Portal:United Kingdom/Featured biography

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Featured biographies

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These are featured articles about people related to the United Kingdom which appear on Portal:United Kingdom.

For a full list of UK related FAs sorted by topic see Portal:United Kingdom/Featured article/List.




Felice Beato, 1860s
Felice Beato (1832 – 29 January 1909), also known as Felix Beato, was an Italian–British photographer. He was one of the first people to take photographs in East Asia and one of the first war photographers. He is noted for his genre works, portraits, and views and panoramas of the architecture and landscapes of Asia and the Mediterranean region. Beato's travels gave him the opportunity to create images of countries, people, and events that were unfamiliar and remote to most people in Europe and North America. His work provides images of such events as the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and the Second Opium War, and represents the first substantial body of photojournalism. He influenced other photographers, and his influence in Japan, where he taught and worked with numerous other photographers and artists, was particularly deep and lasting. more...



Holkham Hall

Matthew Brettingham (1699 – 19 August 1769), sometimes called Matthew Brettingham the Elder, was an 18th-century Englishman who rose from humble origins to supervise the construction of Holkham Hall, and become one of the country's best-known architects of his generation. Much of his principal work has since been demolished, particularly his work in London, where he revolutionised the design of the grand townhouse. As a result, he is often overlooked today, remembered principally for his Palladian remodelling of numerous country houses, many of them situated in the East Anglia area of Britain. As Brettingham neared the pinnacle of his career, Palladianism began to fall out of fashion and neoclassicism was introduced, championed by the young Robert Adam. more...



William Bruce

Sir William Bruce of Kinross, 1st Baronet (c. 1630 – 1 January 1710), was a Scottish gentleman-architect, "the effective founder of classical architecture in Scotland," as Howard Colvin observes. As a key figure in introducing the Palladian style into Scotland, he has been compared to the pioneering English architects Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren, and to the contemporaneous introducers of French style in English domestic architecture, Hugh May and Sir Roger Pratt.

Bruce was a merchant in Rotterdam during the 1650s, and played a role in the Restoration of Charles II in 1659. He carried messages between the exiled king and General Monck, and his loyalty to the king was rewarded with lucrative official appointments, including that of Surveyor General of the King's Works in Scotland, effectively making Bruce the "king's architect". His patrons included John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale, the most powerful man in Scotland at that time, and Bruce rose to become a member of Parliament, and briefly sat on the Scottish Privy Council.

Despite his lack of technical expertise, Bruce became the most prominent architect of his time in Scotland. He worked with competent masons and professional builders, to whom he imparted a classical vocabulary; thus his influence was carried far beyond his own aristocratic circle. Beginning in the 1660s, Bruce built and remodelled a number of country houses, including Thirlestane Castle for the Duke of Lauderdale, and Prestonfield House. Among his most significant work was his own Palladian mansion at Kinross, built on the Loch Leven estate which he had purchased in 1675. As the king's architect he undertook the rebuilding of the Royal Palace of Holyroodhouse in the 1670s, which gave the palace its present appearance. After the death of Charles II Bruce lost political favour, and later, following the accession of William and Mary, he was imprisoned more than once as a suspected Jacobite. However, he managed to continue his architectural work, often providing his services to others with Jacobite sympathies. more...



John Douglas

John Douglas (11 April 1830 – 23 May 1911) was an English architect who designed over 500 buildings in Cheshire, North Wales, and northwest England, in particular in the estate of Eaton Hall. He was trained in Lancaster and practised throughout his career from an office in Chester. Initially he ran the practice on his own, but from 1884 until two years before his death he worked in partnerships with two of his former assistants.

Douglas's output included new churches, restoring and renovating existing churches, church furnishings, new houses and alterations to existing houses, and a variety of other buildings, including shops, banks, offices, schools, memorials and public buildings. His architectural styles were eclectic. Douglas worked during the period of the Gothic Revival, and many of his works incorporate elements of the English Gothic style. He was also influenced by architectural styles from the mainland of Europe and included elements of French, German and Dutch architecture. However he is probably best remembered for his incorporation of vernacular elements in his buildings, in particular half-timbering, influenced by the black-and-white revival in Chester. Other vernacular elements he incorporated include tile-hanging, pargeting, and the use of decorative brick in diapering and the design of tall chimney stacks. Of particular importance is Douglas's use of joinery and highly detailed wood carving.

Throughout his career he attracted commissions from wealthy landowners and industrialists, especially the Grosvenor family of Eaton Hall. Most of his works have survived, particularly his churches. The city of Chester contains a number of his structures, the most admired of which are his half-timbered black-and-white buildings and Eastgate Clock. The highest concentration of his work is found in the Eaton Hall estate and the surrounding villages of Eccleston, Aldford and Pulford. more...



Moore's Reclining Figure (1951)

Henry Spencer Moore OM CH FBA (30 July 1898 – 31 August 1986) was an English artist. He is best known for his semi-abstract monumental bronze sculptures which are located around the world as public works of art. As well as sculpture, Moore produced many drawings, including a series depicting Londoners sheltering from the Blitz during the Second World War, along with other graphic works on paper.

His forms are usually abstractions of the human figure, typically depicting mother-and-child or reclining figures. Moore's works are usually suggestive of the female body, apart from a phase in the 1950s when he sculpted family groups. His forms are generally pierced or contain hollow spaces. Many interpreters liken the undulating form of his reclining figures to the landscape and hills of his birthplace, Yorkshire.

Moore was born in Castleford, the son of a coal miner. He became well-known through his carved marble and larger-scale abstract cast bronze sculptures, and was instrumental in introducing a particular form of modernism to the United Kingdom. His ability in later life to fulfil large-scale commissions made him exceptionally wealthy. Despite this, he lived frugally; most of the money he earned went towards endowing the Henry Moore Foundation, which continues to support education and promotion of the arts. more...



John Michael Wright (May 1617 – July 1694) was a portrait painter in the Baroque style. Described variously as English and Scottish, Wright trained in Edinburgh under the Scots painter George Jamesone, and acquired a considerable reputation as an artist and scholar during a long sojourn in Rome. There he was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca, and was associated with some of the leading artists of his generation. He was engaged by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, the governor of the Spanish Netherlands, to acquire artworks in Oliver Cromwell's England in 1655. He took up permanent residence in England from 1656, and served as court painter before and after the English Restoration. A convert to Roman Catholicism, he was a favourite of the restored Stuart court, a client of both Charles II and James II, and was a witness to many of the political maneuverings of the era. In the final years of the Stuart monarchy he returned to Rome as part of an embassy to Pope Innocent XI.

Wright is currently rated as one of the leading indigenous British painters of his generation, largely for the distinctive realism in his portraiture. Perhaps due to the unusually cosmopolitan nature of his experience, he was favoured by patrons at the highest level of society in an age in which foreign artists were usually preferred. Wright's paintings of royalty and aristocracy are included amongst the collections of many leading galleries today. more...



Charles Darwin (circa 1859)

Charles Darwin was an English naturalist who proposed and provided evidence for the theory that all species have evolved over time from a common ancestor through the process of natural selection. This theory came to be accepted by the scientific community in modified form, forming much of the basis of modern evolutionary theory, a cornerstone of biology. His five-year voyage on the Beagle established him as a prominent geologist whose observations and theories supported uniformitarianism. Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838. In 1858, Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay describing a similar theory, causing the two to publish their theories in a joint publication. His 1859 book On the Origin of Species established evolution by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation of the diversity of life in nature. (more...)



Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, and biologist. He is best known for independently proposing a theory of natural selection which prompted Charles Darwin to publish on his own theory. Wallace did extensive fieldwork, first in the Amazon River basin and then in the Malay Archipelago, where he identified the Wallace Line that divides Indonesia into two distinct parts, one with animals more closely related to those of Australia and the other with animals more closely related to those found in Asia. He was considered the 19th century's leading expert on the geographical distribution of animal species and is sometimes called the "father of biogeography". Wallace was one of the leading evolutionary thinkers of the 19th century who made a number of other contributions to the development of evolutionary theory besides being co-discoverer of natural selection. These included the concept of warning colouration in animals, and the Wallace effect, a hypothesis on how natural selection could contribute to speciation by encouraging the development of barriers against hybridization. (more...)



William Barley (1565?–1614) was an English bookseller and publisher. He completed an apprenticeship as a draper in 1587, but was soon working in the London book trade. As a freeman of the Drapers' Company, he was embroiled in a dispute between it and the Stationers' Company over the rights of drapers to function as publishers and booksellers. He found himself in legal tangles throughout his life. Barley's role in Elizabethan music publishing has proved to be a contentious issue among scholars. The assessments of him range from "a man of energy, determination, and ambition", to "somewhat remarkable", to "surely to some extent a rather nefarious figure". His contemporaries harshly criticized the quality of two of the first works of music that he published, but he was also influential in his field. After becoming the assignee of the composer and publisher Thomas Morley, Barley published Anthony Holborne's Pavans, Galliards, Almains (1599), the first work of music for instruments rather than voices to be printed in England. His partnership with Morley enabled him to claim a right to the music publishing patent that Morley held prior to his death in 1602. Some publishers ignored his claim, however, and many music books printed during his later life gave him no recognition. (more...)



Sir Edgar Speyer

Edgar Speyer (1862–1932) was an American-born financier and philanthropist. He became a British citizen in 1892 and was chairman of Speyer Brothers, the British branch of his family’s international finance house, and a partner in the German and American branches. He was chairman of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London Limited from 1906 to 1915, a period during which the company opened three underground railway lines, electrified a fourth and took over two more. Speyer was a supporter of the musical arts and a friend of several leading composers, including Edward Elgar, Richard Strauss and Claude Debussy. He was chairman of the Classical Music Society for ten years, and he largely funded the Promenade Concerts between 1902 and 1914. His non-musical charitable activities included being honorary treasurer of the fund for Captain Scott's Antarctic expedition. For his philanthropy he was made a baronet in 1906 and a Privy Counsellor in 1909. After the start of the First World War, he became the subject of anti-German attacks in the Press. In 1921, the British government investigated accusations that Speyer had traded with the enemy during the war, and had participated in other wartime conduct incompatible with his British citizenship. Speyer denied the charges, but his naturalisation was revoked and he was struck off the list of members of the Privy Council. (more...)



Portrait of Joseph Priestley by Ellen Sharples
Joseph Priestley was an 18th-century British theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, educator, and political theorist who published over 150 works. He is usually credited with the discovery of oxygen gas, although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Antoine Lavoisier also have such a claim. During his lifetime, Priestley's considerable scientific reputation rested on his invention of soda water, his writings on electricity, and his discovery of several "airs" (gases), the most famous being what Priestley dubbed "dephlogisticated air" (oxygen). However, Priestley's determination to reject what would become the chemical revolution and to cling to phlogiston theory eventually left him isolated within the scientific community. Priestley's science was integral to his theology, and he consistently tried to fuse Enlightenment rationalism with Christian theism. In his metaphysical texts, Priestley attempted to combine theism, materialism, and determinism, a project that has been called "audacious and original". The controversial nature of Priestley's publications combined with his outspoken support of the French Revolution aroused public and governmental suspicion; he was eventually forced to flee to the United States after a mob burned down his home and church in 1791. (more...)



Robert Baden-Powell

Robert Baden-Powell was a lieutenant-general in the British Army, writer, and founder of the Scout Movement. After having been educated at Charterhouse School, Baden-Powell served in the British Army from 1876 until 1910 in India and Africa. In 1899, during the Second Boer War in South Africa, Baden-Powell successfully defended the city in the Siege of Mafeking. Several of his military books, written for military reconnaissance and scout training in his African years, were also read by boys. Based on those earlier books, he wrote Scouting for Boys, published in 1908 by Pearson, for youth readership. During writing, he tested his ideas through a camping trip on Brownsea Island that began on August 1, 1907, which is now seen as the beginning of Scouting. After his marriage with Olave St Clair Soames, Baden-Powell, his sister Agnes Baden-Powell and notably his wife actively gave guidance to the Scouting Movement and the Girl Guides Movement. Baden-Powell lived his last years in Nyeri, Kenya, where he died in 1941. (more...)



Stanley Green, the Protein Man, in Oxford Street in 1977
Stanley Green (1915–1993) was a sandwich man who became a well-known figure in London, England, during the latter half of the 20th century. For 25 years Green patrolled Oxford Street, carrying a placard that advocated "Less Lust, By Less Protein: Meat Fish Bird; Egg Cheese; Peas Beans; Nuts. And Sitting"—the wording, and punctuation, changing somewhat over the years. Arguing that protein made people lustful and aggressive, his solution was "protein wisdom," a low-protein diet for "better, kinder, happier people." For a few pence, passers-by could buy his 14-page pamphlet, Eight Passion Proteins with Care, which reportedly sold 87,000 copies over 20 years. Green became one of London's much-loved eccentrics, though his campaign to suppress desire, as one commentator put it, was not invariably popular, leading to two arrests for obstruction and the need to wear green overalls to protect himself from spit. He nevertheless took great delight in his local fame. The Sunday Times interviewed him in 1985, and his "less passion, less protein" slogan was used by Red or Dead, the London fashion house. When he died in 1993 at the age of 78, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and The Times published his obituary, and his pamphlets, placards, and letters were passed to the Museum of London. (more...)



Portrait of Daniel Lambert by Benjamin Marshall, 1807
Daniel Lambert (1770–1809) was a gaol keeper and animal breeder from Leicester, England, famous for his unusually large size. He was a keen sportsman and extremely strong, on one occasion fighting a bear in the streets of Leicester. He was an expert in sporting animals, widely respected for his expertise on dogs, horses and fighting cocks. In 1805 the gaol of which Lambert was keeper closed. By this time he weighed 50 stone (700 lb; 320 kg), and had become the heaviest authenticated person in recorded history up to that time. Unemployed and sensitive about his bulk, he became a recluse. Poverty forced Lambert to put himself on exhibition to raise money, and in April 1806 he moved to London, charging spectators to enter his apartments to meet him. Visitors were impressed by his intelligence and personality, and visiting him became highly fashionable. After a few months, Lambert returned wealthy to Leicester and soon began making short fundraising tours. In June 1809 he died suddenly in Stamford. At the time of his death he weighed 52 stone 11 lb (739 lb; 335 kg). It took 20 men almost half an hour to drag his casket into the trench in the burial ground at St Martin's Church. Though no longer the heaviest person in history, Lambert remains a popular character in Leicester. (more...)



Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928) was a political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement. Although she was widely criticised for her militant tactics, her work is recognised as a crucial element in achieving women's suffrage in Britain. She became involved with the Women's Franchise League, which advocated suffrage for women. When that organisation broke apart, she joined the left-leaning Independent Labour Party through her friendship with socialist Keir Hardie. After her husband died in 1898, Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Political Union, an all-women suffrage advocacy organisation dedicated to "deeds, not words". The group quickly became infamous when its members smashed windows and assaulted police officers. Pankhurst, her daughters, and other WSPU activists were sentenced to repeated prison sentences, where they staged hunger strikes to secure better conditions. Eventually arson became a common tactic among WSPU members, and more moderate organisations spoke out against the Pankhurst family. With the advent of World War I, Pankhurst called an immediate halt to militant suffrage activism, in order to support the British government against the "German Peril". They urged women to aid industrial production, and encouraged young men to fight. (more...)



