Dictionary of World Biography
Oates, Lawrence Edward Grace (1880–1912). English soldier and explorer. He joined *Scott’s Antarctic expedition in 1910, during the arduous return from the South Pole in 1912 he became convinced that with his frost bite injuries he would handicap his companions and lessen their chances of survival. He accordingly left camp and walked, ‘a very gallant gentleman’ as Scott recorded in his log, to his death in the blizzard.
Oates, Titus (c.1649–1705). English conspirator. After being dismissed as a naval chaplain, he claimed to have spent some time in the guise of a convert in Jesuit seminaries abroad in order to discover their secrets. In 1678 he reappeared in London and made a declaration on oath before Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey concerning an alleged ‘Popish plot’ for the murder of *Charles II and the massacre of Protestants. When Sir Edmund was found dead in a ditch (possibly murdered by Oates or his followers) the story of the plot, hitherto ridiculed, seemed to acquire some plausibility. Mass hysteria, fanned by *Shaftesbury for political reasons, followed. Oates poured forth his denunciations and some 35 Roman Catholics were executed for treason. Meanwhile the king was manipulating opinion in favour of sanity. A reaction set in and in 1685 Oates was found guilty of perjury and imprisoned for life. The revolution that expelled *James II brought him release and a pension, but he died destitute.
Lane, J., Titus Oates. 1949.
Obama, Barack Hussein (1961– ). 44th President of the US 2009–17. Born in Honolulu, the son of a Kenyan father and an American mother from Kansas, after living in Indonesia and Hawaii as a child, he was educated in Los Angeles and New York, graduating from Columbia and Harvard Law School. He worked as a community organiser and civil rights lawyer in Chicago and taught at the University of Chicago Law School. His books include Dreams from my Father (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006). He served in the Illinois State Senate 1997–2004 and the US Senate 2005–08. After defeating Hillary *Clinton narrowly in the Democratic primaries, he was nominated for president in Denver (August 2008) and elected in November, over the Republican candidate Senator John *McCain, winning a popular vote of 69.5 million. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009, disconcertingly early in his first term, perhaps reflected approval for aspirations rather than achievement. He was elected to a second term in November 2012, defeating Mitt *Romney, with a popular vote of 65.9 million and a decisive majority in the Electoral College (332–206).
Obrador, Andrés Manuel López see López Obrador, Andrés Manuel
Obregón, Alvaro (1880–1928). Mexican soldier and politician. His original family name was O’Brien. He joined forces with *Carranza and *Villa against *Huerta, but when the two fell out he supported Carranza and by his military skill overcame Villa. Obregón temporarily retired but, after the revolution in which Carranza was murdered while in flight, became President 1920–24. He achieved valuable reforms on behalf of organised labour and assisted education. By arrangement with his successor *Calles he was re-elected President in 1928 but assassinated before inauguration.
Obrenovic. Serbian dynasty in hereditary feud with the Karageorgevic line. The feud started when Milos (1761–1860), a guerrilla leader, allegedly murdered (1817) Kara George, under whom he served. His son Michael, prince of Serbia, was murdered by a member of the Karageorgevic clan (1868). The latter’s adopted son Milan proclaimed himself King of Serbia (1882) but abdicated (1889) as a result of domestic scandals. His son Alexander succeeded, but, with his notorious wife, Draga, was murdered by a group of officers (1903). Peter Karageorgevic, the father and grandfather of the future Yugoslav kings, succeeded.
O’Brian, Patrick (Richard Patrick Russ) (1914–2000). English novelist, translator and biographer. He wrote 20 novels with naval themes, featuring the characters Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr Stephen Maturin, which attracted a cult following, and lives of *Picasso (1976) and Joseph *Banks (1987).
O’Brien, Edna (1936– ). Irish novelist and playwright. Convent educated and trained as a pharmacist, she achieved recognition with The Country Girls (1960, later filmed), Girls in their Married Bliss (1963), Johnny I Hardly Knew You (1977), The High Road (1988) and The House of Splendid Isolation (1994). She also wrote screenplays, short stories and poetry.
O’Brien, Flann (Brian O’Nolan) (1911–1966). Irish novelist. He was a civil servant and morose alcoholic who wrote a weekly satirical column in the Irish Times under the name Myles na Gopaleen. His masterpiece At Swim-Two-Birds failed on its first publication in September 1939, although praised by James *Joyce, and was recognised as a work of genius only in the 1960s. Other works include The Third Policeman (1940), The Hard Life (1960) and The Dalkey Archive (1965).
Obuchi Keizo (1937–2000). Japanese politician. A conservative, he was Foreign Minister 1997–98 and Prime Minister 1998–2000. Removed in April 2000 after suffering a stroke, he died in May.
O’Casey, Sean (1884–1964). Irish playwright, born in Dublin. Educated, so he said, in Dublin’s streets, after working as a labourer he became active in politics and literature. His first plays, produced at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, were The Shadow of a Gunman (1923), Juno and the Paycock (1924) and The Plough and the Stars (1926). Their harsh realism contrasted strongly with the mythological drama of *Yeats, their language was often poetic, but this stemmed mainly from effective use of the Dublin vernacular. His next play, The Silver Tassie, rejected by the Abbey, was produced in London (1929). Thereafter, O’Casey was a voluntary exile from Ireland and criticised the oppressiveness of Irish life in some of his later plays, e.g. Red Roses for Me (1943), Cock-a-Doodle Dandy (1949), The Bishop’s Bonfire (1955) and The Drums of Father Ned (1958). His six volumes of autobiography, beginning with I Knock at the Door (1939), contain many vivid and acid descriptions of his life and times.
Fallon, G., Sean O’Casey. 1965.
Occam, William of see Ockham, William of
Occleve (or Hoccleve). Thomas (c.1370–c.1450). English poet. He wrote in the Chaucerian tradition but his main work De Regimine Principum, an English version (addressed to the future *Henry V) of a Latin treatise on the duties of a ruler, is less interesting for the advice given than for irrelevant insertions about Occleve’s own troubles. More autobiography, often unflattering, is contained in La Male Règle (1406).
Ockeghem, Jean de (c.1410–1497). Franco-Flemish composer, probably born near Mons. He worked in Antwerp and for the French court, was a master of polyphonic complexity and had a profound influence on *Josquin. His few surviving works include 12 Masses, five motets and some songs.
Ockham (or Occam), William of (Latin: Gulielmus Occamus) (c.1287–1349). English philosopher, probably born at Ockham in Surrey. He early joined the Franciscans and studied at Oxford. Summoned to Avignon by Pope John XXII on a charge of heresy (1326), he was confined to a friary until 1328 when, after siding against the Pope in a Franciscan dispute concerning poverty, he fled to live under the protection of the emperor *Louis IV at Pisa and Munich, where he wrote vigorously in support of the Emperor’s political supremacy and in opposition to the Pope’s claim to authority in temporal affairs. He sought reconciliation with the Church in 1349. Ockham’s political writings were only part of his general attack on the medieval scholastic system and the secular order it sustained. His system (known as nominalism), which included a denial that universals exist outside the mind, led to a philosophic scepticism which in some measure provided an intellectual preparation for the Reformation.‘Ockham’s razor’ is the ‘principle of parsimony’, that in explaining anything ‘entities are not to be multiplied without necessity’ (i.e. in the absence of contrary evidence, the simplest explanation is the likeliest to be correct). Known variously as ‘Venerabilis Inceptor’ and ‘Doctor Invincibilis’, he died in Munich of the Black Death.
Duncan, D., Occam’s Razor. 1958; Spade, P., The Cambridge Companion to Ockham. 1999; Keele, R., Ockham Explained: From Razor to Rebellion. 2010.
O’Connell, Daniel (1775–1847). Irish patriot, born in County Kerry. Known as ‘the Liberator’, he was educated in France, read at Lincoln’s Inn (1794) and joined the Irish bar (1798). He later started an agitation in favour of the repeal of the Act of Union with England, demanding complete Roman Catholic emancipation. By his energy, organising ability and his emotional oratory he roused the country and transformed the conservative Catholic Association into a mass movement (1823). Its success caused its suppression (1825) but O’Connell, elected MP for Clare (1828), continued his agitation and Roman Catholic emancipation was obtained (1829). After 1832 he headed a group of 45 Irish MPs in the English Parliament, and launched (1840) a new mass movement for the repeal of the Act of Union. This involved him in a trial for sedition (1844). His sentence was quashed by the House of Lords but his refusal to adopt revolutionary methods and his conservative attitude to social questions militated against his success. He died in Genoa.
O’Connor, Feargus Edward (1794–1855). Irish Chartist leader, born in County Cork. From a Protestant family, educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he was MP for Cork 1832–35, as a follower of *O’Connell, but he took a far more radical approach on social conditions and the Poor Law, and was disqualified in 1835. He was the principal leader of the Chartist movement (whose six demands included universal suffrage and voting by secret ballot). MP for Nottingham 1847–52, he organised the Chartist ‘monster petition’, presented to Parliament in 1848, followed by a huge rally. However, he became increasingly erratic, alcoholic and violent and was certified in 1852.
O’Connor, Sandra Day (née Day) (1930– ). American jurist. A lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona, she was a state senator 1969–74, a state judge 1975–81, until her appointment by President *Reagan as the first woman to be a justice of the US Supreme Court 1981–2008.
Octavian(us) see Augustus
Odets, Clifford (1906–1963). American playwright. Originally an actor, he wrote several socio-political dramas, e.g. Waiting for Lefty (1935), Awake and Sing (1935), Till the Day I Die (1935), and probably his best known play, The Golden Boy (1937). Much of his work was produced by the Group Theatre, New York, of which he was a founder.
Odo (c.1036–1097). Norman prelate. Bishop of Bayeux 1048–97, he ruled England during the absence of his half-brother, *William the Conqueror. He built Bayeux Cathedral, the Abbaye des Hommes in Caen, and commissioned the Bayeux tapestry. He lost all his English possessions for joining a revolt against *William II and died at Palermo on the way to the 1st Crusade. He was a patron of scholarship.
Odovacar (or Odoacer) (d.493). King of Italy 476–493. Probably a Germanic chieftain from the Sicrii tribe, after the abdication of *Romulus Augustulus, last of the Roman emperors of the west, he was proclaimed King of Italy by his troops (476). After four years he gained full control of Italy and later proved his ability to defend and extend the area he had won. Alarmed by his growing power, the Byzantine emperor Zeno encouraged *Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, to invade Italy (488). After three defeats (489–90) Odovacar retired to Ravenna, where he was besieged until he was forced by famine to yield (493). He is said to have been stabbed to death by Theodoric at a feast.
Oe Kenzaburo (1935– ). Japanese novelist. His novels included Screams (1962), A Personal Matter (1964) and The Silent Cry (1974). He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994.
Oersted, Hans Christian (1777–1851). Danish physicist. Professor of physics at the University of Copenhagen 1806–29 and director of the Polytechnic Institute, Copenhagen 1829–51, he discovered (1820) the magnetic field created by an electric current, showing for the first time that electricity and magnetism are connected. This important discovery was taken up by *Ampère and *Faraday. The unit of magnetic field strength, the oersted, is named after him.
Offa (d.796). King of Mercia 757–96. One of the greatest Anglo-Saxon kings, by conquest or marriage ties he controlled all England south of the Humber and protected his subjects from Welsh raiders by the mighty earthwork known as Offa’s Dyke, which stretched from the estuary of the Dee to that of the Wye. He was a patron of monasticism and a lawmaker.
Offenbach, Jacques (Jakob Levy Eberst) (1819–1880). German-Jewish composer, born in Cologne. He lived in Paris from 1833 and wrote many successful operettas and opéras bouffes, e.g. Orpheus in the Underworld (1858) and La Belle Hélène (1865). The opera on which he worked for many years, The Tales of Hoffmann, was produced posthumously (1881).
Ogden, Charles Kay (1889–1957). English educationist. With I. A. *Richards of Harvard University, in 1929 he devised ‘Basic English’, a simplified form of the language by which most ordinary concepts could be expressed with a vocabulary of some 850 key words and 18 verbs.
Oglethorpe, James Edward (1696–1785). English soldier, colonist and philanthropist. After service with Prince *Eugène of Savoy against the Turks (1717), he returned to England where as an MP 1722–54 he roused public opinion against the press gang, prison conditions and imprisonment for debt. He obtained a charter to found the colony of Georgia, which he peopled mainly with English debtors and refugee Austrian Protestants. He accompanied the first contingent (1733) and raised a regiment with which he successfully defended the colony against the Spaniards. In 1743 he returned to England to answer charges of incompetence and was later court-martialled for his conduct of operations in the Jacobite rebellion (1745). Both times he was acquitted, but his military career was ended and in 1754 he was not re-elected to parliament. Among the many friends of this colourful general were *Johnson, *Boswell and *Burke.
O’Higgins (Riquelme), Bernardo (1778–1842). Chilean liberator. He never met his father Ambrosio O’Higgins (1720?–1801) who rose in the Spanish service in South America to be Viceroy of Peru. Bernardo studied in London 1795–98, then joined a group of men plotting to free South America from Spanish rule. He inherited his father’s estates, returned to Chile (1802) and, after playing a prominent part in the revolution of 1810–11, became Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean forces. After military setbacks he fled to join *San Martin, who gave him a command in the army about to cross the Andes to liberate Chile. When he returned with the victorious army O’Higgins was appointed (1817) dictator of Chile, proclaiming its independence in 1818, but his rule proved so unpopular that he was forced to resign and retire to Peru (1823).
Kinsbruner, J., Bernardo O’Higgins. 1968.
Ohm, Georg Simon (1787–1854). German physicist. He did fundamental work on the mathematical treatment of electric currents and published (1827) the law stating that the current flowing in a conductor is directly proportional to the potential differences between its ends (Ohm’s Law). He also did important work on acoustics. The unit of electrical resistance, the ‘ohm’, is named after him. His most important work was done as a teacher at the Cologne Gymnasium. Later he was a professor of physics at Nuremberg 1833–49 and Munich 1849–54.
Ohsumi Yoshinori (1945– ). Japanese cell biologist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2016 for his work in explaining ‘autophagy’: how cells recycle their components.
Oistrakh, David Fyodorovich (1908–1974). Russian-Jewish violinist and conductor, born in Odessa. He graduated from Odessa Conservatory in 1926, made his debut in Moscow in 1933, but for many years was known in western Europe only from recordings. He began extensive tours after 1951. His son Igor Davidovich (1931– ) was also an outstanding player.
O’Keeffe, Georgia (1887–1986). American painter. She achieved recognition from the 1920s for her vivid semi-abstractions of animal bones, flowers and landscapes. In 1924 she married the photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946). His work includes two sets of 400 portraits of her.
O’Kelly, Sean Thomas (1882–1966). Irish politician. A journalist, he was active in Sinn Fein and took part in the Easter Rising (1916). He opposed the Irish Free State and became prominent in *de Valera’s Fianna Fail party. When de Valera won power (1932), O’Kelly became Minister for Local Government 1932–39 and for Finance and Education 1939–45. He served two terms as President of the Irish Republic 1945–59.
