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

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

1. Wigan lives

The Oxford DNB includes nearly 100 men and women with connections to Wigan—from the 17th-century Digger leader, Gerrard Winstanley, to the miner and trade unionist Joe Gormley.

Joseph Beecham  Ted Ray

 In between you’ll find many sons and daughters of the city, including the medicine manufacturer Sir Joseph Beecham and the entertainers George Formby and Ted Ray.

You can also search within Wigan, allowing you to find 40 people born or baptized in or near the town, and more than 50 one-time residents.

Across the ODNB’s 70 million words, you’ll also find more than 275 references to Wigan, 10 to the Leeds and Liverpool canal, 1700 to cotton, and 38 to rugby league

Joe Gormley

 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 57,000 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 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.

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 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

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