Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Front Covers
  • CO AUTHORS: H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison
  • PUBLISHER: OUP
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 2004
  • ISBN: 0198614136 / 9780198614135
Buy on Amazon

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

‘Odo, Bishop of Bayeux’ and ‘William the Conqueror’

For anyone who is an addicted bibliophile (the “gentle madness”) & who cannot resist the urge to “read around” the lives of people encountered in the books they engage with (whether as authors or dramatis personae) the new Oxford DNB is a vast improvement on its late nineteenth century first edition, restricted as it was by the contemporary conventionalities as to Who was mentioned and What could be said about them.The initial asking price of £7,500 has now dropped to £1,500 direct from OUP – & IF you were a Contributor to any biographies you get it for £900 : any book seller qualifies for a minimum discount of 15% , about £1,275. It’s not cheap, but a vast improvement on the first publication price.The NEW purchaser is also entitled to a year’s free access to the ODNB on line. As many main HQs of municipal libraries in the UK are supposed to have a print copy &/or online access, purchase is really for the dedicated book lover/reference chaser who hates having to wait to make a specific outing to satisfy their inquisitiveness.
Source here

I came to the ODNB at university and I have never forgotten how truly magnificent it is. I used the on-line version extensively but also the print one from time to time. It is extremely easy to use, with the standard alphabetical listing.
Some biographies are short because there is not much information available, but many are very detailed and run for several pages. This is obviously true for all the major players in British history. I used it mainly for information about personalities in the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries and some of the people I looked up, especialy for my dissertation on the Georgian navy, were obscure but they were in there with enough detail to be useful. Birth and death dates, marriage dates, spouse and (some) children’s names and an overview of the life and career of the person are included.
I cannot express how much I love this book and the on-line version. The wealth of information contained is amazing and anyone buying it is truly fortunate. I cannot imagine anyone not liking it or finding it useful.
Source here