Mary Toft as painted by John Laguerre in 1726
Mary Toft (1701–1763) was an English woman from Godalming, Surrey, who in 1726 became the subject of considerable controversy when she hoaxed doctors into believing that she had given birth to rabbits. Toft became pregnant in 1726, but later miscarried. Apparently fascinated by a rabbit she had seen while working, she claimed to have given birth to parts of animals. Local surgeon John Howard was called to investigate, and upon delivering several animal parts he notified other prominent physicians. The matter came to the attention of Nathaniel St. André, surgeon to the Royal Household of King George I of Great Britain. St. André investigated and concluded that Toft was telling the truth. The king also sent surgeon Cyriacus Ahlers to see Toft, but Ahlers remained sceptical. By now quite famous, Toft was brought to London and was studied at length. Under intense scrutiny, and producing no more rabbits, she eventually confessed to the hoax and was subsequently imprisoned. The public mockery which followed created panic within the medical profession. Several prominent surgeons' careers were ruined, and many satirical works were produced, each scathingly critical of the affair. The pictorial satirist and social critic William Hogarth was notably critical of the gullibility of the medical profession. Toft was eventually released without charge and returned to her home. (more...)



Matthew Boulton. 1792 portrait by Carl Frederik von Breda
Matthew Boulton (1728–1809) was an English manufacturer and the partner of engineer James Watt. In the final quarter of the 18th century, the partnership installed hundreds of Boulton & Watt steam engines, which were a great advance on the state of the art, making possible the mechanisation of factories and mills. He became associated with James Watt when Watt's business partner, John Roebuck, was unable to pay a debt to Boulton, who accepted Roebuck's share of Watt's patent as settlement. He then successfully lobbied Parliament to extend Watt's patent for an additional seventeen years, enabling the firm to market Watt's steam engine. Boulton applied modern techniques to the minting of coins, striking millions of pieces for Britain and other countries, and supplying the Royal Mint with up-to-date equipment. Boulton was a key member of the Lunar Society, a group of Birmingham-area men prominent in the arts, sciences, and theology. Members included Boulton, Watt, Erasmus Darwin, Josiah Wedgwood, and Joseph Priestley. Members of the Society have been given credit for developing concepts and techniques in science, agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and transportation that laid the groundwork for the Industrial Revolution and for later discoveries, including the theory of evolution. (more...)



A kidney transplant of the type that Woodruff pioneered.

A kidney transplant
of the type that
Woodruff pioneered.
Michael Woodruff was a British surgeon and scientist principally remembered for his research into organ transplantation. Though born in London, Woodruff spent his youth in Australia, where he earned degrees in electrical engineering and medicine. Having completed his studies shortly after the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Australian Army Medical Corps, but was soon captured by Japanese forces and imprisoned in the Changi Prison Camp. While there, he devised an ingenious method of extracting nutrients from agricultural wastes to prevent malnutrition among his fellow POWs. At the conclusion of the war, Woodruff returned to Britain and began a long career as an academic surgeon, mixing clinical work and research. By the end of the 1950s, his study of aspects of transplantation biology such as rejection and immunosuppression led to his making the first kidney transplant in the United Kingdom, on 30 October 1960. For this and his other scientific work, Woodruff was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1968 and knighted in 1969. Although retiring from surgical work in 1976, he remained an active figure in the scientific community, researching cancer and serving on the boards of various medical and scientific organizations. (more...)



Harriet Arbuthnot (painting by John Hoppner)
Harriet Arbuthnot was an early 19th-century English diarist, social observer and political hostess on behalf of the Tory party. During the 1820s she was the "closest woman friend" of the hero of Waterloo and British Prime Minister, the 1st Duke of Wellington. She maintained a long correspondence and association with the Duke, all of which she recorded in her diaries, which are consequently extensively used in all authoritative biographies of the Duke of Wellington. Born into the periphery of the British aristocracy and married to a politician and member of the establishment, she was perfectly placed to meet all the key figures of the Regency and late Napoleonic eras. Recording meetings and conversations often verbatim, she has today become the "Mrs Arbuthnot" quoted in many biographies and histories of the era. Her observations and memories of life within the British establishment are not confined to individuals but document politics, great events and daily life with an equal attention to detail, providing historians with a clear picture of the events described. Her diaries were themselves finally published in 1950 as The Journal of Mrs Arbuthnot. (more...)



Elias Ashmole by an unknown hand
Elias Ashmole was an antiquarian, collector, politician, and student of astrology and alchemy. He supported the royalist side during the English Civil War, and at the restoration of Charles II he was rewarded with several lucrative offices. Throughout his life he was an avid collector of curiosities and other artifacts. Many of these he acquired from the traveller, botanist, and collector John Tradescant the elder and his son, and most he donated to Oxford University to create the Ashmolean Museum. He also donated his library and priceless manuscript collection to Oxford. Apart from his collecting activities, Ashmole illustrates the passing of the pre-scientific world view in the seventeenth century: while he immersed himself in alchemical, magical and astrological studies and was consulted on astrological questions by Charles II and his court, these studies were essentially backward-looking. Although he was one of the founding members of the Royal Society, a key institution in the development of experimental science, he never participated actively. (more...)



Alice Ayres and child
Alice Ayres (1859–1885) was an English household assistant and nursemaid to the family of her brother-in-law and sister, Henry and Mary Ann Chandler. The Chandlers owned an oil and paint shop in Southwark, and Ayres lived with them above the shop. In 1885, fire broke out in the shop and Ayres rescued three of her nieces from the burning building but fatally injured herself. Ayres died during a period of great social change in Britain in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, in which a rapidly growing media was paying increasing attention to the activities of the poorer classes. The manner of her death caused great public interest, and large numbers of people attended her funeral and contributed to the funding of a memorial. She then underwent a "secular canonisation" and became widely depicted in the popular culture of the period. The circumstances of her death were distorted to give the impression that she was an employee willing to die for the sake of her employer's family. She was widely cited as a role model, and was promoted as an example of the values held by various social and political movements. In 1902 her name was added to the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice and in 1936 a street near the scene of the fire was renamed Ayres Street in her honour. The case of Alice Ayres came to renewed public notice with the release of Patrick Marber's 1997 play Closer, and the 2004 film based on it. (more...)



Portrait of Isaac Brock
Isaac Brock was a British major-general and administrator, who served in various parts of the Empire for nearly thirty years, serving in the Caribbean, Denmark, and elsewhere. During that time he challenged duelists, nearly died from fever, was injured in battle, faced both desertions and near mutinies, and also had the privilege of serving alongside Lord Nelson. However, he is best remembered for his actions while assigned to the Canadian colonies. Brock was assigned to Canada in 1802, eventually reaching the rank of Major-General. In this capacity, he was responsible for defending Canada from the United States during the War of 1812. While many in Canada and in England believed war could be averted, Brock began preparing the army, the militia, and the populace for what was to come. Thus, when war broke out, Canada was prepared, and quick victories at Fort Mackinac and in the Battle of Detroit crippled American invasion efforts, securing Brock's reputation as a brilliant leader and strategist. His death in the Battle of Queenston Heights was a crushing blow to British leadership. Brock's efforts earned him accolades, a knighthood, and the moniker "The Hero of Upper Canada".



William Speirs Bruce
William Speirs Bruce (1867–1921) was a London-born Scottish naturalist, polar scientist and oceanographer who organized and led the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition to the South Orkney Islands and the Weddell Sea. Among other achievements the expedition established the first permanent weather station below the Antarctic Circle. Bruce later founded the Scottish Oceanographical Laboratory, but his plans for a transcontinental Antarctic march via the South Pole were stillborn through lack of public and financial support. In 1892 Bruce abandoned his medical studies at the University of Edinburgh and joined the Dundee Whaling Expedition to Antarctica as a scientific assistant. This was followed by Arctic voyages to Novaya Zemlya, Spitsbergen and Franz Josef Land. In 1899 Bruce, by then Britain's most experienced polar scientist, applied for a post on Robert Falcon Scott's Discovery Expedition, but delays over this appointment and clashes with Royal Geographical Society president Sir Clements Markham led him instead to organize his own expedition, and earned him the permanent enmity of the British geographical establishment. Between 1907 and 1920 Bruce made many journeys to the Arctic regions, both for scientific and for commercial purposes. (more...)



John Dee. Sixteenth century portrait, artist unknown.
John Dee was a noted British mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, geographer and consultant to Elizabeth I. He also devoted much of his life to alchemy, divination, and Hermetic philosophy. Dee straddled the worlds of science and magic. One of the most learned men of his time, he was lecturing to crowded halls at the University of Paris in his early twenties. He was an ardent promoter of mathematics, a respected astronomer and a leading expert in navigation, training many of those who would conduct England's voyages of discovery. At the same time, he immersed himself deeply in Christian angel-magic and Hermetic philosophy, and devoted the last third of his life almost exclusively to these pursuits. For Dee, as for many of his contemporaries, these activities were not contradictory, but aspects of a consistent world-view. (more...)



Engraving of Edward Low by J Nicholls and James Basire
Edward Low was a notorious pirate during the latter days of the Golden Age of Piracy, in the early 18th century. He was born around 1690 into poverty in Westminster, London, and was a thief and a scoundrel from a young age. Low moved to Boston, Massachusetts as a young man. Following the death of his wife during childbirth in late 1719, he became a pirate two years later, operating off the coasts of New England, the Azores, and in the Caribbean. He captained a number of ships, usually maintaining a small fleet of three or four. Low and his pirate crews captured at least a hundred ships during his short career, burning most of them. Although he was only active for three years, Low remains notorious as one of the most vicious pirates of the age, with a reputation for violently torturing his victims before killing them. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described Low as "savage and desperate", and a man of "amazing and grotesque brutality". The New York Times called him a torturer, whose methods would have "done credit to the ingenuity of the Spanish Inquisition in its darkest days". The circumstances of Low's death, which took place around 1724, have been the subject of much speculation. (more...)



Portrait of Clements Markham from "Albert Markham: Life of Sir Clements R Markham" by John Murray, 1917
Clements Markham (1830–1916) was a British geographer, explorer and writer. He was secretary of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) between 1863 and 1888, and later served as the Society's president for a further 12 years. In the latter capacity he was mainly responsible for organising the National Antarctic Expedition of 1901–04, and for launching the polar career of Robert Falcon Scott. The main achievement of Markham's RGS presidency was the revival at the end of the 19th century of British interest in Antarctic exploration, after a 50-year interval. All his life Markham was a constant traveller and a prolific writer, his works including histories, travel accounts and biographies. He authored many papers and reports for the RGS, and did much editing and translation work for the Hakluyt Society, of which he also became president. He received public and academic honours, and was recognised as a major influence on the discipline of geography, although it was acknowledged that much of his work was based on enthusiasm rather than scholarship. Among the geographical features bearing his name is Antarctica's Mount Markham, named for him by Scott in 1902. (more...)



Elizabeth Needham as portrayed in William Hogarth's A Harlot's Progress

Elizabeth Needham was an English procuress and brothel-keeper of 18th-century London, who has been identified as the bawd greeting Moll Hackabout in the first plate of William Hogarth's series of satirical etchings, A Harlot's Progress. Although Needham was notorious in London at the time, little is recorded of her life, and no genuine portraits of her survive. Her house was the most exclusive in London and her customers came from the highest strata of fashionable society, but she eventually fell foul of the moral reformers of the day and died as a result of the severe treatment she received after being sentenced to stand in the pillory. Nothing is known of her early life, but by the time she was middle-aged she was renowned in London as the keeper of a brothel in Park Place, St. James. Her house was regarded as superior to those of Covent Garden, even to that of the other notorious bawd of the time, Mother Wisebourne. (more...)



Woodes Rogers is presented with plans for the port of Nassau

Woodes Rogers (c. 1679 – 1732) was an English sea captain, privateer and later the first Royal Governor of the Bahamas. He is known as the captain of the vessel that rescued the marooned Alexander Selkirk, who was fictionalized by Daniel Defoe as Robinson Crusoe. Rogers came from an affluent seafaring family, grew up in Poole and Bristol, and served a marine apprenticeship to a Bristol sea captain. His father, who held shares in many ships, died when Rogers was in his mid-twenties, leaving Rogers in control of the family shipping business. In 1707, Rogers was approached by Captain William Dampier, who sought support for a privateering voyage against the Spanish, with whom the British were at war. Rogers led the expedition, which consisted of two well-armed ships, the Duke and the Duchess, and was the captain of the Duke. In three years, Rogers and his men went around the world, capturing several ships in the Pacific Ocean. En route, the expedition rescued Selkirk, finding him on Juan Fernandez Island on 1 February 1709. (more...)



Robert Falcon Scott in 1912
Robert Falcon Scott (1868–1912) was a Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–13. During this second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen's Norwegian expedition. On their return journey, Scott and his four comrades all perished from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold. Following the news of his death, Scott became an iconic British hero, a status maintained for more than 50 years and reflected by the many permanent memorials erected across the nation. In the closing decades of the 20th century, however, in a more sceptical age, the legend was reassessed as attention focused on the causes of the disaster and the extent of Scott's personal culpability. From a previously unassailable position, Scott became a figure of controversy, with questions raised about his competence and character. Commentators in the 21st century have on the whole regarded Scott more positively, emphasising his personal bravery and stoicism while acknowledging his errors, but ascribing his expedition's fate primarily to misfortune. (more...)



Chalk and pencil sketch of Jack Sheppard in Newgate Prison
Jack Sheppard was a notorious English robber, burglar and thief of early 18th-century London. Born into a poor family, he was apprenticed as a carpenter but took to theft and burglary in 1723, with little more than a year of his training to complete. He was arrested and imprisoned five times in 1724 but escaped four times, making him a notorious public figure, and wildly popular with the poorer classes. Ultimately, he was caught, convicted, and hanged at Tyburn, ending his brief criminal career after less than two years. The inability of the noted "Thief-Taker General" (and thief) Jonathan Wild to control Sheppard, and injuries suffered by Wild at the hands of Sheppard's colleague, Joseph "Blueskin" Blake, led to Wild's downfall. Sheppard was as renowned for his attempts to escape justice as for his crimes. He returned to the public consciousness in around 1840, when William Harrison Ainsworth wrote a novel entitled Jack Sheppard, with illustrations by George Cruikshank. The popularity of his tale, and the fear that others would be drawn to emulate his behaviour, led the authorities to refuse to license any plays in London with "Jack Sheppard" in the title for forty years. (more...)



Dick Turpin and his horse clear Hornsey Tollgate, in William Harrison Ainsworth's novel, Rookwood
Dick Turpin (bap. 1705 – 1739) was an English highwayman whose exploits were romanticised following his execution in York for horse theft. Turpin may have followed his father's profession as a butcher early in life, but by the early 1730s he had joined a gang of deer thieves, and later became a poacher, burglar, horse thief, and murderer. He is also known for a fictional 200-mile (320 km) overnight ride from London to York on his steed Black Bess, a story that was made famous by the Victorian novelist William Harrison Ainsworth almost 100 years after Turpin's death. His involvement in the crime for which he is most closely associated—highway robbery—followed the arrest of the other members of his gang in 1735. He then disappeared from public view towards the end of that year, only to resurface in 1737 with two new accomplices. Later that year he moved to Yorkshire and assumed the alias of John Palmer. While he was staying at an inn local magistrates became suspicious of "Palmer", and made enquiries as to how he funded his lifestyle. Suspected of being a horse thief, "Palmer" was imprisoned in York Castle, to be tried at the next assizes. Turpin's true identity was revealed by a letter he wrote to his brother-in-law from his prison cell, which fell into the hands of the authorities. On 22 March 1739 he was found guilty on two charges of horse theft and sentenced to death; he was executed on 7 April 1739. He became the subject of legend after his execution, romanticised as dashing and heroic in English ballads, popular theatre, film and television. (more...)



Judge Norman Birkett at the bench during the Nuremberg Trials
Norman Birkett, 1st Baron Birkett (1883–1962) was a British barrister, politician and judge noted for his skill as a speaker. Born in Ulverston, Lancashire, he initially trained to be a Methodist preacher, and attended Emmanuel College, Cambridge to study theology and history with that in mind. He became President of the Cambridge Union, and after switching to law graduated in 1910. He was called to the Bar in 1913 and developed a reputation as a barrister able to defend people with almost watertight criminal cases against them, such as in the second of the Brighton trunk murders and the Blazing Car murder. He sat as a Member of Parliament for the constituency of Nottingham East for two Parliaments in the 1920s, and was described as "the Lord Chancellor that never was". In 1941, he became a judge of the High Court, and later served as the alternate British judge in the Nuremberg Trials. Unhappy with his time in the High Court, he accepted a position in the Court of Appeal in 1950, but after finding he enjoyed it even less, retired in 1956 when he had served long enough to draw a pension. Following his retirement he was made a hereditary peer, and spoke regularly in the House of Lords. After speaking there in 1962 he collapsed at home, and following a failed operation died aged 78. (more...)



Mezzotint of Sir William Garrow, published on March 24, 1810
William Garrow (1760–1840) was a British barrister, politician and judge known for his indirect reform of the advocacy system, which helped usher in the adversarial court system used in most common law nations today. He introduced the phrase "innocent until proven guilty", insisting that defendants' accusers and their evidence be thoroughly tested in court. Garrow is best known for his criminal defence work and the example he set with his aggressive defence of clients. Garrow joined Lincoln's Inn in November 1778, and was called to the Bar on 27 November 1783. He quickly established a reputation as a criminal law barrister, particularly for the defendants, and in February 1793 was made a King's Counsel by HM Government to prosecute cases involving treason and felonies. Garrow is also known for his impact on the rules of evidence, coining the best evidence rule. His work was cited as recently as 1982 in the Supreme Court of Canada and 2006 in the Irish Court of Criminal Appeal. In 2009, BBC One broadcast Garrow's Law, a four-part fictionalised drama of Garrow's beginnings at the Old Bailey; a second series aired in late 2010. (more...)



Anna Laetitia Barbauld
Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743–1825) was a prominent eighteenth-century English poet, essayist, and children's author. A "woman of letters" who published in multiple genres, Barbauld had a successful writing career at a time when female professional writers were rare. She was a noted teacher at the celebrated Palgrave Academy and an innovative children's writer; her famous primers provided a model for pedagogy for more than a century. Her essays demonstrated that it was possible for a woman to be publicly engaged in politics, and other women authors emulated her. Even more importantly, her poetry was foundational to the development of Romanticism in England. Barbauld was also a literary critic, and her anthology of eighteenth-century British novels helped establish the canon as we know it today. Barbauld's literary career ended abruptly in 1812 with the publication of her poem Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, which criticized Britain's participation in the Napoleonic Wars. The vicious reviews shocked Barbauld and she published nothing else within her lifetime. Her reputation was further damaged when many of the Romantic poets she had inspired in the heyday of the French Revolution turned against her in their later, more conservative, years. Barbauld was remembered only as a pedantic children's writer during the nineteenth century, and largely forgotten during the twentieth century, but the rise of feminist literary criticism in the 1980s renewed interest in her works and restored her place in literary history. (more...)



Cædmon is the earliest English poet whose name is known. An Anglo-Saxon herdsman attached to the double monastery of Streonæshalch (Whitby Abbey) during the abbacy of St. Hilda, it is said that he was originally ignorant of the art of song until he learned to compose one night in the course of a dream. He later became a zealous monk and an accomplished and inspirational religious poet. Cædmon is one of twelve Anglo-Saxon poets identified in medieval sources, and one of only three for whom both roughly contemporary biographical information and examples of literary output have survived. His story is told to us in the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum by St. Bede. Cædmon's only known surviving work is Cædmon's Hymn, the nine-line alliterative vernacular praise poem in honour of God he supposedly learned to sing in his initial dream. The poem is one of the earliest attested examples of Old English and is, with the runic Ruthwell Cross and Franks Casket inscriptions, one of three candidates for the earliest attested example of Old English poetry. (More...)



Colley Cibber
Colley Cibber was an English actor-manager, playwright, and Poet Laureate. His colorful Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber (1740) started a British tradition of personal, anecdotal, and even rambling autobiography. He wrote some plays for performance by his own company at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and adapted many more from various sources, receiving frequent criticism for "miserable mutilation" of dramatists like Shakespeare and Molière. He regarded himself as first and foremost an actor and had great popular success in comical fop parts. Cibber's brash, extroverted personality did not sit well with his contemporaries, and he was frequently accused of tasteless theatrical productions, social and political opportunism, and shady business methods. He rose to herostratic fame when he became the chief target, the head Dunce, of Alexander Pope's satirical poem The Dunciad. Cibber's importance in British theatre history rests on his being the first in a long line of actor-managers, and on the value of his autobiography as a source for our knowledge of the 18th-century London stage.



Triptych, May–June 1973 is a triptych completed in 1973 by the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon. The oil-on-canvas work was painted in memory of Bacon's lover George Dyer, who committed suicide on the eve of the artist's retrospective at Paris's Grand Palais in October 1971. The triptych is a portrait of the moments before Dyer's death. Bacon was preoccupied by Dyer's suicide in his last twenty years, during which time he painted a number of similarly themed works. He admitted to friends that he never fully recovered from the event, and described painting the triptych as an exorcism of his feelings of loss and guilt. The work is stylistically more static and monumental than Bacon's earlier triptychs. It has been described as one of his "supreme achievements", and is generally viewed as his most intense and tragic canvas. Of the three "Black Triptychs" that Bacon created to confront Dyer's death, Triptych, May–June 1973 is generally regarded as the most accomplished. In 2006, The Daily Telegraph's art critic Sarah Crompton wrote that "emotion seeps into each panel of this giant canvas…the sheer power and control of Bacon's brushwork take the breath away". In 1989, the work sold at Sotheby's for US$6,270,000, the highest price then paid for a Bacon work. (more...)



Woodcut of John Day included in the 1563 and subsequent editions of Actes and Monuments
John Day was an English Protestant printer. He specialised in printing and distributing Protestant literature and pamphlets and produced many small-format religious books, such as ABCs, sermons, and translations of psalms. He found fame, however, as the publisher of John Foxe's Actes and Monuments, also known as the Book of Martyrs, the largest and most technologically accomplished book printed in sixteenth-century England. Day rose to the top of his profession during the reign of Edward VI (1547–1553). At this time, restrictions on publishers were relaxed, and a wave of propaganda on behalf of the English Reformation was encouraged by the government of the Lord Protector, Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset. During the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I, many Protestant printers fled to the continent, but Day stayed in England and continued to print Protestant literature, which led to his arrest and imprisonment in 1554. Under Queen Elizabeth I, Day returned to his premises at Aldersgate in London, where he enjoyed the patronage of high-ranking officials and nobles. With their support, he published the Book of Martyrs and was awarded monopolies for some of the most popular English books. Day, whose technical skill matched his business acumen, has been called "the master printer of the English Reformation". (more...)



Samuel Johnson, circa 1740s
The early life of Samuel Johnson was marked by great intelligence and an eagerness for learning. Born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, the sickly infant who grew up to become "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history" soon began to exhibit the tics that would colour how others viewed him in his later years. His early life was dominated by his family's financial strain and his abortive efforts to establish himself as a school teacher. Johnson spent a year studying at Pembroke College, Oxford, but was unable to continue his education there because of his lack of financial support. He tried to find employment as a teacher, but found it impossible to secure a long-term position. In 1735 he married Elizabeth "Tetty" Porter, a widow 20 years his senior. The responsibilities of marriage made Johnson determined to succeed as an educator, and encouraged him to establish his own school. The venture was unsuccessful however, and so he decided to leave his wife behind in Lichfield and move to London, where he spent the rest of his life, and where his literary career began. Working initially as a minor Grub Street hack writer, he started to write essays for The Gentleman's Magazine, and authored the Life of Mr Richard Savage (his first successful literary biography), the powerful poem London (an 18th-century version of Juvenal's Third Satire), and the unsuccessful tragic drama Irene, which was not produced until 1749. (more...)



Edmund Evans illustration from "The complete collection of pictures & songs"
Edmund Evans (1826–1905) was a prominent English wood engraver and colour printer during the Victorian era. Evans specialized in full-colour printing, which became popular in the mid-19th century. He employed and collaborated with illustrators such as Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway, and Richard Doyle to produce what are now considered to be classic children's books. Although little is known about his life, he wrote a short autobiography before his death in 1905 in which he described his life as a printer in Victorian London. After finishing an apprenticeship, Evans went into business for himself. By the early 1850s, he had made a reputation as a printer of covers for cheap novels known as yellow-backs. In the early 1860s, Evans began to print children's toy books and picture books in association with the printing house Routledge and Warne. His intention was to produce books for children that were beautiful and inexpensive. For three decades he produced multiple volumes each year, first illustrated by Crane, and later by Caldecott and Greenaway. (more...)



Sir William Schwenck Gilbert

W. S. Gilbert was an English dramatist, librettist and illustrator best known for his fourteen comic operas produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan. Gilbert's most popular collaborations with Sullivan, including H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado (one of the most frequently performed works in the history of musical theatre) and most of their other Savoy operas continue to be performed regularly today throughout the English-speaking world and beyond by opera companies, repertory companies, schools and community theatre groups. Lines from these works have permanently entered the English language, including "short, sharp shock", "What never? Well, hardly ever!", and "let the punishment fit the crime". Gilbert also wrote the Bab Ballads, an extensive collection of light verse accompanied by his own comical drawings. His creative output included over 75 plays and libretti, numerous stories, poems, lyrics and various other comic and serious pieces. His plays and realistic style of stage direction inspired other dramatists, including Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw. (more...)



Engraving of Joseph Johnson by William Sharp
Joseph Johnson (1738–1809) was an influential 18th-century London bookseller. His publications covered a wide variety of genres and a broad spectrum of opinions on important issues. Johnson is best known for publishing the works of radical thinkers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, and Joel Barlow as well as religious Dissenters such as Joseph Priestley, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, and Gilbert Wakefield. Johnson's friend John Aikin eulogized him as "the father of the booktrade" and he has been called "the most important publisher in England from 1770 until 1810" for his appreciation and promotion of young writers, his emphasis on publishing cheap works directed at a growing middle-class readership, and his cultivation and advocacy of women writers at a time when they were viewed with scepticism. (more...)



Samuel Johnson engraving by W Holl, after Joshua Reynolds

Samuel Johnson was an English author. Beginning as a Grub Street journalist, he made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, novelist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and political conservative, and has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history". His early works include the biography The Life of Richard Savage, the poems London and The Vanity of Human Wishes, and the play Irene. After nine years of work, Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755; it had a far-reaching impact on Modern English and has been described as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship". His later works included essays, an influential annotated edition of William Shakespeare's plays, and the widely read novel Rasselas. In 1763, he befriended James Boswell, with whom he later travelled to Scotland; Johnson described their travels in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. Towards the end of his life, he produced the massive and influential Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, a collection of biographies and evaluations of 17th- and 18th-century poets. (more...)



Bruno Maddox is a British literary novelist and journalist who is best known for his critically acclaimed novel My Little Blue Dress (2001) and for his satirical magazine essays. After graduating from Harvard University in 1992, Maddox began his career reviewing books for The New York Times Book Review and The Washington Post Book World. In early 1996, he was appointed to an editorship at SPY magazine and within a few months he was promoted to editor-in-chief, a position he held until the magazine shut down in 1998. Maddox wrote My Little Blue Dress between 1999 and 2001. Since its publication, he has focused on writing satirical essays for magazines such as GEAR and Travel + Leisure; he also contributes a monthly humor column to Discover magazine called "Blinded by Science", drawing on his early exposure to science and technology. Maddox is likewise a contributing editor to the American edition of The Week magazine. (more...)



Elaine Paige

Elaine Paige (born 1948) is an English singer and actress, best known for her work in musical theatre. Raised in Barnet, North London, Paige attended the Aida Foster stage school and made her first professional appearance on stage in 1964. Her appearance in the 1968 production of Hair marked her West End debut. Following a number of roles over the next decade, Paige was selected to play Eva Perón in the first production of Evita in 1978, which brought her to the attention of the broader public. The role won her the Laurence Olivier Award for Performance of the Year in a Musical. She went on to originate the role of Grizabella in Cats and had a Top 10 hit with "Memory", a song from the show. In 1985, Paige released "I Know Him So Well" with Barbara Dickson from the musical Chess, which remains the biggest-selling record by a female duo, according to the Guinness Book of Records. She has also worked in film and television. In addition to being nominated for five Laurence Olivier Awards, Paige has won many other awards for her theatre roles and has been called the First Lady of British Musical Theatre. She has released 20 solo albums, of which eight were consecutively certified gold and another four multi-platinum. Since 2004 she has hosted her own show on BBC Radio 2 called Elaine Paige on Sunday. (more...)



JK Rowling, after receiving an honorary degree from The University of Aberdeen
J. K. Rowling is a British writer and author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, and sold nearly 400 million copies. The 2007 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling's fortune at £545 million, ranking her as the 136th richest person and the 13th richest woman in Britain. Forbes has named Rowling the second-richest female entertainer in the world, and ranked her as the 48th most powerful celebrity of 2007. Time named Rowling as a runner-up for their 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fandom. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and One Parent Families. Harry Potter is now a global brand worth an estimated $15 billion (£7 billion), and the last four Harry Potter books have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history. The series, totalling 4,195 pages, has been translated, in whole or in part, into 65 languages. (more...)



The Chandos portrait of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, now widely regarded as the greatest writer of the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until 1608, producing plays, such as Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime; and in 1623, two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's. Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day; but his reputation would not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. (more...)



Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley (1797–1851) was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus. She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. In 1814, Mary Godwin fell in love with one of her father's political followers, the married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, they left for France and travelled through Europe; upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm in the Bay of La Spezia. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author. The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53. (more...)



