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22 August 1996
The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... legitimate male Plantagenet’ and the builder of 5747 Sopwith Camels in the last quinquennial round-up of the Dictionary of National Biography. This is also the last of five volumes to which C.S.Nicholls has devoted her editorial talents. There will now be something of a hiatus, until the first volumes of the New Dictionary of National Biography, under Colin Matthew, begin to appear early next ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Caster Semenya

8 October 2009
... The whole point of all this work is to go unnoticed. Being a sports administrator is a bit like being a spy, in that attracting attention is by definition a sign that something has gone amiss.The case of Caster Semenya has seen the administration of athletics go about as badly wrong as it possibly can. Semenya is the 18-year-old South African woman who won the 800 metres World Championships in ...
10 May 1990
The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... the attitude to showbiz triumph is surprisingly relaxed: even Billy Fury, whose sole gift was that he looked a bit like Elvis Presley, rates a respectful (if lamely written) entry – perhaps in his case an early death worked in his favour. Women still seem to be getting a raw deal, with only about 10 per cent of the entries, but this percentage is up on previous supplements and although one talks ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine

3 December 1981
The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... Mr Stephen is editing a little dictionary,’ a friend explained to a clergyman foolhardy enough to ask whether Leslie ‘did any writing’. The enterprise in question was the DNB, one of those grandiosely-conceived and indefatigably-executed works of late 19th-century self-regard, comparable to the Victoria County Histories and the Survey of London. Year after year, at three-monthly intervals ...

Grateful Dead

John Barrell

22 April 1993
The Dictionary of National Biography: Missing Persons 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 790 pp., £80, January 1993, 0 19 865211 9
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... to have been little more successful at second-guessing the interests of future historians than those whose ‘erroneous’ exclusions they are now seeking to correct. Perhaps this is bound to be the case: the opportunities to achieve fame and distinction have become too many, and the interests of historians too various, for any modern biographical dictionary to be more than a thoroughly partial ...

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