Hale, Baroness Hale of Richmond. Ann Mitchell (1922–2020) was a mathematician and Bletchley Park codebreaker who, on her marriage in 1948, moved to Scotland. There, after training with the Marriage Guidance Council, she became a social policy analyst, particularly concerned with the experiences of children of divorcing parents, a scholar of Scottish family law, and a researcher and author on Edinburgh history, with books on the inhabitants of Calton Hill and the Moray Feu.

Roger Hood (1936–2020) was a leading figure in criminology, beginning with his first book, Sentencing in Magistrates’ Courts (1962). He co-authored Key Issues in Criminology (1970) and the fifth and final volume of Leon Radzinowicz’s History of English Criminal Law and Its Administration (1986), and authored The Death Penalty: a World-Wide Perspective (1989). He was an active campaigner against the death penalty, and also a regular prison visitor in Oxford. Born in Seaforth and brought up in Liverpool, Donald West (1924–2020) had a varied career as a parapsychologist (dismissed by the Society for Psychical Research for his scepticism), psychiatrist, criminologist, and cautious campaigner for gay rights; his book, Homosexuality (1955), written at a time when male homosexuality was still illegal, offered a somewhat apologetic account of the ‘problem’, which infuriated later activists, though at the time it was daring. His later memoir, Gay Life, Straight Work (2012), was a much more candid account of his life as a ‘sexual outlaw’. Born in Nottingham, Leonard (Nipper) Read (1925–2020) left school and worked in a cigarette factory before serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Too short to join the Nottingham City Police he instead joined the Metropolitan Police where he became a renowned and high-profile detective, who brought the Kray twins to justice. He was later a boxing administrator, and chairman of the British Boxing Board of Control. Also included in this update is the serial killer Peter Sutcliffe (1946–2020), the hunt for whom exposed serious failings in the police investigation and led to a new police computer system linking different databases.

The service of the state

Robert Armstrong, Baron Armstrong of Ilminster (1927–2020) was the quintessential ‘Sir Humphrey’ of his day and one of the outstanding civil servants of his generation. Ferociously intelligent, he was principal private secretary to two prime ministers, Edward Heath and Harold Wilson, permanent secretary of the Home Office, and cabinet secretary from 1979 to 1987 under Margaret Thatcher. Popularly he was best known for his admission in the Spycatcher Trial in 1986 that he had been ‘economical with the truth’ regarding the government’s knowledge of the book; in that instance he was paraphrasing Burke, and with typical good humour he entitled his inaugural address as chancellor of the University of Hull ‘On Being Economical with the Truth’, quoting an eighteenth-century Somerset parson, who wrote that ‘He that followeth Truth too closely may happen to get a kick in the chops’.

Patrick Richard Henry Wright, Baron Wright of Richmond (1931–2020), was a career diplomat who served as private secretary to Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, then ambassador to Luxembourg, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, before becoming head of the diplomatic service from 1986 to 1991. He later published his edited diaries from these years, portraying at first hand the increasing policy and personality clashes between Margaret Thatcher and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He is joined in this update by two fellow diplomats. The son of a farm worker, Sir Leonard (Len) Appleyard (1938–2020) joined the Foreign Office in 1962. Amidst an inevitably varied series of postings – while ambassador to Hungary in the twilight years of the Cold War he learned sufficient Hungarian to commentate on football matches for Hungarian radio – he had a particular connection with China, where he first served at the height of the Cultural Revolution, and where he was ambassador from 1994 to 1997, including the run-up to the return of Hong Kong. Sir Brian Crowe (1938–2020) came from a very different background: his grandfather was head of the diplomatic service, and his father was also a diplomat. There appears to have been little hesitation over his own career choice. In the 1970s and 1980s he held important posts working on EEC matters, and after an ambassadorship to Austria he spent eight years as director-general of external affairs of the European Union.

From the armed forces, Sir Anthony Pigott (1944–2020), born in India, the son of an army dental surgeon, was an army officer who rose to become a lieutenant-general and deputy chief of the defence staff from 2000 to 2004, a period covering the UK support of US interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq; in the Chilcot inquiry he justified ‘boots on the ground’ as important for US-UK relations. Sir John Brigstocke (1945–2020) joined the Royal Navy in 1962. He rose to command HMS Ark Royal and become an admiral and second sea lord. Retiring at fifty-five, he took on a second career as a public servant, notably in healthcare and the NHS, and as the first judicial appointments and conduct ombudsman. Born in Canada, Sir David Evans (1924–2020) joined the RAF in 1944 and flew fighter ground-attack missions over north-west Europe; he was one of the first officers to enter Belsen concentration camp. Remaining in the RAF, he became an air chief marshal and vice-chief of the defence staff. He was later Bath king of arms. Sir Michael Beavis (1929–2020) joined the RAF in 1947. In 1961, flying a Vulcan which was refuelled in mid-air, he set a record for the fastest non-stop flight from the UK to Australia, in twenty hours. He also rose to become an air chief marshal, and was deputy commander-in-chief of Allied Forces Central Europe.

Also included in this release is Clive Ponting (1946–2020), the Ministry of Defence official who leaked documents to Tam Dalyell which contradicted official accounts of the sinking of the General Belgrano in the Falklands War: charged under the Official Secrets Act, he was sensationally acquitted by a jury. He later wrote history books, including revisionist accounts of the Second World War and of Churchill, and A New Green History of the World (1991). George Blake (1922–2020) took his opposition to government policy much further. After serving in the Royal Navy and naval intelligence he worked for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), whose operations he betrayed to the Russians. Identified by a double agent, he was arrested and sentenced to forty-two years in prison (one for each of the agents he was known to have betrayed); but after only five he was sprung from prison and escaped to Moscow, where he lived for another fifty-four years.

Business lives

Francis Tombs, Baron Tombs (1924–2020), was born in Walsall, the son of a gardener; he turned down a place at grammar school because his family could not afford the uniform. He joined GEC as an office boy at fifteen, was encouraged to qualify as an engineer, and ended as chairman of the South of Scotland Electricity Board, the Electricity Council, and Rolls Royce. In the House of Lords he sat on the crossbenches, and was a critical voice on successive governments’ policies on industry and energy. By contrast the merchant banker John Baring, seventh Baron Ashburton (1928–2020), was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford, before joining the family banking firm of Baring’s. He became a partner in 1955 and chairman in 1974, stepping down in 1989 and leaving the bank in a healthy place (six years before Nick Leeson’s unchecked speculation brought about the bank’s collapse). He was subsequently chairman of BP and a director of many other firms.

Sir David Barnes (1936–2020) – born in Nyasaland (Malawi), the son of a colonial official – joined ICI as a laboratory assistant and rose up the management ladder on the pharmaceuticals side of the business. When this was demerged in 1993 he became chief executive of the resultant business, Zeneca, which he led into the merger with the Swedish company Astra to form AstraZeneca. He retired in 2001 but came out of retirement to help fight off a hostile takeover by Pfizer. Sir David Prosser (1944–2020) studied pure mathematics at Aberystwyth and worked for the pensions arm of the National Coal Board before joining the insurance group Legal & General; he became chief executive of the firm (then facing huge losses on mortgage indemnity policies) in 1991 and turned it around, in the process becoming one of the most admired leaders in the financial services industry. 

David Coleridge (1932–2020) was a Lloyd’s underwriter – of whom one friend said ‘he conceals his ability behind a tired teddy bear outlook’ – who became chairman of Lloyd’s for a tumultuous two years in the early 1990s, which saw increasing losses and the unfolding ‘names scandal’. Coleridge had to endure much personal acrimony from those who lost out, and was persuaded to make way for a new broom in the form of Sir David Rowland, though he was later acknowledged for having kept the ship afloat. He was known for his kindness, good humour (tested at times), and lack of vanity.

This update includes two prominent property developers, Tony Pidgley (1947–2020) and William Stern (1935–2020). Pidgley – who was adopted by Travellers – made his first profit at the age of ten when he bought a sow and sold the piglets. Moving into haulage and then housebuilding, he created the Berkeley Group; with an uncanny ability to anticipate financial downturns, he built a personal fortune estimated at £295 million by the Sunday Times in 2019. By contrast Stern – an Orthodox Jew who was born in Hungary, had fled the Nazis, and lived in the US until 1960 – failed to survive the property crash of 1973-4, and in 1978 became famous as Britain’s (then) biggest bankrupt, with £118 million of debt. His later attempts at re-building his career were largely unsuccessful, and in 1994 he was handed a twelve-year ban from company directorships.

Sandy Grant Gordon (1931–2020) was a scion of the William Grant & Sons whisky dynasty, and a great-grandson on both paternal and maternal sides of the founder, William Grant. He was credited with starting the single malt revolution with Glenfiddich in 1963, and later ‘whisky tourism’. A generous philanthropist, particularly to bagpiping, he was also a keen ornithologist and a great lover of the Scottish countryside (and bagged all the Munros). Richard Lines (1929–2020) also joined the family business – in his case the toymakers Lines Brothers. He oversaw the launch of plastic Tri-ang trains, the takeover of Meccano, and the introduction of the Sindy doll, Britain’s answer to Barbie. Increased competition led to the collapse of the business in the early 1970s; Lines continued to work for Hornby, the model railways successor company. A railway enthusiast himself, he had an extensive model railway layout at his home. Born in Switzerland, Victor Wild (1923–2020) was sent at the age of thirteen to live with his uncle Frederick Belmont (formerly Fritz Bützer), who had opened Bettys tea-rooms in Harrogate in 1919. He inherited the business, which then comprised four tea-rooms, in 1952, and oversaw a massive expansion of the firm, which came to encompass Yorkshire Tea (launched in 1977) and coffee sold under the Taylors of Harrogate name. A keen amateur artist, he designed the menus for Bettys tea-rooms and the packaging for Yorkshire Tea.

Stuart Wheeler (1935–2020), educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, was a spread-betting mogul (the founder in 1974 of IG Index). An obsessive gambler, in his early years he played bridge with Ian Fleming, Lord Lucan, and Omar Sharif. He came to public notice as a large-scale donor first to the Conservative Party and then to UKIP. He was a treasurer and one of the major funders of the Vote Leave campaign in 2015-16. Nigel Smith (1941–2020), from Girvan, was a successful businessman who ran an engineering company in Springburn, Glasgow, who played an important role behind the scenes in Scottish public life as a devolution campaigner (and chair of the ‘Scotland FORward’ organisation) and later an adviser to the ‘Better Together’ campaign (against independence). A Eurosceptic, he also advised the Vote Leave campaign.

