The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Guess who Osama is rubbing shoulders with in dictionary

London, Sept. 3 (Reuters): What do Osama Bin Laden, Stella McCartney and Ronaldo have in common'

In the fame game, they are just three of the 500 new names to merit a place in one of the world’s oldest reference books — Chambers Biographical Dictionary.

“The basic criteria have kept the same since the first edition in 1897 — achievement and recognition. Those are the key watchwords,” editor Una McGovern said today.

A new edition only comes round every five years and she was the first to admit: “It is a difficult job for editors to decide who goes in.

“We try to reflect international coverage and who people would look up.”

The 2002 dictionary, being published this week, certainly mirrors a society obsessed by celebrities — the largest number of new entries comes from the world of arts and entertainment.

Hollywood stars feature strongly with George Clooney, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman taking a bow for the first time.

“Arts is one of the growing interests in the world and people in that area have more influence. We reflect that,” McGovern said.

Fitting 17,500 entries into the dictionary is a real masterclass in the art of precis.

Editors have just 150 words to tell all about George W. Bush, George Michael and David Beckham — but Sunday’s birth of soccer idol Beckham's son Romeo came too late for the dictionary deadline.

Other big names, from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to children’s writer Roald Dahl, are treated to bigger panel biographies but never on first entry in the dictionary.

Fame certainly seems to run in the genes.

Stella McCartney merits entry alongside her Beatle father Paul for the first time.

They are joined by Hollywood film director brothers Ethan and Joel Coen, father and son actors Donald and Kiefer Sutherland and tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams.

Politics account for a nearly a quarter of the new entries.

George W. Bush failed to make the grade in the 1997 edition as he was just the Governor of Texas.

Five years ago, his arch foe Osama Bin Laden was mentioned just 23 times in Reuters stories. In the past year that figure has risen to 12,363.

And death is certainly no bar to a belated appearance in the dictionary.

In 2002, posthumous entries are accorded to Hollywood star River Phoenix, singer Sammy Davis Jr, Italian car manufacturer Enzo Ferrari and England football manager Alf Ramsey.

Ronaldo, who was instrumental in Brazil’s fifth World Cup victory in Japan, also gets a mention in the dictionary. Ronaldo was signed by Spanish giants Real Madrid for a record $46.31 million on September 7.

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