The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford DNB) is the national record of men and women who’ve shaped British life from the Romans to the 21st century. Naturally, it includes all of the greatest figures from the British past. But it also contains thousands of men and women—with close ties to particular counties, towns, and villages—whose regional importance means they now appear in the national biography.
- Getting started: our selection
- Bespoke public library pages
- Finding people near you
- Scotland and Wales
- Gangs, gatherings, and groups
Our selection of interactive maps highlight Local heroes in the Oxford DNB remembered for their connection to the history of a particular place—from Mousehole to Orkney, Dover to Enniskillen. Topically-themed maps include Famous gardeners and Brewers of Britain.
A selection of Oxford DNB biographies are also available as audio recordings. Our podcast map includes local heroes—including Friar Tuck, Morecambe and Wise, and Amy Johnson—who’ve featured in our twice-monthly podcast which now offers more than 200 free episodes. And in our stories of the sea we remember individuals who lived and worked on or off the coast of this island nation.
We have biographies of 7,500 native Londoners. For a very small sample try our clickable London maps: by borough, or Westminster & the City. Recent additions include Henry Croft, founder of the pearly king tradition; the Brixton activist Olive Morris, and Pasqua Rosee, who opened London’s first coffee house (in 1656). We also have a map of early Black Lives in the ODNB in partnership with the Layers of London project.
Use the links below to see people by city and county from across the United Kingdom.
Librarians use these pages to promote Oxford DNB to their users, showing them how to find people by place.
If you’d like one for your library, let us know.
The Oxford DNB includes the life stories of more than 60,000 men and women. Online you can search for where they were born, baptized, lived, died or were buried, by date range or location.
- The advanced search ‘life event’ feature can be used to find people near you—be they men and women baptised in Edinburgh (189), those born in Whitby (28), or those buried in Exeter (133). Used in this way the ODNB is an excellent resource for school projects or family history.
- Text searching across the Oxford DNB’s 68 million words, you can also make links between people and places: for example, we’ve 102 references to “Clapham Common”, 27 to the “River Trent”, and 51 to “Snowdonia”.
For readers interested in Scottish and Welsh history, there’s more on regional searching of the Oxford DNB via these two special guides (searches on these pages require subscriber access, available via UK public libraries).
As well as tens of thousands of people, the Oxford DNB includes essays on well-known historical clubs and networks in which individuals came together to act collaboratively. There are now over 300 groups essays in Oxford DNB Themes (requires subscriber access), with more to follow. Many groups also have strong regional ties, including:
- Birmingham’s Lunar Society
- the Dymock poets
- Hackney Phalanx
- Oxford’s Inklings
- the Putney debaters
- and the Spalding Gentleman’s Society