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Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 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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... 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 century, with all lives revised and the text sprinkled with ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Caster Semenya, 8 October 2009

... 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 Berlin this August, having improved her personal best by ...

They never married

Ian Hamilton, 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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... 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 idly of raw deals it is hard to think of a woman who has been ...

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 ...

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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... 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 selection of those whose careers present any feature which ...

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