Today, Thursday 22 May 2008 sees the eleventh online update to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, with the addition of 91 biographies of men and women who have shaped British history between the first and late twentieth century.
The update provides a special focus on garden designers and landscape architects responsible for some of Britain’s best-known—and most-visited— landscapes, public parks and city gardens. This update is the first of three highlighting people who have shaped the history of British gardening, with further biographies published over the coming year. The May 2008 update also adds sets of biographies of people influential in the British empire and early Commonwealth, and in the pre-Reformation church.
The May update also adds 45 essays on well-known groups—part of the Oxford DNB’s ongoing project to write a history of the significant clubs, gangs, and coteries by which individuals came together to shape Britain’s past. This new selection ranges chronologically from the ninth-century scholars of King Alfred’s court to the Kitchen Sink School of painters of the 1950s. Geographically, the new selection ranges from the Antarctic, with Captain Scott’s expedition party of 1912, to Burma with an account of the Chindits who fought the Japanese during World War II.
In the past three years there are have been nine updates to the Oxford DNB, adding new biographies of 1600 men and women to the existing 55,000 lives. Updates since 2004 have also added nearly 400 theme articles for quick reference and research. The next update of the Oxford DNB will be published in October 2008.
The complete Oxford DNB is freely available to 48 million residents in England and to all residents of Northern Ireland via their local public library. There is further extensive public library access in other parts of the United Kingdom and worldwide. Remote log-ins allow library readers to consult the online Oxford DNB from home or any other computer at any time.