Great Britons: Britain's got talent, as the class of '13 demonstrates

Royal Mail is issuing a set of ten 1st class stamps on April 16 celebrating some of Britain’s most remarkable individuals, on the 100th or 150th anniversary of their birth.

The Great Britons honoured include an actor and actress, a national and a local politician, a football manager, a composer, a photographer, a writer, a broadcaster and an archaeologist.

Only two have featured previously on British stamps, Vivien Leigh in the 1985 British Film Year and 1996 Centenary of Cinema sets, and Peter Cushing in the 2008 Carry On & Hammer Films set.

The stamps were designed by Together Design, and printed in lithography by Cartor. They are available in se-tenant blocks of 10.


COMMEMORATIVE WORTH  Although the subjects’ degree of fame varies, each is fully deserving of this modest recognition

These are not the most eye-catching designs, but some of the subjects will attract individual attention

This style of issue seems to have become an annual fixture, and this is the most coherent set yet

1st class Norman Parkinson
Parkinson (1913-90) photographed Welsh mining communities in the 1930s, models in the 1940s, movie stars in the 1950s and The Beatles in the 1960s. In 1980, he took the famous ‘Blue Trinity’ photograph of the Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Apprenticed to a court photographer in London in 1931, three years later he had his own Mayfair studio.

1st class Vivien Leigh
One of the most beautiful and dedicated movie stars of her era, Leigh (1913-67) received an Academy Award in 1940 for her performance as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind, and another in 1952 for playing Blanche du Bois in A Streetcar Named Desire. She married Laurence Olivier in 1940, having met him while they were both starring in Fire Over England.

1st class Peter Cushing
Cushing (1913-94) enjoyed a diverse acting career spanning more than four decades, including memorable performances as the scientist Baron Frankenstein, the vampire hunter Dr Van Helsing, the detective Sherlock Holmes and the Star Wars villain Grand Moff Tarkin. He also played Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four. He is synonymous with the Hammer horror films, which he acted in for nearly 20 years.

1st class David Lloyd George
An eloquent orator and a political titan, Lloyd George (1863-45) introduced social reforms which laid down the foundations of the British welfare state as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and led the nation to victory in World War I as Prime Minister from 1916.

A lawyer by profession, he was MP for Caernarfon Boroughs from 1890 until the year he died.

1st class Elizabeth David
In defiance of post-war austerity, David (1913-92) published influential books about French and Mediterranean cuisine and the culture of food in the 1940s and 1950s, starting with A Book of Mediterranean Food. She is credited with introducing British people to ‘exotic’ cooking, and revolutionised the way they shopped and prepared meals.

1st class John Archer
Archer (1863-1932) became one of the first men of African descent to be elected to public office in 1906, and only the second black mayor in Britain in 1913, in Battersea. He later became the first President of the African Progress Union and Chairman of the Pan-African Congress.

1st class Benjamin Britten
Britten (1913-76) was the central figure in 20th-century British classical music, composing the opera Peter Grimes and The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. He also wrote scores for the GPO Film Unit’s documentaries The King’s Stamp, Coal Face and Night Mail, and set up the Aldeburgh Festival in 1948.

1st class Mary Leakey
Leakey (1913-96) was an archaeologist and palaeoanthropologist who revolutionised thinking about human evolution by making significant finds such as the skull of Australopithecus boisei and the hominid footprints at Laetoli in Tanzania which are 3.6 million years old. Her first job in the profession was drawing archaelogical finds at the age of 17.

1st class Bill Shankly
As manager of Liverpool FC for 15 years from 1959, Shankly (1913-81) won three League Championships, two FA Cups and one UEFA Cup, establishing the club as the strongest force in English football. As a player, he had previously represented Preston North End (where he won the FA Cup) and Scotland. Shankly also managed Carlisle United, Huddersfield Town, Grimsby Town and Workington.

1st class Richard Dimbleby
Dimbleby (1913-65) joined the BBC as a radio reporter and in 1939 became its first war correspondent. He reported on the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, the Suez conflict in 1956, the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and the funeral of President Kennedy in 1963, and presented Panorama from 1955-1965. He was the father of journalists David and Jonathan Dimbleby.

Writer and journalist Nigel Fountain assesses the lives of the featured Great Britons in the presentation pack. A first day cover and stamp cards are also available.

Set of 10 stamps £6.00
Presentation pack £6.50
Stamp cards £4.50
First day envelope  £0.30
First day cover £7.68
TOTAL  £24.98