60,000+ people | 11,000+ portraits | 72 million words | 2,500 years of history

     Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson    Anne Boleyn    Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill     Eileen Forrester Agar

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What is the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography?

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford DNB) is the national record of men and women who have shaped British history and culture, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century. The Dictionary offers concise, up-to-date biographies written by named, specialist authors. It is overseen by academic editors at Oxford University, UK, and published by Oxford University Press. The Oxford DNB's General Editor is Professor Sir David Cannadine.

The Oxford DNB was first published in 2004 in print (60 vols.). Since 2005 regular updates have extended the Dictionary’s coverage, now including biographies of more than 60,000 men and women who died in or before the year 2016—plus 536 ‘Theme’ articles for reference and research.

The Oxford DNB online is updated regularly throughout the year, extending coverage into the 21st century, whilst also adding new biographies across all historical periods. Full editorial introductions from the latest updates are available here.

Key features of the Oxford DNB include:

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  • The Oxford DNB is also available in print (now 61 volumes and over 61,000 pages)

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History of the DNB and Oxford DNB (1885 to the 21st century)

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  George Herbert Leigh Mallory  Æthelwulf   Anna Letitia Barbauld   John Ono Lennon  Richard Fox  Robert Carrier

Image credits:

Top images

Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson (1758–1805): by Sir William Beechey, 1800. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Anne (c. 1500–1536): by unknown artist, late 16th cent. [original, c.1533–6]. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874–1965): by Walter Sickert, 1927. © courtesy Estate of Walter Sickert; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

Eileen Forrester Agar (1899–1991): self-portrait, 1927. © Estate of Eileen Agar; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

Bottom images

George Herbert Leigh Mallory (1886–1924): by Duncan Grant, 1912. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Æthelwulf (d. 858): coin. © Copyright The British Museum

Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743–1825): by Richard Samuel, 1778 [top left, hand out in gesture Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo]. © National Portrait Gallery, London

John Ono Lennon (1940–1980): by Annie Leibovitz, 1970. © Annie Leibovitz; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

Richard Fox (1447/88–1528): by Joannes Corvus, 1530–?32. Corpus Christi College, Oxford / Bridgeman Art Library

Robert Carrier (1923–2006): by Barry Marsden, 1998. © National Portrait Gallery, London


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