J. R. R. Tolkien in 1916

J. R. R. Tolkien was a British writer and university professor and is best known as the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He was a professor of Anglo-Saxon language at Oxford University from 1925 to 1945, and of English language and literature, also at Oxford, from 1945 to 1959. He was a strongly committed Roman Catholic. Tolkien was a close friend of C. S. Lewis, with whom he shared membership in the literary discussion group the Inklings. In addition to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien's published fiction includes The Silmarillion and other posthumously published books about what he called a legendarium, a connected body of tales, fictional histories, invented languages, and other literary essays about an imagined world called Arda (Middle-earth), and Middle-earth. Most of these works were compiled from Tolkien's notes by his son Christopher Tolkien. The enduring popularity and influence of Tolkien's works have established him as the "father of modern fantasy literature". Tolkien's other published fiction includes stories not directly related to the legendarium, some of them originally told to his children. (more...)



Mary Wollstonecraft (circa 1797) by John Opie.

Mary Wollstonecraft was a British writer, philosopher, and early feminist. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in which she argued that women are not naturally inferior to men, but only appeared to be because they lacked education. She suggested that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagined a social order founded on reason. Among both the general public and feminists, Wollstonecraft's life has often received as much, if not more, interest than her writing because of her unconventional, and often tumultuous, relationships. After two unsuccessful affairs with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay, Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement. She was also the mother of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Wollstonecraft died at the age of thirty-eight due to complications from childbirth, leaving behind several unfinished manuscripts. Today, Wollstonecraft is considered a foundational thinker in feminist philosophy. Her early advocacy of women's equality and her attacks on conventional femininity and the degradation of women presaged the later emergence of the feminist political movement. (more...)



The title page of Tractatus de globis et eorum usu
Robert Hues (1553–1632) was an English mathematician and geographer who made observations of the variations of the compass off the coast of Newfoundland. He either went there on a fishing trip, or joined a 1585 voyage to Virginia arranged by Walter Raleigh and led by Richard Grenville which passed Newfoundland on the return journey to England. Between 1586 and 1588, Hues travelled with Thomas Cavendish on a circumnavigation of the globe, taking the opportunity to measure latitudes. In 1589, Hues went on the Earl of Cumberland's raiding expedition to the Azores to capture Spanish galleons. Beginning in August 1591, Hues travelled with Cavendish again, intending to complete another circumnavigation of the globe. During the voyage, Hues made astronomical observations while in the South Atlantic, and also observed the variation of the compass there and at the Equator. Cavendish died on the journey, and Hues returned to England in 1593. In 1594, Hues published his discoveries in the Latin work Tractatus de globis et eorum usu (Treatise on Globes and their Use) which was written to explain the use of globes that had been made and published by Emery Molyneux in late 1592 or early 1593, and to encourage English sailors to use practical astronomical navigation. Hues' work subsequently went into at least 12 other printings in Dutch, English, French and Latin. (more...)



Molyneux's 1592 terrestrial globe, owned by Middle Temple
Emery Molyneux was an Elizabethan maker of globes, mathematical instruments and ordnance. His terrestrial and celestial globes, first published in 1592, were the first to be made in England and the first to be made by an Englishman. Molyneux was known as a mathematician and maker of mathematical instruments such as compasses and hourglasses. He became acquainted with many prominent men of the day, including the writer Richard Hakluyt and the mathematicians Robert Hues and Edward Wright. He also knew the explorers Thomas Cavendish, Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and John Davis. Davis probably introduced Molyneux to his own patron, the London merchant William Sanderson, who largely financed the construction of the globes. When completed, the globes were presented to Elizabeth I. Molyneux emigrated to Amsterdam with his wife in 1596 or 1597. He succeeded in interesting the States-General, the parliament of the United Provinces, in a cannon he had invented, but he died suddenly in June 1598, apparently in poverty. The globe-making industry in England died with him. Only six of his globes are believed to be still in existence. (more...)



Title page Certaine Errors in Navigation
Edward Wright (1561–1615) was an English mathematician and cartographer noted for his book Certaine Errors in Navigation, which for the first time explained the mathematical basis of the Mercator projection, and set out a reference table giving the linear scale multiplication factor as a function of latitude, calculated for each minute of arc up to a latitude of 75°. This was the essential step needed to make practical both the making and the navigational use of Mercator charts. In 1589 Elizabeth I requested that he carry out navigational studies with a raiding expedition organised by the Earl of Cumberland to the Azores to capture Spanish galleons. The expedition's route was the subject of the first map to be prepared according to Wright's projection, which was published in Certaine Errors in 1599. The same year, Wright created and published the first world map produced in England and the first to use the Mercator projection since Gerardus Mercator's original 1569 map. Apart from a number of other books and pamphlets, Wright translated John Napier's pioneering 1614 work which introduced the idea of logarithms from Latin into English. This was published after Wright's death as A Description of the Admirable Table of Logarithmes. Wright's work influenced, among other persons, Dutch astronomer and mathematician Willebrord Snellius; Adriaan Metius, the geometer and astronomer from Holland; and the English mathematician Richard Norwood. (more...)



Vivien Leigh was an English theatre and film actress. Although her film appearances were relatively few, she won two Academy Awards playing "Southern belles", Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind and Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, a role she had also played in London's West End. She was a prolific stage performer, frequently in collaboration with her husband, Laurence Olivier, who directed her in several of her roles. During her thirty-year stage career, she played parts that ranged from the heroines of Noël Coward and George Bernard Shaw comedies to classic Shakespearean characters such as Ophelia, Cleopatra, Juliet and Lady Macbeth. Lauded for her beauty, Leigh felt that it sometimes prevented her from being taken seriously as an actress, but ill health proved to be her greatest obstacle. Affected by bipolar disorder for most of her adult life, she gained a reputation for being difficult, and her career went through periods of decline. She was further weakened by recurrent bouts of tuberculosis, which was first diagnosed in the mid-1940s. She and Olivier divorced in 1960, and Leigh worked sporadically in film and theatre until her death from tuberculosis. (more...)



Sydney Newman (1917–1997) was a Canadian film and television producer, who played a pioneering role in British television drama from the late 1950s to the late 1960s. After his return to Canada in 1970, Newman was appointed Acting Director of the Broadcast Programs Branch for the Canadian Radio and Television Commission and then head of the National Film Board of Canada. He also occupied senior positions at the Canadian Film Development Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and acted as an advisor to the Secretary of State for Canada. During his time in Britain in the 1950s and 60s, he worked first with the Associated British Corporation (ABC) before moving across to the BBC in 1962, holding the role of Head of Drama with both organisations. During this phase of his career he was responsible for initiating two hugely popular fantasy series, The Avengers and Doctor Who, as well as overseeing the production of groundbreaking social realist drama series such as Armchair Theatre and The Wednesday Play. The website of the Museum of Broadcast Communications describes Newman as "the most significant agent in the development of British television drama". Shortly after his death, his obituary in The Guardian newspaper declared that "For ten brief but glorious years, Sydney Newman ... was the most important impresario in Britain ... His death marks not just the end of an era but the laying to rest of a whole philosophy of popular art." In Quebec, as commissioner of the NFB, he attracted controversy for his decision to suppress distribution of several politically sensitive films by French Canadian directors. (more...)



Emma Watson

Emma Watson (born 1990) is a French-born British actress who rose to prominence playing Hermione Granger, one of three starring roles in the Harry Potter film series. Watson was cast as Hermione at the age of nine, having previously only acted in school plays. From 2001 to 2007, she starred in five Harry Potter film installments alongside Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. She will return for the final two installments: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, due to be released in 2009, and the two parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Watson's work in the Harry Potter series has earned her several awards and more than £10 million. In 2007, she announced her involvement in two non-Harry Potter productions: the made-for-television adaptation of the novel Ballet Shoes and an animated film, The Tale of Despereaux. Ballet Shoes was broadcast on 26 December 2007, to an audience of 5.2 million and The Tale of Despereaux, based on the book by Kate DiCamillo, was released in 2008. (more...)



The Beatles are among the most influential popular music artists of modern times, initially affecting the culture of Britain and the U.S., the postwar baby boom generation, and then of the rest of the world, especially during the 1960s and early 1970s. Certainly they are the most successful, with global sales exceeding 1.3 billion albums. Their influences on popular culture extended far beyond their roles as recording artists, as they branched out into film and even semi-willingly became spokesmen for their generation. The members of the group were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey), all from Liverpool in England. The effect of the Beatles on Western culture (and by extension on the rest of the world) has been immeasurable. (more...)



Kate Bush

Kate Bush is a British singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. Her eclectic musical style and idiosyncratic lyrics have made her one of the United Kingdom's most successful and original solo female performers of the past 30 years. Bush was signed up by EMI at the age of 16 after being recommended by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. In 1978 at age 19, she debuted with the surprise hit "Wuthering Heights", topping the UK charts for four weeks and becoming the first woman to have a UK number one with a self-written song. She has since gone on to release eight albums, three of which topped the UK album charts, and have UK top ten hit singles with "Running Up that Hill", "King of the Mountain", "Babooshka", "The Man with the Child in His Eyes", and "Don't Give Up". During her tour of 1979, the only tour of her career, she became the first ever singer to use a wireless headset radio microphone on stage. With her 1980 album Never for Ever, she became the first solo female British singer to top the UK album charts. Her songwriting ability was recognised in 2002 with an Ivor Novello Award for "Outstanding Contribution to British Music". In 2005, she released Aerial, her first album in 12 years. The album was a UK success and earned her BRIT Award nominations for "Best Album" and "Best Solo Female Artist". (more...)



Rebecca Clarke
Rebecca Clarke was an English classical composer and violist best known for her chamber music featuring the viola. She is considered one of the most important British composers in the interwar period between World War I and World War II; she has also been called the most distinguished British female composer of her generation. Though she wrote little, due in part to her ideas about the role of a female composer, her work was recognized for its compositional skill. Most of Clarke's works have yet to be published (or have only recently been published), and her work was largely forgotten after she stopped composing. Scholarship and interest in her work revived when she reached her ninetieth birthday in 1976.



Bernard Sumner
Joy Division was an English rock band formed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester. The band, primarily consisting of Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Bernard Sumner (pictured) (guitar and keyboards), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), rapidly evolved from their initial punk rock influences to develop a sound and style that pioneered the post-punk movement of the late 1970s. Their self-released 1978 debut EP, An Ideal for Living, caught the attention of the Manchester television personality Tony Wilson. Their debut album, Unknown Pleasures, was released in 1979 on Wilson's independent record label Factory Records and drew critical acclaim. Despite the band's growing success, Curtis was beset with depression and personal difficulties, including a dissolving marriage and his diagnosis with epilepsy. He found it increasingly difficult to perform at live concerts, and often had seizures during performances. On the eve of the band's first American tour in 1980, Curtis, overwhelmed with depression, committed suicide. Joy Division's posthumously released second album, Closer, and the single "Love Will Tear Us Apart" became the band's highest charting releases. After the death of Curtis, the remaining members reformed as New Order, achieving critical and commercial success. (more...)



Lennon rehearsing in 1969
John Lennon (1940–1980) was an English musician and singer-songwriter who achieved worldwide fame as a founding member of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Born and raised in Liverpool, Lennon had a rebellious nature and acerbic wit. At the age of 16, he formed a skiffle group which would evolve into The Beatles in 1960. With bandmate Paul McCartney, he established the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership, which provided the bulk of the Beatles' catalogue until the band dissolved at the end of the decade. Lennon then embarked on a solo career that produced the critically acclaimed albums John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine. He became controversial through his work as a peace activist; his iconic songs, "Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine", were adopted as anthems of the anti-war movement. In 1971, with his wife and muse Yoko Ono, he moved to New York City, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by Richard Nixon's administration to deport him. He took a sabbatical from the music business in 1975 to devote time to his family, re-emerging in 1980 with a new album, Double Fantasy, but was murdered on 8 December, three weeks after its release. (more...)



Motörhead live at Red's, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Motörhead are a British rock band formed in 1975 by bassist, singer and songwriter Lemmy Kilmister, who has remained the sole constant member. Usually a power trio, Motörhead had particular success in the early 1980s with several successful singles in the UK Top 40 chart. The albums Overkill, Bomber, Ace of Spades, and particularly No Sleep 'til Hammersmith, cemented Motörhead's reputation as one of Britain's foremost rock bands. While Motörhead are typically classified as heavy metal, speed metal or thrash metal (and often regarded as a foundational influence on the later two styles), Lemmy dislikes such labels, preferring to describe the band's music simply as "rock n' roll". Motörhead's approach has remained the same over the band's career, preferring to play what they enjoy and do best; their appreciation of early rock and roll is reflected in some of their occasional cover songs. Motörhead's lyrics typically cover such topics as war, good versus evil, abuse of power, promiscuous sex, substance abuse, and "life on the road." The band's distinctive fanged-face logo, Snaggletooth, with its oversized boars' horns, chains, and spikes, was created by artist Joe Petagno in 1977 for the cover of the Motörhead album and has appeared in many variations on covers of ensuing albums. (more...)



Members of Radiohead
Radiohead are an English alternative rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (vocals, guitars, piano), Jonny Greenwood (guitars, keyboards, other instruments), Ed O'Brien (guitars, backing vocals), Colin Greenwood (bass, synthesizers) and Phil Selway (drums, percussion). Radiohead released their first single, "Creep", in 1992. The song was initially unsuccessful, but it became a worldwide hit several months after the release of their debut album, Pablo Honey (1993). Radiohead's third album, OK Computer (1997), propelled them to greater international fame. Featuring an expansive sound and themes of modern alienation, OK Computer is often acclaimed as a landmark record of the 1990s. Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001) marked an evolution in Radiohead's musical style, as the group incorporated experimental electronic music, Krautrock and jazz influences. Radiohead's work has appeared in a large number of listener polls and critics' lists. While the band's earlier albums were influential on British rock and pop music, musicians in a wide variety of genres have been influenced by their later work. (more...)



The Sex Pistols are an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They were influential in initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two-and-a-half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music. The Sex Pistols originally comprised vocalist Johnny Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassist Glen Matlock. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977. Under the management of impresario Malcolm McLaren, the band created controversies which captivated Britain. Their concerts repeatedly faced difficulties with organisers and authorities, and public appearances often ended in mayhem. Their 1977 single "God Save the Queen", attacking Britons' social conformity and deference to the crown, precipitated the "last and greatest outbreak of pop-based moral pandemonium". In January 1978, at the end of a turbulent US tour, Rotten left the band and announced its breakup. Over the next several months, the three other band members recorded songs for McLaren's film version of the Sex Pistols' story, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. Vicious died of a heroin overdose in February 1979. In 1996, Rotten, Jones, Cook and Matlock reunited for the Filthy Lucre Tour; since 2002, they have staged further reunion shows and tours. (more...)



Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab playing a Moog synthesizer during a live performance
Stereolab were an alternative music band formed in 1990 in London. The band originally comprised songwriting team Tim Gane (guitar/keyboards) and Lætitia Sadier (vocals/keyboards/guitar), both of whom remained at the helm across many lineup changes. Other long-time members include Andy Ramsay (drums) and Mary Hansen (backing vocals/keyboards/guitar). Called "one of the most fiercely independent and original groups of the Nineties", Stereolab were one of the first bands to be termed "post-rock". Their primary musical influence was 1970s krautrock, which they combined with lounge, 1960s pop, and experimental pop music. They were noted for their heavy use of vintage electronic keyboards, and their sound often overlays a repetitive "motorik" beat with female vocals sung in English or French. Stereolab often incorporated socio-political themes into their lyrics. Some critics say the group's lyrics carry a strong Marxist message, and Gane and Sadier admit to being influenced by the Surrealist and Situationist cultural and political movements. The band were released from their recording contract with Warner Bros. Records when Warner's imprint Elektra Records folded. (more...)



Eric Havelock was a British classicist. He was a professor at the University of Toronto and was active in the academic wing of the Canadian socialist movement during the 1930s. In the 1960s and '70s, he served as chair of the classics departments at both Harvard and Yale. Although he was trained in the turn-of-the-century Oxbridge tradition of classical studies, which saw Greek intellectual history as an unbroken chain of related ideas, Havelock broke radically with his own teachers and proposed an entirely new model for understanding the classical world, based on a sharp division between literature of the 6th and 5th centuries BC on the one hand, and the 4th on the other. Much of Havelock's work was devoted to a single thesis: that all of Western thought is informed by a profound shift in the kinds of ideas available to the human mind at the point that Greek philosophy converted from an oral to a literate form. The idea has been controversial in classical studies, and has frequently been rejected outright; however, outside his own field, Havelock has been extraordinarily influential. He and Walter J. Ong essentially founded the amorphous field that studies transitions from orality to literacy, and Havelock has been one of the most frequently cited theorists in that field. (more...)



Sir Bernard Williams was an English moral philosopher, noted by The Times of London as the "most brilliant and most important British moral philosopher of his time." Williams spent over 50 years seeking answers to one question: "What does it mean to live well?" This was a question few Western analytic philosophers had explored since the Greeks, preferring instead to focus on the issue of moral obligation. For Williams, moral obligation, insofar as the phrase had any meaning, had to be compatible with the pursuit of self-interest and the good life. As Knightsbridge Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge for over a decade, and the Provost of King's College, Cambridge for almost as long, Williams became known internationally for his attempt to return the study of moral philosophy to its foundations: to history and culture, politics and psychology and, in particular, to the Greeks. He saw himself as a synthesist, drawing together ideas from fields that seemed no longer to know how to communicate with one another. (more...)



Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain (1869–1940) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany. When Adolf Hitler continued his aggression, Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, and Chamberlain led Britain through the first eight months of the Second World War. His premiership was dominated by the question of policy towards the increasingly aggressive Germany, and his actions at Munich were widely popular among Britons. Chamberlain resigned the premiership on 10 May 1940, after the failed Allied incursion into Norway as he believed a government supported by all parties was essential, and the Labour and Liberal parties would not join a government headed by him. He was succeeded by Winston Churchill but remained very well regarded in Parliament, especially among Conservatives. Chamberlain's reputation remains controversial among historians, with the initial high regard for him being entirely eroded by books such as Guilty Men, published in his lifetime, which blamed Chamberlain and his associates for the Munich accord and for allegedly failing to prepare the country for war. (more...)



William Wilberforce by Karl Anton Hickel, ca. 1794

William Wilberforce (1759–1833) was a British politician, philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. A native of Hull, Yorkshire, he began his political career in 1780 and became the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire. In 1785 he underwent a conversion experience and became an evangelical Christian, resulting in major changes to his lifestyle and a lifelong concern for reform. He championed causes and campaigns such as the Society for Suppression of Vice, the introduction of evangelical Christianity to India, the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone, the foundation of the Church Mission Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Wilberforce headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade until the eventual passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807. In later years, Wilberforce supported the campaign for the complete abolition of slavery, and continued his involvement after 1826, when he resigned from Parliament because of his failing health. That campaign led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire; Wilberforce died just three days after hearing that the passage of the Act through Parliament was assured. (more...)



1722 facsimile of first page of Cotton manuscript of Asser's 'Life of King Alfred'
Asser was a Welsh monk from St. David's, Dyfed, who became Bishop of Sherborne in the 890s. In about 885 he was asked by Alfred the Great to leave St. David's and join the circle of learned men which Alfred was recruiting for his court. After spending a year at Caerwent due to an illness, he accepted. In 893 Asser wrote a biography of Alfred, called the Life of King Alfred. The manuscript survived to modern times in only one copy, which was part of the Cotton library. That copy was destroyed in a fire in 1731, but transcriptions that had been made earlier, allied with material from Asser's work that was included by other early writers, have enabled the work to be reconstructed. The biography is now the main source of information about Alfred's life, and provides far more information about Alfred than is known about any other early English ruler. Asser also assisted Alfred in his translation of Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care, and possibly with other works. Asser is sometimes cited as a source for the legend of Alfred having founded the University of Oxford, which is now known to be false. A short passage making this claim was interpolated by William Camden into his 1603 edition of Asser's Life. Doubts have also been raised periodically about whether the entire Life is a forgery, written by a slightly later writer, but it is now almost universally accepted as genuine. (more...)



The painted carving of the martyrdom of St Alphege, in Canterbury Cathedral

Ælfheah of Canterbury (954–1012) was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester, later Archbishop of Canterbury. He became an anchorite before being elected abbot of Bath Abbey. His piety and sanctity led to his promotion to the episcopate, and eventually to his becoming archbishop. Ælfheah furthered the cult of St Dunstan and also encouraged learning. He was captured by Viking raiders in 1011 and killed by them the following year, after refusing to allow himself to be ransomed. Ælfheah was canonized as a saint in 1078. Saint Thomas Becket, a later Archbishop of Canterbury, prayed to him just before his own slaying in Canterbury Cathedral. Ælfheah became a monk early in life. He first entered the monastery of Deerhurst, but then moved to Bath, where he became an anchorite. He was noted for his piety and austerity, and rose to become abbot of Bath Abbey. Probably due to the influence of Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury (959–988), Ælfheah was elected Bishop of Winchester in 984, and was consecrated on 19 October that year. (more...)



Clement of Dunblane was a 13th-century Dominican friar who was the first member of the Dominican Order in the British Isles to become a bishop. In 1233, he was selected to lead the ailing diocese of Dunblane, and faced a struggle to bring the bishopric of Dunblane to financial viability. While not achieving all of his aims, Clement succeeded in saving the bishopric from relocation to Inchaffray Abbey. He also regained enough revenue to begin work on the new Dunblane Cathedral. He faced a similar challenge with the impoverished bishopric of Argyll in the 1240s. Clement was with the king during his campaign in Argyll in 1249 and was at his side when he died during this campaign. By 1250 he had established a reputation as one of the most active Dominican reformers in Britain. Clement helped to elevate Edmund of Abingdon and Queen Margaret to sainthood. After his death, he received veneration as a saint himself, although he was never formally canonised. (more...)



Walter de Coventre was a 14th-century Scottish ecclesiastic. There is no direct evidence of his birthdate, his family, or his family's origin, although he may have come from the region around Abernethy, Scotland, where a family with the name de Coventre is known to have lived. Walter appeared in the records for the first time in the 1330s, as a student at the University of Paris. From there he went on to the University of Orléans, initially as a student before becoming a lecturer there. He studied the arts, civil law and canon law, and was awarded many university degrees, including two doctorates. His studies were paid for, at least partially, by his benefices in Scotland. Despite holding perhaps more than five at one stage, he did not return to Scotland until the late 1350s. Following his return to Scotland, Walter soon became involved, as Dean of Aberdeen Cathedral, in high-level ecclesiastical affairs with the Scottish church and political affairs with the Earl of Mar. Sometime before June 1361, the cathedral chapter of Dunblane elected him Bishop of Dunblane. He went to France to secure confirmation from the Pope at Avignon, who authorised his consecration. Walter was bishop for 10 years after returning home to Scotland. Records of his episcopate are thin, but there are enough to allow a modest reconstruction of his activities: he presided over legal disputes, issued a dispensation for an important irregular marriage, attended parliaments, and acted as an envoy of the Scottish crown in England. He died in either 1371 or 1372. (more...)



Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556) was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. Along with Thomas Cromwell, he supported the principle of royal supremacy in which the king was considered sovereign over the Church within his realm. He was responsible for establishing the first doctrinal and liturgical structures of the Church of England, and succeeded in publishing the first officially authorised vernacular service, the Exhortation and Litany. When Edward came to power, Cranmer was able to promote major reforms. He wrote and compiled the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer, a complete liturgy for the English Church. He developed new doctrinal standards in areas such as the eucharist, clerical celibacy, the role of images in places of worship, and the veneration of saints. Cranmer was tried for treason and heresy when Mary I came to the throne. Imprisoned for over two years and under pressure from the Church authorities, he made several recantations and reconciled himself with the Catholic faith. However, on the day of his execution, he dramatically withdrew his recantations and died as a Protestant martyr. His legacy lives on within the Church of England through the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles, an Anglican statement of faith derived from his work. (more...)



19th-century engraving of George Fox

George Fox was an English Dissenter and the founder of the Society of Friends. At Derby in 1650 Fox was imprisoned for blasphemy; a judge mocked Fox's exhortation to "tremble at the word of the Lord", calling him and his followers "Quakers" — now the common name of the Society of Friends. Living in a time of great social upheaval, he rebelled against the religious and political consensus by proposing an unusual and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith. His journal is a text popular even among non-Quakers for its vivid account of his personal journey. (more...)



The signet of Jocelin

Jocelin was a 12th century Cistercian monk and cleric, who became the fourth Abbot of Melrose before becoming Bishop of Glasgow. He was probably born in the 1130s, and in his teenage years became a monk of Melrose Abbey. He rose in the service of Abbot Waltheof, and, by the time of the short abbacy of Waltheof's successor Abbot William, Jocelin had become prior. Then in 1170 Jocelin himself became abbot, a position he held for four years. Jocelin was responsible for promoting the cult of the emerging Saint Waltheof, and in this had the support of Enguerrand, Bishop of Glasgow. As Bishop of Glasgow, he was a royal official. In this capacity he traveled abroad on several occasions, and performed the marriage ceremony between King William the Lion and Ermengarde de Beaumont, later baptizing their son, the future King Alexander II. Among other things, he has been credited by modern historians as "the founder of the burgh of Glasgow and initiator of the Glasgow fair", as well as being one of the greatest literary patrons in medieval Scotland, commissioning the Life of St Waltheof and the Life of St Kentigen and the Chronicle of Melrose. (more...)



Portrait of Knox
John Knox was a Scottish clergyman, a leader of the Protestant Reformation, and is considered the founder of the Presbyterian denomination. Influenced by early church reformers such as George Wishart, he joined the movement to reform the Scottish church. He was caught up in the ecclesiastical and political events that involved the murder of Cardinal Beaton in 1546 and the intervention of the regent of Scotland. He was taken prisoner by French forces the following year and exiled to England on his release in 1549. While in exile, Knox was licensed to work in the Church of England, where he quickly rose in the ranks to serve the King of England, Edward VI, as a royal chaplain. In this position, he exerted a reforming influence on the text of the Book of Common Prayer. In England he met and married his first wife, Marjorie. When Mary Tudor ascended the throne and reestablished Roman Catholicism, Knox was forced to resign his position and leave the country. On his return to Scotland, he led the Protestant Reformation in Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Protestant nobility. (more...)



Cosmo Gordon Lang (1864–1945) was an Anglican prelate who served as Archbishop of York and Archbishop of Canterbury. As Archbishop of Canterbury during the abdication crisis of 1936 he took a strong moral stance, and comments he made in a subsequent broadcast were widely condemned as uncharitable towards the departed king. In his early ministry Lang served in slum parishes in Leeds and Portsmouth before his appointment in 1901 as suffragan Bishop of Stepney in London. In 1908 Lang was nominated Archbishop of York, despite his relatively junior status as a suffragan rather than a diocesan bishop. He entered the House of Lords as a Lord Spiritual and caused consternation in traditionalist circles by speaking and voting against the Lords' proposal to reject David Lloyd George's 1909 "People's Budget". This apparent radicalism was not, however, maintained in later years. At the start of World War I, Lang was heavily criticised for a speech in which he spoke sympathetically of the Kaiser. After the war he supported controversial proposals for the revision of the Book of Common Prayer, but after acceding to Canterbury he took no practical steps to resolve this issue. As Archbishop of Canterbury he presided over the 1930 Lambeth Conference, which gave limited church approval to the use of contraception. (more...)



Laurence of Canterbury was the second Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a member of the Gregorian mission sent from Italy to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, although the date of his arrival is disputed. He was consecrated archbishop by his predecessor, Augustine of Canterbury, in order to ensure continuity in the office. He attempted unsuccessfully to resolve differences with the native British bishops by corresponding with them about points of dispute. Laurence faced a crisis following the death of King Æthelberht of Kent, as the king's son and successor, Eadbald, had not embraced Christianity; he eventually converted. Laurence was revered as a saint after his death in 619. (more...)



William Longchamp (died 1197) was a medieval Lord Chancellor, Chief Justiciar, and Bishop of Ely in England. He first served an illegitimate son of Henry II of England, but quickly transferred to the service of Richard I, King Henry's eldest surviving son. When Richard became King of England in 1189, Longchamp paid £3,000 for the office of Chancellor, and was soon named to the bishopric of Ely and appointed legate by the pope. Longchamp governed England while Richard was on the Third Crusade, but his authority was challenged by Richard's brother, John, who eventually succeeded in driving Longchamp from power and from England. Longchamp's relations with the other leading English nobles were also strained, which contributed to the demands for his exile. When Richard was captured on his journey back to England from the crusade and held for ransom by the Holy Roman Emperor, Longchamp travelled to Germany to help negotiate Richard's release. Although Longchamp regained the office of Chancellor after Richard's return to England, he lost much of his former power. He did, however, retain Richard's trust, and was employed by the king until the bishop's death in 1197. Longchamp wrote a treatise on the law, which remained well known throughout the later Middle Ages, but he aroused much hostility among his contemporaries. (more...)



Mellitus was the first Bishop of London, the third Archbishop of Canterbury, and a member of the Gregorian mission sent to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons. He arrived in 601 AD, and was consecrated as Bishop of London in 604. Pope Gregory I sent Mellitus a letter now known as the Epistola ad Mellitum, which suggested the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons be undertaken gradually and integrate pagan rituals and customs. Following the deaths of his patrons, King Sæberht of Essex and King Æthelberht of Kent, Mellitus was exiled from London and forced to take refuge in Gaul. Æthelberht's successor converted to Christianity the following year, and Mellitus returned to England. Unable to return to the pagan inhabitants of London, he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 619. During his tenure, he was alleged to have miraculously saved the cathedral, and much of the town of Canterbury, from a fire. After his death in 624, Mellitus was revered as a saint. (more...)



Paulinus of York

Paulinus of York was a Roman missionary and the first Bishop of York. A member of the Gregorian mission sent by Pope Gregory I to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity in 601, Paulinus arrived in England by 604 with the second missionary group. Little is known of Paulinus' activities in the following two decades. After some years spent in Kent, Paulinus was consecrated a bishop, probably in 627. He accompanied Æthelburg of Kent, sister of King Eadbald of Kent, on her journey to Northumbria to marry King Edwin of Northumbria, and eventually succeeded in converting Edwin to Christianity. Paulinus also converted many of Edwin's subjects and built a few churches. One of the women Paulinus baptised was a future saint, Hilda of Whitby. Following Edwin's death in 633 Paulinus and Æthelburg fled Northumbria, leaving behind a member of Paulinus' clergy, James the Deacon. Paulinus returned to Kent, where he became Bishop of Rochester. After his death in 644, Paulinus was venerated as a saint. (more...)



Stigand

Stigand was an English churchman in pre-Norman Conquest England. By 1020 he was serving as a royal chaplain and advisor. He was named bishop of Elmham in 1043, and then later Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of Canterbury. Stigand acted as an advisor to several members of the Anglo-Saxon and Norman English royal dynasties, serving six successive kings. Excommunicated by several popes for his pluralism in holding the two sees of Winchester and Canterbury concurrently, he was finally deposed in 1070, and his estates and personal wealth were confiscated by William the Conqueror. Stigand was imprisoned at Winchester, where he died without regaining his liberty. He served King Canute as a chaplain at a royal foundation at Ashingdon in 1020, and as an advisor then and later. He continued in his role of advisor during the reigns of Canute's sons, Harold Harefoot and Harthacanute. When Canute's stepson Edward the Confessor succeeded Harthacanute, Stigand likely became England's main administrator. Monastic writers of the time accused Stigand of extorting money and lands from the church. By 1066, the only estates richer than Stigand's were the royal estates and those of Harold Godwinson. In 1043 Edward appointed Stigand to the see, or bishopric, of Elmham. (more...)



Thomas of Bayeux was Archbishop of York from 1070 until 1100. A native of Bayeux, he was educated at Liège and became a royal chaplain to Duke William of Normandy, later King William I of England. After the Norman Conquest, the King nominated Thomas to succeed Ealdred as Archbishop of York. After Thomas' election, Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, demanded an oath from Thomas to obey him and any future Archbishops of Canterbury; this was part of Lanfranc's claim that Canterbury was the primary bishopric, and its holder the head of the English Church. Thomas countered that York had never made such an oath, which resulted in Lanfranc's refusal to consecrate him. The King eventually persuaded Thomas to submit, but Thomas and Lanfranc continued to clash over ecclesiastical and various other issues. After William I's death, Thomas served his successor William II, and helped to put down a rebellion led by Thomas' old mentor Odo of Bayeux. During William II's reign, Thomas again became involved in the dispute with Canterbury over the primacy when he refused to consecrate the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm, if Anselm was named the Primate of England in the consecration service. After William II's sudden death in 1100, Thomas arrived too late to crown King Henry I, and died soon after the coronation. (more...)



Depiction of Ælle from John Speed's 1611 "Saxon Heptarchy".
Ælle is recorded in early sources as the first king of the South Saxons, reigning in what is now Sussex, England from 477 to perhaps as late as 514. The information about him is so limited that it cannot be said with certainty that Ælle even existed. Ælle and three of his sons are reported to have landed near what is now Selsey Bill—the exact location is under the sea, and is probably what is now a sandbank known as the Owers—and fought with the British. A victory in 491 at what is now Pevensey is reported to have ended with the Saxons slaughtering their opponents to the last man. Although the details of these traditions cannot be verified, evidence from the place names of Sussex does make it clear that it was an area with extensive and early settlement by the Saxons, supporting the idea that this was one of their early conquests. Ælle was the first king recorded by the eighth century chronicler Bede to have held "imperium", or overlordship, over other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In the late ninth century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (around four hundred years after his time) Ælle is recorded as being the first bretwalda, or "Britain-ruler", though there is no evidence that this was a contemporary title. Ælle's death is not recorded, and it is not known who succeeded him as king of the South Saxons. (more...)



Alice, circa 1906

Princess Alice of Battenberg (1885–1969) was the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (consort of Queen Elizabeth II). Congenitally deaf, she grew up in Germany, England and the Mediterranean. After marrying Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark in 1903, she lived in Greece until the exile of most of the Greek Royal Family in 1917. On returning to Greece a few years later, her husband was blamed in part for the defeat of Greece in the Greco–Turkish War of 1919–1922, and the family were once again forced into exile until the restoration of the Greek monarchy in 1935. In 1930, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to a sanatorium; thereafter, she lived separately from her husband. After her recovery, she devoted most of her remaining years to charity work in Greece. She stayed in Athens during the Second World War, sheltering Jewish refugees, for which she is recognised as "Righteous Among the Nations" at Yad Vashem. After the war, she stayed in Greece and founded an Orthodox nursing order of nuns known as the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary. After the fall of King Constantine II of Greece and the imposition of military rule in Greece in 1967, she was invited by her son and daughter-in-law to live at Buckingham Palace in London, where she died two years later. (more...)



Anne of Denmark, attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger

Anne of Denmark (1574–1619) was queen consort of Scotland, England, and Ireland as the wife of King James VI and I. The second daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark, Anne married James in 1589 at the age of fourteen and bore him three children who survived infancy, including the future Charles I. She demonstrated an independent streak and a willingness to use factional Scottish politics in her conflicts with James over the custody of Prince Henry and his treatment of her friend Beatrix Ruthven. Anne appears to have loved James at first, but the couple gradually drifted and eventually lived apart, though mutual respect and a degree of affection survived. In England, Anne shifted her energies from factional politics to patronage of the arts and constructed a magnificent court of her own, hosting one of the richest cultural salons in Europe. After 1612, she suffered sustained bouts of ill health and gradually withdrew from the centre of court life. Though she was reported to have died a Protestant, evidence suggests that she may have converted to Catholicism at some stage in her life. Historians have traditionally dismissed Anne as a lightweight queen, frivolous and self-indulgent. However, recent reappraisals acknowledge Anne's assertive independence and, in particular, her dynamic significance as a patron of the arts during the Jacobean age. (more...)



Princess Beatrice
Princess Beatrice (1857–1944) was a member of the British Royal Family. She was the fifth daughter and youngest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. As Beatrice's elder sisters married and left their royal mother, Victoria came to rely on the company of her youngest daughter. Beatrice, who was brought up to stay with her mother always, soon resigned herself to her fate. Victoria was set against her youngest daughter marrying and refused to discuss the possibility. Nevertheless, many suitors were put forward, including Napoleon Eugene, Prince Imperial, the son of the exiled Emperor Napoleon III of France, and Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse, the widower of Beatrice's older sister Alice. Although she was attracted to the Prince Imperial, and there was talk of a possible marriage, he was killed in the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879. Beatrice fell in love with Prince Henry of Battenberg. After a year of persuasion, Victoria agreed to the marriage, which took place at Whippingham on the Isle of Wight, on 23 July 1885. Victoria consented on condition that Beatrice and Henry make their home with her and that Beatrice continue her duties as the Queen's unofficial secretary. Ten years into their marriage, on 20 January 1896, Prince Henry died of malaria while fighting in the Anglo-Asante War. Beatrice remained at her mother's side until Victoria died. (more...)



Queen Elizabeth at the Canadian Pavilion at the World's Fair, 1939 New York, N.Y., U.S.A.

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was the Queen Consort of George VI from 1936 until his death in 1952. After her husband's death, she was known as Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, to avoid confusion with her elder daughter, Elizabeth II. In 1936, she unexpectedly became Queen when her brother-in-law, Edward VIII, suddenly abdicated in order to marry his mistress, the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson. During World War II, her seemingly indomitable spirit provided moral support to the British public, so much so that, in recognition of her role as a propaganda tool, Adolf Hitler described her as "the most dangerous woman in Europe." After the war, her husband's health deteriorated and she was widowed at the age of 51. With her brother-in-law living abroad and her elder daughter now Queen at the age of 26, when Queen Mary died in 1953, Elizabeth became the senior royal and assumed a position as family matriarch. In her later years, she was a consistently popular member of the British Royal Family, when other members were suffering from low levels of public approval. Only after the illness and death of her own younger daughter, Princess Margaret, did she appear to grow frail. She died six weeks after Margaret, at the age of 101. (more...)



John Brooke-Little (1943)

John Brooke-Little was an influential and popular writer on heraldic subjects and a long-serving officer of arms at the College of Arms in London, England. In 1947, while still a student, Brooke-Little founded the "Society of Heraldic Antiquaries", now known as The Heraldry Society and recognized as one of the leading learned societies in its field. He served as the society's chairman for 50 years and then as its President from 1997 until his death in 2006. In addition to founding this group, Brooke-Little was involved in other heraldic groups and societies and worked for many years as an officer of arms. Having started his career as Bluemantle Pursuivant, Brooke-Little worked his way up to the second-highest heraldic office in England–Clarenceux King of Arms. (more...)



Imaginary depiction of Cædwalla by Lambert Barnard
Cædwalla (659–689) was the King of Wessex from about 685 until 688, when he abdicated. His name is derived from the British Cadwallon. He was exiled as a youth, and during this time attacked the South Saxons, in what is now Sussex, killing their king, Æthelwealh, but he was unable to hold the territory and was driven out by Æthelwealh's ealdormen. In either 685 or 686 he became king of Wessex. He may have been involved in suppressing rival dynasties at this time, as an early source records that Wessex was ruled by underkings until Cædwalla. After his accession Cædwalla returned to Sussex and won the territory again, and also conquered the Isle of Wight, extinguishing the ruling dynasty there. He gained control of Surrey and the kingdom of Kent, and in 686 he installed his brother, Mul, as king of Kent. Mul was burned in a Kentish revolt a year later, and Cædwalla returned, possibly ruling Kent directly for a period. Cædwalla was wounded during the conquest of the Isle of Wight, and perhaps for this reason he abdicated in 688 to travel to Rome for baptism. He reached Rome in April of 689, and was baptised on the Saturday before Easter, dying ten days later on 20 April 689. He was succeeded by Ine. (more...)



Ceawlin was a King of Wessex. He may have been the son of Cynric of Wessex and the grandson of Cerdic of Wessex, whom the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle represents as the leader of the first group of Saxons to come to the land which later became Wessex. Ceawlin was active at a time when the Anglo-Saxon invasion was being completed; by the time he died, little of southern England remained in the control of the native Britons. The chronology of Ceawlin's life is highly uncertain: his reign is variously listed as lasting seven, seventeen, or thirty-two years, and the historical accuracy and dating of many of the events in the later Anglo-Saxon Chronicle have been called into question. The Chronicle records several battles of Ceawlin's between the years 556 and 592, including the first record of a battle between different groups of Anglo-Saxons, and indicates that under Ceawlin Wessex acquired significant territory, some of which was later to be lost to other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Ceawlin is also named as one of the eight "bretwaldas": this was a title given in the Chronicle to eight rulers who had overlordship over southern Britain, although the actual extent of Ceawlin’s control is not known. Ceawlin died in 593, having been deposed the year before, possibly by his successor, Ceol. He is recorded in various sources as having two sons, Cutha and Cuthwine, but the genealogies in which this information is found are known to be unreliable. (more...)



Charles II of England
Charles II was the King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 30 January 1649 until his death. Charles II's father, Charles I, had been executed in 1649 following the English Civil War; the monarchy was then abolished and replaced with a military dictatorship under Oliver Cromwell, who had named himself "Lord Protector". In 1660, shortly after Cromwell's death, the monarchy was restored under Charles II. Unlike his father, Charles II was skilled at managing Parliament. It was during his reign that the Whig and Tory political parties developed. He famously fathered numerous illegitimate children, of whom he acknowledged fourteen. Known as the "Merry Monarch", Charles was a patron of the arts and less restrictive than many of his predecessors. By converting to Roman Catholicism on his deathbed, Charles II became the first Roman Catholic to reign over England since Mary I's death in 1558. (more...)



Portrait of Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales
Princess Charlotte of Wales (1796–1817) was the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later George IV) and Caroline of Brunswick. Had she outlived her father and her grandfather, King George III, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom. Instead, she died following childbirth at the age of 21. Charlotte's parents disliked each other from before their pre-arranged marriage and soon separated. As Charlotte grew to adulthood, her father pressured her to marry William, Hereditary Prince of Orange, but after initially accepting him, Charlotte soon broke off the match. This resulted in an extended contest of wills between her and her father, and finally the Prince of Wales permitted her to marry Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (later Leopold I of Belgium). After a year and a half of happy marriage, Charlotte died after giving birth to a stillborn son. Charlotte's death set off tremendous mourning among the British, who had seen her as a sign of hope and a contrast both to her unpopular father and to her grandfather, whom they deemed mad. As she had been King George III's only legitimate grandchild, there was pressure on the King's unwed sons to marry. King George III's fourth son, Edward, Duke of Kent, fathered the eventual heir, Queen Victoria. (more...)



John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650–1722) was a prominent English soldier and statesman whose career spanned the reigns of five monarchs throughout the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Churchill's role in defeating the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685 helped secure James, the Duke of York on the throne, yet just three years later he abandoned his Catholic mentor for the Protestant Dutchman, William of Orange. Churchill served with distinction in the early years of the Nine Years' War, but persistent charges of Jacobitism brought about his fall from office and temporary imprisonment in the Tower. His marriage to Sarah Jennings – Queen Anne's friend – ensured Marlborough's rise to a dukedom. Becoming de facto leader of Allied forces during the War of the Spanish Succession, his victories in battles ensured his place in history as one of Europe's great generals. But his wife's stormy relationship with the Queen, and her subsequent dismissal from court, was central to his being forced from office and into self-imposed exile. He returned to England and to influence under the House of Hanover with the accession of George I to the British throne in 1714, but his health gradually deteriorated, and he died on 16 June 1722 (O.S). (more...)



Constantine II of Scotland
Constantine II of Scotland was an early King of Scotland, known then by the Gaelic name Alba. His reign, like those of his predecessors, was dominated by the actions of Viking rulers in Britain and Ireland, particularly the Uí Ímair. During Constantine's reign, the rulers of the southern kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia, later the kingdom of England, extended their authority northwards into the disputed kingdoms of Northumbria. At first allied with the southern rulers against the Vikings, Constantine in time came into conflict with them. King Æthelstan secured Constantine's submission in 927 and 934, but the two again fought when Constantine, allied with the Strathclyde Britons and the Viking king of Dublin, invaded Æthelstan's kingdom in 937, only to be defeated at the great battle of Brunanburh. In 943 Constantine abdicated the throne and retired to the Céli Dé monastery of St Andrews where he died in 952. His reign of 43 years, exceeded in Scotland only by that of King William the Lion before the Union of the Crowns in 1603, is believed to have played a defining part in the gaelicisation of Pictland in which his patronage of the Irish Céli Dé monastic reformers was a significant factor. During his reign the words "Scots" and "Scotland" (Old English: Scottas, Scotland) were first used to mean part of what is now Scotland. (more...)



David I of Scotland

David I (1083–1153) was a 12th-century ruler who was Prince of the Cumbrians and later King of the Scots. The youngest son of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada and Margaret, David spent most of his childhood in Scotland, but was exiled to England in 1093. At some point, perhaps after 1100, he became a hanger-on at the court of King Henry I and experienced long exposure to Norman and Anglo-French culture. When David's brother Alexander I of Scotland died in 1124, David chose, with the backing of Henry I, to take the Kingdom of Scotland (Alba) for himself. He was forced to engage in warfare against his rival and nephew, Máel Coluim mac Alaxandair. Subduing the latter took David ten years, and involved the destruction of Óengus, Mormaer of Moray. David's victory allowed him to expand his control over more distant regions theoretically part of his Kingdom. After the death of his former patron Henry I, David supported the claims of Henry's daughter and his own niece, the former Empress-consort, Matilda, to the throne of England; in the process, he came into conflict with King Stephen and was able to expand his power in northern England, despite his defeat at the Battle of the Standard in 1138. The term "Davidian Revolution" is used by many scholars to summarise the changes which took place in the Kingdom of Scotland during his reign. (more...)



Coin of Eadbald of Kent
Eadbald was King of Kent from 616 until his death. He succeeded his father Æthelberht, who made Kent the dominant force in England during his reign and became the first Anglo-Saxon king to convert to Christianity. Eadbald's accession was a significant setback for the growth of the church, since he was a pagan and did not convert for at least a year, and perhaps for as much as eight years. He was ultimately converted by either Laurentius or Justus, and separated from his first wife, who had been his stepmother, at the insistence of the church. Eadbald's second wife was Ymme, who may have been a Frankish princess. She bore him two sons, Eormenred and Eorcenberht, and a daughter, Eanswith. Eadbald's influence was less than his father's, but Kent was powerful enough to be omitted from the list of kingdoms dominated by Edwin of Northumbria. Edwin's marriage to Eadbald's sister, Æthelburg, established a good relationship between Kent and Northumbria which appears to have continued into Oswald's reign. When Æthelburg fled to Kent on Edwin's death in about 633, she sent her children to Francia for safety, fearing the intrigues of both Eadbald and Oswald. The Kentish royal line made several strong diplomatic marriages over the succeeding years. (more...)



Edward VI of England
Edward VI of England (1537–1553) became King of England and Ireland on 28 January 1547 and was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first Protestant ruler. During Edward’s reign, the realm was governed by a Regency Council, because he never reached maturity. The Council was led from 1547 to 1549 by his uncle Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, and from 1550 to 1553 by John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick, who in 1551 became 1st Duke of Northumberland. Edward's reign was marked by economic problems, military withdrawal from Scotland and Boulogne-sur-Mer, and social unrest that in 1549 erupted into riot and rebellion. It also saw the transformation of the Anglican Church into a recognisably Protestant body. Henry VIII had severed the link between the Church of England and Rome, and during Edward's reign, Protestantism was established for the first time in England, with reforms that included the abolition of clerical celibacy and the mass, and the imposition of compulsory services in English. The architect of these reforms was Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose Book of Common Prayer has proved lasting. (more...)



Edward VIII
Edward VIII (1894–1972) was King of Great Britain, Ireland, the British Dominions beyond the Seas, and Emperor of India from the death of his father, George V, on 20 January 1936, until his abdication on 11 December 1936. As a young man he served in World War I, undertook several foreign tours on behalf of his father, and was associated with a succession of older married women. Only months into his reign, Edward forced a constitutional crisis by proposing marriage to the American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Although legally Edward could have married Mrs. Simpson and remained king, his various prime ministers opposed the marriage, arguing that the people would never accept her as queen. Edward knew that the ministry of British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin would resign if the marriage went ahead; this could have dragged the King into a general election thus ruining irreparably his status as a politically neutral constitutional monarch. Rather than give up Mrs. Simpson, Edward chose to abdicate. He is one of the shortest-reigning monarchs in British history, and was never crowned. (more...)



Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Queen of Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes referred to as The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty, succeeding her half-sister, Mary I. She reigned over a period of deep religious division in English history. Elizabeth's reign is referred to as the Elizabethan era and was marked by several changes in English culture. Elizabeth was a short-tempered, sometimes indecisive ruler. Like her father Henry VIII, she was a writer and poet. She granted Royal Charters to several famous organisations, including Trinity College, Dublin (1592) and the British East India Company (1600). (more...)



Portrait of Ernest Augustus I by George Dawe, 1828
Ernest Augustus I of Hanover (1771–1851) was King of Hanover from 20 June 1837 until his death. He was the fifth son and eighth child of George III, who reigned in both the United Kingdom and Hanover. As a fifth son, initially Ernest seemed unlikely to become a monarch, but Salic Law, which debarred women from the succession, applied in Hanover and none of his older brothers had legitimate male issue. Ernest was born in Britain, but was sent to Hanover in his adolescence for his education and military training. While serving with Hanoverian forces in Wallonia against Napoleon, he received a disfiguring facial wound. In 1799, he was created Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale. Although his 1815 marriage to the twice-widowed Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz met with the disapproval of his mother, Queen Charlotte, it proved a happy relationship. Ernest was active in the House of Lords, where he maintained an extremely conservative record. There were persistent allegations (reportedly spread by his political foes) that he had murdered his valet and had fathered a son by his sister. Before Victoria succeeded to the British Throne, it was rumoured that Ernest intended to murder her and take the Throne himself. When King William IV died on 20 June 1837, Ernest ascended the Hanoverian Throne. Hanover's first ruler to reside in the kingdom since George I, he had a generally successful fourteen-year reign, but excited controversy when he dismissed the Göttingen Seven for agitating against his policies. (more...)



George I of Great Britain, circa 1714
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland, from 1 August 1714 until his death. At the age of 54, he ascended the British throne as the first monarch of the House of Hanover. Although many bore closer blood-relationships to the childless Queen Anne, the Act of Settlement 1701, which prohibits Catholics from inheriting the throne, designated her cousin, Sophia of Hanover, as heiress to the throne. Sophia was Anne's closest living Protestant relative but died a matter of weeks before Anne leaving the Protestant succession to her son, George. In reaction, the Jacobites attempted to depose George and replace him with Anne's Catholic half-brother, James Francis Edward Stuart, but their attempts failed. During George's reign in Britain, the powers of the monarchy diminished and the modern system of Cabinet government led by a Prime Minister underwent development. Towards the end of his reign, actual power was held by Sir Robert Walpole. George died on a trip to his native Hanover, where he was buried. (more...)



George III
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until 1 January 1801, and thereafter King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death. During George III's reign, Great Britain lost many of its colonies in North America; the rebellious colonies later formed the United States. Also during his reign, the realms of Great Britain and Ireland united to form the United Kingdom. George III suffered from a mental disease, now thought to be porphyria. After a final relapse in 1811, George's eldest son, The Prince George, Prince of Wales reigned as Prince Regent. Upon George III's death, the Prince of Wales succeeded his father to become George IV. (more...)



George IV
George IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Hanover from 29 January 1820. He had earlier served as Prince Regent when his father, George III, suffered from a relapse into insanity from porphyria.The Regency (George's nine-year tenure as Regent, which commenced in 1811 and ended with George III's death in 1820) was marked by a victory in the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. George was a stubborn monarch, often interfering in politics (especially in the matter of Catholic Emancipation), though not as much as his father. For most of George's regency and reign, Lord Liverpool controlled the government as Prime Minister. George is often remembered as an extravagant prince and monarch. He had a poor relationship with both his father and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, even excluding her from his own coronation. He was a patron of the arts; his regency and reign were graced by such literary figures as George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron and Jane Austen. George was responsible for the building of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. (more...)



Painting of George V in coronation robes, c. 1911
George V (1865–1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through World War I until his death in 1936. He was the first British monarch of the House of Windsor, which he created from the British branch of the German House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. From the age of twelve George served in the Royal Navy, but upon the unexpected death of his elder brother, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, he became heir to the throne and married his brother's fiancée, Mary of Teck. Although they occasionally toured the British Empire, George lived what later biographers would consider a dull life because of its conventionality. George became King-Emperor in 1910 on the death of his father, King Edward VII. During World War I he relinquished all German titles and styles on behalf of his relatives who were British subjects, and changed the name of the royal house from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor. During his reign, the Statute of Westminster separated the crown so that George ruled the dominions as separate kingdoms, preparing the way for the future development of the Commonwealth of Nations. His reign also witnessed the rise of socialism, communism, fascism, Irish republicanism, and the first Labour ministry. (more...)



George VI of the United Kingdom

George VI was the King of the United Kingdom and each of the British Dominions from 11 December 1936 until his death on 6 February 1952. He was the last Emperor of India (until 1947) and the last King of Ireland (until 1949). As the second son of his father, King George V, he was not expected to inherit the throne, and he spent his early life in the shadow of his elder brother, Edward. After the death of his father in 1936, his brother ascended the throne as Edward VIII. Less than a year later, Edward VIII unexpectedly abdicated in order to marry the twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson. By reason of this unforeseen abdication, unique in British history, George VI ascended the throne. In the first 24 hours of the accession, the Irish parliament passed the External Relations Act, which essentially removed the power of the monarch in Ireland. Within three years of his accession, the British Empire was at war with Nazi Germany, within four years with Italy and within five years with the Empire of Japan. With the independence of India and Pakistan, and the foundation of the Republic of Ireland, his later reign saw the acceleration of the break-up of the Empire, and foreshadowed its eventual transformation from Empire to Commonwealth. (more...)



James I of England
James I of England was a King who ruled over England, Scotland, and Ireland, and was the first Sovereign to reign in the three realms simultaneously. He ruled in Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 until his death, and in England and Ireland as James I from 24 March 1603 until his death. James I was the first English monarch of the Stuart dynasty, succeeding the last Tudor monarch, Elizabeth I, who died unmarried and childless. James was a popular and successful monarch in Scotland, but the same was not true in England. He was unable to deal with a hostile English Parliament; the refusal on the part of the House of Commons to impose sufficiently high taxes crippled the royal finances. His taste for political absolutism, his mismanagement of the kingdom's funds and his cultivation of unpopular favourites established the foundation for the English Civil War, during which James's son and successor, Charles I, was tried and executed.



James II of England
James II became King of England, King of Scots, and King of Ireland on 6 February 1685. He was the last Roman Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Scotland, and Kingdom of Ireland. Some of his subjects distrusted his religious policies and alleged despotism, leading a group of them to depose him in the Revolution of 1688 (the "Glorious Revolution"). He was replaced not by his Roman Catholic son, James Francis Edward, but by his Protestant daughter and son-in-law, Mary II and William III, who became joint rulers in 1689. The belief that James—not William III or Mary II—was the legitimate ruler became known as Jacobitism. James did not himself attempt to return to the Throne, instead living the rest of his life under the protection of King Louis XIV of France. His son James Francis Edward Stuart and his grandson Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) attempted to restore the Jacobite line after James's death, but failed. (More...)




Princess Louise in 1901

Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll was a member of the British Royal Family, the fourth daughter and sixth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Louise spent her early life under the roof of her parents, and when her father died in 1861, she took on the role as a companion to her mother. In 1871, Louise married John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne, and became the first daughter of a sovereign to marry a British subject since 1515. Although the marriage was initially happy, the couple drifted apart as a result of their childlessness and the Queen's constraints on their activities. In 1878, Louise's husband was appointed Governor General of Canada, and Louise spent five years as his consort. When Louise returned to Britain, she remained close to the Queen and undertook a number of public duties on her behalf. Following the Queen's death in 1901, she remained close to younger generations of the British royal family, and died in 1939 at the age of 91. Louise was a talented sculptress and an artist, and several of her sculptures remain today. (more...)




Portrait of Mary of Teck

Mary of Teck (1867–1953) was Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Empress of India as the consort of King-Emperor George V. At the age of 24 she was betrothed to Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, the heir to the British throne, but six weeks after the engagement was announced he unexpectedly died of pneumonia. The following year she became engaged to the new heir, Albert Victor's brother, George. As his queen consort from 1910, she supported her husband through World War I, his ill health, and major political changes arising from the aftermath of the war and the rise of socialism and nationalism. After George's death in 1936, her eldest son Edward became King-Emperor, but to her dismay he abdicated the same year in order to marry twice-divorced American socialite Mrs. Wallis Simpson. She supported her second son, Albert, who succeeded to the throne as George VI, until his death in 1952. She died the following year, at the beginning of the reign of her granddaughter, Elizabeth II. Queen Mary was known for setting the tone of the British Royal Family, as a model of regal formality and propriety, especially during state occasions. (more...)




Queen Mary II of England, after a painting by William Wissing

Mary II reigned as Queen of England and Ireland from 13 February 1689 until her death, and as Queen of Scotland (technically as Mary II of Scotland) from 11 April 1689 until her death. Mary, a Protestant, came to the throne following the Glorious Revolution, which resulted in the deposition of her Roman Catholic father, James II. Mary reigned jointly with her husband and first cousin, William III, who became the sole ruler upon her death. Popular histories usually know the joint reign as that of "William and Mary". Mary, although a sovereign in her own right, did not wield actual power during most of her reign. She did, however, govern the realm when her husband was abroad fighting wars.




A stained glass window showing the death of Penda of Mercia

Penda was a 7th-century King of Mercia, a kingdom in what is today the English Midlands. A pagan at a time when Christianity was taking hold in many of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Penda participated in the defeat of the powerful Northumbrian king Edwin at the Battle of Hatfield Chase in 633; nine years later, he defeated and killed Edwin's eventual successor, Oswald, at the Battle of Maserfield. From this point he was probably the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon rulers of the time; he defeated the East Angles, drove the king of Wessex into exile for three years, and continued to wage war against the Bernicians of Northumbria. Thirteen years after Maserfield, he suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of the Winwaed in the course of a final campaign against the Bernicians and was killed.




Hannah de Rothschild

Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery was the daughter of Baron Mayer de Rothschild and his wife Juliana, née Cohen. On the death of her father in 1874 she became the richest woman in Britain. Her husband, the 5th Earl of Rosebery, was, during the final quarter of the nineteenth century, one of the most celebrated figures in Britain, an influential millionaire and politician, whose charm, wit, charisma and public popularity gave him such standing that he "almost eclipsed royalty". Her marriage into the aristocracy, while controversial at the time, gave her the social cachet in an anti-Semitic society that her vast fortune could not. She subsequently became a political hostess and philanthropist. Her charitable work was principally in the sphere of public health and causes associated with the welfare of working class Jewish women living in the poorer districts of London. Having firmly assisted and supported her husband on his path to political greatness, she suddenly died in 1890, aged 39, leaving him to achieve, bewildered and without her support, the political destiny which she had plotted alone. His premiership of the United Kingdom was shambolic, and lasted barely a year. (more...)




Hugh Douglas Hamilton portrait of Charlotte Stuart

Charlotte Stuart (1753–1789) was the illegitimate daughter of the Jacobite pretender Prince Charles Edward Stuart, and his only child to survive infancy. Her mother was Clementina Walkinshaw, who was mistress to the Prince from 1752 until 1760. After years of abuse, Clementina left him, taking Charlotte with her. Charlotte spent most of her life in French convents, estranged from a father who refused to make any provision for her. Unable to marry, she herself became a mistress with illegitimate children, taking the Archbishop of Bordeaux as her lover. She was finally reconciled to her father in 1784, when he legitimised her and created her Duchess of Albany. She left her own children with her mother, and became her father's carer and companion in the last years of his life, before dying less than two years after him. Her three children were raised in anonymity; however, as the only grandchildren of the pretender, they have been the subject of Jacobite interest since their lineage was uncovered in the 20th century. (more...)




Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom

Victoria was a Queen of the United Kingdom, reigning from 20 June 1837 until her death. Her reign lasted more than sixty-three years—longer than any other British monarch. As well as being Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, she was also the first monarch to use the title Empress of India. The reign of Victoria was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. The Victorian Era was at the height of the Industrial Revolution, a period of great social, economic, and technological change in the United Kingdom. Victoria was the last monarch of the House of Hanover; her successor belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. (more...)




Wallis Simpson in 1970

Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, was the American wife of Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor. After two unsuccessful marriages, she allegedly became the mistress of Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1934. Two years later, after the prince's accession as King-Emperor of the British Empire, he proposed marriage. The monarch's desire to wed a twice-divorced American, with two living ex-husbands and a reputation as an opportunist, caused a constitutional crisis in the United Kingdom and the Dominions, which ultimately led to the king's abdication in order to marry "the woman I love". After the abdication, the former king was created Duke of Windsor by his brother, George VI; Edward married Wallis six months later. Following her marriage, she was formally known as the Duchess of Windsor, without the style "Her Royal Highness". Before, during and after World War II, the Windsors were suspected by many in government and society of being Nazi sympathisers. In the 1950s and 1960s, she and the duke shuttled between Europe and the United States, living a life of leisure as society celebrities. After his death in 1972, the duchess lived in seclusion and was rarely seen in public. Her private life has been a source of much speculation, and she remains a controversial figure in British history. (more...)




William III of England

William III of England (1650–1702) was the Prince of Orange, Stadtholder of the main provinces of the Dutch Republic, and King of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Born a member of the House of Orange-Nassau, William III won the English, Scottish and Irish crowns following the Glorious Revolution, in which his uncle and father-in-law, James II, was deposed. In England, Scotland and Ireland, William ruled jointly with his wife, Mary II, until her death in 1694. A Protestant, William participated in several wars against the powerful Catholic King Louis XIV of France in coalition with Protestant and Catholic powers in Europe. Many Protestants heralded him as a champion of their faith. Largely due to that reputation, William was able to take the British crowns where many were fearful of a revival of Catholicism under James. William's victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is commemorated by the Orange Institution in Northern Ireland to this day. His reign marked the beginning of the transition from the personal rule of the Stuarts to the more Parliament-centered rule of the House of Hanover. (more...)




William IV

William IV (1765–1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death. William, the third son of George III and younger brother and successor to George IV, was the last king and penultimate monarch of the House of Hanover. He served in the Royal Navy in his youth and was, both during his reign and afterwards, nicknamed the Sailor King. He served in North America and the Caribbean, but saw little actual fighting. Since his two older brothers died with no surviving legitimate issue, he inherited the throne when he was sixty-four years old. His reign saw several reforms: the poor law was updated, child labour restricted, slavery abolished throughout the British Empire, and the Reform Act 1832 refashioned the British electoral system. Though William did not engage in politics as much as his brother or his father, he was the last monarch to appoint a Prime Minister contrary to the will of Parliament. At his death William had no surviving legitimate children, though he was survived by eight of the ten illegitimate children he had by the popular actress, Dorothea Bland. He was succeeded in the United Kingdom by his niece, Victoria, and in Hanover by his brother, Ernest Augustus. (more...)




Wulfhere (died 675) was King of Mercia from the end of the 650s until 675. He was the first Christian king of all of Mercia, though it is not known when or how he was converted. His accession marked the end of Oswiu of Northumbria's overlordship of southern England, and Wulfhere extended his influence over much of that region. His campaigns against the West Saxons led to Mercian supremacy over much of the Thames valley. He conquered the Isle of Wight and the Meon valley and gave them to King Æthelwealh of the South Saxons. He married Eormenhild, the daughter of King Eorcenberht of Kent. He was effectively the overlord of Britain south of the Humber from the early 660s, although not overlord of Northumbria as his father had been. In 674, he challenged Oswiu's son Ecgfrith of Northumbria, but was defeated. He died, probably of disease, in 675. (more...)




A. E. J. Collins was a cricketer and soldier, most famous for his achievement, as a schoolboy, of the highest-ever recorded score in cricket, 628 not out, over four afternoons in June 1899. Collins' record-making innings drew a large crowd and increasing media interest: spectators at the Old Cliftonian match being played nearby were drawn away to watch a junior school house cricket match. Collins joined the British Army in 1902. He studied at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, before becoming an officer in the Royal Engineers. He served in France during World War I, where he was killed in action in 1914.




Damon Hill at French Gran-Prix in 1995

Damon Hill is a retired British racing driver and the 1996 Formula One World Champion. The son of the late, two time Formula One world champion Graham Hill, he is the only son of a world champion to win the title himself. Hill started his Formula One career with the Brabham team in 1992. He went on to take his first win at the 1993 Hungarian Grand Prix for the Williams team, the first of 22 victories, of which 21 were for Williams. In 1994 he won the British Grand Prix, a race his father had never won during his own career. In the mid 1990s, Hill was Michael Schumacher's main rival for the Formula One Driver's Championship, finishing runner-up in the German's 1994 and 1995 title seasons. The two had a series of controversial clashes on and off track, including the famous collision at Adelaide in 1994 that gave Schumacher his first title by a single point. Hill was dropped by Williams for 1997 despite taking eight victories and winning his world championship in 1996. He went on to record the Jordan team's first ever win at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix, and came within a few miles of being the only driver to win a Grand Prix for the Arrows team and their Yamaha engine supplier at the 1997 Hungarian Grand Prix. (More...)




Douglas Jardine in 1932

Douglas Jardine (1900–1958) was an English cricketer and captain of the England cricket team from 1931 to 1933–34. A right-handed batsman, he played 22 Test matches for England, captaining the side in 15 of those matches, winning nine, losing one and drawing five. Jardine is best known for captaining the English team during the 1932–33 Ashes tour of Australia, in which his team employed Bodyline tactics against Donald Bradman and other opposing Australian batsmen. A controversial figure among cricketers, Jardine was well known for his dislike of Australian players and crowds and was unpopular in Australia, particularly for his manner and especially so after the Bodyline tour. He retired from all first-class cricket in 1934 following a tour to India. Jardine was a qualified solicitor but did not work much in law, working in banking and, later on, journalism. He joined the Territorial Army in the Second World War, most of which he spent in India. After the war, he worked as a secretary to a paper manufacturer and returned to journalism. While on a business trip in 1957, he became ill with what proved to be lung cancer and died aged 57 in 1958. (more...)




William McGregor

William McGregor (1846–1911) was an association football administrator in the Victorian era, who is regarded as the founder of the Football League, the first organised football league in the world. After moving from Perthshire to Birmingham to set up business as a draper, McGregor became involved with local football club Aston Villa, which he helped to establish as one of the leading teams in England. He served the club for over twenty years in various capacities, including president, director and chairman. In 1888, frustrated by the regular cancellation of Villa's matches, McGregor organised a meeting of representatives of England's leading clubs, which led to the formation of the Football League, giving member clubs a guaranteed fixture list each season. This was instrumental in the transition of football from an amateur pastime to a professional business. McGregor served as both chairman and president of the Football League and was also chairman of the Football Association (the FA). He was recognised by the FA for his service to the game shortly before his death in 1911, and was posthumously honoured by the local football authorities and Aston Villa. (more...)




Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen (born 1980) is an English international cricketer who plays domestic cricket for Hampshire County Cricket Club. Born in South Africa, Pietersen made his first-class debut for Natal. In 2001, he moved to England, joining Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, to further his opportunities to play at international level, after voicing his displeasure at the racial quota system in place in South Africa. He qualified to play for England in 2004, making his One Day International (ODI) debut in November, and his Test match debut in the 2005 Ashes series. The attacking right-handed batsman and occasional off spin bowler became the fastest batsman to reach both 1,000 and 2,000 runs in ODI cricket, and has the highest average of any England player to have played more than 20 innings of one-day cricket. In July 2008, after a century against South Africa, The Times called him "the most complete batsman in cricket". He was appointed England captain in August 2008 but resigned in January 2009, after just three Tests and nine ODIs, following a dispute with England coach Peter Moores. Pietersen has the second highest run-total from his first 25 Tests and was only the fourth player in history to score 1,000 Test runs in three consecutive calendar years. (more...)




Bobby Robson

Bobby Robson is a former English football manager and former international football player. As an inside forward, his professional playing career spanned nearly 20 years during which he played for just three clubs, Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and Vancouver Royals. He also made 20 appearances for England, scoring four goals. He was most recently a mentor to the manager of the Irish national football team. He achieved success as both a club and international manager, having won league championships in both the Netherlands and Portugal, earning trophies in England and Spain, and taking England to the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup. Robson was knighted in 2002, is a member of the English Football Hall of Fame and is the honorary president of Ipswich Town. He has, since 1991, had recurrent medical problems with cancer, and in May 2007 revealed that he had cancerous nodules in his lungs: he vowed to "battle as I've always done" against the illness. (more...)




John Wark in Aalesund in 2006

John Wark (born 1957) is a Scottish former footballer who spent most of his playing time with Ipswich Town. He won a record four Player of the Year awards before becoming one of the four inaugural members of the club's Hall of Fame. Wark had long spells at the club, at both the start and end of his career, and a third, brief interlude dividing his briefer periods at Liverpool and Middlesbrough. A versatile player, Wark played most of his professional games as a midfielder, although he sometimes played as a central defender and on occasion as a striker. Born in Glasgow, Wark represented Scotland in international football, winning 29 caps and scoring seven goals. This included selection for Scotland in the 1982 FIFA World Cup in which he made three appearances and scored twice. During his playing career, Wark appeared in the film Escape to Victory. Since retiring as a professional player in 1996, he has continued to work for Ipswich Town—since April 2009 in the corporate hospitality department. His autobiography was published in 2009. (more...)




Andrew Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope

Andrew Cunningham was a British admiral of the Second World War. He attended several schools and colleges before he was enrolled at a Naval Academy, at the age of 10, where his association with the Navy started. After passing out of Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in 1898, he progressed rapidly in rank. He commanded a destroyer during the First World War and through most of the interwar period. For his performance during this time he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and two Bars, specifically for his actions in the Dardanelles and in the Baltics. In the Second World War, as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, Cunningham led British naval forces in several critical Mediterranean naval battles. These included the attack on Taranto in 1940, the first all-aircraft naval attack in history, and the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941. Cunningham was also responsible for the on-going struggle to supply Malta and oversight of the naval support for the various major Allied landings in the Mediterranean littoral. In 1943, Cunningham was promoted to First Sea Lord, a position he held until his retirement in 1946. (more...)




Francis Harvey

Francis Harvey (1873–1916) was an officer of the British Royal Marine Light Infantry during the First World War. Harvey was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour available to British military personnel, for his actions at the height of the Battle of Jutland. A long serving Royal Marine officer descended of a military family, during his career Harvey became a specialist in naval artillery, serving on many large warships as gunnery training officer and gun commander. Specially requested for HMS Lion, the flagship of the British battlecruiser fleet, Harvey turned the ship into one of the very best ships for gunnery in the Royal Navy. At Jutland Harvey, although mortally wounded by German shellfire, ordered the blazing magazine of Q turret on the battlecruiser Lion to be flooded. This action prevented the hundreds of shells stored there from catastrophically detonating in an explosion that would have destroyed the vessel and all aboard her. Although he succumbed to his injuries seconds later, his dying act saved over a thousand lives and prompted Winston Churchill to later comment: "In the long, rough, glorious history of the Royal Marines there is no name and no deed which in its character and consequences ranks above this". (more...)




Hastings Ismay

Hastings Ismay (1887–1965) was a British soldier and diplomat, remembered primarily for his role as Winston Churchill's chief military assistant during World War II and his service as the head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the 1950s. After serving with the Camel Corps during World War I, Ismay became an Assistant Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, he became the Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence and began planning for the impending war. In May 1940, when Churchill became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, he selected Ismay as his chief military assistant and staff officer. In that capacity, Ismay served as the principal link between Churchill and the Chiefs of Staff Committee. He also accompanied Churchill to many of the Allied war conferences. After the war, Ismay remained in the British Armed Forces and helped reorganise the Ministry of Defence. When Churchill again became Prime Minister in 1951, he appointed Ismay Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. Six months later, Ismay resigned to become the first Secretary General of NATO. He served as Secretary General from 1952 to 1957. After retiring from NATO, Ismay wrote his memoirs, The Memoirs of General Lord Ismay. (more...)




Murray Maxwell

Murray Maxwell (1775–1831) was a British Royal Navy officer who served with distinction in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, particularly during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Maxwell first gained recognition as one of the British captains involved in the successful Adriatic campaign of 1807–1814, during which he was responsible for the destruction of a French armaments convoy at the Action of 29 November 1811. As a result of further success in the Mediterranean, Maxwell was given increasingly important commissions and, despite the loss of his ship HMS Daedalus off Ceylon in 1813, was specially selected to escort the British Ambassador to China in 1816. The voyage to China subsequently became famous when Maxwell's ship HMS Alceste was wrecked in the Gaspar Strait, and he and his crew became stranded on a nearby island. The marooned sailors suffered from shortages of food and were repeatedly attacked by Malay pirates, but thanks to Maxwell's leadership no lives were lost. Eventually rescued by an Honourable East India Company ship, the party returned to Britain as popular heroes, Maxwell being especially commended. He was knighted for his services, and made a brief and unsuccessful foray into politics before resuming his naval career. In 1831 Maxwell was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island, but fell ill and died before he could take up the post. (more...)




Arthur Ernest Percival in December 1941

Arthur Ernest Percival was a British Army officer and World War I hero. He built a successful military career during the interwar period but is most noted for his involvement in World War II, when he commanded the forces of the British Commonwealth during the Battle of Malaya and the subsequent Battle of Singapore. Percival's surrender to a smaller invading Imperial Japanese Army force was and remains the largest capitulation in British military history, and it fatally undermined Britain's prestige as an imperial power in the Far East. However, years of under-funding of Malaya's defences combined with the inexperienced, under-equipped nature of the Commonwealth army make it possible to hold a more sympathetic view of his command. (more...)




Ronald Niel Stuart

Ronald Niel Stuart (1886–1954) was a British Merchant Navy commodore and Royal Navy captain who was highly commended following extensive and distinguished service at sea over a period of more than 35 years. During World War I he received the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Order, the French Croix de Guerre avec Palmes and the United States' Navy Cross for a series of daring operations he conducted while serving in the Royal Navy during the First Battle of the Atlantic. Stuart's Victoria Cross was awarded following a ballot by the men under his command. This unusual method of selection was used after the Admiralty Board was unable to choose which members of the crew deserved the honour after a desperate engagement between a Q-ship and a German submarine off the Irish coast. His later career included command of the liner RMS Empress of Britain and the management of the London office of a major transatlantic shipping company. Following his retirement in 1951, Stuart moved into his sister's cottage in Kent and died three years later. A sometimes irascible man, he was reportedly embarrassed by any fuss surrounding his celebrity and was known to exclaim "Mush!" at any demonstration of strong emotion. (more...)