First World War Lives in the Oxford DNB

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Reflect ... Consider ... Understand ... Remember


Wilfred Owen 

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography includes the stories of hundreds of men and women who shaped the course of the First World War, or whose lives were profoundly changed by the conflict.

In addition to those who served on the Western Front, the Oxford DNB includes those who took part in other campaigns—from the North Sea to the Middle East—as well as those who tended to the dead and injured. Many others are remembered for works of commemoration, in literature, architecture, or the creation of institutions such as the British Legion and the annual Poppy Appeal.

Here we offer a very brief selection by topic: click on a portrait to read on. Selected wartime lives are also available as episodes in the ODNB’s biography podcast.

Western Front | A world at war | Medicine & nursing |
Commemoration | Listen to a lifeODNB reference themes


The Western Front

William Coltman Daniel Laidlaw Noel Chavasse Theodore Hardy

A world at war

Mir Dast John Kirkpatrick Alexander Godley John Cornwell

Medicine & nursing

Edith Cavell Elizabeth T'Serclaes William Rivers Muriel Thompson 


 Vera Brittain Patch, Allingham, and Stone Fabian Ware 

Listen to a life: the ODNB biography podcast

The ODNB’s biography podcast includes a selection of wartime lives, including:

ODNB reference themes

In the ODNB themes, you’ll find reference material on aspects of the 1914-18 conflict.