The Remarkable Lives stamp issue, to be released on March 25, is the latest in what seems to have become an annual series celebrating important figures in modern British culture, following on from Eminent Britons in 2009, Britons of Distinction in 2012 and Great Britons in 2013.

Each of this year’s honorees was born a century ago, in 1914. They include two actors, a theatre director, a writer, an economist, a broadcaster, a scientist, a footballer, a graphic designer and a war heroine. The title reflects the fact that one of them, Noorunissa Inayat Khan, did not hold British citizenship.

Designed by Purpose, the stamps are printed in litho by International Security Printers (Walsall).



Some of the subjects are more amazing than others, but sharing a date of birth adds more cohesion to this series


Use of black-and-white photographic portraits is a successful approach this kind of issue


Not too many of these worthies are instantly recognisable

1st class Roy Plomley

Broadcaster and writer Plomley (1914-1985) presented the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs from its inception in 1942 until 1985. His simple idea was to invite guests from different spheres of public life to select eight pieces of music that they would want with them if they were castaways. His guests included royalty and prime ministers.

1st class Barbara Ward

An economist and broadcaster, Ward (1914–1981) was a pioneer of a global response to environmental problems. She became the Albert Schweitzer Professor of Economic Development at Columbia University in the USA, and co-authored the Only One Earth report for the 1972 United Nations Conference on Human Development, which invented the idea of ‘sustainable development’. She was made Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth in 1974.

1st class Joe Mercer

As a footballer for Everton, Arsenal and England, Mercer (1914-90) won three League Championships, two FA Cups and five full international caps, and was voted Footballer of the Year in 1950. After retiring, he managed Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Coventry City, winning all three of the major domestic trophies and one European trophy. He also served as England’s caretaker manager in 1974.

1st class Sir Alec Guinness

Stage and screen actor Guinness (1914-2000) first appeared on film in 1946, in Great Expectations, and went on to star in many famous movies including Oliver Twist, Kind Hearts & Coronets (playing eight characters from the same family), Lawrence Of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, A Passage To India and Star Wars. He won an Oscar in 1957 for The Bridge On The River Kwai, and was knighted in 1959. 

1st class Kenneth More 

More (1914-1982) was the actor who made the character of the middle-class Englishman his own. After a stage career which started in the 1930s, he came to movie stardom in the 1950s in Genevieve, Doctor In The House, The Deep Blue Sea and The 39 Steps, and also starred in many popular television series, including The Forsyte Saga.

1st class Dylan Thomas

Thomas (1914-1953) wrote poetry and drama about everyday lives, and is most acclaimed for his radio play Under Milk Wood and for poems such as And Death Shall Have No Dominion and Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

1st class Noorunissa Inayat Khan

Born in Moscow and descended from Tipu Sultan of Mysore, Khan (1914-44) was one of the little-known heroines of World War II. She worked as a wireless officer for the British Special Operations Executive in German-occupied Paris, playing a key role in aiding the French Resistance. Betrayed and arrested, she was executed by the Gestapo at Dachau, and posthumously awarded the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre.

1st class Max Perutz 

Born in Vienna but exiled because of his Jewish ancestry, Perutz (1914–2002) became a leading molecular biologist in Britain. He explained how haemoglobin is made to release oxygen, and shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1962 for demonstrating how X-ray crystallography could be used to determine the structure of a protein.

1st class Joan Littlewood 

Director and writer Littlewood (1914-2002) revolutionised British drama after World War II by co-founding the left-wing Theatre Workshop in Manchester. Winning acclaim with productions such as Oh What a Lovely War! and Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be, the company brought theatre to new audiences.

1st class Abram Games

Graphic designer Games (1914-1996) designed almost 300 posters, working commercially and as an official war artist. He was also a celebrated stamp designer, creating Britain’s 1948 Olympic Games 3d and 1951 Festival of Britain 4d, as well as issues for Jersey and Israel.


Written by Dr David Lawrence from Kingston University, the presentation pack features objects associated with the 10 individuals, from book covers to medals. Stamp cards and a first day cover 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