Ōkyo Maruyama (Maruyama Masataka) (1733–1795). Japanese painter. Working in Kyoto, he was aware of Dutch painting and its use of perspective. Innovative and diverse, his paintings include the first Japanese nudes and striking minimalism, e.g. Cracked ice (c.1780), a two-part screen in the British Museum.
Olaf II (St Olaf) (995–1030). King of Norway 1015–28. He propagated Christianity in his country but with such severity that he was forced to take refuge in Russia (1028). Returning (1030), he was defeated and killed in battle against King *Cnut (Canute) of Denmark, thus becoming the symbol of Norwegian resistance to Danish domination. He became the hero of legend and saga and came to be considered patron saint of Norway. He is commemorated in England by several churches (St Olave’s) and Tooley Street, London (a corruption of his name s’Tolof).
Olav V (Alexander Edward Christian Frederik) (1903–1991). King of Norway 1957–91. Born in Sandringham, son and successor of the future *Haakon VII and Princess (later Queen) Maud, daughter of *Edward VII, he was educated at Oxford. He won an Olympic gold medal for yachting in 1928, commanded Norwegian forces in World War II and promoted the practice of democratic monarchy. His son, Harald V (1937– ) succeeded to the throne.
Oldcastle, Sir John (c.1377–1417). English Lollard. He took the title of Lord Cobham through his third wife. Condemned as a heretic (1413), he escaped from prison and led a Lollard rising (1414). After its failure he remained in hiding for three years until recaptured and executed. He is sometimes thought to have been the original of *Shakespeare’s Sir John Falstaff: the character was, indeed, originally called ‘Oldcastle’ but the name was changed on the objection of the Lord Cobham of the day. Oldcastle (like Falstaff) was a friend of *Henry V as Prince of Wales. Regarded as a martyr by Tudor protestant reformers, he was extolled by Bale, *Foxe and Weever.
Oldenbarnevelt, Johan van (1547–1619). Dutch statesman. Prominent in the estates (parliament) of Holland, he became a leading figure in the struggle for independence from Spain. After the death of *William the Silent he offered the throne to the English Queen Elizabeth, effected the appointment of Prince *Maurice of Orange as stadtholder of Holland and Zeeland, and as the most important member of the Republican Government did everything possible to support and finance the war. Alliances were made with England and France (1596) and eventually a 12–year truce with Spain (1609). The religious conflict, however, between Remonstrants and Counter-remonstrants, brought about a breach between him and Maurice. Oldenbarnevelt was accused of corruption and treason and Maurice had him arrested, tried and executed.
Oldenburg. North German (Saxon) dynasty who, from 1101, were counts, then dukes. Its Danish-German branch, with the cumbersome name of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, through advantageous marriages became rulers of Denmark, Norway, Greece and Russia. (Philip, Duke of *Edinburgh was an Oldenburg descendent.)
Oldenburg, Henry (1618–1677). German scientist in England. One of the most important figures in 17th-century scientific communications, he went to England in 1653, joined the Royal Society in 1661 and soon became its secretary. He devoted the rest of his life to the Society’s administration and was one of the chief reasons for its early success. Oldenburg helped launch the Philosophical Transactions (1665), the first modern scientific journal, which published scientific findings, news, book reviews and correspondence. He was an ideal secretary for the Society, since he had extensive foreign contacts. There was evidently some danger in keeping up correspondence with enemy nations: he was temporarily put in the Tower in 1667 during the Anglo-Dutch War. Oldenburg made no scientific contributions of his own, but passionately supported the Baconian, empirical, utilitarian approach to science.
Olds, Ransom Eli (1864–1950). American inventor and manufacturer. He made the Oldsmobile, the first successful US automobile brand name, from 1901 and was a forerunner of Henry *Ford in mass-production.
Oliphant, Sir Mark (Marcus Laurence Elwin) (1901–2000). Australian physicist, born in Adelaide. He studied at Adelaide University and St John’s College, Cambridge, became *Rutherford’s assistant at the Cavendish, isolated tritium (3H) a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, and helium³ (3He) in 1934 and was professor of physics at Birmingham University 1937–50 and a pioneer in radar. In the US (1943–45), he worked on the ‘Manhattan Project’, developing the atomic bomb, and his studies on hydrogen-isotope interactions contributed (much to his horror) to the hydrogen bomb. In 1943, he designed the first ‘proton synchrotron’, but none was built until the 1950s. He directed the research school of physics at the new Australian National University at Canberra 1950–63, was foundation President of the Australian Academy of Science 1954–57 and Governor of South Australia 1971–76. He became FRS in 1937, KBE in 1959 and AC in 1977.
Cockburn, S and Ellyard, D. Oliphant. 1981.
Olivares, Gaspar de Guzmán (y Pimental Ribera y Velasco de Tovar), Count-Duke of (1587–1645). Spanish statesman born in Rome. He entered the service of *Philip IV of Spain (1615) and so completely dominated his master that he was Chief Minister and virtual ruler of the country from 1621 until 1643, when he was dismissed. During those years, wholly occupied by the Thirty Years’ War, Spain’s hold on Holland was irretrievably lost, Portugal resumed its independence and Catalonia was in revolt. He was memorably painted three times by *Velázquez.
Elliott, J. H., The Count-Duke of Olivares. 1986.
Olivier, Laurence Kerr, Baron Olivier of Brighton (1907–1989). English actor and director, born in Dorking. Son of a clergyman, he began acting as a child and his skills matured in Sir Barry Jackson’s Birmingham Repertory Co. (1926–30). In 1930 he made a London hit with Noël *Coward’s Private Lives and was soon in constant demand for films and stage productions in the 1930s. He attracted international attention in the films Wuthering Heights (1939), Rebecca (1940, directed by *Hitchcock) and Pride and Prejudice (1940). After brief war service in the Fleet Air Arm, he produced, directed and starred in the patriotic epic Henry V (1944), the most successful Shakespearean film to that time. He was Director or co-Director of the Old Vic Theatre Company 1944–49, toured Europe in 1945, the US in 1946 and Australia-New Zealand in 1948, being acclaimed for his performances as Richard III, Hotspur and Oedipus. The film Hamlet (1948) won him an Academy Award and his films of Richard III (1955) and Othello (1965) were deeply impressive. He created the role of Archie Rice in *Osborne’s The Entertainer (1957, filmed 1960) and showed his virtuosity in *Ionesco’s Rhinoceros (1960), *Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer (1964), as Edgar in *Strindberg’s Dance of Death (1967), and in plays by *Sheridan, *Ibsen and *Chekhov. He was a rather frustrated Director of the National Theatre 1962–73, then played character roles in several popular films including Sleuth (1972), Marathon Man (1976) and The Boys from Brazil (1978). His last great performance was in a television production of King Lear (1983). He married the actors Jill Esmond (1930), Vivien *Leigh (1940) and Joan *Plowright (1961). Knighted in 1947, he was created a life peer in 1970, given the OM in 1981 and buried in Westminster Abbey.
Ollenhauer, Erich (1901–1963). German Socialist politician. He fled to Czechoslovakia when *Hitler came to power in Germany, and was in England during World War II. He succeeded Schumacher as Leader of the West German Social Democratic party (1952) and opposed *Adenauer’s policy of joining the western alliance. He was replaced (1960) by Willy *Brandt.
Olmert, Ehud (1945– ). Israeli politician, born in Palestine. A lawyer, he was Mayor of Jerusalem 1993–2003 and Prime Minister 2006–09. In 2012 he was convicted on corruption charges, and following conviction for bribery (2014) was imprisoned 2016–17.
