60,000+ people | 11,000+ portraits | 72 million words | 2,500 years of history
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- What is the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography?
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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:
- A responsive design enabling seamless access across different formats
- Searching using a query builder, helping you get straight to the content you need
- Social media integration, so you can share content across channels
- Searching across multimedia, including images and podcasts where available, making it easier to find different types of content
Get to know 60,000+ people ...
The Oxford DNB is a subscription service available worldwide.
- If you’re reading this in a university or college you might already have access to the thousands of people in the Oxford DNB. Find out how to login, or speak to your librarian.
- Many UK public libraries offer free ‘remote access’ anywhere, anytime—as do many other public libraries worldwide. Find out more >
- If you don't have access then find out how to subscribe, including information on personal subscriptions and institutional free trials
- The Oxford DNB is also available in print (now 61 volumes and over 61,000 pages)
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The Oxford DNB for ...
- Librarians and archivists: tips for promoting the Oxford DNB to your readers
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- All readers: discover our guide to abbreviations in the Oxford DNB, find detailed help, or read some Frequently Asked Questions
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History of the DNB and Oxford DNB (1885 to the 21st century)
- Read a brief history of the Oxford DNB: from the first dictionary (1885) to its online publication (2004)
- Find out more about current and past editors of the Oxford DNB
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
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