Selection of Biographies and Autobiographies, Biography Collection, New College Library, Oxford
“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.”
—Mark Twain
A Biography Collection is held in the Library’s Group Study Room.

Scope and Use of the Collection

New College Library’s Biography Collection comprises significant biographies and autobiographies written about a wide range of subjects, from monarchs to musicians, writers to politicians.  It also includes exemplary and innovative works in the biography and memoirs genre.

The Collection is held on open access shelves in the Group Study Room, which is situated on the Lower Floor of the Library.  All items in the Biography Collection are borrowable.

The primary aim is to provide informative, accessible, and well-written books about important figures in history and of today for students’ leisure and pleasure reading, and of course for study purposes as well.  Other biographies (of which there are many) held in the Library primarily to support course-related reading are located within the main classified sequence of books beyond the Group Study Room.

Provide Feedback and Suggest New Resources

If you would like to make a comment about the Biography Collection, or you wish to suggest new biographies or autobiographies to be added to the Collection, you are invited to contact the Librarian.


Items in the Collection bear shelfmarks beginning BIO/.  They form part of the larger General Interest Collection located within the Group Study Room.  The listing below provides the subject (or subjects) of the biography, the shelfmark of the book, and its title.

Further Information

The Library’s copy of Biography: A Very Short Introduction (also online) provides a useful and engaging guide to what biography is and what it does.

The Library holds in the Group Study Room the 60-volume Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, for reference-use only (REF/DNB); this major biographical dictionary is available online as well.

Other online resources available to New College students and staff, which are useful in particular for quick-reference purposes, include:

List of Books with Links to the Catalogue

Chinua ACHEBE (Novelist) BIO/ACH/EZE Chinua Achebe: A Biography [on order]
Fanny ADAMS (8-Year-Old Murder Victim, a.k.a. “Sweet Fanny Adams”) BIO/HUG Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum
King ÆTHELRED II BIO/ÆT2/ABE Æthelred the Unready: The Failed King [on order]
Maya ANGELOU BIO/ANG I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Queen ANNE BIO/ANN/HEW Anne: Last Queen of England [on order]
King ATHELSTAN BIO/ATH/HOL Athelstan: The Making of England



The Daughter: A Political Biography of Aung San Suu Kyi [on order]

Jane AUSTEN BIO/AUS/TOM Jane Austen: A Life
Johann Sebastian BACH BIO/BAC/WIL The Life of Bach
Roland BARTHES BIO/BAR/SAM Barthes: A Biography
Alan BENNETT (Playwright, Screenwriter, and Actor) BIO/BEN A Life Like Other People’s [on order]
Anthony BLUNT (Spy and Art Historian) BIO/BLU/CAR Anthony Blunt: His Lives
Eavan BOLAND (Poet) BIO/BOL Object Lessons: The Life of the Woman and the Poet in Our Time

The Brontë Myth

Charlotte BRONTË BIO/BRO/MIL The Brontë Myth
Charlotte BRONTË BIO/BRO/HAR Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart [on order]
Emily BRONTË BIO/BRO/MIL The Brontë Myth
Christy BROWN (Novelist and Poet) BIO/BRO My Left Foot [on order]
Tina BROWN (Magazine Editor) BIO/BRO The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992
Mikhail BULGAKOV (Novelist, Playwright, and Physician) BIO/BUL/CUR Manuscripts Don’t Burn: Mikhail Bulgakov: A Life in Letters and Diaries [on order]
Annabella Milbanke, Lady BYRON (Wife of Lord Byron) BIO/BYR/SEY In Byron’s Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter: Annabella Milbanke and Ada Lovelace
James CALLAGHAN BIO/DON Downing Street Diary: With James Callaghan in No. 10
King CANUTE BIO/CNU/LAN Cnut: The North Sea King
Michelangelo Merisi da CARAVAGGIO (Painter) BIO/CAR/LAN Caravaggio: A Life [on order]
Lewis CARROLL  BIO/CAR/COH Lewis Carroll: A Biography [on order]
Angela CARTER (Novelist and Short Story Writer) BIO/CAR/GOR The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography
Empress CATHERINE II of Russia, CATHERINE the Great BIO/CAT2/MAS Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