Brought up in Moseley, Birmingham, Dame Rachel Waterhouse (1923–2020) was a historian who published many books on local Birmingham history including How Birmingham Became a Great City (1976). She achieved national prominence as an advocate for consumers, including as chair for eight years of the Consumers' Association (publishers of Which?). She had an influence on many reforms, including ending solicitors’ monopoly of conveyancing, protection for private investors, and the right to claim compensation for injury as a result of a faulty product. Nigel Lawson described her as ‘a most valuable corrective to the views of the serried ranks of the TUC and CBI’.

Literary lives

The author David Cornwell, better known as John Le Carré (1931–2020), was himself a ‘spy’ for six years (for MI5 for two, and MI6 for four), but resigned, having by then become a successful writer of spy novels, nine of them featuring his most enduring creation, spymaster George Smiley. His characters and plots were infinitely more complex than Ian Fleming’s, and often highlighted the lying, deceit, deception, and fraud which were at the heart not only of the spy’s profession but also his own life: his father was jailed for fraud, and he himself was a serial philanderer. His later works became more political, and his indignation at Brexit led him to take out Irish citizenship.

Althea Braithwaite (1940–2020), began her career as a children's author, illustrator, and publisher after taking over the management of a Cambridge printing firm and being inspired by the printing possibilities. She was best known for her Desmond the Dinosaur series but also wrote and illustrated a large amount of non-fiction for children, including ‘Talking It Through’, ‘Nature’, and ‘Saving Our Wildlife’ series. She was also an accomplished stained-glass artist. Jill Paton Walsh (1937–2020) turned to writing while bringing up her own children, and had a successful career as a children's author, best known for Hengest’s Tale (1966), based on Beowulf, and A Parcel of Patterns (1983), the true story of Derbyshire villagers isolating themselves during the plague of 1665. Later she had a second career as a novelist for adults, best known for Knowledge of Angels (1993).

Born in Blackburn, the daughter of a road sweeper and a mill worker, Josephine Cox (1938–2020), left school at fourteen to work in a belt factory. A natural story-teller, she turned to writing when her family were enduring straitened circumstances; her first book, Her Father’s Sins (1986) was a runaway success. She went on to write more than sixty family sagas, combining romance and tragedy. Her books sold more than 20 million copies and she was regularly among the most borrowed authors. The novelist, journalist, and essayist Anita Mason (1942–2020) worked in publishing and local journalism before turning to novel-writing with Bethany (1981), about a utopian commune in Cornwall. She was perhaps best known for The Illusionist (1983), about Simon Magus, and later The Right Hand of the Sun (2008), set during the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Charles Sprawson (1941–2020) worked as a classics teacher and an art dealer while pursuing his passion for outdoor swimming (emulating his hero Byron by swimming the Hellespont). He only wrote one book, but as the author of Haunts of the Black Masseur (1992) – its title taken from a Tennessee Williams story – he launched a whole new genre of writing as well as contributing to a surge in interest in wild swimming.

Jennie Erdal (1951–2020) was a Scottish novelist, editor, and translator, best known for Ghosting (2004), her acclaimed memoir which both recorded her childhood in a Fife mining village and revealed her long service as ghost-writer to the flamboyant publisher (and successful ‘author’) Naim Attallah. She was also a translator from Russian and German, and a novelist. The novelist and author Alanna Knight (1923–2020) worked as a secretary in Newcastle before moving to Scotland following her marriage in 1951. In total she wrote some sixty books, most as Alanna Knight but some as Margaret Hope, encompassing romantic and historical fiction, crime novels, mysteries, gothic suspense, and non-fiction (including several books on Robert Louis Stevenson). 

Born in Prestatyn, Flintshire, the novelist, dramatist, and writer Emyr Humphreys (1919–2020) was a lifelong Welsh nationalist whose writings, in both English and Welsh, explored Welsh history and the modern Welsh predicament. He was particularly acclaimed for ‘The Land of the Living’, a septet of novels exploring twentieth-century Welsh history. He also wrote short stories, poetry, and non-fiction.

Born in Belfast, with a father who worked in the shipyards and a mother who worked in a linen mill, Derek Mahon (1941–2020) was widely recognized as one of the most important poets of his generation, his work informed by, but transcending, the Troubles, whose sectarianism he rejected. Best known for ‘A Disused Shed in Co Wexford’ and ‘Everything is Going to be Alright’, he eventually settled in Ireland after a peripatetic life, and rejected British honours including an OBE and the Queen’s medal for poetry. His fellow poet Anne Stevenson (1933–2020), though born in Cambridge, spent her formative years in the United States, and her first book of poems, published in 1965 after she had moved back to the UK, was entitled Living in America. She went on to publish more than a dozen books of poetry and several of prose (including essays and literary criticism). She was perhaps most widely known for her biography of Sylvia Plath, Bitter Fame (1989).

Tom Maschler (1933–2020) was one of the leading publishers of his generation, and for more than twenty-five years literary director then chairman of Jonathan Cape. The first book he brought to the publisher was Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, and the authors he worked with included John Fowles, Salman Rushdie, Desmond Morris, and John Lennon. He was also founder (with his colleague Graham C. Greene) of the Booker prize, in 1969. Susan (Sue) Shaw (1933–2020) worked in publishing for Chatto & Windus, the Hogarth Press, and Faber & Faber before setting up her own imprint, Merrion Books, specializing in fine, limited-edition publications. Married to a typographical designer, she had a particular interest in typography, and from 1992 devoted her energies to the preservation of metal type and typefounding collections, leading to the founding of the Type Museum (subsequently the Type Archive). 

Felicity Bryan (1945–2020) began her career as a journalist working for the Financial Times and Economist before joining the literary agency Curtis Brown and then, in 1988, founding her own literary agency. The authors she worked with included Rosamunde Pilcher, John Julius Norwich, Penelope Hobhouse, and Mary Berry, and later Iain Pears, Diarmaid MacCulloch, Lucy Worsley, and Lindsey Hilsum. Wendy Cooling (1941–2020) was a teacher and ILEA resource officer who became head of the Children’s Book Foundation and founded Bookstart, a programme providing free book packs to parents of babies and young children. She was later involved in several other organisations promoting literacy and book-reading, and edited numerous anthologies of stories and poems.


Born in Eccles, into the ‘respectable working class’, Sir Harold Evans (1928–2020) left school at sixteen to join the Ashton-under-Lyne Weekly Reporter and rose to become one of the most celebrated journalists and newspaper editors of his generation, seeing the role of newspapers as campaigning as much as reporting. As editor of the Sunday Times (1967-81) his most successful campaign concerned the thalidomide scandal. He was briefly editor of The Times before being forced out by Rupert Murdoch and later pursued a highly successful career in the US alongside his wife Tina Brown. Audrey Slaughter (1929–2020) also left school at sixteen, to train as a shorthand typist. Working at Woman’s Weekly, she soon became fashion editor, and then, after submitting a proposal for a new magazine, became launch editor of Honey, which catered for new tastes in fashion and music. She replicated this success with Petticoat, aimed at teenagers, and then, independently, Over 21. With her husband, Charles Wintour (editor of the Evening Standard) she also launched Working Woman

From a very different background (Stowe, Peterhouse, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry), Sir Peregrine Worsthorne (1923–2020) spent most of his career at the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph (of which he was briefly editor, from 1986 to 1989). Independent-minded, often eccentric, but always opinionated, he was one of the most colourful voices of a pre-Thatcherite Conservatism. Also educated at Stowe but attracted to the Sixties counter-culture, Tony Elliott (1947–2020) originally named his innovative listings magazine Where It’s At before changing its name to Time Out. Despite competition from the GLC-backed City Limits, he ensured its steady growth – helped by winning a legal battle to end the BBC and ITV ‘duopoly’ over details of radio and television programmes – and eventually its replication in many cities globally. Derwent May (1930–2020) was a keen ornithologist who had his first scientific paper published in the journal British Birds while still a schoolboy. After working as a lecturer in English for the British Council in Indonesia and Poland he became a journalist, novelist, and biographer; he was literary editor of The Listener for many years, and more briefly at the Sunday Telegraph under Peregrine Worsthorne, and for forty years contributed daily ‘Nature Notes’ to The Times.

Born in Newry, Co Down, and educated at St Mary’s Christian Brothers’ Grammar School in Belfast, Chris Ryder (1947–2020) moved from public relations for the Ulster Brewery and penning reviews of Van Morrison to news journalism following the onset of the Troubles in the late 1960s. Alongside freelance work (and many books) he was Belfast correspondent for the Sunday Times (1972-88) and Daily Telegraph (1988-95). At one point he was targeted for assassination by the IRA and had to move his family to Manchester. Robert Fisk (1946–2020) began his career as a journalist at the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, and was The Times’s Belfast correspondent at the height of the Troubles, in 1972-5; but it was primarily for his reporting from the Middle East and his books on the region that he became best known. He was a fierce critic of US and Israeli policies in the Middle East; but he was occasionally criticised for exaggeration or invention, and more frequently for lack of judgement (such as in relation to President Assad of Syria).

Stephen Fay (1938–2020) was a versatile journalist who spent twenty years at the Sunday Times working under Harold Evans, including as member of the prestigious ‘Insights’ investigative team, and author of the ‘Atticus’ column. He wrote half a dozen books – including one on the collapse of Baring’s and two on cricket history – and was later editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly. John Bryant (1944–2020) was another journalist with sporting connections. He was editor of the Sunday Correspondent, The European, deputy editor of The Times, and editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph. He was particularly known for bringing Zola Budd to Britain and coaching her for the 1984 Olympics. He was himself a talented athlete and long-time member and sometime president of Thames Hare and Hounds whose greatest achievement was, with his friend Chris Brasher, founding the London Marathon in 1981. 