Olsen, John (Henry) (1928– ). Australian painter, born in Newcastle. He trained in Sydney and Paris, lived in Spain, and his paintings (and some pottery) expressed an exuberant lyricism, joyous, inventive, celebrating nature and human vitality. They include a series based on the theme of Journey to You Beaut Country (1961ff), McElhone Steps (lithograph, 1963) and Salute to Five Bells (mural in Sydney Opera House, 1973). He was an imaginative recorder of figurative landscape, with brilliant colour. He won the Archibald Prize in 2005 for Self Portrait Janus Faced. The King Sun (2013), 6 m x 8 m, in eight panels, was commissioned for Collins Square, Docklands, Melbourne.
Bungey, D., John Olsen: An Artist’s Life. 2014.
Omar I and II see Umar I and II.
Omar Khayyám (Ghiyāth ad-Dīn Abu’l-Fatḥ ʿUmar ibn Ibrāhīm al-Khayyām Nīshāpūrī) (c.1050–1132). Persian poet, astronomer and mathematician, born in Nishapur. Long famous in his own and adjacent countries, his Rubáiyát (i.e. ‘quatrains’) first became widely popular in the west in the English verse paraphrases of Edward *Fitzgerald, and were later translated more accurately into many languages. The Rubáiyát is a collection of epigrammatic verses recommending enjoyment of wine, poetry and love while professing a gentle scepticism about the future, whether expressed in human hopes or divine plans. (Omar’s exact part in writing the poems has been the subject of prolonged controversy). His mathematical work produced improvements in algebra, the calendar and the compilation of astronomical tables.
Dashti, A., In Search of Omar Khayyam. 1971.
O’Meara, Barry Edward (1786–1836). Irish surgeon. He served on HMS Bellerophon, which conveyed *Napoléon to St Helena. At the fallen emperor’s request he stayed to attend him on the island and became his ardent partisan in his quarrels with Sir Hudson *Lowe. Having been sent home (1818) for this, he suggested that Napoléon’s life was in danger in the governor’s hands. He was dismissed and wrote Napoléon in Exile (1822), a sensational but one-sided account of the events.
Onassis, Aristotle Socrates (1906–1975). Greek millionaire and ship-owner, born in Smyrna. He bought his first ships in 1932 and gradually built up one of the largest independent fleets. He was one of the first owners to develop the ‘super-tanker’ for bulk liquid cargo. For many years the lover of Maria *Callas, in 1968 he married, as his second wife, Jacqueline, the widow of President John *Kennedy.
Evans, P., Ari. 1986.
Ondaatje, (Philip) Michael (1943– ). Canadian novelist and poet, born in Sri Lanka. He taught at Toronto University and was active as an editor and poet. The English Patient (1992) won the Booker Prize and was filmed; in 2018, by public vote, it was chosen for the Golden Man Booker Prize as the best winner in 50 years. Later novels included Anil’s Ghost (2000), Divisadero (2007), The Cat’s Table (2011) and Warlight (2018). He published 13 volumes of poems.
O’Neill, Eugene Gladstone (1888–1953). American playwright, born in New York. Son of James O’Neill, an actor, he worked, during an adventurous early life, as a gold prospector in Central America, an actor and a newspaper reporter. He joined (1915) the Provincetown Players and not only acted for them but wrote and produced a number of short plays. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his first full-length play, Beyond the Horizon (1920), and also for Anna Christie (1921), a realistic drama of the water front and the regenerating influence of the sea upon the heroine. The Emperor Jones (1920) shows how a Negro adventurer reverts from ruler to savage, the title of The Hairy Ape (1922) refers to a powerful stoker on a liner, whose vain attempt to overcome his handicaps provides the theme. All God’s Chillun got Wings (1924) deals with the problem of a black–white liaison in which the white woman is disabled, with which the black tries to contend. The much discussed Desire under the Elms (1924), dealing with a father–son conflict, was followed by The Great God Brown (1926), in which masks were used to symbolise characters. In Strange Interlude (1928), which lasts five hours, O’Neill tried another experiment with the ‘stream of consciousness’ technique. Mourning Becomes Electra (1931) attempts to place the Oresteian trilogy in a modern context. From 1934 there was a gap until The Icemen Cometh (1946). The ‘iceman’ symbolises death and the play handles the touch of death on a group of waterfront characters. The posthumously published Long Day’s Journey into Night (1957) is mainly autobiographical. These plays are the most important of a long series that caused O’Neill to be regarded as America’s greatest dramatist. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature (1936).
Sheaffer, L., O’Neill, Son and Playwright. 1969.
O’Neill, Hugh, 2nd Earl of Tyrone (c.1550–1616). Irish nobleman. The last member of his family to exercise independent rule, he was grandson of the O’Neill who, having submitted to the English king *Henry VIII was created (1543) the 1st Earl. Hugh O’Neill had an English education, remaining on good terms with England until he had had his earldom recognised and made his position secure in Ireland, where he aspired to rule all Ulster. This aim brought him into conflict with *Elizabeth I and after a long struggle (1593–1603) he was forced to submit, though allowed to retain his personal estates. Finding English supervision intolerable, he left Ireland (1607), and travelled throughout Europe, finally settling in Rome from 1608 to his death. The O’Neills had ruled turbulently in Ireland, with constant quarrels between branches of their own line and rival families, e.g. the O’Donnells, ever since the days of Niall of the Nine Hostages (d.405), from whom they claimed descent.
O’Neill, Peter Charles Paire (1965– ). Papua New Guinea politician. Of Papuan-Irish-Australian descent, he was a businessman, MP 2002– , and Sir Michael *Somare’s Treasurer 2007–11. He displaced Somare as Prime Minister 2012–19, provoking controversy about its constitutionality; however, he won the election of June–July 2012 comfortably. In July 2013 he agreed with the *Rudd government’s policy that asylum-seekers arriving by boat would be permanently resettled in Papua New Guinea.
Onnes, Heike Kamerlingh see Kamerlingh Onnes, Heike
Onsager, Lars (1903–1976). American chemist, born in Norway. He taught at Yale from 1935, developed the gas-diffraction method of separating U 235 from U 238 and won the 1968 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. His discovery of reciprocal relations in irreversible chemical processes has been called ‘the Fourth Law of Thermodynamics’ (*Nernst).
Oodgeroo Noonuccal (originally Kath(leen Jean Mary) Ruska, later Walker) (1920–1993). Australian poet, born in Brisbane. We Are Going (1964) was the first volume of poetry published by an Aborigine. An active campaigner for indigenous rights, education and recognition in the Australian Constitution, from 1988 she was known as Oodgeroo (‘paperbark tree’) Noonuccal (name of her tribe).
Oort, Jan Hendrik (1900–1992). Dutch astronomer. A student of J. C. *Kapteyn at Groningen University, he worked at Leyden University from 1924 and was professor of astronomy and director of the observatory 1945–70. His model of the structure of the universe, as a rotating disc spread around a nucleus containing 90 per cent of all stars, published 1925–27, has been confirmed by observation and is generally accepted. He estimated that the Sun is 30,000 light years from the centre of the galaxy and takes 225 million years to orbit around it. The ‘Oort cloud’, cosmic fragments at the edge of the solar system, and Asteroid 1691 Oort, were named for him.
Oparin, Aleksandr Ivanovich (1894–1980). Russian biochemist. Professor of biochemistry at Moscow University 1929–60, he wrote The Origin of Life on Earth (1936), which proposed (parallel with theories by J. B. S. *Haldane) that the interaction of sunlight on a methane/ammonia atmosphere could have led to the development of amino acids and—ultimately—cellular life, a thesis later confirmed by S. L. *Miller. An ardent supporter of *Lysenko and a party loyalist, winning the Lenin Prize five times, his star waned after *Stalin’s death.
Ophüls, Max (originally Maximilian Oppenheimer) (1902–1957). German-Jewish film director. He worked in Germany, France and the United States and his stylish films include Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), La Ronde (1950) and The Earrings of Madame de … (1953). His son, Marcel Ophüls (1927– ), an actor and director, educated in the United States, was best known for Le Chagrin et la Pitié (The Sorrow and the Pity, 1969), a controversial documentary about France and the Vichy regime, not released in France until 1981. He won an Academy Award for Hotel Terminus (1988).
Oppenheim, E(dward) Phillips (1866–1946). British author. He was one of the most prolific and popular novelists in the thriller and spy tradition, producing some 150 books and memoirs The Pool of Memory (1941).
Oppenheimer, Sir Ernest (1880–1957). South African businessman, born in Germany. He lived in South Africa from 1902, formed the Anglo American Corporation of South Africa, Ltd, in 1917 (with the backing of J. P. *Morgan) and began to exploit the Witwatersrand goldfield. He formed Consolidated Diamond Mines of South West Africa, Ltd, in 1919. Through the success of this company he was able to gain control of De Beers, the predominant diamond company. He also mined Rhodesian copper through his Rhodesian Anglo American Corporation. He was Mayor of Kimberley 1912–15, received a knighthood in 1921 and became a Unionist MP 1924–38. His son, Harry Frederick Oppenheimer (1908–2000), was a Unionist MP 1947–58, chairman of over 60 companies, a notable art collector and a racial liberal.
Oppenheimer, J(ulius) Robert (1904–1967). American theoretical physicist, born in New York. His parents were rich, radical and cultivated, and he studied at Harvard, Cambridge (unhappily) and Göttingen. Associate professor of physics 1928–36, then full professor 1936–42 at the University of California at Berkeley and professor at Caltech 1936–42, 1945–47, he worked on astrophysics, nuclear disintegration, cosmic rays and relativity. Despite his political naiveté, because of his extraordinary command of detail and ability to determine priorities, he became the central figure in ‘the Manhattan Project’ and at the Los Alamos (New Mexico) Laboratory 1942–45 led the team that designed and built the first atomic bombs. As Chairman of the Advisory Council of the US Atomic Energy Commission 1946–53, he opposed developing the hydrogen bomb. From 1952 he was persistently attacked by his former colleague Edward *Teller and suspended as a ‘security risk’ on the grounds of past association with Communists. He became director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton 1947–67. He delivered the BBC’s Reith Lectures in 1953, was given the Legion of Honour by France in 1957, elected FRS in 1962 and received the Fermi Award in 1963. A chain smoker, he died of throat cancer.
Monk, R., Inside the Centre: The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. 2012.
Orczy, Emmuska, Baroness (in full, Emma Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála Orczy de Orczi) (1865–1947). English writer, born in Hungary. In London from 1880, she won immediate success when she turned her rejected novel The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905) into a play about Sir Percy Blakeney, the heroic rescuer of French aristocrats doomed to the guillotine. It became a successful film (1935) with Leslie *Howard. She wrote other romances, some detective stories collected as The Old Man in the Corner, and an autobiography, Links in the Chain of Life (1947).
Oresme, Nicole (1320–1382). Norman French philosopher. He seems to have been particularly interested in the notion of the universe operating as if by clockwork, and yet he made no break with the Aristotelian idea of intelligences being directly responsible for motion in nature. He pondered over the problem of the possibility of the plurality of worlds. He believed that science was against such a view, but stressed that God undoubtedly possessed the free will to have created such a state of affairs. Oresme denied the validity of astrological forces on both physical and theological grounds. Some of his most prescient thinking in physics relates to his studies of falling bodies. His emphasis that acceleration depends upon time of fall, rather than distance fallen, contains an idea developed later by *Galileo.
Clagett, M., The science of mechanics in the Middle Ages. 1959; Hansen, B., Nicole Oresme and the Marvels of Nature. 1985.
Orff, Carl (1895–1982). German composer, born in Munich. Reacting against the complexity of much 20th-century music he developed a tuneful style with a direct appeal and strongly marked rhythms. The scenic cantata Carmina Burana (1937), a series of medieval Latin and German verses set for soloists and chorus with accompaniments of dancing and mime, was designed for stage performance. There are 40 recordings in the current CD catalogue and it is often performed. Its sequel Catulli Carmina (1943) has had less exposure. Among his other works are the operas Der Mond (1939), Die Kluge (1942), Antigone (1949) and incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1939).
Orford, Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of see Walpole, Sir Robert
Origen (Origenes Adamantius) (c.185–c.253). Christian theologian and biblical scholar, born at Alexandria. He accepted the orthodox Christian doctrines as revealed in the Bible but held it to be the right and the duty of individual Christians to seek for themselves answers to unanswered questions (e.g. the nature of the soul) in philosophical writings, even those of pagans on the ground that there were ‘Christians before Christ’. As his reputation grew, his Alexandrian friends and followers encouraged him to publish his views and he wrote De Princepiis (On First Principles), one of the most influential books of early Christian philosophy. He was ordained in Palestine (230) but Demetrius, his bishop, regarded such ordination as irregular and exiled him. He settled at Caesarea, and there produced his Hexapla, a revised version of the Septuagint (the Greek text of the Old Testament) and other versions and the Hebrew original set out in parallel columns. During the persecutions of the emperor Decius, Origen was imprisoned and tortured, which led to his death. The official ecclesiastical view continued to be hostile to Origen. *Justinian condemned the study of his voluminous works with the result that the greater part is lost.
Danielou, J., Origen. 1955.
Orlando, Vittorio Emanuele (1860–1952). Italian politician. First elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1897, he held ministerial offices and in the last years of World War I was Prime Minister 1917–19. As Italy’s chief representative at the Paris Peace Conference (1919) he was one of the ‘Big Four’ and had frequent clashes with President *Wilson in his attempt (largely successful) to obtain implementation of the secret Treaty of London, by which Italy had been induced to enter the war on the side of the Allies.
Orléans, Philippe, Duc d’ (1674–1723). French regent. A nephew of *Louis XIV, he set aside (1715) the late King’s will and made himself sole regent, an act which encouraged suspicions that the numerous recent deaths in the royal family were caused by poison on his orders. Such suspicions (based on his dissolute character, rather than on evidence) were almost certainly unfounded. Orléans, guided by his old tutor, Abbé Dubois, shrewd and energetic but as dissolute as his master and entirely corrupt, made a special effort to put the finances in order. However, an inquisition, extending back over more than 20 years to discover any moneys that might be owed to the state by tax-gatherers and others, was abandoned because of its unpopularity, nor was his involvement with the banker John *Law much more fortunate. He completely reversed Louis XIV’s foreign policy by allying France with its former enemies, England, Holland and Austria, against his dynastic rival *Philip V of Spain. He retired when *Louis XV came of age.
His grandson Louis Philippe Joseph, Duc d’ Orléans (1747–1793) was an atheist and equally debauched. Perhaps hoping for the crown, he espoused the revolutionary cause, adopted the nickname ‘Philippe Egalité’ and voted for *Louis XVI’s death. This did not save him, however, and he was condemned and executed. His son became *Louis Philippe, King of the French. The present French ‘pretender’ belongs to the Orleanist line.
Orlov, Grigory Grigoryevich (1734–1783). Russian noble. He was prominent in the revolution that replaced *Peter III by his wife, *Catherine II (Catherine the Great). He was already Catherine’s lover and, even when he ceased to be so, remained her principal adviser.
Ormandy, Eugene (Jeno Blau) (1899–1985). American conductor, born in Hungary. A juvenile prodigy as violinist, he lived in the US from 1921, became conductor of the Minneapolis Orchestra 1931–36 and succeeded Leopold *Stokowski at the Philadelphia Orchestra 1936–80.
Orsay, Alfred Guillaume Gabriel de Grimaud, Comte d’ (1801–1852). French dandy. Son of a general, he resigned from *Louis XVIII’s bodyguard (1822) to attach himself to Lord and Lady *Blessington, whom he had met in England and who were touring Europe. His marriage (1827) with the Blessingtons’ 15-year-old daughter soon ended in separation, and in 1831 Lady Blessington (whose husband had died two years before) returned to London with d’Orsay. For the next 20 years the pair dominated the fashionable world, d’Orsay proving his accomplishment as a gentleman not only by his style in clothes but by practising painting and sculpture. In 1849 they fled from their creditors to France, where Louis Napoléon (*Napoléon III) made the count Director of Fine Arts.
Orsini, Felice (1819–1858). Italian conspirator. Having already served in the galleys for plots against the papacy, he took part in many conspiracies designed to further the cause of Italian unification. Considering *Napoléon III, who maintained a garrison in Rome, as the greatest single obstacle, he threw three bombs at the imperial carriage outside the Paris Opera. The Emperor and Empress were unhurt, but 10 bystanders were killed and 156 injured. Orsini was captured. Before he was guillotined he wrote to Napoléon urging him to free Italy and, admiring his courage, the Emperor published his last letter.
Ortega y Gasset, José (1883–1955). Spanish writer and philosopher, born in Madrid. He became professor of metaphysics at Madrid University 1911–36, supported the 1931 revolution, became Civil Governor of Madrid, and lived abroad after *Franco seized power. His philosophy shows the influence of *Kant but he is best known for his essays on modern civilisation, which he regarded as being destroyed by totalitarianism. His works include Meditations of Quixote (1914), a symbolic framework for a comparison of the Spanish spirit with that of other nations, Invertebrate Spain (1923), an analysis of the historical development of the national character, The Revolt of the Masses (1930), which looks forward prophetically to the Civil War, and studies of Kant, *Goethe and *Mirabeau.
Mora, J. F., Ortega y Gasset: An Outline of His Philosophy. 1956.
Orton, Arthur (1834–1898). Anglo-Australian imposter, born in Wapping. He impersonated Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne (1829–1854?), heir to an old Catholic family in Hampshire, presumed to have been lost at sea. Tichborne’s father, the 10th baronet, died in 1862 and was succeeded by a second son. On the latter’s death in 1886, Orton (alias Tom Castro), a butcher from Wagga Wagga, appeared in England, claiming the baronetcy and estates, and gained support from the dowager Lady Tichborne. Two trials (for ejectment against Orton as 12th baronet, 1871–72, and for perjury, 1873–74) were among the longest, most sensational and most expensive in Victorian history. At the second trial he was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment.
Woodruff, D., The Tichborne Claimant. 1957.
Orwell, George (né Eric Arthur Blair) (1903–1950). English essayist and novelist, born in Bengal. Educated at Eton, his early life with the police in Burma (1922–27) and subsequently in poverty in Europe is described in Burmese Days (1935) and Down and Out in Paris and London (1933). He fought for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, was wounded and wrote Homage to Catalonia (1938). The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) is an angry portrait of working class life and an attack on middle class socialists. During World War II he joined the Home Guard, worked for the BBC 1941–43, reviewed for Tribune and wrote powerful essays, including ‘Politics and the English Language’ (1946). Animal Farm (1946) is a powerful satire on Stalinism, in the form of a farmyard fable. Nineteen Eighty-four (1949), his last book, is a terrifying vision of a future technocratic totalitarian state. He long suffered from tuberculosis and recuperated for some years on the Isle of Jura, Scotland. He was an Anglican atheist, somewhat homophobic, but intransigently opposed to all forms of totalitarianism, and to their collaborators. His volumes of essays include Inside the Whale (1940), Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays (1950), and England, Your England (1953).
Williams, R., Orwell. 1970; Bowker, G., Inside George Orwell. 2003.
Osama bin Laden see Laden, Osama bin
Osborne, Dorothy (1627–1695). English letter writer. Her love letters to Sir William *Temple, whom she married (1655) after a long courtship, reveal the writer’s gay and intelligent mind and paint a vivid picture of 17th-century English life. First published in 1888, nearly all the letters are now in the British Museum.
Cecil, D., Two Quiet Lives. 1947.
Osborne, John James (1929–1994). English playwright. He became an actor (1948) and began to work at the Royal Court Theatre, where his play Look Back in Anger was first produced (1956). Its hero (or antihero), Jimmy Porter, came to be regarded as a representative figure of a new classless generation. Sir Laurence *Olivier played the lead in his next play, The Entertainer (1957). Epitaph for George Dillon, an earlier play written in collaboration with Anthony Creighton, was produced in 1957. Later plays include The World of Paul Slickey (1959), a musical; an historical drama Luther (1961); West of Suez (1971) and Sense of Detachment (1972). His autobiography, A Better Class of Person (Vol. I, 1981) and Almost a Gentleman (Vol. II, 1991) caused a sensation, with his bitter account of failed marriages.
Trussier, S., The Plays of John Osborne. 1969.
Osbourne, Lloyd (1868–1947). American author. He wrote three novels in collaboration with his stepfather, Robert Louis *Stevenson: The Wrong Box, The Wrecker and The Ebb Tide.
Oscar I (1799–1859). King of Sweden and Norway 1844–59. His father, Marshal *Bernadotte, had become King of Sweden as Charles XIV John during the Napoléonic Wars. Oscar was a moderate liberal and furthered reforms, e.g. freedom of the press.
Oscar II (Oscar Fredrik Bernadotte) (1829–1907). King of Sweden 1872–1907, and of Norway 1872–1905. Second son of *Oscar I and the brother of Charles XV, he was an able historian, poet, translator, and enthusiast for science, theatre and Arctic exploration. A brand of tinned sardines was named for him. He accepted Norway’s independence (1905) without rancour and establishment of a separate dynasty (*Haakon VII).
O’Shea, Katherine (Katie) see Parnell, Charles Stewart
Oshima Nagisa (1932–2013). Japanese director, producer and screenwriter, born in Kyoto. A film theorist and documentary maker, his feature films include Death by Hanging (1968), The Ceremony (1971), Realm of the Senses (1976) and Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (1983).
Osler, Sir William, 1st Baronet (1849–1919). Canadian physician, born in Ontario. A McGill University graduate, he held chairs in clinical medicine at McGill 1874–84, Pennsylvania 1884–89 and the new Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 1889–1904, where the clinical unit became internationally famous under his direction. Elected FRCP and FRS, he became Regius professor of medicine at Oxford University 1904–19, receiving a baronetcy in 1911. The most important of his many works is The Principles and Practice of Medicine (1891). He was also a noted bibliographer and classical scholar and died during the great influenza epidemic. Oddly, despite many discoveries, he was never nominated for the Nobel Prize.
Bliss, M., William Osler. A Life in Medicine. 2000; Beht, W. R., Osler. 1952; Cushing, H. W., The Life of Sir William Osler. 1925.
Osman I see Uthman I
Osman Nuri Pasha (1832–1900). Turkish soldier. After distinguishing himself in the Crimean War, he gained an international reputation for the skill and courage with which he defended Plevna in Bulgaria for five months against the Russians (1877). He was promoted to field marshal, given the title of ‘Gazi’ and served four times as Minister for War.
Ossian see Macpherson, James
Ossietzky, Carl von (1889–1938). German pacifist and journalist, born in Hamburg. Horrified by the carnage of World War I, in which he had been a conscript, he exposed the extent of German rearmament and the crimes of paramilitary groups, even before *Hitler came to power, and was imprisoned 1931–32. He denounced Nazism and anti-Semitism and was sent to a concentration camp in 1933. In 1935, he received the Nobel Peace Prize, much to Hitler’s fury, and died of tuberculosis in a prison hospital.
Ostade, Adriaen van (1610–1684). Dutch painter. Although a pupil of Frans *Hals, little of his teacher’s influence is seen in his genre scenes in which topers, fiddlers, dancers, often performing in country inns, play a conspicuous part. His brother, Isaack van Ostade (1621–1649), at first chose similar subjects but later turned to the streets and countryside (especially in winter) for inspiration.
Ostrom, Elinor Claire (née Awan) (1933–2012). American political economist. She taught in Indiana and Arizona and wrote extensively about the concept of managing ‘the commons’. Her books included Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: from Theory to Practice (2005). She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Economics, sharing the 2009 award with Oliver Williamson.
Ostrovsky, Aleksandr Nikolaievich (1823–1886). Russian dramatist. He had close associations with the Maly Theatre in Moscow, where he became noted for realistic plays mostly concerned with the middle classes, merchants, officials etc. There is much more poetic force, however, in The Storm (1860), usually considered his masterpiece.
Ostwald, Wilhelm Friedrich (1853–1932). German physical chemist. Professor of chemistry at Riga 1881–87, and at Leipzig 1887–1916, he adopted and advocated the electrolytic dissociation theory of *Arrhenius, and applied the laws of mass action to obtain what is now known as Ostwald’s dilution law. He discovered the process for the catalytic oxidation of ammonia into nitric acid by which most nitric acid is now made and won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1909). He was a profound sceptic about atomic theory.
Oswald, St (c.604–642). King of Northumbria 634–42. Son of King Æthelfrith of Bernicia, he returned from exile to succeed King *Edwin. At the time Cadwallon, king of Gwynedd, was ravaging Northumbria, but Oswald defeated him at Hexham (634) and was able to consolidate and extend his rule until he was overlord of nearly all England. He revived Christianity in Northumbria by inviting *Aidan and monks from Iona to found a monastery at Lindisfarne. Oswald was killed in battle against the pagan king *Penda of Mercia and received almost immediate recognition as a saint and was praised by *Bede.
Oswald, Lee (Harvey) (1939–1963). American assassin. After joining the US Marines in 1954, he defected to the USSR in 1959, married there and returned to the US, apparently disillusioned, in 1962, and worked in Texas for Communist-fringe organisations. On 22 November 1963 he assassinated President John F. *Kennedy by shooting him twice as he drove in an open car through the streets of Dallas. Oswald also wounded Governor John *Connally of Texas and killed a policeman. Two days later Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner, as he was being transferred from one jail to another. Oswald’s record indicated him to be a psychopathic isolate. Despite his political associations the president’s murder was generally thought to have a psychological rather than a political significance, although speculation about conspiracies continued for two decades.
Posner, G., Case Closed. 1993.
Othman (or Osman) I see Uthman I
Otho, Marcus Salvius (32–69). Roman Emperor (69), one of four in that year. While Governor of Lusitania (Portugal) he joined Galba (68) against Nero, but, disappointed in his hopes of the succession, he was proclaimed Emperor by his troops in the Roman forum and had Galba put to death. Meanwhile, the troops in Germany had proclaimed Vitellius, and he defeated Otho in north Italy. Otho then committed suicide.
Otis, Elisha Graves (1811–1861). American inventor, born in Vermont. He worked on many inventions including train brakes, a snow plough and a rotary oven, but secured immediate success at the 1854 New York World’s Fair with his elevator (lift) that made the vertical city possible. He died of diphtheria.
Otto I (1815–1867). First King of the Hellenes 1833–62. A Bavarian prince, he was imposed on the Greeks by the London Conference (1832). Although well-meaning, he was deeply resented and deposed after a military revolt. *George I, imported from Denmark, replaced him.
Otto I (known as ‘the Great’) (912–973). German King 936–73 and Holy Roman Emperor 962–73. He was the son of Heinrich (‘the Fowler’), Duke of Saxony and German King 919–36. Crowned Emperor at Rome (962), because of the extension of his power into Italy and close relations with the papacy he is held to be the founder of the Holy Roman Empire. In Germany he centralised the administration, controlled the Slavs and repelled the Magyars. In Italy he became King of the Lombards, mastered Rome and the country to the south as far as Capua. His first wife was a daughter of *Edward the Elder of England. His son, Otto II (955–983), crowned German King in 961, while his father was still alive, and later Emperor, was defeated by the Saracens in southern Italy and in consequence lost control of the Slavs in Germany. An attempt by his son, Otto III (980–1002), to establish an empire on the Byzantine pattern centred on Rome failed and was resented by his German subjects. Otto IV (c.1175–1218), a son of *Heinrich der Löwe, was crowned German King (1198) but his title of Emperor was constantly in dispute. In alliance with the English king *John he was completely defeated at Bouvines (1214) by *Philip II of France.
Otto, Nikolaus August (1832–1891). German inventor. He was co-inventor (1867) of a successful internal combustion engine and patented (1884) the four-stroke Otto engine. Gottlieb *Daimler was the chief engineer of the company formed to exploit the patent.
Ottoboni, Pietro (1667–1740). Italian cardinal, born in Venice. Created a cardinal in 1689, he was not ordained as priest until 1724. He patronised the arts, especially music, and among his protégés were Arcangelo *Corelli, Alessandro *Scarlatti, George Frideric *Händel and Antonio *Vivaldi.
Otway, Thomas (1652–1685). English Restoration dramatist. He left Oxford without taking a degree and went to London, where, after failing as an actor, he produced his first successful play, Don Carlos (1676). Adaptations from *Racine’s Bérenice and *Molière’s Les Fourberies de Scapin followed (1677). He is chiefly remembered for the blank verse tragedy The Orphan (1680) and his masterpiece Venice Preserved (1682). After a breach with his patron, the Earl of Rochester, he died in poverty.
Ham, R. G., Otway and Lee. 1969.
Oudinot, Charles Nicolas (1767–1847). French marshal. His ‘grenadiers Oudinot’ won fame at Austerlitz (1805), and after the Battle of Wagram (1809) he was created Prince of Reggio. With *Ney he covered the crossing of the Beresina River in the heroic rearguard action that saved the remnants of the Grand Army retreating from Moscow. He remained aloof during the Waterloo campaign. He later gained distinction in the royal service.
Overbury, Sir Thomas (1581–1613). English poet and courtier. In the reign of *James I he was the go-between of the beautiful Frances Howard, Countess of Essex, and her lover Robert Carr, the king’s favourite, afterwards Earl of Somerset. Overbury’s remark to Carr during a discussion about divorce, that the Countess was all right for a mistress but not for a wife, seems to have been repeated and so angered the lady that she contrived a pretext on which Overbury was confined to the Tower of London, where he was found dead from poison. Four minor participants in the crime were later hanged and afterwards the Countess of Somerset (as she had become) admitted her guilt but was pardoned by the King, as was her husband.
McElwee, W., The Murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. 1952; Lindley, D., The Trials of Frances Howard. 1993; Harris, B., Passion, Poison and Power. The Mysterious Death of Sir Thomas Overbury. 2010.
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) (43 BCE–17 CE). Roman poet, born in Sulmona. Among his earliest poems were the Amores, written to an imaginary mistress, Corinna. Equally imaginary are the letters in the Heroides, allegedly written by legendary heroines, to their husbands or lovers (e.g. Penelope to Ulysses). In the Art of Love, often regarded as his masterpiece, the poet tells a lover how to gain a courtesan’s favour and advises a girl on how to win and hold a lover. The Metamorphoses contains myths where change of shape provides the central theme. Having written this, Ovid was suddenly and mysteriously banished by *Augustus (perhaps because he had become involved in one of the intrigues of the Emperor’s daughter Julia) to Tomi (now Constanta) on the Black Sea. Tristia, his laments for the misfortune, was already started while he was on the way. While in exile, from which he was never recalled, he also revised the Fasti, a month-by-month description of the festivals of the Roman year. Only six of these survive and perhaps no more were written. Ovid had an astonishing facility for turning almost any subject into hexameters and pentameters without metrical blemish, and provided themes and examples for many writers, e.g. *Shakespeare and *Pope. He was often translated, notably by *Dryden, and his reputation remains high.
Syme, R., History in Ovid. 1978; Slavitt, D. R., Ovid. 1990.
Owen, David Anthony Llewellyn, Baron Owen (1938– ). British politician. Educated at Cambridge, he became a neurologist and MP (1966–92), Labour until 1981, and was *Callaghan’s Foreign Secretary 1977–79. He published Face the Future (1981), left Labour to be a co-founder of the Social Democratic Party, which he led 1983–87. He opposed the SDP merger with the Liberals and became an independent. He was the UN mediator in Bosnia 1992–95 (with Cyrus *Vance until March 1993) and received a CH in 1994.
Owen, Sir Richard (1804–1892). British zoologist and palaeontologist. Trained as a surgeon in Edinburgh and London, he attended lectures by *Cuvier in Paris, became Hunterian professor of surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons 1836–56, superintendent of natural history at the British Museum 1856–84, and founded the Natural History Museum at South Kensington (1881). He was the leading expert on Australian fossils. He promoted public interest in palaeontology, but took credit for discoveries by Gideon Mantell and others. He coined the term ‘dinosaur’ (‘terrible lizard’) in 1841: a serious error because lizards, although reptiles, are a different species. He wrote important studies of the platypus, dodo, moa, kiwi and archaeopteryx, received the Copley Medal in 1851 and became an increasingly shrill and isolated antagonist of *Darwin on the issue of natural selection.
Owen, Robert (1771–1858). Welsh social reformer, born in Montgomeryshire. After being a draper’s assistant in Manchester, he became a master spinner and took over (1800), with partners, the New Lanark mills, originally started by *Arkwright and David Dale, whose daughter Owen married. Here he improved working conditions and housing, shortened hours and, for the children, introduced a new educational system (visual methods etc.) designed to bring out the special aptitudes of each particular child. Some of his improvements were incorporated in the Factory Act (1819). In the industrial depression that followed the Napoléonic Wars, Owen proposed as a substitute for the poor relief system ‘villages of cooperation’ in which each member was expected to work according to his ability for the good of the whole. The few experimental settlements all failed, for though New Harmony (1825) in Indiana, USA, survived, the cooperative principle was soon abandoned.
As early as 1813 Owen had, in A New View of Society, propounded the view that man’s character was formed by his environment and he denounced the Churches for holding people responsible for sins resulting from capitalism and other social evils. He also held that such evils could be swept away if only the ‘industrial classes’ would combine to overthrow them. He took the lead in the foundation (1833) of the ‘Grand National Consolidated Trades Union’, but this collapsed within a year. Undeterred, he and his followers, now called ‘Socialists’, founded a new settlement, Queenwood in Hampshire, but this too only survived a few years.
Cole, G. D. H., Life of Robert Owen. 1965.
Owen, Wilfred (1893–1918). English poet. A teacher by profession, he served in World War I and was killed a week before the armistice. His war poems, written with irony, pity and ruthless honesty, were published after his death by his friend Siegfried *Sassoon. Some were set by Benjamin *Britten in his War Requiem (1962).
Stallworthy, J., Wilfred Owen: A Biography. 1974.
Owens, Jesse (originally James Cleveland) (1913–1980). American athlete, born in Alabama. Son of a sharecropper, at the 1936 Olympic Games at Berlin, watched by *Hitler, he won four gold medals, for 100 metres, 200 metres, 4 x 100 metres relay and long jump, the last (8.135 metres) not surpassed until 1960. Such feats, performed in Berlin by an African-American, when the Nazis were proclaiming their theories of Nordic racial superiority, caused a sensation.
Oxenstierna af Södermöre, Axel Gustafsson, Count [Grevar], (1583–1654). Swedish statesman, born in Uppland. Of aristocratic birth, he was instrumental in securing a settlement between the nobles and *Gustaf II Adolf and served as chancellor (Riksansler) 1612–54. The diplomatic preparations which left Gustaf free to sweep into Germany as the Protestant hero of the Thirty Years’ War were in Oxenstierna’s hands and, after his master’s death at Lutzen (1632), it was he, as regent for Gustaf’s daughter *Christina, who kept the war going and made sure that Sweden was adequately rewarded by territorial gains. Meanwhile he had made notable administrative reforms, but after the war a faction of the nobility asserted itself, Queen Christina’s support was lukewarm and finally, despite his persuasions, she abdicated. Soon after this final disappointment Oxenstierna died.
Oxford, 17th Earl of, Edward de Vere (1550–1604). English courtier and poet. Educated at Cambridge, he was violent and improvident, although a poet and patron of writers. T. J. Looney (sic) proposed in 1920 that Oxford was the ‘real’ author of the plays attributed to *Shakespeare, and *Freud joined the ‘anti-Stratfordian’ cause.
Oxford and Asquith, 1st Earl of see Asquith, Herbert Henry
Oxford and Mortimer, 1st Earl of see Harley, Robert
Oyama Iwao, Prince (1842–1916). Japanese field marshal. He became Minister of War 1880–95 and Chief of the General Staff 1899–1906, defeating the Russians at Mukden (1905). He received an honorary OM from Britain (1906).
Oz, Amos (1939–2018). Israeli novelist, born in Jerusalem. Educated at Hebrew University, he was a high school teacher at the Kibbutz Hulda until 1986, then taught at universities in Israel and the US and won many prizes. His novels include Elsewhere, Perhaps (1966), Touch the Water, Touch the Wind (1973), A Perfect Peace (1982) and Black Box (1987).
Ozal, Turgut (1927–1993). Turkish politician. He studied engineering and economics in Istanbul and the US, became a political conservative and an economic liberal. He held office under the military regime in Turkey 1980–82, founded the Motherland Party in 1982 and was elected as Prime Minister 1983–89. As President of Turkey 1989–93, he worked cautiously with his rival Suleyman *Demirel from 1991.
Ozu Yasujiro (1903–1963). Japanese film director. He directed 54 films, most filmed from a fixed position at a very low angle, suggesting the hierarchic nature of Japanese society. They include A Story of Floating Weeds (1934), Tokyo Story (1953) and An Autumn Afternoon (1962).
Ozawa, Seiji (1935– ). Japanese-American conductor, born in Manchuria. He was Musical Director of the Toronto Symphony 1965–68, the San Francisco Symphony 1970–75, the Boston Symphony 1973–2002 and the Vienna State Opera 2002–10, worked extensively in Europe and made many recordings.