The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
is published today, in print and online: a biographical record of everyone who's ever been anyone in British history (50,000 individuals) and an astonishing feat of scholarly collaboration (10,000 contributors from all over the world). Access to the full database is fearfully expensive, but the official site gives you a good selection of sample entries
, with a new one added every day; and a feature in today's Times
gives you some more
, beginning with Mary Toft, the woman who gave birth to rabbits.
posted by verstegan
on Sep 23, 2004 -
Two Years Before the Mast.
"In the following pages I design to give an accurate and authentic narrative of a little more than two years spent as a common sailor,before the mast, in the American merchant service. It is written out from a journal which I kept at the time, and from notes which I made of most of the events as they happened." At the beginning of his third year of Harvard a severe attack of measles interrupted Henry Dana's studies,
and so affected his eyes as to preclude, for a time at least, all idea of study. The state of the family finances was not such as to permit of foreign travel in search of health. Accordingly, prompted by necessity and by a youthful love of adventure, he shipped as a common sailor in the brig, bound for the California coast
posted by weston
on Sep 14, 2004 -
With a new biopic in the works
, the spotlight will soon return to this silent-movie legend. The beautiful
and enchanting Brooks set the mold for the stereotypical bobbed-hair flapper of the 1920s, though her Hollywood work is largely forgettable. Her most famous film, Pandora’s Box [script, mirror]
(directed by G.W. Pabst
) was filmed in Germany. She didn't make a successful transition to talkies, and after a long reclusive period, she had a second career writing essays
. -- For further reading, Ken Tynan's 1979 essay
"The Girl in the Black Helmet" [mirror]
in the New Yorker
gives an excellent overview of her life.
posted by stopgap
on Dec 16, 2003 -
The On-Line Picasso Project
offers 6,893 works for your ogling pleasure, plus an obsessively documented chronological bio. I'm stunned. (please read the user's manual, inside.)
posted by taz
on Oct 2, 2003 -
Know Your NeoCons.
Already the name "NeoCon" is used as an invective from the Left. But who are they? Here are some of their faces, brief biographies, and information about what a NeoCon is, at least as how they define it.
posted by kablam
on Sep 4, 2003 -
A million lives.
Links to thousands of biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, letters, narratives, oral histories and more.
posted by pooligan
on Aug 25, 2003 -
More or Less
is an interesting mini-encyclopedia of several of the great heroes & great villains of the 20th Century, with background information on each individual, the situation they were in, the scope of their impact on humanity, etc. It makes an interesting contrast, as well as a good thinking point on what one human life can achieve, for better or worse.
posted by jonson
on Aug 24, 2003 -
[warning: pop ups] became well known for a few scientifically unexplained phenomena. They are Telepathy... Dowsing... Bending, breaking and softening metal and other solids with the power of the mind, e.g. spoons, keys etc, more rarely plastic and glass; Fixing broken watches and appliances, and using collective power, influencing the Big Ben to stop; Moving compasses with the power of thought; Erasing computer tapes and disks; and Sprouting, causing tiny seeds (mainly red radish) to grow a few centimeters in seconds." Why not thrill to a biography
of this favorite pseudo psychic of the 70s? To be frank, until just now, I wasn't even aware that he was back!
posted by Joey Michaels
on Mar 24, 2003 -
Our Bastard(s) Somoza
Speaking of brutal Nicaraguan dicatator Somoza, Harry Truman is supposed to have said "He's a bastard, but he's our bastard." Looking for a source for this quote, I discovered it's attributed to Truman, FDR, and Nixon. This is such a broad chronological range that I figured I could narrow it down by finding out when Somza lived. No such luck: according to two biography*/histories
, there were actuall three Somozas: Anastasio Somoza Garcia, who fathered Luis Somoza Debayle and Anastasio Somoza Debayle, and the Somoza dynasty that ruled Nicaragua from the mid 1930s through the late 1970s. All three of those presidents could well have made the comment. But I'm still stuck for a source...
* This link (the first history/bio) requires anyone clicking from an outside page to go through an extra "Welcome Mat" page on the first time through. Annoying, but no registration required.
posted by namespan
on Nov 11, 2002 -
Shakey: Neil Young's Biography. . .
Any big Neil Young fan, and I have to admit to being one, also spends a lot of time hating a lot of his artistic output (i. e. the cringe-enducing Let's Roll
, as well as his all-over-the-map politics.
In the LATimes book review
Hal Epsen mentions that the reliably perverse Young has been a staunch Reagan supporter and proponent of the death penalty, as well as a devoted husband and a stalwart parent to three kids, two of whom were born with cerebral palsy
. He also asserts that Young appeals almost wholly to male listeners.
Young has been discussed here before but not, I believe his biography, which, as has been Neil Young's M. O. from the get-go, is a dictionary-perfect example of a "mixed bag."
posted by Danf
on May 16, 2002 -
It's strange to think Harmony Cousins
is part my generation when she's lived ten times the life I have. But the fact that even after all this she can pull herself back to together proves that she's ten times the person most of us are. How many of us have her strength?
posted by feelinglistless
on Apr 1, 2002 -
Isaac Asimov died of AIDS.
His widow, Janet Jeppson Asimov, reveals that Asimov acquired AIDS from a blood transfusion during bypass surgery in 1983 in a condensed version of his biography just published this month ("It's Been a Good Life"). Apparently his doctor advised that they not disclose his AIDS infection.
posted by maudlin
on Mar 10, 2002 -
Muhammad O' Ali.
Geneologists have uncovered his Irish roots. His great grandfather was an Irish emigree who married an African American woman in Kentucky.
posted by Lanternjmk
on Feb 8, 2002 -
Who is Osama Bin Laden? ...The Afghan jihad was backed with American dollars and had the blessing of the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. He received security training from the CIA itself, according to Middle Eastern analyst Hazhir Teimourian.
Is OBL the United State's Golem?
posted by housepox
on Sep 12, 2001 -
The Filth and The Fury.
I went to see this film last night and it has to be one of the best music documentary (or, if you will, rockumentary) films I've seen. It charts the Sex Pistols rise and fall and is surprisingly funny and touching. It even manages to capture Seventies Britain in all its revolting glory. I think I shall now go and put a safety pin through my website.
posted by dodgygeezer
on Jun 23, 2000 -