Sir Samuel Brittan (1933–2020), the elder brother of the politician Leon Brittan, was the doyen of economic and financial journalists of his generation, with his columns in the Financial Times – where he was recruited from Cambridge in 1955 and remained (with a short break at The Observer and in government service as an economist at the Department of Economic Affairs) until 2014 – required reading for financiers, businesspeople, and politicians. He was a classical liberal, but not neo-liberal, economist, and the author of many highly-regarded books. Lynn Faulds Wood (1948–2020) was a graduate of Glasgow University who began her career as a journalist for Woman, the Daily Mail, and The Sun, before becoming a television presenter and consumer advocate, best known for presenting Watchdog (1985-93) with her husband John Stapleton.

Born in Clevedon, Somerset, Jan Morris (1926–2020) was initially famous (as James Morris) as the journalist who scooped the news of the ascent of Everest in 1953, and then the author of dispatches for The Times from the Middle East. After gender reassignment she became a bestselling travel writer and historian, her subjects including the rise and fall of the British empire, and the history of her adopted homeland, Wales, where she lived from 1964. In 1992 she was elected into the Gorsedd Cymru.

Lives in the media

Born in Lucknow, Mahmood Jamal (1948–2020) arrived in England in 1967 to train as an accountant; but, swept up in the excitement of the Sixties counter-culture, he became instead a poet, screenwriter, and film and television producer. Among his documentaries was The Peacock Screen (1991), a four-part history of Indian cinema, and Quarrels (1996), which explored and sought to mediate in community disputes. As well as an accomplished poet, he was also a translator of poetry from Urdu, including the work of Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

The Sixties were also a formative decade for Mike Appleton (1936–2020), a television director and producer who cut his teeth on The 625 Show and Colour Me Pop before creating The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1971. In 1985 he oversaw the transmission of Live Aid, and in 1988 the Nelson Mandela Birthday Concert. Music also dominated the career of Doreen Davies (1928–2020). Herself the daughter of a professional musician, she joined the BBC as a secretary and progressed into music production for the Light Programme and then Radio 1. She chaired the playlist committee and eventually became head of Radio 1 in the late 1980s.

Sport was the passion and the making of Frank Bough (1933–2020). A talented and versatile sportsman himself (he was the Shropshire county sprint champion, played hockey for the county, and won a blue in football while a student at Oxford), he began his career in broadcasting providing match reports for the BBC. In 1964 he took over presenting Sportsview, and in 1968 Grandstand. He moved on to Newsnight, Breakfast Time, and the Holiday programme before his career was cut short by tabloid revelations of drug use and sex parties.

Born in Salford, Adele Rose (1933–2020) initially worked as a secretary before gaining a post in Granada Television’s promotions department, which wrote the links for continuity announcers. Given a chance as a scriptwriter for the newly-launched Coronation Street, she became its longest-serving and most prolific scriptwriter, with over 450 episodes in thirty-seven years. She also wrote scripts for Z-Cars and many other programmes, and created Byker Grove, a children’s drama set in a youth club in Newcastle which ran for seventeen years and launched the careers of Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. Tony Garnett (1936–2020), from Birmingham, survived childhood traumas (his mother died as a result of a back-street abortion and his father committed suicide soon after) to enjoy a successful career as an actor and then a producer of film and television drama, best known for his early work with Ken Loach, including Up the Junction (1965), Cathy Come Home (1966), and Kes (1969). He was later a producer in Hollywood, and of popular television series in the UK (such as Cardiac Arrest).

Born in Guernsey, Charles Wood (1932–2020) served in the 17th/21st Lancers before becoming a playwright, screenwriter, and television dramatist, and the army (and the idiocy of the generals and politicians) provided the material for many of his works. He was perhaps best known for his play, Veterans (1972), and his Falklands-based BBC drama Tumbledown (1988), which was attacked by some sections of the press for being unpatriotic. John Tydeman (1936–2020) was a BBC radio drama producer and theatre director who nurtured the talents of Joe Orton, Tom Stoppard, Caryl Churchill, and Sue Townsend, and was later head of BBC Radio Drama for eight years. Sydney Lotterby (1926–2020) also worked for the BBC for many years, in television, as the BAFTA-winning producer and director of numerous comedy series, including Porridge (1974-7), Carla Lane’s Liver Birds (1969-75), Last of the Summer Wine (1976-83), and As Time Goes By (1992-2005).

Born in Malaya, the daughter of a rubber plantation manager, Catherine Freeman (1931–2020) joined the BBC as a graduate trainee, and soon was working on such programmes as The Brains Trust and Panorama. She took a long career break during her marriage to the Labour politician and broadcaster John Freeman, but in 1976 returned to television management at Thames Television as editor of daytime programmes. She later formed her own production company. Last but by no means least, Glaswegian Jimmy Gordon, Baron Gordon of Strathblane (1936–2020), was a journalist and broadcaster who, after a spell as political editor for STV, was a pioneer of commercial radio as founder of Radio Clyde and chief executive and chairman of Scottish Radio Holdings. He was also a public servant in many capacities, including as a member of the Scottish Development Agency.

 Stage and screen

Born in Edinburgh, Sir Sean Connery (1930–2020) left school at thirteen, taking a succession of labouring jobs, joining the Royal Navy, and winning a bronze medal in the Mr Universe contest before finding his métier as an actor. Two years touring in South Pacific led to roles, small at first, in theatre and on television before he got his big break when selected by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to play the ‘spy’ James Bond in the first film starring Ian Fleming’s character, Dr No (1962). Connery appeared in six more Bond films (including Never Say Never Again [1983], for different producers). Determined not to be typecast, he appeared in a large number of other films and founded his own production company, Fountainbridge Films. A proud Scotsman, he started the Scottish International Investment Trust and was a long-time supporter of the Scottish National Party.

The actress Honor Blackman (1925–2020), from Canning Town, made her West End début in 1946 and her last television appearance in You, Me & Them in 2015. She was best known for her roles as Patrick Macnee’s assistant Cathy Gale in The Avengers (1962-4), Pussy Galore in the Bond film Goldfinger (1964), starring Sean Connery, and later Laura West in the sitcom The Upper Hand (1990-6). A republican who refused honours herself, she criticized Connery for doing so and also for being a tax exile. Blackman’s successor as assistant to Macnee in The Avengers (Emma Peel), Dame Diana Rigg (1938–2020), was a Doncaster-born, RADA-trained actress who also enjoyed a more than fifty-year career in theatre, film, and television: she first appeared on stage in The Caucasian Chalk Circle in 1957, and her last film appearance was in Last Night in Soho (2021). Among numerous highlights were her Contessa Teresa di Vincenzo in the Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) and Olenna Tyrell (or the Queen of Thorns) in Game of Thrones (2013-17).

Born in Whitechapel, the actress Dame Barbara Windsor (1937–2020) was one of the nation’s most-loved actresses. She first appeared on film in The Belles of St Trinian’s (1954) and worked with the legendary theatre director Joan Littlewood before achieving national recognition through comic appearances in nine Carry On films between 1964 and 1974. Later, from 1994 to 2016, she played the central role of Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders.

Sir Ian Holm (1931–2020) was a prolific actor on stage, television, and film, who started his career with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He won numerous awards, including for his Lenny in the Harold Pinter play The Homecoming (1967) and his King Lear (1998). On film he appeared in The Bofors Gun (1968), Chariots of Fire (1981), The Madness of King George (1994), and later in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. The Cambridge-educated actor John Shrapnel (1942–2020) also enjoyed an almost fifty-year career on the stage, and on television, radio, and film. He was a stalwart of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. His television appearances encompassed the Earl of Sussex in Elizabeth R in 1971 and the Archbishop in Mike Bartlett’s satire, King Charles III (2017). His talents were less used on film, but he gave memorable performances as the taxidermist in 101 Dalmatians (1996) and Julia Roberts’s press agent in Notting Hill (1999). Geoffrey Palmer (1927–2020) also appeared in Cathy Come Home and The Madness of King George but was best known for his roles in television sitcoms such as The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin (1976-9), Butterflies (1978-83), and As Time Goes By (1992-2005).

The actress Rosalind Knight (1933–2020) was born into a theatrical family, and first appeared on film aged two. In the 1950s she appeared in St Trinian’s and Carry On films, but it was theatre that was her first love, and where she excelled. She was particularly noted for her work with the 69 Theatre Company in Manchester, which evolved into the Royal Exchange. Her last appearances were as ‘Horrible Grandma’ in the television sitcom Friday Night Dinner (2012-20). Frances Cuka (1936–2020) also played a grandma in Friday Night Dinner actress at the end of a long career on stage and film. She created the role of Jo in Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey in 1958 and appeared in several plays at the Royal Court, though she was most frequently seen on television, including in Crossroads, Coronation Street, and Casualty. Barbara Jefford (1930–2020) was primarily a stage actress, known for her Shakespearean roles: she appeared frequently with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Old Vic, and the National Theatre over a period of fifty years, but was also known for her radio work, and her playing of Molly Bloom in the 1967 film of Ulysses. Jill Gascoine (1937–2020) also had a varied career on stage and screen, with appearances in Z-Cars and Dixon of Dock Green among others, but it was as Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes in The Gentle Touch (1980-4) which catapulted her to fame. Later moving to the US, she wrote three novels. Margaret Nolan (1943–2020) began her career as a glamour model before turning to acting. She was painted gold and wore a gold bikini for the title sequence of the Bond film Goldfinger (1964). She appeared in six Carry On films, and her last film appearance was posthumous, also in Last Night in Soho (2021).

Terry Hands (1941–2020) was one of the most celebrated theatre directors of his generation. He was a founder of the Liverpool Everyman Theatre in 1964, spent twenty-five years with the Royal Shakespeare Company (latterly as artistic director; he directed more RSC productions than any other director to date), and then from 1997 to 2015 was artistic director of Theatr Clwyd, establishing it as one of the major theatre companies in Wales and the UK.

Brought up in Sheffield, the playwright and scriptwriter Louise Page (1955–2020) was perhaps best known for her plays of the 1980s exploring women’s experiences, such as Golden Girls (1984) and Diplomatic Wives (1989). Her varied output included scripts for The Archers and many radio adaptations. After moving to the Peak District she was a much-loved teacher at Leeds Trinity and Huddersfield universities. Terence Frisby (1932–2020) was an actor who worked in repertory and on children’s television in the 1960s but was best known as a playwright, most notably of the long-running West End hit There's a Girl in My Soup (1966) and later of comedy series for radio and television.

Born in Markinch, Fife, Marilyn Imrie (1947–2020) initially trained as a teacher before becoming a highly-respected BBC radio drama producer and theatre director. For the BBC she devised the radio soap Citizens (1987-91), and later the radio version of Rumpole of the Bailey (2003-15) and The Stanley Baxter Playhouse (2006-16). In Edinburgh she was co-chair of the all-women Stellar Quines Theatre Company. Glaswegian comedian, actor, singer, and entertainer Johnny Beattie (1926–2020) left school at sixteen to apprentice as an electrician, and honed his stage act while working at the shipyards. He went on to enjoy a more than fifty-year career as one of Scotland’s most popular entertainers, famous for his versatility and quick-wittedness.

Born in Colwyn, north Wales, Terry Jones (1942–2020) began writing and performing comedy sketches while a student at Oxford. He appeared on The Frost Report (1966) and Do Not Adjust Your Set (1967-9) before achieving enduring fame as a member of the Monty Python team (and director of three of their four films). He also wrote many film and television scripts and adaptations, children’s books, and (a serious historian and bibliophile himself) popular history books and programmes, such as The Crusades (1996).

Roy Hudd (1936–2020) worked as a window dresser and a commercial artist before finding his feet as a much-loved comedian and presenter. He had two sketch series in the 1960s, The Illustrated Weekly Hudd and The Roy Hudd Show, but also appeared in ‘straight’ roles (including in Coronation Street and Casualty), and most frequently in pantomime and variety performances. He wrote several books on music hall and was a long-serving president of the British Music Hall Society. 

Tim Brooke-Taylor (1940–2020) was a comedian and actor who was a member of the Cambridge Footlights and was best known for The Goodies (1970-82) with Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie. He was also a panellist on the radio show I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue for almost fifty years. Nicholas Parsons (1923–2020) was a long-running fixture on British radio and television, having (like Johnny Beattie) honed his act while working as an apprentice in the Glasgow shipyards. He was the straight man to comedian Arthur Haynes for ten years, presented Anglia quiz show Sale of the Century from 1971 to 1983, and fronted the comedy radio show Just a Minute for more than fifty years, from 1967. From a later generation, having abandoned a PhD in English literature, John Sessions (1953–2020) was a RADA-trained actor and had small parts in several feature films, but it was as a comedian that he will best be remembered: he was a regular on the comedy improvisation show Whose Line Is It Anyway? and a panellist on QI.

Bermuda-born actor Earl Cameron (1917–2020) was a trailblazer for Black actors on stage and television in the UK. In a more than sixty-year career he starred in Pool of London (1951), appeared alongside Sean Connery in Thunderball (1965), and appeared in Doctor Who, The Prisoner, and The Andromeda Breakthrough. Barbara Assoon (1929–2020) was a Trinidadian actress who moved to the UK in 1949. She created the role of Rosa in Errol John’s play Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (1958) at the Royal Court, appeared on television with Sean Connery in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and in 1963 created a role in Coronation Street. She returned to Trinidad in 1968. Gambian-born Louis Mahoney (1938–2020) originally moved to the UK to train as a doctor, but discovered his talent for acting, and was one of the first Black actors in the Royal Shakespeare Company. He also appeared in several Doctor Who episodes, and in Z-Cars and Casualty, though it was primarily as a stage actor – and a long-standing campaigner for equal opportunities in the theatre – that he will be remembered.

South African-born Sir Ronald Harwood (1934–2020) trained at RADA and acted with Donald Wolfit’s touring company (becoming Wolfit’s dresser and later business manager), but it was as a prolific novelist, playwright, and screenwriter that he made his mark. He will perhaps best be remembered for his play The Dresser, based loosely on Wolfit. He also won an Oscar for best screenplay for The Pianist (2002). Michael Medwin (1923–2020) made his West End début in 1940 and had many appearances on stage, film, and television in a remarkable variety of roles. As an actor he was perhaps best known for The Army Game (1957-61) for Granada TV. He was also a film and theatre producer, most notable for his collaborations with Lindsay Anderson on If… (1968) and Oh Lucky Man! (1973). Sue Bruce-Smith (1958–2020) left teaching to take a job as an administrative assistant with the newly-founded Palace Pictures, where she soon took over marketing and distribution. After a spell at the BFI she joined Film4, where she became head of commercial development and distribution, and a key figure in financing and producing numerous successful British films, including Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017). Her last project was the rite-of-passage drama Rocks (2019). 

Born in Islington, Sir Alan Parker (1944–2020) enjoyed a successful career as a writer and director of television commercials before moving into film direction. His output ranged from musicals – including Bugsy Malone (1976), Fame (1980), and Evita (1996) – to dramas, such as Midnight Express (1978), Mississippi Burning (1988), and Angela’s Ashes (1999). He received numerous awards, though missed out on an Oscar. Peter Lamont (1929–2020), a set decorator, art director, and production designer, won one Oscar (for Titanic, 1997) and was nominated for three others. He was a set dresser on the Carry On series but was best known for his work on eighteen James Bond films, and his collaborations with the Canadian filmmaker James Cameron.

Musical lives

Born in East Ham, singer Dame Vera Lynn (1917–2020) was a child star, graduating from East End working men’s clubs and Madame Harris’s Kracker Kabaret Kids to appearing with Bert Ambrose’s popular dance band. She was already reasonably well known by the outbreak of the Second World War, but ‘could still take the bus’. The war transformed her career and made her into a national icon, dubbed ‘the Forces’ Sweetheart’, with such songs as ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and ‘White Cliffs of Dover’. Her popularity continued after the war, in part fed by nostalgia, though she continued to record new music, including hits of the Sixties and country music; her last public performance commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of VE-Day. She was a prolific fundraiser, including for cancer and cerebral palsy charities as well as veterans’ charities, and it was for her charity work that she was made a dame.

Pearl Carr (1921–2020) was a popular singer and entertainer in the 1950s and early 1960s with her husband Teddy Johnson (also included in this update). They hosted their own Radio Luxembourg programme, Mr and Mrs Music, and in 1959 they finished second in the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Sing, Little Birdie’. From a later generation, Millie Small (1947–2020) was a Jamaican singer who had some success in her home country before moving to the UK in 1963. She scored a huge hit with 'My Boy Lollipop' in 1964. She continued recording into the early 1970s, her music increasingly reggae-inflected. 

Herbert Kretzmer (1925–2020) worked as a feature writer and theatre critic for several London papers, while writing song lyrics as a sideline. He wrote ‘In the Summer of his Years’ following the death of John F. Kennedy, and the hits ‘Yesterday, When I Was Young’ and ‘She’ for Charles Aznavour. He made his fortune, however, from writing the lyrics for Les Misérables. Des O'Connor (1932–2020) was an all-round singer, entertainer, comedian, and television game show presenter. On television he was best known for The Des O’Connor Show (1963-73) and as host of Take Your Pick! (1992-9). As a singer in the easy listening style he recorded thirty-six albums and had four top-ten singles (including a number one, ‘I Pretend’, in 1968).

The Welsh guitarist and musician Spencer Davis (1939–2020) read German at the University of Birmingham (leading colleagues to call him ‘the professor’) before forming the Spencer Davis Group, who had hits with ‘Keep on Running’, ’Gimme Some Lovin’, and ‘I’m a Man’. Later he moved to the US, participated in various legacy rock line-ups, and appeared as an occasional actor. Glyn Geoffrey Ellis, better known as Wayne Fontana (1945–2020), shot to stardom as the lead singer of the Manchester band Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, whose hits included ‘Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um’ (1964) and 'The Game of Love' (1965). He appeared at the first Glastonbury Festival in 1970 but soon was dependent on the Sixties nostalgia circuit, often appearing under the ‘Solid Sixties Silver’ banner. His later life was marked by frequent brushes with the law and the psychiatric services.

Also born in Manchester, Neil Megson, who later changed his name to Genesis P-Orridge (1950–2020), was a performance artist and musician for the band Throbbing Gristle, which he described as ‘consciously anti-entertainment’, and later Psychic TV (who had a number one in the indie charts with ‘Godstar’). Perhaps his greatest piece of performance art arose from his relationship with Jacqueline Breyer (known as Lady Jaye): following their marriage in 1995 they underwent a series of surgical and hormone interventions with the aim of obliterating differences between them and creating a ‘third being’, an ‘egalitarian integration of two artist explorers’. Also included in this update is Peter Green (1946–2020), the singer-songwriter and guitarist who played in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and was a co-founder of Fleetwood Mac. For the latter he wrote ‘Albatross’ and ‘Black Magic Woman’ before leaving in 1970. He endured several decades of mental illness and treatment before re-emerging in 1996 with the Peter Green Splinter Group. 

Mental struggles and drug addiction also plagued Peter King (1940–2020), who nevertheless overcame them to become a leading jazz saxophonist and composer. His dynamic and inventive playing, influenced by Charlie (Bird) Parker and John Coltrane, won generations of admirers, and he later played with the pop duo Everything but the Girl. He was also a world-renowned and champion free-flight aeromodeller, who published many designs and technical papers. Also included in this update is jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader Keith Tippett (1947–2020), whose work in various combinations of groups spanned a huge variety of genres, from traditional jazz to free-jazz, and from progressive rock to contemporary classical music: on the one hand he played with King Crimson, and on the other wrote for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Singers.

The classical guitarist and lutenist Julian Bream (1933–2020) was without doubt one of the most distinguished and popular guitarists of the twentieth century, credited with a revival in interest in the UK and more widely in both the classical guitar (notably the work of Rodrigo and Villa-Lobos) and the lute. Benjamin Britten, Peter Maxwell Davies, William Walton, and Michael Tippett were among those who composed for him.

What Julian Bream was to the guitar, Barry Tuckwell (1931–2020) was to the horn, becoming perhaps the most famous player of the instrument of his generation. Born in Australia, he moved to the UK in 1950, worked with Benjamin Britten, and was the director, then chairman, of the LSO, before embarking on a freelance career. At one point he estimated he performed more than 200 concerts and travelled more than 200,000 miles annually. Gwenda Wilkin (1933–2020) was another virtuoso, in her case at the accordion. She began performing at the age of thirteen, won various national and internal competitions, and, after being ‘discovered’ by Hughie Green on Opportunity Knocks in 1949, was a regular performer on BBC radio and television. She also toured for the Combined Services Entertainment and performed in cabaret.

Two of the most outstanding female organists of their generation are now also included in the dictionary. Jennifer Bate (1944–2020) was the daughter of a famed organist, H.A. Bate, and married another, George Thalben-Bell. She was known in her own right especially for her recording of the complete organ works of Messiaen (with whom she worked closely), and the complete organ works of Mendelssohn, Franck, and Peter Dickinson. Jane Parker-Smith (1950–2020) was known for her stylish appearance and flamboyant personality, as well as the lyricism of her playing. She produced many recordings of Romantic classics but also championed lesser-known works.

Kenneth Alwyn (1925–2020) was a conductor and musical director who, in a long and varied career, conducted the LSO and the band of the Grenadier Guards for the first stereo recording of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture; conducted numerous West End musicals; and for thirty years introduced and conducted the BBC’s popular Friday Night is Music Night. He also championed the work of nineteenth-century composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Born in Leeds, the daughter of a jeweller who had fled the pogroms in Russia, Dame Fanny Waterman (1920–2020) was a talented pianist who appeared at the Proms aged twenty-two. But it was as a piano teacher (with a string of high-profile performers among her pupils) and especially as the co-founder and for more than fifty years the driving force of the Leeds International Piano Competition that she will be best remembered. She is joined in this update by Sir John Tooley (1924–2020), an influential music administrator who spent some thirty-three years at the Royal Opera House (the last eighteen as general director).

Design, art, and architecture

The designer and restaurateur Sir Terence Conran (1931–2020) worked on the designs for the 1951 Festival of Britain, launched his own highly successful chain of shops, Habitat, in 1964, and in 1989 founded the Design Museum. He had a parallel career as a restaurateur, opening more than fifty restaurants including Soup Kitchen in 1954 and Bibendum in 1987.

James (Jimmy) Morrison (1932–2020) was a Scottish landscape artist who was one of the Young Glasgow Group in the 1950s and achieved recognition for his paintings of Angus and Sutherland, and later of the Canadian Arctic, France, Switzerland, and Botswana. Catharine Armitage (1944–2020) was encouraged to paint by her husband Paul Feller, but it was after they moved to west Cornwall (settling at Paul, near Newlyn) that she came into her own as an artist, progressing from landscapes and still lifes to highly abstract pictures and collages, still rooted in observation and experience.

Never interested in figurative art, Anthony Hill (1930–2020) was a mathematician, artist, sculptor, maker of reliefs, and collagist who was the theorist and key figure in 'constructionism' (extending the legacy of the Russian constructivism of the 1920s). He later took on the persona of Redo for Dadaist works. He is joined in this update by the artist Gillian Wise (1936–2020), who was his partner for eight years and shared exhibitions with him. She was later associated with the Systems Group, and known especially for her constructed wall reliefs such as her ‘Alice Walls’ mural at the Barbican Arts Centre (1982). 

The architect Paul Koralek (1933–2020) was born in Vienna but moved to England following the Anschluss. After training at the AA and work with Powell and Moya he founded the practice Ahrends Burton and Koralek with his friends Richard Burton and Peter Ahrends; their work ranged widely from libraries and primary schools to supermarkets. The practice lost work when the then Prince of Wales denounced their proposed National Gallery extension as ‘a monstrous carbuncle’. Irena Sedlecká (1928–2020) was a Czech-born sculptor who fled the country in 1966 and settled in England. Among her works were a ‘talking heads’ series (using a film of someone talking projected onto a plain portrait bust to give the illusion of a moving face) as well as more conventional portrait sculpture. She was perhaps best known for her statue of Freddie Mercury at Montreux. Alan Caiger-Smith (1930–2020) was a studio potter and ceramicist who founded the Aldermaston Pottery and was described by Michael Cardew as ‘the master of decoration’. A notable scholar (his first book was on medieval English wall paintings, followed by several on the history of pottery), he was responsible for reviving two virtually lost techniques: the use of tin-glaze and painted pigments on earthenware clay (maiolica), and reduced-pigment lustre.

From the world of fashion, Madeleine Ginsburg (1928–2020) was a pioneering costume historian and curator of dress at the V&A, where previously fashion was seen as ‘a sort of rather unholy by-product of the textile industry’. As well as overseeing numerous exhibitions, she edited or contributed to sixteen books on topics from fashion dolls to hats, and from wedding dresses to the second-hand clothes trade. Meredith Etherington–Smith (1946–2020) was more concerned with contemporary fashion, as the fashion editor of The Tailor and Cutter, London editor of Paris Vogue, and later a Christie's executive and editor-in-chief of Christie’s Magazine. For Christie’s she oversaw many high-profile sales, including a charity auction of seventy of Princess Diana’s evening gowns in 1997.

Several photographers are included in this update. Born and raised on the Isle of Man, Chris Killip (1946–2020) initially tried his hand at hotel management before leaving the island to pursue his dream of becoming a professional photographer. At first working in advertising, he found his calling in documentary photography, and is best known for his photographs of people and landscapes in Newcastle and the north-east, published in 1988 as In Flagrante, with a text by John Berger. Brought up in Guernsey, except for wartime evacuation, Fiona Adams (1935–2020) also first worked as a portrait photographer before joining the staff of Boyfriend magazine in 1963. She was best known for her photographs of the Beatles, including one of the defining images both of the Beatles and of the ‘Swinging Sixties’—of the four Beatles leaping joyfully into the air from the edge of a crater on a building site, silhouetted against the sky, each taking a different shape. Both for Boyfriend and for Fabulous she took many other subsequently famous pop images. Anthony Crickmay (1937–2020) was initially a portrait photographer who became widely recognized as the leading dance photographer of his generation, perhaps most renowned for his pictures of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. He also photographed many subsequently famous theatre productions, and did fashion shoots for Vogue. They are joined by Sue Davies (1933–2020), who after working at the ICA in London took the bold step in 1971 of founding the Photographers’ Gallery, which she then directed for the next twenty years, overseeing some 150 shows. She was credited with launching many careers.

Chris Killip was among the photographers showcased by Alister Warman (1946–2020, an influential art gallery director as the first director of the Serpentine Gallery, who as well as introducing photography was an important supporter of women artists. He was subsequently director of the Byam Shaw art school. This update also includes two aristocratic artists. Alexander George Thynn, seventh Marquess of Bath (1932–2020), proprietor and custodian of Longleat, was widely regarded (and regularly profiled) as one of Britain’s most colourful and eccentric hereditary peers. Brought up in a chaotic environment (his father was a sadist and an admirer of Hitler), he was a prolific though not highly-regarded artist, who filled Longleat with his erotic murals and his portraits of his ‘wifelets’ (numbering at least seventy-four) and kept the gossip columns busy. He was a founder of the Wessex Regionalist Party. Lindy Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood (née Guinness), Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, known as Lindy Guinness (or Lindy Dufferin) (1941–2020), became chatelaine of Clandeboye House, near Bangor, on her marriage to Sheridan Dufferin, the fifth marquess, in 1964. She was a talented painter of landscapes and interiors, and held numerous successful exhibitions. At Clandeboye she added an art gallery and a music festival, and was also noted for her work as a conservationist, among other things setting up a Northern Ireland branch of Conservation Volunteers.

Medicine and health

The oldest of our new subjects, William (Bill) Frankland (1912–2020), qualified as a doctor in 1938. During the Second World War he was posted with the RAMC to Singapore, where he was taken into Japanese captivity, first at Changi and then Sentosa (‘Hell Island’); only much later in his life was he able to speak of his experiences. Returning to civilian life he became an immunologist and allergist. Convinced that antihistamines were ineffective, he favoured instead the desensitization of the patient by vaccination. He was more widely known for initiating the London pollen count, in 1953. He remained open to new experiences, first driving a fairground dodgem car at the age of 103.

Born in Belfast, the daughter of an eminent Irish Presbyterian cleric, Dame Ingrid Allen (1932–2020) was a neuropathologist at Queen’s University, Belfast, who was author of more than 200 publications and made important discoveries relating to the neuropathology of multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases, viral diseases of the brain, and brain trauma. A stylish dresser, she was also a lover of fast cars, driving a two-seater Mercedes into her eighties. Also based at Queen’s University, Belfast, Sir Peter Froggatt (1928–2020) – born in Glasgow but brought up in Belfast from the age of six weeks – was a wide-ranging epidemiologist and public health physician. He led the university as vice-chancellor from 1976 to 1986, years which saw reduced government funding, increased student numbers, and the impact of the Troubles, including the murder of two staff members and the attempted fire-bombing of the Great Hall.

Dame Denise Coia (1952–2020), the daughter of a Glasgow café proprietor, originally specialized in obstetrics before re-training as a psychiatrist and working for many years in the Gorbals. With a deep commitment to helping the most deprived, she became a leader in her profession and served as chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, and later of Health Improvement Scotland. Janet Carr (1927–2020) was a clinical psychologist based at the Maudsley who in 1964 initiated what would be a pioneering fifty-year study of fifty-four babies born that year with Down Syndrome. The study revealed great variations in the abilities of children with Down Syndrome; and also that children ‘boarded out’ or institutionalized did less well developmentally from a very early age. Much of her subsequent work sought to improve services for people with the learning disability. Many of the cohort joined her for a celebratory tea at the House of Lords in 2014.

Sir Colin Dollery (1931–2020) was credited with virtually inventing the field of clinical pharmacology, with wide-ranging research encompassing the treatment of hypertension, evaluating new drugs in circulatory and respiratory disease, documenting adverse effects of drugs and their mechanism of action, through to such narrower interests as drugs for malaria. He spent much of his career at the Hammersmith Hospital before later working for SmithKlineBeecham, where he focused on patient safety and the emerging science of genomics. Born in Exeter, of Danish descent, Leslie Iversen (1937–2020) was a leading neuropharmacologist and neuroscientist who, often working with his wife Susan, made important scientific advances, first at Cambridge and then at Merck Neuroscience Research Centre in Hoddington. He also served on many government committees and wrote several books, on marijuana and ecstasy as well as more general neuropharmacology.

Gerta Vrbová (1926–2020) was a Czech neuroscientist who escaped the Gestapo by jumping out of an open window, and later escaped Czechoslovakia itself (in 1958) to live in the UK, where she became a leading developmental scientist, interested in particular in the work of nerves and muscles. With colleagues she developed electric muscle stimulators which became widely used in rehabilitation.

Sheffield-born Sir James (Jim) Gowans (1924–2020) was an immunologist who investigated lymphocytes (small white blood cells which cluster around bacterial infections or inflamed tissue, but then disappear quickly). He showed that lymphocytes were not only long-lived, and were able to circulate continuously between the lymph and the blood, but also acted in some ways as a ‘memory bank’ of antigens and antibodies. Later he spent ten years as secretary of the Medical Research Council, contending with government cuts but also launching new research programmes. Sir Peter Lachmann (1931–2020), born in Berlin but escaping in 1938, also became an eminent immunologist. He worked on many areas of the ‘complement system’—the complex and tightly regulated network of more than forty proteins which plays a vital role in the immune system and elucidated the critical role of a particular protein, dubbed complement factor I (or FI). In 1998 he chaired a Royal Society working group on GM plants and was a key figure in the so-called Pusztai affair.

Rosemary Radley-Smith (1939–2020) was a leading paediatric cardiologist who worked closely with Magdi Yacoub in setting up the UK’s first paediatric heart and lung transplant programme, first at Harefield and then at Great Ormond Street. With Yacoub she also set up Chain of Hope, to treat children with heart disease in developing countries. Peter Sleight (1929–2020) was a cardiologist whose large-scale trials of treatments for heart attacks led to thrombolytic and antiplatelet treatment becoming the standard approach to cardiac infarction (with a dramatic drop in mortality). He made many other contributions to cardiology and was in worldwide demand as a speaker (which suited his love of travel); one Christmas his students affixed a sticker to his car reading, ‘Caution: driver is a visitor to Britain’.

Roger Williams (1931–2020) was a hepatologist who worked with Sheila Sherlock at the Royal Free before moving to King’s College, London, where he set up three liver research units and the Foundation for Liver Research. He collaborated with Sir Roy Calne on the first programme of liver transplantation in Europe, and achieved brief fame after supervising two liver transplants for the footballer George Best. Mary Baines (1932–2020) was a GP in south London when she heard Cicely Saunders on the radio appealing for money for her new hospice, St Christopher’s, in Sydenham. She joined the staff there in 1968 and, working closely with Saunders, became a pioneer of palliative care both in the hospice and at home, after establishing a home care service. With Saunders she wrote the first textbook on palliative care. 

Valerie (Val) Curtis (1958–2020) initially trained as an engineer, working with Arup on the British Library and then with Oxfam and the Red Cross installing water pumps in developing countries. Her experience led her to re-train as an epidemiologist, anthropologist, and behavioural scientist, becoming a leading public health researcher and campaigner in the field of sanitation and hygiene. Her work on how to use emotions such as disgust to drive behavioural change led to her being dubbed the first ‘disgustologist’; among other things she was famed for a 2003 speech at the UN which featured a ‘plastic poo’. Judith Darmady (1935–2020) was a paediatrician and global health campaigner who was described by those who knew her as ‘a fireball of energy’. After spending twenty-three years at Basingstoke General Hospital, where she pioneered many new practices, she threw herself into charity work, notably with the Romanian Orphanage Trust.

Helen Taylor Thompson (1924–2020) served in London with the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, sending messages and arranging airdrops. She was a successful businesswoman (in property renovation) before devoting herself to charitable causes. In 1982 she led the campaign to re-open Mildmay Mission Hospital, which became Europe's first AIDS hospice. In 1995 she co-organised the Great Banquet, which led to Community Action Network. Arising directly out of her work with Mildmay, she also helped to set up a palliative care centre in Kampala, and founded Education Saves Lives, using videos to provide preventive education about AIDS and other illnesses. Philip Horniblow (1928–2020) was a doctor who spent the majority of his career in the Middle East, including as Abu Dhabi's first director of health, where he was also an important informant for British intelligence services. A keen mountaineer, he was team doctor on three expeditions to Everest (including in 1976, when two former SAS officers, Brummie Stokes and Bronco Lane, reached the summit).

Among other medicine- and health-related new subjects, Alan Howard (1929–2020) was an academic nutritionist based in Cambridge who made a fortune as a businessman from the extremely low-calorie Cambridge Diet and subsequently was a generous philanthropist through his Howard Foundation. Elizabeth Ward (1926–2020) was a successful businesswoman (with a meat canning company) when her 12-year-old son, Timothy (Timbo), began to suffer from kidney failure. This sparked her campaign for the introduction of organ donor cards, in which she was successful in 1971. She continued to campaign for better kidney care (and for an opt-out not opt-in register) even after the death of her son, and was a founder of Kidney Care UK. Having undergone complex reconstruction surgeries after suffering horrific burns in a car accident at the age of eighteen, James Partridge (1952–2020) was a leading campaigner for people with facial disfigurements; while working as a health economist and then a farmer in Guernsey, in 1992 he founded Changing Faces, which became the UK’s leading charity helping people with a visible facial difference or disfigurement. 

Straddling the worlds of engineering, science, and medicine was George Weisz (1929–2020), a mechanical engineer and inventor who had escaped Hungary with his family shorty before the Second World War. In 1966 he founded Kay Pneumatics, which used compressed air technology for various purposes, such as opening and closing doors on trains and buses. In 1972 he invented a new type of artificial ventilator, for use in hospitals for patients who were unable to breathe on their own. This became widely used in hospital intensive care units, and saved thousands of lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Science, mathematics and engineering

Sadly the UK lost a large number of eminent scientists, mathematicians, and engineers in the year 2020. Sir Arnold Wolfendale (1927–2020) was professor of physics at the University of Durham from 1965 to 1992, and astronomer royal from 1991 to 1995. He was an international leader in the fields of cosmic ray and gamma ray astronomy. In 1965 he was part of the team that first detected the neutrinos associated with muons produced in the atmosphere, and his subsequent work greatly advanced understanding of cosmic rays. Based largely in Cambridge, the South African astrophysicist and astronomer Nigel Weiss (1936–2020) made important contributions to astrophysical and geophysical fluid dynamics, and the understanding of solar and stellar magnetic fields. In an enormously productive career, the cosmologist and astrophysicist John Barrow (1952–2020) published more than 500 scientific papers and more than twenty books of popular science. He also wrote a play, Infinities (which won a theatre prize in Italy); was only the second person since 1642 to hold two Gresham’s professorships; founded the Millennium Mathematics Project; and, a long-time member of the United Reformed Church, won the Templeton prize for his writings on science and religion.

By the time of her death Margaret Burbidge (1919–2020) was recognised as one of the great observational astronomers of the twentieth century, but she faced many obstacles as well as petty irritations in her career as a trailblazing woman astronomer. Her work on the properties of quasars was particularly important, even if her interpretations were largely unaccepted. She is joined in this update by a leading astronomer from a younger generation, Heather Couper (1949–2020), who abandoned management training with the store Peter Robinson to pursue her passion for astronomy. Her own work was on clusters of galaxies but she found she was more interested in communication than research. She hosted numerous television programmes including The Planets (1985) and The Stars (1988) and was the first women to be elected president of the British Astronomical Association.

The atmospheric physicist and climate scientist Sir John Houghton (1931–2020) was a professor at Oxford then director of the Meteorological Office from 1983 to 1991. His greatest impact was as co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the lead editor of its first three reports. He was, perhaps unusually for a scientist, an evangelical Christian, and he was a co-founder of the John Ray Initiative, to bring together scientific and Christian perspectives on the environmental crisis.

One of the most celebrated and versatile mathematicians of his generation – described by no less than Sir Michael Atiyah as ‘the most magical mathematician in the world’ – Liverpool-born John Horton Conway (1937–2020) made important contributions to many areas of mathematics, including number theory, the theory of finite groups, knot theory, and combinatorial game theory. An inveterate inventor of puzzles and games, he was best known for the Game of Life, a cellular automaton which he described as a ‘no-player never-ending game’. He is joined in this release by fellow mathematician Walter Hayman (1926–2020) – yet another child refugee from Nazi Germany – who made important contributions to complex analysis, and by two statisticians, Harvey Goldstein (1939–2020), known for his contributions to multilevel modelling methodology and statistical software (and his work on educational assessment and league tables), and Chris Skinner (1953–2020), whose work focused on statistical aspects of survey methodology, with important implications both for official statistics and for research methodology in the social sciences.

The son of a coalminer, Sir John Meurig Thomas (1932–2020) was a world-renowned scientist for his work in catalytic chemistry, solid state chemistry, and ‘crystal engineering’, with important ramifications in metallurgy and materials science. He was a director of the Royal Institution, a master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, and a founding fellow of the Learned Society of Wales. Sir John Cadogan (1930–2020) was another renowned Welsh chemist and educationist, whose career spanned academia and industry, including as chief scientist at BP. He was the first director-general of the research councils in the Office of Science and Technology, and inaugural president of the Learned Society of Wales.

Sir Jack Baldwin (1938–2020) was an organic chemist who headed the Oxford department for almost thirty years. His own work focused on ring closure reactions, and on links between chemistry and basic biological research, including the use of biomimetic synthesis – mimicking nature to produce biomolecules in the laboratory. A colourful character, he was fond of motorbikes and fast cars. His Oxford colleague Malcolm Green (1936–2020) worked mainly in organometallic chemistry, including the chemistry of ‘sandwiched’ compounds, the theory of the bonding of transition metal complexes, and the use of organometallic complexes to break carbon-hydrogen bonds. He also was known for his charismatic and flamboyant style. They are joined by yet another Oxford-connected chemist, Peter Day (1938–2020), whose work centred on mixed-valence chemistry and included both experimental and theoretical work on the properties and conductivity of solid, inorganic complexes.

Martin Williams (1947–2020) was a chemist and environmental scientist who worked on air pollution and specifically vehicle pollution. His career switched between academia and government service at the departments of health and the environment, and he was an adviser to the World Health Organization and the UN Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. Julian Perry Robinson (1941–2020) was a chemist and peace researcher who was a leading expert on chemical and biological weapons, tracking their proliferation and arguing for limitations through international agreements. He worked with Pugwash, and prepared reports for the UN and the WHO. Towards the end of his life he produced reports on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the Novichok group of chemical weapons agents. He is joined in this update by Frank Barnaby (1927–2020), a nuclear physicist and weapons scientist who became a leading disarmament campaigner, including as director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and executive secretary of the Pugwash conferences. He wrote around a dozen books on various aspects of nuclear weapons and disarmament.

Richard West (1926–2020) was a Cambridge-based botanist, geologist, and palaeontologist who worked on the Quaternary stratigraphy of the UK through high-resolution pollen analysis, supported by plant macrofossil investigations, and made important contributions to glacial and periglacial geology. John R.L. Allen (1932–2020) was a geologist and sedimentologist whose early work was on the Old Red Sandstone rocks in Shropshire, but who will best be remembered as one of the pioneers of geoarchaeology – the application of geological techniques to archaeology. His work on the Severn Estuary identified phases of salt-marsh sedimentation (providing a chronology), landscape changes through reclamation (particularly in Roman times), and evidence of early industry. 

Trained in both chemistry and geology, and working largely in the field of civil engineering, Peter Fookes (1933–2020) was widely known as ‘the father of engineering geomorphology’, particularly important for his research into concrete durability in desert conditions. The civil engineer Gwilym Roberts (1925–2020) achieved a worldwide reputation for his work on large-scale water engineering projects, including many in the Middle East, and most notably the Greater Cairo Wastewater Project, with 50 km of tunnels, pumping stations, treatment works, and numerous culverts. He was president of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers. John (Shôn) Ffowcs Williams (1935–2020) was also an engineer, an expert on aeroacoustics, hydrodynamics, and noise reduction (noted for his work on Concorde), and later master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Yet another child refugee from Nazi Germany, Peter Kirstein (1933–2020) was a computer scientist who was often described as ‘the father of the European internet’: his research group at UCL was one of the two international connections on the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) in 1973, and he played a key role in the development of the Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol, foundational protocols for the development of the world wide web.

Australian-born Robert May, Baron May of Oxford (1936–2020) was one of the leading and most wide-ranging scientists of his generation, as a physicist, mathematician, zoologist, population biologist, and infectious diseases expert. His early work on population dynamics played a very important role in the development of theoretical ecology, and his work also had important implications both for biodiversity and for the study of diseases. He was, among other things, chief scientific adviser to the UK government, and president of the Royal Society from 2000 to 2005.

Dame Georgina Mace (1953–2020) was a zoologist, biologist and conservation scientist, who brought scientific rigour to the compilation of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s ‘red list’ of endangered species, which until then had been largely haphazard and driven more by politics than science. Among other things, this highlighted the threats to marine biodiversity and led to the introduction of limits on catches of certain species. She was later much involved with government and UN work on biodiversity loss. Jennifer Clack (1947–2020) studied zoology at Newcastle University at the beginning of an illustrious career as a palaeontologist, based mainly at Cambridge. She studied the early evolution of tetrapods (many specimens of which she herself found on various expeditions), and specifically the fish-to-tetrapod transition, and was perhaps best known for her discovery that the earliest tetrapods had seven or eight toes (whereas all later tetrapods have five or fewer).

The physiologist, biochemist, and cell biologist Sir Michael Berridge (1938–2020), working on insect physiology, was best known for his work on cell signalling, and in particular the discovery that inositol triphosphate acts as a ‘second messenger’, triggering physiological changes at cellular levels. He was also interested in diseases that result from calcium signals going awry, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Michael Francis (Mike) Land (1942–2020), was a biologist, psychologist, and neurobiologist who specialized in human and animal vision. His early research on scallops (which have around 200 eyes) revealed that the scallop’s eye forms an image not by refraction with lenses, but by reflection from a concave mirror, like a reflecting telescope. Subsequent work focused on the eight-eyed jumping spider, and on human eye movements and the way in which they guide our subconscious actions (such as in driving, cricket, or even making tea). Bryan Sykes (1947–2020) was a human geneticist who published the first report on retrieving DNA from ancient human bones. His work on mitochondrial DNA led him to publish The Seven Daughters of Eve (2001), arguing that the majority of Europeans could be traced to one of seven ancient women. He also set up Oxford Ancestors Ltd, an early commercial provider of mitochondrial DNA testing.

John Foster (1920–2020), born in Partick, Glasgow, was a conservationist and environmentalist who was the first director of the UK’s first national park (the Peak District National Park), and later first head of the Countryside Commission for Scotland; he believed in working closely with farmers and local communities as stakeholders in the environment.

Scholars and teachers

John Coles (1930–2020) was a Canadian archaeologist and prehistorian who lived in the UK from 1955. He was particularly known for his work, with his wife Bryony Coles, on experimental archaeology (recreating ancient techniques), prehistoric art, and wetland archaeology, focusing on the Somerset levels. He is joined in this update by half a dozen scholars of more recent history. Antonia Gransden (1928–2020) was a medievalist who spent forty-five years at the University of Nottingham and was best known for her work on the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds and her acclaimed two-volume Historical Writing in England (1974 and 1982), covering the fifth to the early sixteenth centuries. A lifelong Labour supporter, she was also a determined advocate for equal opportunities and a supporter of other women in her profession. Clive Emsley (1944–2020) was one of the first historians of policing and of criminal justice, whose work was seminal in the field and who was frequently heard on radio or television. The whole of his career was spent at the Open University. 

Fiona MacCarthy (1940–2020) was a pioneering ‘warts and all’ biographer and cultural historian known for her work on British design, William Morris, the Arts and Crafts movement, and Eric Gill: her biography of the latter (published in 1989) first revealed the darker side of the acclaimed sculptor. She lived for many years in Sheffield with her husband, the silversmith and cutlery designer David Mellor. The son of a ‘land girl’ and an American serviceman, Paul Addison (1943–2020) overcome many obstacles to become a highly-regarded historian, particularly of the Second World War, and a biographer of Churchill – whom he regarded as ‘a hero with feet of clay’. Based for many years in Edinburgh (where Gordon Brown was among his pupils), in his later years he was a supporter of the SNP. 

Spain was, unusually, the focus of interest for three of the scholars in this update. Peter Linehan (1943–2020) began studying the Spanish second republic, but switched his focus to the medieval age, and in particular relations between church and state. He also wrote on the historiography of medieval Spain and reached a wider audience with The Ladies of Zamora (1997), which explored a sex scandal in a thirteenth-century Dominican nunnery. Trevor Dadson (1947–2020) was a scholar whose work focused on the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Golden Age in Spain, with several works of literary history and biography, and also studies of the Moriscos – the Muslim-descended communities who were forced to convert to Christianity after 1492. Another renowned Hispanic scholar, Ian Michael (1934–2020), was best known (and lauded in Spain) for his work on medieval Spanish texts including the Poema de mio Cid. His work ranged widely, however, from the history of the book and of libraries to fantasy literature and Spanish cinema. He was also a crime writer, as David Serafin.

Born into the famously intellectual Huxley family (and the daughter of a diplomat and author who founded the Geographical Magazine), Selma Barkham (1927–2020) was a geographer and historian whose archival research in Newfoundland, Labrador, Quebec, and the Basque country threw new light on the historical geography of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century whaling, and on the role of the Basque maritime industry. Ronald (Ron) Johnston (1941–2020) was a remarkably prolific geographer, whose early work on urban geography laid the foundations for his later work on electoral geography. He was also a notable historian of his profession. In all he published more than 800 journal articles as well as numerous books and chapters in books. In 1999 he received the Prix Vautrin Lud, often described as the Nobel prize for geography.

The philosopher, writer, and social critic Sir Roger Scruton (1944–2020) was one of the leading Conservative political thinkers and controversialists of his generation. He was the author of more than fifty books covering a wide range of subjects besides politics, from religion to aesthetics, and architecture to wine. He was also editor for almost twenty years of the Salisbury Review; and a regular contributor to The Times and The Spectator

Elizabeth Vallance, Lady Vallance of Tummel (1945–2020), was a political scientist who researched the role of women legislators, and a founder of the all-party 300 Group, set up in 1980 after only three per cent of MPs elected in 1979 were women. She was a founder or supporter of numerous charities and causes, including many concerning disadvantaged children, women’s rights, and prison reform. William Lockley (Bill) Miller (1943–2020) was another Scottish political scientist and a psephologist, specializing in electoral dynamics, who was a familiar face on Scottish television for over thirty years (known as ‘the talking beard’). His research also encompassed Anglo-Scottish relations, and emerging democracies in eastern Europe.

W.G. (Garry) Runciman, third Viscount Runciman (1934–2020), was a hereditary peer who combined many successful careers. He was a director and from 1976 to 1990 chairman of the family shipping business. He was a highly respected sociologist and social theorist, who was president of the British Academy from 2001 to 2005. And he was much called-on for public service, inter alia chairing the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice in 1991-3. Sir John Hills (1954–2020) was a social scientist and social policy expert, based at the LSE for more than thirty years, whose work on poverty, inequality, and social exclusion also led him to be much in demand for policy advice – notably reports on pensions, social housing, and national equality for the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and on fuel poverty for the Coalition government. They are joined in this update by Deepak Lal (1940–2020), a wide-ranging and prolific Indian-born, UK-based economist who was closely associated with the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs, Cato Institute, and Mont Pèlerin Society, and best known for his book, The Poverty of ‘Development Economics’ (1983).

Rosemary Hollis (1952–2020) was a widely-respected international relations scholar specializing in the politics of the Middle East, who was director of research at Chatham House and later a professor at City University and director of its Olive Tree scholarship programme, which (until lack of funding brought it to an end in 2016) brought together Israeli and Palestinian students to study on a specially tailored degree. Born in the US, but Oxford-educated and for many years a teaching fellow at New Hall, Cambridge, Zara Steiner (1926–2020) was a pioneering archival historian of twentieth-century international relations. Her magnum opus – running to more than 2000 pages – was initially projected as a single volume in the Oxford History of Modern Europe on the interwar period, but came out as two: The Lights that Failed (2005) and The Triumph of the Dark (2011).

Zara Steiner is joined in this update by her husband, George Steiner (1929–2020). Born in France, of Viennese parents, escaping to the United States before the German invasion, and for most of his life living in England while teaching at Geneva, he was a true cosmopolitan as well as a renowned polymath. His books, essays, and lectures ranged from chess to religion, and language to history, with a solid core of literary and cultural criticism. His novella The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. (1979) was adapted for the stage by Christopher Hampton. Born in Cologne, Peter Dronke (1934–2020) also fled the Nazi regime as a child, settling first in New Zealand and then in the UK, also living in Cambridge for more than fifty years. He became a leading scholar of medieval Latin, reaching a wider audience with The Medieval Lyric (1968). A keen musician, he collaborated with many experts in early music. Both Steiners and Dronke were fellows of the British Academy, as was Sir John Lyons (1932–2020), an eminent scholar of linguistics and semantics who founded departments at Edinburgh and Sussex before becoming master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. The works for which he was best known were Structural Semantics (1963) and Semantics (2 vols, 1977), and also his study of Noam Chomsky (1970) in the Fontana Modern Masters series. 

Sir Ken Robinson (1950–2020), born and brought up in Liverpool, overcame childhood polio to become one of the most renowned and influential educationists of his generation, with his emphasis firmly on nurturing children’s creativity. He was an adviser to governments of whichever party, and reached a wider audience through his books and in particular his TED talks: one talk, ‘Do schools kill creativity?’, had been watched more than 65 million times by the time of his death. From a much older generation, creativity was at the heart of the educational practices favoured by Phyllis Wallbank (1918–2020), a Froebel-trained teacher who in 1948 opened the first all-age Montessori school in the UK, in the gatehouse at St Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield. It later moved to Bethnal Green in the 1970s, and at one point had a branch in Great Missenden. 

Sir Eric Anderson (1936–2020) was a quintessential member of the British establishment, as a housemaster at Gordonstoun and Fettes and headmaster for fourteen years and provost for nine of Eton College, who taught Prince Charles and three prime ministers (Tony Blair, David Cameron, and Boris Johnson). He was later rector of Lincoln College, Oxford (whose undergraduates included a fourth prime minister, Rishi Sunak). Also included in this update is Fred Jarvis (1924–2020), who progressed from the National Union of Students to the National Union of Teachers, of which he was general secretary from 1975 to 1989, including during a bruising series of strikes, and the Education Reform Act 1988. ‘Old Labour’ in his views, he was frequently at odds with militants in his union and the TUC (of which he was president in 1987).

Sporting greats

The UK also lost a large number of its sporting heroes in 2020. Few of them come greater than motor racing driver Sir Stirling Moss (1929–2020), known as ‘the greatest driver never to have won a world championship’, who before being forced to retire after a horrific accident in 1962 gained millions of new enthusiasts for motor sport. He was runner-up in the world championship four times and finished third three times, and would have won in 1958 had he not, sportingly, defended his rival Mike Hawthorn when the latter looked to have points deducted. Aside from the grand prix he competed in some 500 other races in almost 100 types of car, with around 200 victories. Long after his retirement he was (like Vera Lynn) often feted as an embodiment of the national spirit.

From the world of football, this update includes two veterans of the only England football team to have won the world cup, in 1966. Born in Ashington, Northumberland, Jack Charlton (1935–2020), brother of Bobby Charlton, was an aggressive centre-back with a reputation as ‘a hard man in an era of hard men’. He made 629 appearances for Leeds United and thirty-five for England before embarking on a career as a manager (notably for the Republic of Ireland, from 1986 to 1996). Nobby Stiles (1942–2020), a defensive midfielder, also had a fearsome reputation for tackling (and entitled his autobiography Soccer My Battlefield). He was a key figure in the Manchester United side which won the European Cup in 1968, in all making 311 appearances for the club and 28 for England. 

Born in Tobermore, Co Londonderry, Harry Gregg (1932–2020) was the goalkeeper for Northern Ireland from 1954 to 1963 (including in a famous 3-2 win against England in 1957) and for Manchester United from 1957 to 1968, making 210 appearances for club and twenty-five for country. He was hailed as a hero of the Munich air crash of 1958 when he went back into the burning wreckage to rescue fellow passengers and team-mates, but for years after was traumatised by the event. Fellow goalkeeper Ray Clemence (1948–2020) made sixty-one appearances for England but it was as goalkeeper for Liverpool under Bill Shankly then Bob Paisley that he made his greatest mark: he made 665 starts, with an astonishing 323 clean sheets. After Liverpool he spent another seven years at (and made 240 appearances for) Spurs, whom he also briefly managed in 1992-3. Glasgow-born Tommy Docherty (1928–2020) was a right-half for Celtic, Preston North End (alongside the legendary Tom Finney), Arsenal, and Scotland, but it was for an almost thirty-year career as a football manager (including for Scotland in 1971-2 and Manchester United from 1972 to 1977, spanning relegation and promotion) that he will be best remembered.

John James (J.J.) Williams (1948–2020), born in Maesteg, Glamorgan, was a talented athlete who represented Wales in the 100m and 200m at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, but it was as a rugby player for Bridgend, Llanelli, Wales, and the British and Irish Lions that he will be forever remembered: by any account he was one of Wales’s most talented wingers, and he was a key figure in the nation’s Grand Slam-winning teams in 1976 and 1978. From the world of cricket, John Edrich (1937–2020) was considered one of the best batsmen of his generation. Born into a cricketing family in Norfolk (four cousins were also first-class cricketers) he played for Surrey and England (and was captain of both, in 1973-7 and 1975 respectively). His final tally was 39,790 first-class runs (at an average of 45.47) and 5,138 Test runs (at an average of 43.54). He also scored 103 first-class centuries.

Alan Minter (1951–2020) was poor at most sports until he tried boxing, in which he quickly made his mark as a schoolboy, junior, and amateur. He was ABA middleweight champion and (after a controversial refereeing decision went against him) won bronze in the 1972 Olympics. Turning professional later that year, he was British, European, and finally (in 1980) world middleweight champion after an ugly match marred by crowd disorder which Harry Carpenter remembered as ‘the low point of my many years at British ringsides’. 

Endurance of a different kind marked the career of Mary Falk (1946–2020), a solicitor and keen yachtswoman who regularly sailed round Britain and in 1996 broke the record for the fastest transatlantic crossing in a 35 foot boat: her record of 19 days, 22 hours, and 57 minutes still stands. Ann Sayer (1936–2020) was a geologist (at the British Geological Survey and BP) who excelled in two different sports, as a rower (representing Great Britain at three European championships) and a long-distance walker. In 1977 she became the first woman to walk 100 miles in less than 24 hours, and in 1980 she set a (still unbroken) record for the fastest walk by a woman from Land’s End to John O’Groat’s, completing the journey in 13 days, 17 hours, and 42 minutes.

Three giants of the climbing and mountaineering world are included in this update. Joe Brown (1930–2020), from Manchester, began climbing on Kinder Scout using gym shoes and his mother’s clothesline as a rope. He became a celebrated climber and mountaineer, making the first ascent of Kangchenjunga and the Muztagh Tower in the Himalayas, and (for a live broadcast by the BBC) climbing the Old Man of Hoy. From 1966 he lived in Llanberis, where he ran a shop selling climbing gear. Born in Nottingham, Doug Scott (1941–2020) was a versatile athlete, and a founder of the Nottingham Moderns Rugby Football Club, but it was as a mountaineer that he was to excel. In 1969 led a first ascent of Sròn Uladail, an overhanging cliff on the Isle of Harris dubbed ‘Britain’s toughest climb’. In 1975 he was (with Dougal Haston) the first Briton to climb Everest (by the harder south-west face); but he was perhaps most renowned for his endurance when, having broken both legs at the ankles, he crawled on his knees for a week down Baintha Brakk in the Karakoram, also known as the Ogre. He adopted the Buddhist faith and in his later years devoted himself to voluntary work for the people of Nepal. Born in Gatehouse of Fleet, Galloway, Hamish MacInnes (1930–2020) was one of the most celebrated of postwar Scottish mountaineers. He took part in three Everest expeditions, made the first winter ascent of Zero Gully on Ben Nevis and first winter traverse of the Cuillin Ridge on Skye, and mapped out numerous routes in Scotland and further afield. An inventor, he developed the first all-metal ice axe, and the first dropped pick ice tool, or ‘curved axe’, which made many new routes possible. Known as ‘the Fox of Glencoe’, he also, in 1961, founded the Glen Coe Mountain Rescue Team.

Paralysed from the waist down after a road accident, Margaret Maughan (1928–2020) was the first British paralympic gold medallist, winning gold medals in four different sports: archery and swimming (Rome, 1960), dartchery (Heidelberg, 1972), and lawn bowls (Arnhem, 1980). She lit the cauldron at the Olympic Stadium in the opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Paralympics. Angela Buxton (1934–2020) experienced antisemitism early in her career as a tennis player when, despite her obvious talent, she was refused membership of the exclusive Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club in London. She went on to win the women’s doubles at Wimbledon with her playing partner, the African American Althea Gibson (reported in one headline as ‘Minorities win’). She was forced to retire early as a result of a hand condition and forged a second career as a tennis journalist and author of books on coaching techniques. Born in Croydon, Belinda Petty (1935–2020) joined her local judo club as a teenager and discovered she had a talent, gaining her third kyu (or green belt) in 1957. In the early 1970s she trained and qualified as a referee but in 1977 was withdrawn from officiating at the All-England Men’s Championship following a complaint. In 1980 she won a legal landmark case against the British Judo Association, which set a precedent for women referees in sport.

Born in Cardiff, but brought up near Chepstow, Liz Edgar (1943–2020) was a champion showjumper who won the Queen Elizabeth Cup a record five times, was the first woman to win the Aachen Grand Prix, and was in three winning Nations Cup teams. She later ran a successful training and breeding business with her husband, fellow international showjumper Ted Edgar.Born in Manchester, Stan Mellor (1937–2020) left school at fourteen and was encouraged in his ambitions to be a rider by Dick Francis. He went on to be a three-times National Hunt champion jockey and in 1971 was the first jockey to record 1,000 wins (perhaps the most celebrated when he snatched victory from Pat Taaffe riding the legendary Arkle in the 1966 Hennessy Gold Cup). He was later a successful trainer. 

Peter Alliss (1931–2020) was born in Germany, where his father was a golf professional. He followed the family profession, and won twenty professional tournaments including three British PGA championships. But it was as a golf commentator and the BBC’s ‘voice of golf’ for more than forty years that he was best known. Last but by no means least, bowls player David Bryant (1931–2020), born in Clevedon, Somerset, is widely recognized as the greatest bowler of all time, known for his mastery, focus, and determination when playing. He represented England for over thirty-five years and accumulated twenty world and Commonwealth titles. He also won twenty-six English national titles, as well as numerous county titles for Somerset.