Thursday, 22 October 2009

On styling life peers

I know that this is a matter of limited interest, but as long as the House of Lords is around, I'd like to see its members styled properly. So, Seumas Milne in The Guardian, 'Lord Mandelson', not 'Lord Mandelson of Foy'. Peter Mandelson's peerage was gazetted as 'Baron Mandelson, of Foy in the County of Herefordshire and of Hartlepool in the County of Durham'. That first comma tells you what the everyday substantive part of the title is.

And yes, there are too many lords for a media staffed by those bred up in egalitarian times to cope, hence the confusion over when to use a territorial designation. 'The Rt Hon Peter Mandelson, LP' [Life Peer] or (hence it be inferred that such a peer revolves at 33.3 per minute on a turntable) 'The Rt Hon Peter Mandelson, MHL' [Member of the House of Lords] would be welcome options.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - October 2009 update

It was not my intention in establishing this blog simply to point to my publications elsewhere, but this is the second of two posts doing just that. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography yesterday published its fifteenth online update since the new dictionary first appeared in September 2004. As usual, a comprehensive introduction to the new material has been provided by the dictionary's editorial team at Oxford University Press. Among the new entries, and curently on the 'public shelves' allowing non-subscribers to read them, is my entry on William and Blanche Gibbs, nineteenth-century philanthropists and master and mistress of the Victorian Gothic house of Tyntesfield in Somerset, their lifestyle funded by an export monopoly for Peruvian guano.

The fifth anniversary of publication has been celebrated by taking a selection of articles published online since then and allowing them to be accessed free of charge, presumably for a limited period. These entries include the writer Douglas Adams as well as the judge Dame Rose Heilbron, Sarah Moulton (Sir Thomas Lawrence's 'Pinkie'), sanitary engineer Jesse Cooper Dawes and first woman American presidential candidate Victoria Claflin Woodhull.