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The time of the Nobel hero

Congratulations to Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian writer who this morning was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature (and to the Swedish Academy, who made excellent usage of the word “trenchant” in describing Vargas Llosa’s work — it’s one of our favorite adjectives, and occurs in 551 Biography in Context biographies). We have eight biographies for Vargas Llosa, including one from Contemporary Hispanic Biography that, right off the bat, adeptly describes the future Nobel Laureate and drives home why he was this year’s winner:

Already a profound chronicler of South America’s political and social reality, Mario Vargas Llosa took an unusual step for a writer in the 1980s: he immersed himself in the political life of his native Peru rather than simply standing outside it as an observer. In the widest sense, Vargas Llosa has been a champion of freedom, a writer who spoke out against abuses of military and government power, who defied literary conventions, and who stood up for the cause of freedom of expression for writers worldwide. His more than 15 novels and numerous other writings have gained him international acclaim as one of Latin America’s most significant writers of the 20th century.

Posted on: October 7, 2010, 11:38 am Category: Factoids Tagged with: ,

Meet the new hotness

Biography In Context homepage

After countless  man-hours (and woman-hours), Biography In Context has finally emerged from the nest and taken to the information resource skies.  We hope you enjoy the new experience of putting all of our great content into context with one-stop views for reference, periodical, multimedia, primary source content and more. Some notable new additions now that we have a new interface on a new, more versatile platform:

  • Search occupations, nationalities, birthplaces and deathplaces right from the homepage — not just names
  • Sharing tools for any social media app you can think of
  • Citation generation in MLA and APA format
  • Print or email as PDF
  • Search assist for person topic pages
  • ReadSpeaker text-to-speech on every document
  • Translation for Chinese (simplified), French, German, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish..and back to English again
  • Thousands more photos than ever before
  • Embedded videos
  • Podcasts and audio files
  • Citation generation
  • Advanced search by document type, content type
  • Factboxes on person topic pages

And to top it all off, as a thank-you to all of our customers for sticking with us during these challenging times, we have rolled all 160,000 biographies from Lives & Perspectives Collection into the  Biography In Context base content set — free of charge. That gives users access to more than 600,000 biographies, all full-text, all the time.

It goes without saying that we’re more excited than Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch to be going on this journey with you as Biography moves into the next phase of its life. We hope you are, too.

Biography In Context homepage

Posted on: September 15, 2010, 11:42 am Category: Announcements Tagged with:

Some kind of wonderful

Sniff, sniff — do you smell that?  It’s the future, and it’s NOW.

We’ll have more to say next week. For now, just sit back, relax, and ease on into the wonderful world of Biography In Context.

Posted on: September 11, 2010, 10:14 am Category: Announcements Tagged with:

The most incredible Betty White

If Jay-Z thinks you’re cool, you know you’ve still got it. Congrats to Betty White, who received this year’s Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series yesterday for her guest hosting of the Mother’s Day 2010 episode of Saturday Night Live. In honor of White proving that you don’t have to be twentysomething to prove you still have it — and in fact, you can be born in the ’20s and still have it — we did a Biographical Fact Search for all actors in Biography Resource Center born in 1922. (White was born January 17, 1922.)

The results were impressive: 152 individuals, including Lillian Adams, Rory Calhoun, Denholm Elliott, Redd Foxx, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Jo Van Fleet, Kim Hunter, Richard Kiley, Jack Klugman, Christopher Lee, Patrick Macnee, Dick Martin, Darren McGavin, Juanita Moore, Donna Reed, Jason Robards, Esther Rolle, Dan Rowan, Paul Scofield, Gale Storm, and Paul Winchell. And, of course, Betty White and her delicious muffins.

Posted on: August 23, 2010, 3:10 pm Category: Factoids Tagged with: ,

No self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits

Maury Chaykin, character actor extraordinaire who featured in some of our favorite roles in our favorite movies, died this week at the age of 61.  In particular, he was a favorite of Canadian writer/director Atom Egoyan.  We’re feeling pretty depressed about this, so now might also be a good time to remind ourselves (and you) that the  Biography Resource Center name is also dying — only to rise anew like a phoenix as Biography in Context! Check the banner at the top of the page. Yep, it’s official. As to a release date for our new interface…soon.  Soon!

As always, more information to come.

Posted on: July 29, 2010, 12:27 pm Category: Announcements, Factoids Tagged with:

The Voice of God has gone silent

Less than ten weeks after Ernie Harwell left us, longtime Yankee Stadium announcer Bob Sheppard has died at the age of 99. We added a biography on Sheppard to Biography Resource Center back in February. You can find him in the database by searching for the name “Voice of God” — one of his variant names.

On a related note, if you search for plain old “god,” you’ll find Sheppard and 11 others, including Attila (“Scourge of God”), Ghostface Killah (“Sun God”), Abraham (“Friend of God”) and, of course, legendary basketball player God Shammgod (“God Shammgod”).

Posted on: July 12, 2010, 3:11 pm Category: Factoids Tagged with:

Happy Fourth of July!

It’s the Fourth of July, and to celebrate we’d like to call your attention to biographies on John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe — all of whom passed away on Independence Day.  We have 10 narrative biographies (plus six more from our Lives & Perspectives add-on content module) for Jefferson, five (plus six from Lives & Perspectives) for Adams, and five (plus five from Lives & Perspectives) for Monroe.

But that’s not all!  July as a whole is a very dangerous month for Presidents. Zachary Taylor (July 9; three biographies), Ulysses S. Grant (July 23; three biographies), Martin Van Buren (July 24; three biographies), and Andrew Johnson (July 31; two biographies).

On a happier note, Calvin Coolidge was born on the Fourth of July.  We have three biographies (plus three more from Lives & Perspectives) available.

Be safe, Barry O’Bams. Be safe.

Posted on: July 4, 2010, 10:42 am Category: Factoids Tagged with:

The next generation of Biography Resource Center is almost the now generation!

We are pleased to announce the impending birth of the latest generation of Biography Resource Center: the completely reimagined experience that will henceforth be known as Biography in Context.  It’s been a long road bringing this new interface and feature set to our loyal customers and we’re glad the end is in sight.  Stay tuned — we’ll have screenshots soon.

Posted on: June 25, 2010, 3:38 pm Category: Announcements

Cradle, meet grave

On the heels of the news that the corpse of Bobby Fischer is being exhumed to be used for a paternity test, we feel moved to enlighten our fair readers about what is available in Biography Resource Center on the legendary chess player and ex-pat. That’s right, we have six fascinating narrative biographies on Fischer ranging from 156 to 1,611 words in length. We also have two brief biographies, including one from Marquis Who’s Who that, interestingly, lists the child in question in the paternity suit that led to the gravedigging as Fischer’s progeny. Doesn’t the Reykjavik Supreme Court know we’re an authoritative source?

Posted on: June 18, 2010, 11:15 am Category: Factoids Tagged with:

RIP, John Wooden

Best coach of all time? Yeah, we’re down with that. Check out the Spotlight in Biography Resource Center today highlighting the long, lauded life of former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

It’s been a rough week-plus for high-profile deaths — you can see previous recent Spotlights for Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper in the Spotlight Archive in the database. Here’s hoping we have a quiet next few months. The trick is to keep breathing.

Posted on: June 7, 2010, 11:04 am Category: Announcements Tagged with: