J.K.Rowling OBE

imageBest known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series, the British novelist Joanne “Jo” Rowling, OBE, (J. K. Rowling) was born 31 July 1965. The Harry Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies to become the best-selling book series in history and been the basis for a popular series of films, in which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts as well as maintaining creative control by serving as a producer on the final instalment. Rowling conceived the idea for the series on a train trip from Manchester to London in 1990.

In 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on an old manual typewriter. Upon the enthusiastic response of Bryony Evens, a reader who had been asked to review the book’s first three chapters. Then In June 1997 Bloomsbury, a small Publishing house in London, published Philosopher’s Stone with an initial print run of 1,000 copies, 500 of which were distributed to libraries. In early 1998, an auction was held in the United States for the rights to publish the novel, and was won by Scholastic Inc for $1. Five months later, the book won its first award, a Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. In February, the novel won the prestigious British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year, and later, the Children’s Book Award.

In October 1998, Scholastic published Philosopher’s Stone in the US under the title of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: a change Rowling claims she now regrets and would have fought if she had been in a better position at the time. Its’ sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published in July 1998 and again Rowling won the Smarties Prize. In December 1999, the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, won the Smarties Prize, making Rowling the first person to win the award three times running. She later withdrew the fourth Harry Potter novel from contention to allow other books a fair chance. In January 2000, Prisoner of Azkaban won the inaugural Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year award, though it lost the Book of the Year prize to Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf. The fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released simultaneously in the UK and the U.S. on 8 July 2000, and broke sales records in both countries, almost equalling the number Prisoner of Azkaban sold during its first year and Rowling was named author of the year in the 2000 British Book Awards.the fifth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released three years later and The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was released on 16 July 2005. It too broke all sales records, selling nine million copies in its first 24 hours of release, and In 2006, Half-Blood Prince received the Book of the Year prize at the British Book Awards.

imageThe seventh and final Harry Potter book is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on 21 July 2007 and broke its predecessor’s record as the fastest-selling book of all time and sold 11 million copies in the first day of release in the United Kingdom and United States.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 and have also gained recognition for sparking an interest in reading among the young at a time when children were thought to be abandoning books for computers and television. Time magazine also named her as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named ‘Most Influential Woman in Britain’ by leading magazine editors. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, and Lumos (formerly the Children’s High Level Group).

Rowling has also published a number of books in the Hogwarts world, like Beadle the Bard and Fabulous Beasts and How to spot them by Newt Scamander, and has also written novels outside the magical world of Hogwarts. Including The Casual Vacancy was published 2012 and is about a group of disparate characters and the seething tensions that lie beneath a seemingly idyllic village. and it was also revealed that the crime thriller novel The Cookoo’s Calling, written by Robert Galbraith shared certain similarities with J.K Rowling novels leading to all kinds of speculation. Robert Galbraith’s second novel “The Silkworm” has also been released in Paperback and it continues the exciting adventures of former soldier turned Private Investigator Cormeron Strike.

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Bill Berry (REM)

LRP-REMBill Berry the drummer with Alternative Rock Band R.E.M was born 31st August 1958. REM First emerged in 1980s from the college radio scene, and at first they were scrappy and lo-fi, abrasive but somehow beautiful, and the development of this sound helped them become bona-fide stadium-fillers later on in their their career. They played their first gig in a church on 5 April 1980 under the name of Twisted Kites, and they played with a mixture of post-punk poise and jangly guitars which made them seem simultaneously cutting-edge and a romantic reminder of rock’s past and they soon became popular. Their music was influenced by their small-town surroundings and is closer to real life stating that “It’s great just to bring out an emotion… better to make someone feel nostalgic or wistful or excited or sad.”

Commercially speaking, their breakthrough came when they released the single “The One I Love” which was taken from the 1987 Album “Document”. The next single “Freaks” saw REM outgrow the university centred underground music scene which had so-far sustained them, and they hit the big time, and Their next release 1988′s “Green” was released by a major label and was seen by many as their true peak. Lyrically, the album saw the band dealing with a number of important issues – World leader Pretend is a deft criticism of the remote ruling classes, while Pop Song ’89 tackles claims the band had sold out by purporting to be, in Stipe’s words, “the prototype of, and hopefully the end of, a pop song”.The next album “Out of Time” proved to be an even bigger hit. Featuring the career-defining singles Losing My Religion, which some regard to be the touchstone of alternative rock and Shiny Happy People, featuring fellow Athenian Kate Pierson from the B52′s. With this album it seems that The band were aiming to make a massively successful, mainstream record without embarrassing, or compromising, themselves – They certainly succeeded.

