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.
1. Wigan lives
The Oxford DNB includes more than 240 men and women with connections to Wigan—from the 17th-century Digger leader, Gerrard Winstanley, to the miner and trade unionist Joe Gormley.
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 more than 40 people born in or near the town.
Across the ODNB’s 70 million words, you’ll also find more than 300 references to Wigan, 8 to the Leeds and Liverpool canal, more than 2,600 to cotton, and 45 to rugby league.
It’s easy to search by place in the Oxford DNB as the following section explains.
2. 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”.
3. Topical and local history
Try a map—from British brewers, to gardeners and seafarers
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.