White King: Traitor, Murderer, Martyr

King CHARLES II BIO/CHA2/JAC Charles II: The Star King
Prince CHARLES EDWARD STUART (Grandson of King James II, a.k.a. “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and “The Young Pretender”) BIO/CHA/DAI Charles Edward Stuart: The Life and Times of Bonnie Prince Charlie [on order]
Queen CHARLOTTE, Consort of George III BIO/GEO3/HAD The Strangest Family: The Private Lives of George III, Queen Charlotte and the Hanoverians
Frédéric CHOPIN BIO/CHO/WAL Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times [on order]
Sir Winston CHURCHILL BIO/CHU/BES Churchill: A Study in Greatness
CLEOPATRA, Queen of Egypt BIO/CLE/SCH Cleopatra: A Life
COLLABORATORS (Second World War) BIO/IRE The Traitors: A True Story of Blood, Betrayal and Deceit
Fanny CORNFORTH (Artist’s Model of Dante Gabriel Rossetti) BIO/HUG Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum
Thomas CRANMER, Archbishop of Canterbury BIO/CRA/MacC Thomas Cranmer: A Life
Oliver CROMWELL BIO/CRO/FRA Cromwell: Our Chief of Men
Oliver CROMWELL BIO/CRO/HOR Oliver Cromwell: England’s Protector
Thomas CROMWELL, Earl of Essex BIO/CRO/MacC Thomas Cromwell: A Life
Marie CURIE BIO/CUR/QUI Marie Curie: A Life [on order]
Rachel CUSK (Novelist and Writer)


A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother
Henry Stuart, Duke of Albany, Lord DARNLEY (King Consort of Mary, Queen of Scots) BIO/DAR/BIN Darnley: A Life of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, Consort of Mary Queen of Scots [on order]
Charles DARWIN BIO/ASH One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858
Charles DARWIN BIO/HUG Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum
Alphonse DAUDET (Novelist) BIO/DAU In the Land of Pain
Charles DE GAULLE BIO/DeG/JAC De Gaulle
Charles DICKENS BIO/DIC/TOM Charles Dickens: A Life
Charles DICKENS BIO/ASH One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858
Jenny DISKI (Writer) BIO/DIS On Trying to Keep Still
Benjamin DISRAELI BIO/ASH One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858
Lawrence DURRELL (Novelist and Writer) BIO/DUR/MacN Lawrence Durrell: A Biography
King EDWARD I BIO/EDW1/KIN Edward I: A New King Arthur?
King EDWARD II BIO/EDW2/GIV Edward II: The Terrors of Kingship
King EDWARD III BIO/EDW3/SUM Edward III: A Heroic Failure
King EDWARD IV BIO/EDW4/POL Edward IV: The Summer King
King EDWARD V BIO/EDW5/HIC Edward V: The Prince in the Tower
King EDWARD VI BIO/EDW6/ALF Edward VI: The Last Boy King
King EDWARD VII BIO/EDW7/RID Bertie: A Life of Edward VII
King EDWARD VII BIO/EDW7/DAV Edward VII: The Cosmopolitan King
King EDWARD VIII BIO/EDW8/BRE Edward VIII: The Uncrowned King
Albert EINSTEIN BIO/EIN/FOL Albert Einstein: A Biography
George ELIOT BIO/HUG Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum
T. S. ELIOT BIO/ELI/GOR The Imperfect Life of T. S. Eliot [on order]
Queen ELIZABETH I BIO/ELI1/CAS Elizabeth I: A Study in Insecurity
Queen ELIZABETH I BIO/ELI1/HIB The Virgin Queen: A Personal History of Elizabeth I [on order]
Queen ELIZABETH II BIO/ELI2/HUR Elizabeth II: The Steadfast
Patrick Leigh FERMOR (Travel Writer) BIO/FER/SIS Patrick Leigh Fermor: A Life in Letters
F. Scott FITZGERALD BIO/FIT/BRO Paradise Lost: A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Benjamin FRANKLIN BIO/FRA/ISA Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
King FREDERICK II of Prussia, FREDERICK the Great  BIO/FRE/BLA Frederick the Great: King of Prussia
Lady Antonia FRASER (Biographer and Historian) BIO/FRA My History: A Memoir of Growing Up
Thomas GAINSBOROUGH BIO/GAI/HAM Gainsborough: A Portrait

