The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is the national record of men and women who’ve shaped all walks of British life—from the Romans to the 21st century. Published online, and extended three times a year, the ODNB includes more than 60,000 life stories.
Public libraries in Darlington subscribe to the Oxford DNB, which means you can look for people either in the library or from home (or anywhere, anytime) using your library membership number as a personal log-in.
You can gain access via the Oxford DNB online, adding your membership number on the site.
With access Darlington, Britain, and indeed the world, is your online oyster.
In between you’ll find many sons and daughters of the city, including the slavery abolitionist Elizabeth Nichol (1807-1897) and the film producer Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan (1904-2003), whose works include Brief Encounter and Great Expectations with David Lean.
You can also search within Darlington, allowing you to find 30 former pupils of Darlington schools and 48 one-time residents, including Robert and Charles Colling, stockbreeders of the famous Durham Ox.
Further afield you’ll find 44 people linked to Bishop Auckland; 400 sons and daughters of Durham, and 446 residents of Newcastle, including novelist Catherine Cookson and notorious local politician, T. Dan Smith.
Across the ODNB’s 70 million words, you’ll also find more than 280 references to Darlington, 18 to the Great North Road, 13 to the River Tees, and 8 to the Northern Echo.
It’s easy to search by place in the Oxford DNB as the following section explains.
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, searching by county, town, village, church, and street.
You can find people near you—be they one-time residents of Princes Street, Edinburgh (45), sons and daughters of Whitby (24), or those buried in Exeter (112).
Text searching across the Oxford DNB’s 70 million words, you can also make links between people and places: for example, we’ve 92 references to Clapham Common, 23 to the River Trent, and 40 to Snowdonia.
Listen to a life
Every two weeks the Oxford DNB releases a biography podcast. There are more than 250 episodes to choose from, including John Lennon, Madame Tussaud, Morecambe and Wise, Roald Dahl, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Browse the episodes by list or by place.