The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) is freely available online through CUHK library. It has over 57,000 biographies, some of which are available as MP3 audio files from Oxford DNB Podcast. There are 10 sections for the Oxford DNB Podcast with over 100 podcasts. One person (with hyperlink) from each of the last eight sections has been chosen for review. Please visit the Oxford DNB Podcast and scroll down to download and /or listen to the podcasts. Visit the Oxford DNB to read about the lives of these or other people/topics.
To study and view expressions in the examples, go to online text, click ‘Edit’, choose ‘Find on this Page’ or Press Ctrl+F and type or paste in the expression.
1. Wartime lives 2. Criminal lives 3. Stage and screen John Lennon 4. Literary lives Ian Fleming 5. Political lives Sir Gordon Reece 6. Science and invention Ann Darwin 7. Explorers and pioneers Victoria Woodhull 8. Sporting lives Matthew Webb 9. One-offs Sidney Bloom 10.Mystery and fictitious lives Sweeney Todd
John Ono Lennon, born in Liverpool in 1940, was a famous English musician and songwriter. He is best known as a member of the popular British band The Beatles. Many of his fans may not know that Lennon’s childhood was traumatic as his father left the family in 1942 and later his mother died in a car accident. Despite this, Lennon became a talented art student at the Liverpool College of Art and developed an interest in music. He was particularly impressed by the style of music called ‘rock & roll’ and therefore
pursued a life as a musician. Ultimately, Lennon became a very successful musician as a member of The Beatles. Lennon had his first stage performance as a musician in 1957 when he formed a skiffle group called The Quarry Men. First, Paul McCartney, then other members joined the band and finally they decided to change their name to The Beatles. The style of music the group played also changed from skiffle to rock & roll. The Beatles quickly became very popular in the UK and their music then spread to different parts of the world. At its peak, the band enjoyed great popularity worldwide. However, in 1969, Lennon announced that he would leave the band, which essentially broke up The Beatles. In 1969, Lennon married a Japanese artist and singer called Yoko Ono and the couple moved to New York in 1971. Lennon continued to write music and sing, and was still very popular with his fans. Apart from music, he also became a political activist. He criticised the Vietnam War and advocated the anti-war and peace movements. Tragically, Lennon was murdered by Mark Chapman in New York in December 1980.
The Beatles were probably the most popular and well-known rock & roll band in the 20th century. Millions of copies of their albums have been sold worldwide. Lennon was very talented and wrote many of the band’s most popular songs. However, he was also the most controversial member of the band, in part because he openly took drugs such as LSD, heroin and cocaine. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB) gives a very detailed description of this famous, yet enigmatic figure. The Oxford DNB enables us to both listen to the sound file of the biography as well as read the text. In addition to Lennon, the Oxford DNB also includes biographies of other British celebrities from the stage and screen. For example, there are biographies of Madame Tussaud (founder of the famous waxwork exhibitions), Maurice Gibb (one of the singers in the Bee Gees), and Freddie Mercury (the lead singer of the band Queen). All of these people were successful in their own profession and their life stories are worth reading and listening to. Since the language used is concise and clear, students can enhance their reading and listening skills.
New Expressions online text
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. Bowled over (v): Captivated Skiffle (n): Type of music popular in 1950s...