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Dictionary of World Biography
Nash (or Nashe), Thomas (1567–1601). English
pamphleteer and dramatist. Educated at Cambridge,
he became one of the group of playwrights and
pamphleteers known as ‘university wits’. The Anatomy
of Absurdities (1589) and Pierce Penilesse (1592) were
satirical exposures of the evils of society in his day.
He wrote the first picaresque novel in English, The
Unfortunate Traveller (1594). His play The Isle of Dogs
(1597), which attacked abuses of state power with
such freedom that he was imprisoned, is lost.
Hibbard, G. R., Thomas Nash. 1962.
Nash, Sir Walter (1882–1968). New Zealand
politician. He emigrated from England (1909) and
became a Labour MP 1929–68 and Minister of
Finance 1935–49. He wrote New Zealand: A Working
Democracy (1943). After Labour’s 1949 defeat he
succeeded Peter *Fraser as party leader 1950–63.
Prime Minister for a single term 1957–60, he received
a GCMG and CH.
Sinclair, K., Walter Nash. 1976.
Nasmyth, James (1808–1890). Scottish engineer.
He invented the first successful steam hammer, which
he patented in 1842. That the first one to be built was
constructed in France was probably due to the pirating
of his design. The hammer permitted the production
of metal forgings of better quality and much greater
size. He also invented the stop-valve and a steam piledriver. The success of his foundry, established (1834)
at Bridgewater, near Manchester, enabled him to retire
with a fortune at the age of 48. His autobiography was
edited by Samuel *Smiles (1883).
Nasser, Gamal Abdel (1918–1970). Egyptian
soldier and politician, born in Alexandria. He had
a successful military career and emerged with credit
from the war with Israel (1948–49). He was the
chief organiser of the revolt (1952) which under
General *Neguib deposed King Farouk. Having
supplanted Neguib, he was Prime Minister 1954–56
and President of Egypt 1956–70. His nationalisation
of the Suez Canal (1956) provoked Anglo-FrenchIsraeli military intervention. Egypt and Syria made a
political union in 1958, as the United Arab Republic,
under Nasser’s presidency; despite Syria’s withdrawal
in 1961 the name was retained. His later attempts to
form an Arab federation under Egyptian leadership
were constantly foiled. He obtained much economic
and military aid from Russia but remained doctrinally
Lacouture, J., Nasser: A Biography. 1973.
Nathan, George Jean (1882–1958). American editor
and dramatic critic. With H. L. *Mencken he edited
Smart Set (1914–23) and founded the American
Mercury (1924). He was for many years the leading
American dramatic critic. His collection of criticisms
included The House of Satan and The Morning after
The First Knight.
Nation, Carry (Amelia) (née Moore) (1846–1911).
American temperance advocate. Famous for her
hatchet-wielding exploits in Kansas against bars and
saloons, she also campaigned against foreign foods,
pornography, tobacco and corsets and for female
suffrage. She was jailed many times.
Navratilova, Martina (1956– ). American tennis
player, born in Prague. She defected to the US in
1975. The most consistent winner in women’s tennis,
she won the singles titles at Wimbledon 1978–79,
1982–87, 1990.
Nebuchadnezzar (or Nebuchadrezzar) II (d.562
BCE). King of Babylonia 605–562. He recovered
many of the lost provinces of the empire and added
more. In 597 he took Jerusalem and in 586, after
a revolt, destroyed the city and took most of the
people into captivity in Babylonia. He rebuilt the
city of Babylon, where at his palace he constructed
the famous ‘hanging gardens’, regarded as one of the
Wonders of the Ancient World.
Nechayev, Sergei Gennadyevich (1847–1882).
Russian anarchist. A professional revolutionary, he
was the archetypical terrorist and died in prison.
Necker, Jacques (1732–1804). French-Swiss
financier, born in Geneva. Having made a large
fortune as a banker he represented Geneva in Paris,
where his wife’s salon attracted literary celebrities as
well as businessmen. As French Director-General of
Finance 1777–81, Necker made such an impression
by his integrity and was so successful with his
administrative economies that he was able to raise
money without difficulty for the War of American
Independence. Those who had suffered from his
measures forced his retirement (1781) and he was not
recalled until 1788, when France was on the brink of
the Revolution. He advised *Louis XVI to summon
the Estates-General but the consequence of this step
lost him the King’s confidence. He was dismissed (July
1789), only to be reinstated a few days later when the
Bastille fell. Disillusioned by events, he finally retired
to Switzerland in 1790. His daughter became famous
as Madame de *Stael.
Needham, Joseph (1900–1995). British biochemist
and historian. Educated at Cambridge, where he
worked all his life, he produced the encyclopaedic
Chemical Embryology (1931). A Christian Marxist, he
visited China 1942–46 as head of a scientific mission,
then devoted the rest of his career to a massive study
of Science and Civilisation in China (1954 ff: seven
volumes by 1992). He was Master of Gonville &
Caius College 1966–72 and received a CH in 1992.
Werskey, G., The Visible College. 1978.
Nefertiti (or Nofretete) (fl. c.1460 BCE). Egyptian
Queen. She was wife of *Akhenaton and aunt to
*Tutankhamen. A beautiful limestone polychrome