Who are the men and women who have shaped modern Britain? This new book, drawn from the award-winning Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, brings together the life stories of more than 800 individuals who died between 2001 and 2004. These are the people responsible for some of the major developments in national life during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Alongside those who left their mark in politics, the arts, business, law, military service, sport, and education are leading figures in new branches of science and medicine-such as genetics, transplantation, and computing-and in new forms of entertainment and communication-from Radio One to the mobile phone. Many of those featured in this volume are remembered, as in the examples of Queen Elizabeth, the queen mother, the broadcaster Alistair Cooke, the politician Roy Jenkins, or the actor Thora Hird, for a career spanning many decades. Some-including the Nuremberg prosecutor Hartley Shawcross, the molecular biologists Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, the musician George Harrison or the campaigner Mary Whitehouse-are more closely associated with specific periods in our post-war history.
Others enter the national record principally for what have since become landmark moments, be they Nyree Porter's appearance in the Forsyte Saga, Kenneth Wolstenholme's World Cup commentary, Brian Trubshaw's Concorde test flight, or the controversy surrounding the weapons inspector David Kelly in 2003. Authoritative and accessible, the biographies in this volume are written by specialist authors, many of them leading figures in their field. Here you will find Ned Sherrin on Spike Milligan, Anthony Howard on Barbara Castle, Bel Mooney on Bernard Levin, Geoffrey Owen on Arnold Weinstock, Paul Johnson on Lord Longford, Patrick Moore on Fred Hoyle, Sarah Bradford on Princess Margaret, Michael Beloff on George Carman, Mike Phillips on Val McCalla, and Andrew Huxley on Bernard Katz, one of nine Nobel laureates to appear in this collection. Alongside these figures are less familiar names responsible for some well-known features of modern British life-from Godfrey Hounsfield and George Hersee, inventors of the CAT scanner and the test card, to Jack Worsley, bringer of acupuncture, and Barry Bucknell, pioneer of television DIY.
And because this is the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, many of the lives also offer a range of wonderfully entertaining insights. Inside you'll also meet the lawyer Peter Carter-Ruck, whose Rolls Royce sported the number plate L1BEL; Daniel Coxeter, the mathematician who ascribed his longevity to daily headstands; and Ian Russell, the entrepreneurial duke of Bedford, who wrote in the visitors' book of a rival: 'You should come to Woburn. It is better.'