Michael Stipe’s inner demons also came to the fore In the next album, 1992′s Automatic For The People, which is A more sombre, reflective album that features string arrangements by Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. This album was also to yeild some wonderful songs like “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight” and “Everybody Hurts”.The band’s next two albums Monster and New Adventures In Hi-Fi were largely recorded live – some tracks taken from soundchecks taken during the massive stadium tour, and featured some new classics, such as Let Me In, a tribute to the recently deceased Kurt Cobain.Unfortunately drummer Bill Berry suffered a brain aneurysm and quit the band in 1997, and things never quite returned to the giddy heights of “Out of Time” and Moments of brilliance, such as The Great Beyond or Imitation Of Life, became less frequently. Leading some band members to pursue side-projects, Stipe increasingly pusued his film work,while Peter Buck concentrated more on his country supergroup Tired Pony.

Despite this REM continued to be unbeatable live performers to the end and their final album, Collapse Into Now, was hailed, like many of its predecessors, as a return to form. Certainly, the band sounded rejuvenated and a lot more energetic than on some of the previous work which was released in the mid-2000s. In addition They also recently re-released an earlier album ”Lifes Rich Pageant” which is also a great album.On November 14th 2011 , REM released a definitive greatest hits Double CD album, entitled: “R.E.M., PART LIES, PART HEART, PART TRUTH, PART GARBAGE, 1982 – 2011. ″ through Warner Bros, the album contained tracks from the band’s entire back catalogue, including tracks from both the IRS and Warner years plus three brand-new songs, as a final farewell.

Peter Benenson

British lawyer and the founder of human rights group Amnesty International Peter Benenson was born 31 July 1921. Benenson was tutored privately by W. H. Auden before going to Eton. At the age of sixteen he helped to establish a relief fund with other schoolboys for children orphaned by the Spanish Civil War. He took his mother’s maiden name of Benenson as a tribute to his grandfather, the Russian gold tycoon Grigori Benenson, following his grandfather’s death.He enrolled for study at Balliol College, Oxford but World War II interrupted his education. From 1941 to 1945, Benenson worked at Bletchley Park, the British codebreaking centre, in the “Testery”, a section tasked with breaking German teleprinter ciphers.It was at this time when he met his first wife, Margaret Anderson. After demobilisation in 1946,

Benenson began practising as a barrister before joining the Labour Party and standing unsuccessfully for election. He was one of a group of British lawyers who founded JUSTICE in 1957, the UK-based human rights and law reform organisation. In 1958 he fell ill and moved to Italy in order to convalesce. In the same year he converted to the Roman Catholic Church.In 1961 Benenson was shocked and angered by a newspaper report of two Portuguese students from Coimbra sentenced to seven years in prison for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom during the autocratic regime of António de Oliveira Salazar – the Estado Novo. In 1961, Portugal ruled by the authoritarian Estado Novo regime, and anti-regime conspiracies were vigorously repressed by the Portuguese state police and deemed anti-Portuguese. He wrote to David Astor, editor of The Observer. On 28 May, Benenson’s article, entitled “The Forgotten Prisoners”, was published. The letter asked readers to write letters showing support for the students.

To co-ordinate such letter-writing campaigns, Amnesty International was founded in London in July 1961 at a meeting of Benenson and six other men, which included a Tory, a Liberal and a Labour MP.The response was so overwhelming that within a year groups of letter-writers had formed in more than a dozen countries.Initially appointed general secretary of AI, Benenson stood down in 1964 owing to ill health. By 1966, the Amnesty International faced an internal crisis and Benenson alleged that the organization he founded was being infiltrated by British intelligence. The advisory position of president of the International Executive was then created for him. In 1966, he began to make allegations of improper conduct against other members of the executive. An inquiry was set up which reported at Elsinore in Denmark in 1967. The allegations were rejected and Benenson resigned from AI.While never again active in the organization, Benenson was later personally reconciled with other executives, including Seán MacBride and also received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2001. Sadly Benenson passed away 25 February 2005 however his vital work still carries on in the form of Amnesty International.

