Plymouth Lives

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 Plymouth 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 Plymouth libraries’ Reference Online or the Oxford DNB online, adding your number.

With access Plymouth, Britain, and indeed the world, is your online oyster.

  1. Plymouth lives
  2. Finding people near you
  3. Topical and local history in the ODNB

1. Plymouth lives

The Oxford DNB includes more than 400 men and women with connections to Plymouth—from the 16th-century sea captain, Sir John Hawkins, to Britain’s first woman MP Nancy Astor, and the pantomime artist Jack Tripp (1922-2005).

Nancy Astor  Wilberforce Bryant

In between you’ll find many sons and daughters of the city, including the match manufacturer Wilberforce Bryant (1837-1906) and the radio performer Derek McCulloch (1897-1967), better known as Uncle Mac.

 You can also search within Plymouth, allowing you to find 30 people baptized in or near the city; more than 100 former pupils of Plymouth schools; and 251 one-time residents, including Notte Street’s William Cookworthy.

Across the ODNB’s 70 million words, you’ll also find more than 1500 references to Plymouth, 21 to Eddystone, 20 to the Tamar, and 15 to the Golden Hind

Jack Tripp  John Smeaton

It’s easy to search by place in the Oxford DNB as the following section explains.

2. Finding people near you

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 ODNB’s 65 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.


3. Topical and local history

Try a map—from British brewers, to gardeners and seafarers

Listen to a life

Duke of Windsor

Every two weeks the ODNB 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


> Read the Oxford DNB, free and at home, using your library's subscription
> More about the Oxford DNB