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 updated monthly, the ODNB includes more than 60,000 life stories.
In between you’ll find many sons and daughters of the city, including the slavery abolitionist Elizabeth Nichol (1807-1897), the film producer Sir Anthony Havelock-Allan (1904-2003), whose works include Brief Encounter and Great Expectations with David Lean, and local figures such as Robert and Charles Colling, stockbreeders of the famous Durham Ox.
Further afield you’ll find 80 people linked to Bishop Auckland; more than 500 men and women born in Durham, and 495 people who were born, lived, or died in Newcastle, including novelist Catherine Cookson and notorious local politician, T. Dan Smith.
Across the ODNB’s 70 million words, you’ll also find almost 400 references to Darlington, 21 to the Great North Road, 15 to the River Tees, and 29 to the Northern Echo.
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”.
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.