The Way You Look Tonight by Richard Madeley

imageReaders of the Daily Telegraph can buy  The Way You Look Tonight by Television personality Richard Madeley, which has been newly released in paperback for just £2.99  instead of the usual price of £7.99 when you buy The Telegraph at WHSmiths newsagents between Thursday, July 31 and Wednesday, August 6. The Way you Look Tonight is Madeley’s second novel and follows on from his successful best selling debut novel “Some Day I’ll Find You”.

It concerns a girl named Stella Arnold who learnt some disturbing truths about her father when she was sixteen, and how this seemingly handsome, charming Man turned out to be a cold-blooded, psychotic extortionist, racketeer and killer. Knowing now what her father was capable of, she decides to study psychology and the criminal mind, and to further her education in America. So in the spring of 1962 she flies to Boston where, being beautiful, bright and fashionably English, she becomes someone of huge fascination and on every invitation list. Then comes an invitation one summer weekend to the home of the Kennedys. Stella quickly becomes part of the inner Kennedy circle as they party through the hot summer nights. Both brothers, JFK and Bobby, make their moves on her but she firmly, charmingly, repels them. meanwhile Further south, on the Florida Keys, a killer is on the loose. The case, unsolved, begins to rock America. So Stella, with her specialist knowledge of psychopaths,  is co-opted by the police investigation and prepares to fly south to the Florida Keys.

Sir Clive Sinclair

English entrepreneur and inventor Sir Clive Marles Sinclair was born 30 July 1940. He is most commonly known for. his work in consumer electronics in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Sinclair’s micro Kit was formalised in an exercise book dated 19 June 1958 three weeks before his A-levels. Sinclair drew a radio circuit, Model Mark I, with a components list: cost per set 9/11 (49½p), plus coloured wire and solder, nuts and bolts, plus celluloid chassis (drilled) for nine shillings (45p). Also in the book are advertisement rates for Radio Constructor (9d (3¾p)/word, minimum 6/- (30p) & Practical Wireless (5/6 (27½p) per line or part line). Sinclair estimated producing 1,000 a month, placing orders with suppliers for 10,000 of each component to be delivered. Sinclair wrote a book for Bernard’s Publishing, Practical transistor receivers Book 1, which appeared in January 1959. His practical stereo handbook was published in June 1959 in total he produced 13 constructors’ books and the last book Sinclair wrote as an employee of Bernard’s was Modern Transistor Circuits for Beginners, in 1962.

After spending several years as assistant editor of Practical Wireless and Instrument Practice, Sinclair founded Sinclair Radionics in 1961, His original choice, Sinclair Electronics, was taken; Sinclair Radio was available but did not sound right. Sinclair Radionics was formed on 25 July 1961.Sinclair made two attempts to raise startup capital to advertise his inventions and buy components. He designed PCB kits and licensed some technology. Then he took his design for a miniature transistor pocket radio and sought a backer for its production in kit form. Eventually he found someone who agreed to buy 55% of his company for £3,000 but the deal did not go through. Sinclair, unable to find capital, joined United Trade Press (UTP) as technical editor of Instrument Practice. Sinclair appeared in the publication as an assistant editor in March 1962. Sinclair described making silicon planar transistors, their properties and applications and hoped they might be available by the end of 1962. Sinclair’s obsession with miniaturisation became more obvious as his career progressed. Sinclair undertook a survey for Instrument Practice of semiconductor devices, which appeared in four sections between September 1962 and January 1963. His last appearance as assistant editor was in April 1969. Through UTP, Sinclair had access to thousands of devices from 36 manufacturers. He contacted Semiconductors Ltd (who at that time sold semiconductors made by Plessey) and ordered rejects to repair. He produced a design for a miniature radio powered by a couple of hearing aid cells and made a deal with Semiconductors to buy its micro-alloy transistors at 6d (2½p) each in boxes of 10,000. He then carried out his own quality control tests, and marketed his renamed MAT 100 and 120 at 7s 9d (38¾p) and 101 and 121 at 8s 6d (42½p). He also produced the first slim-line electronic pocket calculator in 1972 (the Sinclair Executive).

In 1973 Sinclair moved into the production of home computers and formed another company, initially called Ablesdeal Ltd. This changed name several times, eventually becoming Science of Cambridge Ltd, and In 1978 they Launched a microcomputer kit, the MK14, based on the National SC/MP chip. By July 1978, a personal computer project was under way. When Sinclair learned the NewBrain could not be sold at below £100 as he envisaged, he turned to a simpler computer. In May 1979 Jim Westwood started the ZX80 project at Science of Cambridge; it was launched in February 1980 the UK’s first mass-market home computer for less than GB£100, at £79.95 in kit form and £99.95 ready-built. In November, Science of Cambridge was renamed Sinclair Computers Ltd.In March 1981, Sinclair Computers was renamed again as Sinclair Research Ltd and the Sinclair ZX81 was launched at £49.95 in kit form and £69.95 ready-built, by mail order, and it is widely recognised for its importance in the early days of the British home computer industry.In February 1982 Timex obtained a license to manufacture and market Sinclair’s computers in the United States under the name Timex Sinclair. In April the ZX Spectrum was launched at £125 for the 16 kB RAM version and £175 for the 48 kB version. In March 1982 the company made an £8.55 million profit on turnover of £27.17 million, including £383,000 government grants for the TV80 flat-screen portable television.In 1982 Sinclair converted the Barker & Wadsworth mineral water bottling factory into the company’s headquarters. (This was sold to Cambridgeshire County Council in December 1985 owing to Sinclair’s financial troubles.)

The following year, he received his knighthood and formed Sinclair Vehicles Ltd. to develop electric vehicles. This resulted in the 1985 Sinclair C5. In 1984, Sinclair launched the Sinclair QL computer, intended for professional users. Development of the ZX Spectrum continued with the enhanced ZX Spectrum 128 in 1985 . In April 1986, Sinclair Research sold the Sinclair trademark and computer business to Amstrad for £5 million. Sinclair Research Ltd. was reduced to an R&D business and holding company, with shareholdings in several spin-off companies, formed to exploit technologies developed by the company. These included Anamartic Ltd. (wafer-scale integration), Shaye Communications Ltd. (CT2 mobile telephony) and Cambridge Computer Ltd. (Z88 portable computer and satellite TV receivers). By 1990, Sinclair Research consisted of Sinclair and two other employees, and its activities have since concentrated on personal transport, the Zike electric bicycle, Zeta bicycle motor and the A-bike folding bicycle for commuters, which weighs 5.5 kilograms (12 lb) and folds down small enough to be carried on public transport.

Emily Bronte

WH-EBBest remembered for her classic novel, Wuthering Heights, the English novelist Emily Brontë was born 30th july1818 in Thornton, near Bradford in Yorkshire She was the third eldest of the four surviving Brontë siblings, between the youngest Anne and her brother Branwell. She published under the pen name Ellis Bell, and was the younger sister of Charlotte Brontë and the fifth of six children? After the death of their mother in 1821, when Emily was three years old, the older sisters Maria, Elizabeth and Charlotte were sent to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge, where they encountered abuse and privations later described by Charlotte in Jane Eyre. Emily joined the school for a brief period. When a typhus epidemic swept the school, Maria and Elizabeth caught it. Maria, who may actually have had tuberculosis, was sent home, where she died. Emily was subsequently removed from the school along with Charlotte and Elizabeth. Sadly Elizabeth died soon after their return home.From then on The three remaining sisters and their brother Patrick Branwell were educated at home by their father and aunt Elizabeth Branwell, their mother’s sister. In their leisure time the children created a number of fantasy worlds, which were featured in stories they wrote and enacted about the imaginary adventures of their toy soldiers along with the Duke of Wellington and his sons, Charles and Arthur Wellesley.When Emily was 13, she and Anne began a story about Gondal, a large island in the North Pacific. With the exception of Emily’sGondal poems and Anne’s lists of Gondal’s characters and place-names, their writings on Gondal were not preserved. Some “diary papers” of Emily’s have survived in which she describes current events in Gondal, some of which were written, others enacted with Anne. One dates from 1841, when Emily was twenty-three: another from 1845, when she was twenty-seven. At seventeen, Emily attended the Roe Head girls’ school, where Charlotte was a teacher, but managed to stay only three months before being overcome by extreme homesickness. She returned home and Anne took her place. At this time, the girls’ objective was to obtain sufficient education to open a small school of their own.in September 1838 Emily became a teacher at Law Hill School in Halifax, Unfortuntely when she was twenty. Her health broke under the stress of the 17-hour work day and she returned home in April 1839. Thereafter she became the stay-at-home daughter, doing most of the cooking and cleaning and teaching Sunday school

In 1842, Emily accompanied Charlotte to Brussels, Belgium, where they attended a girls’ academy run by Constantin Heger. They planned to perfect their French and German in anticipation of opening their school.In 1844, Emily began going through all the poems she had written, recopying them neatly into two notebooks. One was labelled “Gondal Poems”; the other was unlabelled. Scholars such as Fannie Ratchford and Derek Roper have attempted to piece together a Gondal storyline and chronology from these poems. In the autumn of 1845, Charlotte discovered the notebooks and insisted that the poems be published. Emily, furious at the invasion of her privacy, at first refused, but relented when Anne brought out her own manuscripts and revealed she had been writing poems in secret as well.In 1846, the sisters’ poems were published in one volume as Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. The Brontë sisters had adopted pseudonyms for publication: Charlotte was Currer Bell, Emily was Ellis Bell and Anne was Acton Bell. Charlotte wrote in the “Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell” that their “ambiguous choice” was “dictated by a sort of conscientious scruple at assuming Christian names positively masculine, while we did not like to declare ourselves women, because we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked onwith prejudice.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsq8LLQRI6w

In 1847, Emily published her novel, Wuthering Heights, as two volumes of a three-volume set (the last volume being Agnes Grey by her sister Anne). Its innovative structure somewhat puzzled critics at the time, and Although it is considered a classic of English literature today, Wuthering Heights met with mixed reviews and controversy when it first appeared, mainly because of the narrative’s stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty and amoral passion,It takes place at a Yorkshire manor on the moors and centres on the all-encompassing, passionate, but ultimately doomed love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and the people around them.and the book subsequently became an English literary classic.Although Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was generally considered the best of the Brontë sisters’ works during most of the nineteenth century, many subsequent critics of Wuthering Heights argued that it was a superior achievement. Wuthering Heights has also given rise to many adaptations and inspired works, including films, radio, television dramatisations, a musical by Bernard J. Taylor, a ballet, three operas (respectively by Bernard Herrmann, Carlisle Floyd, and Frédéric Chaslin), a role-playing game, and the 1978 chart topping song by Kate Bush

Sadly Emily’s health, like her sisters’, had been weakened by unsanitary conditions at home, the source of water being contaminated by runoff from the church’s graveyard.She became sick during her brother’s funeral in September 1848. Though her condition worsened steadily, she rejected medical help and all proffered remedies, saying that she would have “no poisoning doctor” near her. She eventually died of tuberculosis, on 19 December 1848 at around two in the afternoon. She was interred in the Church of St. Michael and All Angels family vault, Haworth, West Yorkshire.

Heresy by S.J.Parris

imageI am currently reading the historical epic “Heresy” by S.J.Parris. Heresy” is set in Oxford in the mid-1580’s, with a prologue set about ten years earlier in Naples. The main character, Giordano Bruno, a “monk, scientist, philosopher, and magician”, begins questioning the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church a little too deeply – particularly in regard to Copernicus’s beliefs about the earth revolving around the sun, rather than vise-versa – and is forced to leave his monastery at San Domenico Maggiore before the Inquisition arrive or face certain death.

He works his way to England as a “travelling scholar” and finds himself in Oxford, where he gets involved with the Queens Spymaster Francis Walsingham to help expose Catholics still worshiping in secret. Even though Elizabeth has been on the throne for thirty years or so and the English church is well established, her government is afraid of Catholic elements championing her cousin, Catholic Mary, Queen of Scotland, as the REAL ruler of England and England is still rife with plots to assassinate Queen Elizabeth.

Bruno comes to Oxford, to the close knit Lincoln Collage, only to discover that some scholars at Lincoln have been killed in rather gruesome and macabre ways, so Bruno decides to investigate and discovers a web of intrigue, with various personalities always present “in college”, as well as various religious factions, and discovers that very few people are who they say they are or follow the religions they profess to practice and discovers that the Tudor throne itself could be at stake…