An Autobiography, or, The Story of My Experiments With Truth: A Critical Edition

GENGHIS Khan, First Khagan of the Mongol Empire BIO/GEN/WEA Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
King GEORGE I BIO/GEO1/BLA George I: The Lucky King [on order]
King GEORGE II BIO/GEO2/THO George II: King and Elector
King GEORGE III BIO/GEO3/HAD The Strangest Family: The Private Lives of George III, Queen Charlotte and the Hanoverians
King GEORGE IV BIO/GEO4/HIB George IV: The Rebel Who Would Be King
King GEORGE V BIO/GEO5/CAN George V: The Unexpected King
King GEORGE VI BIO/GEO6/ZIE George VI: The Dutiful King
William GILBERT (Physicist) BIO/GIL/PUM Latitude & the Magnetic Earth: The True Story of Queen Elizabeth’s Most Distinguished Man of Science
Sir John GIELGUD (Actor) BIO/GIE/MOR John Gielgud: The Authorized Biography [on order]
Adam GOPNIK (Writer) BIO/GOP At the Strangers’ Gate: Arrivals in New York
Glenn GOULD (Pianist) BIO/GOU/OST Glenn Gould: The Ecstasy and Tragedy of Genius
Lady Jane GREY BIO/GRE/IVE Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery
Lady Jane GREY BIO/GRE/DE L The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey
Thomas HARDY BIO/HAR/TOM Thomas Hardy
Lady Flora HASTINGS (Lady-in-Waiting to the Duchess of Kent; Victim of Scandal) BIO/HUG Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum
Joseph HAYDN BIO/HAY/WYN The Life of Haydn
King HENRY I BIO/HEN1/KIN Henry I: The Father of His People [on order]
King HENRY II BIO/HEN2/BAR Henry II: A Prince Among Princes
King HENRY III BIO/HEN3/CHU Henry III: A Simple and God-Fearing King
King Henry IV BIO/HEN4/MOR The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England’s Self-Made King
King HENRY V BIO/HEN5/CUR Henry V: Playboy Prince to Warrior King
King HENRY VI BIO/HEN6/ROS Henry VI: A Good, Simple and Innocent Man

Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England

King HENRY VIII BIO/HEN8/GUY Henry VIII: The Quest for Fame
King HENRY VIII BIO/HEN8/STA Henry: Virtuous Prince
Katherine Seymour, Countess of HERTFORD (a.k.a. Lady Katherine Grey) BIO/GRE/DE L The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey
Ted HUGHES BIO/HUG/BAT Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life [on order]
Queen ISABELLA I of Spain


Isabella of Castile: Europe’s First Great Queen
King JAMES I BIO/JAM1/COG James I: The Phoenix King
King JAMES II BIO/JAM2/WOM James II: The Last Catholic King
Kay Redfield JAMISON (Clinical Psychologist; Manic Depressive) BIO/JAM An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
King JOHN BIO/JOH/MOR King John: Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta
Pope JOHN PAUL II BIO/JOH/WEI Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II
David JONES BIO/JON/DIL David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poet
Scott JOPLIN (Composer) BIO/JOP/BER King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era
Frida KAHLO BIO/KAH/HER Frida: The Biography of Frida Kahlo
Molly KEANE (Novelist) BIO/KEA/PHI Molly Keane: A Life
John F. KENNEDY BIO/KEN/DAL An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963
Lady Mary Grey KEYS (a.k.a. Lady Mary Grey) BIO/GRE/DeL The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: The Tragedy of Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey
Martin Luther KING, Jr. BIO/KIN/GAR

Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Maxwell KNIGHT BIO/KNI/HEM M: Maxwell Knight, MI5’s Greatest Spymaster
D. H. LAWRENCE BIO/LAW/CHA D. H. Lawrence: A Personal Record [on order]
Edward LEAR BIO/LEA/UGL Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense
Laurie LEE BIO/LEE/GRO Laurie Lee: The Well-Loved Stranger
John LENNON BIO/LEN/NOR John Lennon: The Life
LEONARDO da Vinci BIO/LEO/ISA Leonardo Da Vinci: The Biography
King LOUIS XIV of France BIO/LOU14/MIT The Sun King: Louis XIV at Versailles [on order]
Ada King, Countess of LOVELACE (Mathematician; Daughter of Lord Byron) BIO/BYR/SEY In Byron’s Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter: Annabella Milbanke and Ada Lovelace
Robert LOWELL BIO/LOW Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character
Nelson MANDELA BIO/MAN/SAM Mandela: The Authorised Biography
Nelson MANDELA BIO/MAN/HAI Mandela: His Essential Life
Christopher MARLOWE (Playwright) BIO/MAR/HON Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy
Henry MARSH (Neurosurgeon) BIO/MAR Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery
MARY, Queen of Scots BIO/MAR/FRA Mary, Queen of Scots [on order]
Queen MARY I BIO/MAR1/EDW Mary I: The Daughter of Time
Queen MARY I BIO/MAR1/WHI Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen [on order]
Queen MARY II BIO/WIL3/KEA William III and Mary II: Partners in Revolution
Karl MILLER (Literary Editor) BIO/MIL Fathers
MOSES BIO/MOS/ZOR Moses: A Human Life [on order]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART BIO/MOZ/JOH Mozart: A Life [on order]
NAPOLEON I, Emperor of the French BIO/NAP/ROB Napoleon: A Life
John Forbes NASH, Jr. (Mathematician) BIO/NAS/NAS A Beautiful Mind
Sir Isaac NEWTON BIO/NEW/GUI Isaac Newton and Natural Philosophy
Rudolf NUREYEV (Ballet Dancer) BIO/NUR/KAV Rudolf Nureyev: The Life
Barack OBAMA BIO/OBA Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance
Wilfred OWEN BIO/OWE/STA Wilfred Owen [on order]
Giovanni PACINI (Opera Composer) BIO/PAC My Artistic Memoirs [on order]
Dame Christabel PANKHURST BIO/PAN/PUR Christabel Pankhurst: A Biography
Emmeline PANKHURST BIO/PAN/PUR Emmeline Pankhurst: A Biography [on order]
Martha PARKER (Filmmaker) BIO/GOP At the Strangers’ Gate: Arrivals in New York
Saint PAUL BIO/PAU/WRI Paul: A Biography
Samuel PEPYS (Diarist; Chief Secretary to the Admiralty; Book Collector) BIO/PEP/TOM Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self
Max Ferdinand PERUTZ (Molecular Biologist and Biochemist; Nobel Prize Winner) BIO/PER/FER Max Perutz and the Secret of Life
PETER the Great, Emperor of Russia BIO/PET/MAS Peter the Great: His Life and World
Nikolaus PEVSNER (Art and Architecture Historian) BIO/PEV/HAR Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life
King PHILIP II of Spain BIO/PHI2/PAR Imprudent King: A New Life of Philip II
William PITT BIO/PIT/HAG William Pitt the Younger
Francis POULENC (Composer) BIO/POU/SCH Entrancing Muse: A Documented Biography of Francis Poulenc [on order]
Anthony POWELL (Novelist) BIO/POW/SPU Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time
Jimmy REID (Trade Union Activist and Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Work-In Leader) BIO/REI Reflections of a Clyde-Built Man
King RICHARD I (a.k.a. RICHARD the Lionheart) BIO/RIC1/ASB Richard I: The Crusader King [on order]
King RICHARD II BIO/RIC2/ASH Richard II: A Brittle Glory
King RICHARD III BIO/RIC3/SKI Richard III: Brother, Protector, King
Margaret Pole, Countess of SALISBURY BIO/SAL/PIE

Margaret Pole, 1473-1541: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership

Sathnam SANGHERA (Journalist) BIO/SAN The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton
Alessandro SCARLATTI (Composer; Father of Domenico Scarlatti) BIO/SCA/PAG Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti: Two Lives in One [on order]
Domenico SCARLATTI (Composer) BIO/SCA/PAG Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti: Two Lives in One [on order]
Robert SCHUMANN BIO/SCH/CHE Schumann: The Faces and the Masks
William SHAKESPEARE BIO/SHA/ACK Shakespeare: The Biography
Sir Hans SLOANE (British Museum Founding Collector; Physician) BIO/SLO/DEL Collecting the World: Hans Sloane and the Origins of the British Museum
Josef STALIN BIO/STA/KHL Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator
King STEPHEN BIO/STE/WAT Stephen: The Reign of Anarchy
Sir Leslie STEPHEN (Literary Critic) BIO/STE Sir Leslie Stephen’s Mausoleum Book
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY BIO/TCH/HOL Tchaikovsky
J. R .R. TOLKIEN BIO/TOL/CAR J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography [on order]
Claire TOMALIN (Biographer) BIO/TOM A Life of My Own
Mark TWAIN BIO/TWA/POW Mark Twain: A Life [on order]
Queen VICTORIA BIO/VIC/RID Victoria: Queen, Matriarch, Empress
Evelyn WAUGH BIO/WAU/EAD Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited
Mary WHITEHOUSE (Media Critic and Social Activist; Founder of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association) BIO/WHI Quite Contrary: An Autobiography
Oscar WILDE BIO/WIL/MEN Making Oscar Wilde
Oscar WILDE BIO/WIL/FRA Oscar Wilde: The Unrepentant Years
Isambard WILKINSON (Traveller in Pakistan) BIO/WIL Travels in a Dervish Cloak
King WILLIAM I BIO/WIL1/MOR William I: England’s Conqueror
King WILLIAM II BIO/WIL2/GIL William II: The Red King
King WILLIAM III BIO/WIL3/KEA William III and Mary II: Partners in Revolution
Harold WILSON BIO/WIL/DON Downing Street Diary: With Harold Wilson in No. 10
Wallis Simpson, Duchess of WINDSOR BIO/WIN/PAS Untitled: The Real Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor [on order]
Mary WOLLSTONECRAFT BIO/WOL/TOM The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft
Elizabeth WURTZEL (Journalist and Writer) BIO/WUR Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America
Sir Thomas WYATT BIO/WYA/BRI Thomas Wyatt: The Heart’s Forest
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