About Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

A collection of biographies, which describe the lives of people who shaped the British Isles and beyond from the 4th century BC to the 21st century.

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Key features

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography includes people who left their mark on the British empire. It includes not just the ‘great and the good’, but the ‘bad and unusual’. This resource covers only the dead and not the living. Where possible, entries provide:

  • Extensive biographical information;
  • Illustrations;
  • Dates and places of birth, baptism, marriage, death, and burial;
  • Records of parents, siblings and other noteworthy family members.

You can search by occupation, theme, place, date or just use the "Get a life at random" function to learn something new.

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More information

In this resource all walks of life are covered from nuclear physicists to royal mistresses, millionaires and paupers, lawyers and traitors. There are stories of courage, malice and romance capturing the diversity of human conduct. Discover Richard Whately the Irish bishop and accomplished boomerang thrower, or the historian Alexander Gordon who insisted on having Not Yours inscribed on the inside of his hats. There are also figures from more recent history such as Princess Diana, and those with a New Zealand connection such as Jean Batten and John Robert Godley.

For more biographies, try Biography in Context.