Derbyshire Lives

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is the national record of people who’ve shaped British history, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century. The ODNB currently includes the life stories of over 60,000 men and women who died in or before 2016.

Of these 60,000 people, nearly 1,500 have close ties to Derbyshire.

Joseph Wright

Here you’ll find some famous (and perhaps less-well-known) Derbyshire faces, including the artist Joseph Wright of Derby (above) and (below) the Tudor noblewoman Bess of Hardwick and one-time manager of Derby County FC, Brian Clough. Click on the images below to read more.


Bess of Hardwick Joseph Davis Alan Bates Erasmus Darwin 
Brian Clough John Flamsteed Vera Brittain Stephen Bloomer
William Cavendish Geoffrey Fisher Sir Richard Arkwright

Who and how? in Derbyshire

As well as looking for people by name, you can also search by place, for example:

(NB: You'll need to be logged into your library's subscription for these searches.)

How do I search?

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”.

What else does the Oxford DNB offer?

  • Free biography podcast: as well as more than 60,000 life stories, the ODNB publishes a twice monthly biography podcast featuring some popular entries from the collection. There are now over 250 episodes in the archive. Recent highlights include Roald Dahl, George Orwell, John Lennon, and Margaret Thatcher.
  • Follow us on Twitter for more historical figures in the news.

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