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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 02:16 GMT 03:16 UK
55,000 people who shaped Britain
Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence's death changed policing, the book says
Almost 55,000 people who have had a major impact on British society are profiled in a new 60-volume book that has taken 12 years to compile.

It has cost more than 25m and taken 10,000 writers to update the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Murder victims Stephen Lawrence and James Bulger are among those joining the likes of Queen Victoria and Gandhi.

The new version of the dictionary, which was founded in 1882, costs 7,500 and takes up 12 feet of shelf space.

Projects director Robert Faber said Stephen Lawrence was included because his death triggered "dramatic developments in British policing and social policy".

Women make up 10% of the entries - double the previous share - and include Queen Elizabeth I, Dusty Springfield, Linda McCartney and Virginia Woolf, whose father compiled the first edition.

These are not just people who were killed but people who had an impact
Robert Faber
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Alongside the famous names are lesser known individuals such as Sir Charles Ischam, who introduced the garden gnome to Britain, and the inventor of snooker, army reservist Neville Chamberlain.

Featured criminals include Doctor Crippen, the Kray twins and Dunblane mass murderer Thomas Hamilton.

He was included because his actions led to changes in British gun laws.

Stephen Lawrence and James Bulger were both included because of the "overwhelming soul-searching and examination of education, discipline and social policy" which followed their deaths.

Mr Faber said: "These are not just people who were killed but people who had an impact. Jill Dando is there as much for her career but also because her death became a public event.

"So many of these people have seized the public imagination and have contributed to public debate."


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