112 biographies new in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: history of British motoring

[based on text from Dr Philip Carter, Publication Editor, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography]

Yesterday’s update from the wonderful Oxford Dictionary of National Biography adds 112 biographies of men and women active between the 11th and late-20th century, with a special focus on the history of British motoring.

There’s a page of ‘highlights’ ; a full list of new lives, and an introduction which explains who’s been included and why.

A number of Oxford History Faculty members have contributed to the latest additions:

1.  Dr John Davis on Maurice Levinson (1910-1984), taxi driver and author: having arrived in the East End of London in 1918 as a refugee, Levinson found taxi-driving an escape from unemployment in the depression of the 1930s; he documented a lifetime’s experience behind the wheel in several popular books http://www.oxforddnb.com/public/dnb/103432.html.

2. Dr Simon Skinner on Steve Hislop (1961-2003) racing motorcyclist, best known for his Isle of Man TT victories, of which his last (1992) is considered by ‘the greatest in TT history’. http://www.oxforddnb.com/public/dnb/92846.html

3. Dr Mark Curthoys on Goldie Gardner (1890-1958), racing motorist and land speed record holder: Gardner was closely associated with the MG motor works at Abingdon, whose marques he raced in a series of record speed attempts. Record attempts were held over the ‘flying mile’ on German autobahns in 1930s http://www.oxforddnb.com/public/dnb/97976.html

4. Dr Philip Carter on Albert Durrant (1898-1984), chief mechanical engineer at London Transport and designer of the Routemaster double-decker bus. The Routemaster was designed as a lightweight, efficient, modern bus which (for first time) offered passengers private motor car comforts, such as heating and coil spring suspension. The RM was intended to run for c.18 years but remained in service from 1959 to 2005. http://www.oxforddnb.com/public/dnb/104635.html. (We’ve also made a podcast audio recording of it, which is likewise on free access http://www.oxforddnb.com/public/audio/Oxford_Biography_Albert_Durrant_2013_06_05.mp3).

The ODNB publishes 3 updates annually, in January, May and September so look out for these updates. With the new update, ODNB has biographies of a staggering 58,664 people. The scholarly biographies are useful to track down archives, likenesses, probate, and key publications.

Here is an archive of more ODNB podcasts for each of these sections:

  1. Wartime lives
  2. Criminal lives
  3. Stage and screen
  4. Literary lives
  5. Political lives
  6. Science and invention
  7. Explorers and pioneers
  8. Sporting lives
  9. One-offs
  10. Mystery and fictitious lives

Enjoy! The next ODNB update is due in September 2013.

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