The Dictionary of National Biography canonically records the activities of dead British worthies.
Following the example of national biographical collections published in separate nations of Europe, the publisher George Smith (1824 - 1901) planned an equivalent UK work from 1882 with the consultant assistance of Mr (afterwards Sir) Leslie Stephen. The first volume of the English Dictionary of National Biography apppeared on 1 January 1885, under Stephen’s editorship. Successive volumes appeared quarterly with complete punctuality until Midsummer 1900, when volume 63 closed the first series of the work, soon extended by the issue of three supplementary volumes.
In May 1891 Leslie Stephen resigned the editorship. Mr Sidney Lee succeeded him as editor and brought the work up to the death of Queen Victoria.
The Dictionary of National Biography contains the lives of more than 30,000 persons, and has elucidated the private annals of the British.
A completely new dictionary, which will be called The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, is to be published in September 2004.
Original text from 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica