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    Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
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Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is a collection of more than 57,000 specially written biographies, which describe the lives of people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond from the 4th century BC to the 21st century.

It is the first point of reference for anyone interested in the people who left their mark on the history of the British Isles. The Oxford DNB replaces and extends the original Victorian DNB, and includes:

  • re-written biographies of all subjects included in the first, Victorian DNB, reflecting new research, and providing an up-to-date assessment of their lives
  • 16,500 biographies of new subjects from all periods.

First published in a 60-volume print edition and online (in 2004), the dictionary is an essential resource for checking facts, learning about people involved in a historical event or associated with a place, or undertaking new research into any aspect of the British past.

Since 2004 the Oxford DNB online has been extended by three annual updates (published each January, May, and October) which add new biographies and reference material.

The Oxford DNB provides accurate, concise and readable articles on noteworthy people from all walks of life. Entries offer detailed and extensive biographical information drawn from primary and secondary sources and range from a few dozen to 35,000 words in length. With more than 10,000 illustrations, researched in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, London, the Oxford DNB is also the largest selection of national portraiture ever published.

Where possible, entries provide a person's:

  • full name at birth and name changes throughout life
  • dates and places of birth, baptism, marriage, death, and burial
  • parents' names, life dates, and occupations
  • records of siblings and other noteworthy family members
  • education history

Each article also provides an extensive reference section listing:

  • primary and secondary works consulted by the author of the biography: over 300,000 bibliographic references in total
  • paper, film and sound archives for further research
  • portrait likenesses
  • where known, details of wealth at death—making this the largest public collection of such information.


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September 13, 2010


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