Latest Issue

Getting a life

The new Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has been denounced for its many mistakes and tendentious commentary. But it extends the idea of Britishness, includes an impressive variety of lives, and the online version enables hours of happy browsing by entry, contributor, theme or even phrase

The founding editor of the original Dictionary of National Biography, Leslie Stephen, abandoned sole responsibility midway through his enormous task. His wife Julia was convinced that it was ruining his health, and persuaded him to resign and take refuge in the Alps. In To the Lighthouse (1927), Stephen’s daughter, Virginia Woolf, commemorated her parents as Mr and Mrs Ramsay, paying tribute to his dogged persistence and to her beauty and loving kindness (both were long dead: she died in 1895, he in 1904). Julia Prinsep Stephen was a woman who lived in and through family, friends and philanthropic projects, in…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect