Mark Twain

American Author Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)Twain sadly passed away April 21 1910. he was Born November 30, in 1835. he is Most noted for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “the Great American Novel.” Mark Twain was born during a visit by Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it” as well. he grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

At first He apprenticed with a printer. Where He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion’s newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. He then turned to journalism and while a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, which became very popular and brought nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling.

Twain began his career writing light, humorous verse, but evolved into a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies and murderous acts of mankind. At mid-career, with Huckleberry Finn, he combined rich humour, sturdy narrative and social criticism. Twain was a master at rendering colloquial speech which helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Many of Twain’s works have been suppressed at times for various reasons. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has repeatedly been restricted in American high schools, for its frequent use of words now considered racist which were in common usage in the pre-Civil War period in which the novel was set. Although He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker, with his wit and satire earning him praise from presidents, artists, industrialists, European royalty, critics and peers alike, he lacked financial acumen, and although he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures,and was often forced to declare bankruptcy.

Twain’s first important work, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” was first published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865. Next, he was commissioned to write letters about his travel experiences, chronicling his experiences with his burlesque humour. The first journey he took was to ride the steamer Ajax in its maiden voyage to Hawaii. These humorous letters proved the genesis to his work with the San Francisco Alta California newspaper, which designated him a traveling correspondent for a trip from San Francisco to New York City via the Panama isthmus. This trip resulted in The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrims’ Progress. This is a record of a pleasure trip, written as If it were a record of a solemn scientific expedition having the gravity, profundity, and impressive incomprehensibility which are so proper to works of that kind.

In 1872, Twain published a second piece of travel literature, Roughing It, as a semi-sequel to Innocents. This was a semi-autobiographical account of Twain’s journey to Nevada and his subsequent life in the American West. The book lampoons American and Western society in the same way that Innocents critiqued the various countries of Europe and the Middle East. Twain’s next work. Entitled The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today was not a travel piece, as his previous two books had been, it focused more on the events of the day in American society, and was his first attempt at writing a novel. The book is also notable because it is Twain’s only collaboration; it was written with his neighbor Charles Dudley Warner. Twain’s next two works drew on his experiences on the Mississippi River. Old Times on the Mississippi, was a series of sketches published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1875, which featured Twain’s disillusionment with Romanticism. It eventually became the starting point for Life on the Mississippi.

Twain’s next major publication was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which drew on his youth in Hannibal. Modelled on Twain as a child, with traces of two schoolmates, John Briggs and Will Bowen. The book also introduced Huckleberry Finn, based on Twain’s boyhood friend Tom Blankenship. His next book, The Prince and the Pauper, was not as well received. It Tells the story of two boys born on the same day who are physically identical, who switch places. Pauper was Twain’s first attempt at historical fiction, and blame for its shortcomings is usually put on Twain for having not been experienced enough in English society, and also on the fact that it was produced after a massive hit. Twain’s next major published work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, solidified him as a noteworthy American writer. Some have called it the first Great American Novel, and the book has become required reading in many schools throughout the United States. Huckleberry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and had a more serious tone than its predecessor. The main premise behind Huckleberry Finn is the young boy’s belief in the right thing to do, even though most believed that it was wrong.

Near the completion of Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote Life on the Mississippi, this recounts Twain’s memories and new experiences after a 22-year absence from the Mississippi. Twain’s last work was his autobiography, which he dictated and thought would be most entertaining if he went off on whims and tangents in non-chronological order. Some archivists and compilers have rearranged the biography into more conventional forms, thereby eliminating some of Twain’s humour and the flow of the book. Mark Twains novels remain popular and this  enduring popularity has helped him become one of very few authors publishing new best-selling volumes in all 3 of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer have also both been adapted for film and Television.

Charlotte Brontë

English novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë was born 21 April 1816 in Thornton, Yorkshire in 1816, she was te third of six children, and was the eldest of the three Brontë sisters to survive into adulthood. In August 1824, Charlotte was sent with three of her sisters, Emily, Maria, and Elizabeth, to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire (Charlotte later used the school as the basis for the fictional Lowood School in Jane Eyre).

She and the other surviving children — Branwell, Emily, and Anne – created their own literary fictional worlds, and began chronicling the lives and struggles of the inhabitants of these imaginary kingdoms. Charlotte and Branwell wrote Byronic stories about their imagined country (“Angria”) and Emily and Anne wrote articles and poems about theirs (“Gondal”). The sagas which they created were elaborate and convoluted (and still exist in partial manuscripts) and provided them with an obsessive interest during childhood and early adolescence, which prepared them for their literary vocations in adulthood.

Charlotte continued her education at Roe Head, Mirfield, from 1831 to 32, where she met her lifelong friends and correspondents, Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. During this period, she wrote her novella The Green Dwarf (1833) under the name of Wellesley. Charlotte returned to Roe Head as a teacher from 1835 to 1838. In 1839, she took up the first of many positions as governess to various families in Yorkshire, a career she pursued until 1841.

In 1842 Charlotte and Emily travelled to Brussels to enroll in a boarding school run by Constantin Heger In return for board and tuition, Charlotte taught English and Emily taught music. However their time at the boarding school was cut short when Elizabeth Branwell, their aunt  joined the family after their mother died. Charlotte returned alone to Brussels in January 1843 to take up a teaching post at the boarding school but returned to Haworth in January 1844 and later used her time at the boarding school as the inspiration for some experiences in The Professor and Villette.

In May 1846, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne self-financed the publication of a joint collection of poetry under the assumed names of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Charlotte’s first manuscript, called The Professor, did not secure a publisher, although she was heartened by an encouraging response she received from Smith, Elder & Co of Cornhill, who expressed an interest in any longer works which “Currer Bell” might wish to send. Charlotte responded by finishing and sending a second manuscript in August 1847, and six weeks later this second manuscript (titled Jane Eyre: An Autobiography) was published under the pen name Currer Bell. Jane Eyre became a success, and received favourable reviews. Jane Eyre was followed by the subsequent publication of the first novels by Charlotte’s sisters: Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey.

In June 1854, Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father’s curate and, in the opinion of many scholars, the model for several of her literary characters such as Jane Eyre’s Edward Rochester and St. John Rivers. She became pregnant soon after the marriage. Her health declined rapidly during this time, and according to Gaskell, her earliest biographer, she was attacked by “sensations of perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness.”

Sadly though Charlotte died, along with her unborn child, on 31 March 1855, at the young age of 38. Her death certificate gives the cause of death as phthisis (tuberculosis), but many biographers suggest she may have died from dehydration and malnourishment, caused by excessive vomiting from severe morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum. There is also evidence to suggest that Charlotte died from typhus she may have caught from Tabitha Ackroyd, the Bronte household’s oldest servant, who died shortly before her. Charlotte was interred in the family vault in The Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Haworth, West Yorkshire, England. Charlotte Brontë’s Her endurng popularty & legacy still lives on and all Charlotte Bronte’s novels Particularly Jane Eyre, are still as popular as ever And her novels are English literature standards and are still widely taught in many schools. Numerous Television Radio and Film adaptations have also been made of her novels.

Alistair MacLean

Scottish adventure thriller novelist Alistair Stuart MacLean (Scottish Gaelic: Alasdair MacGill-Eain; was born 21 April 1922 in Glasgow. He spent much of his childhood and youth in Daviot, ten miles south of Inverness. He was the third of four sons. He joined the Royal Navy in 1941, serving in World War II with the ranks of Ordinary Seaman, Able Seaman, and Leading Torpedo Operator. He was first assigned to PS Bournemouth Queen, a converted excursion ship fitted for anti-aircraft guns, on duty off the coasts of England and Scotland. Beginning in 1943, he served on HMS Royalist, a Dido-class light cruiser. There he saw action in 1943 in the Atlantic theatre, on two Arctic convoys and escorting carrier groups in operations against Tirpitz and other targets off the Norwegian coast.

In 1944 he and the ship served in the Mediterranean theatre, as part of the invasion of southern France and in helping to sink blockade runners off Crete and bombard Milos in the Aegean. During this time MacLean may have been injured in a gunnery practice accident.In 1945, in the Far East theatre, MacLean and Royalist saw action escorting carrier groups in operations against Japanese targets in Burma, Malaya, and Sumatra. (MacLean’s late-in-life claims that he was captured by the Japanese and tortured have been dismissed by both his son and his biographer as drunken ravings. After the Japanese surrender, Royalist helped evacuate liberated POWs from Changi Prison in Singapore.

MacLean was released from the Royal Navy in 1946. He then studied English at the University of Glasgow, graduating in 1953, and then worked as a school teacher in Rutherglen. While a university student, MacLean began writing short stories for extra income, winning a competition in 1954 with the maritime story “Dileas”. The publishing company Collins asked him for a novel and he responded with HMS Ulysses, based on his own war experiences, as well as credited insight from his brother Ian, a Master Mariner. The novel was a great success and MacLean was soon able to devote himself entirely to writing war stories, spy stories and other adventures.

In the early 1960s, Alistair MacLean published two novels under the pseudonym “Ian Stuart” in order to prove that the popularity of his books was due to their content rather than his name on the cover. They sold well, but MacLean made no attempt to change his writing style and his fans may easily have recognized him behind the Scottish pseudonym. He wrote many popular thrillers and adventure stories, the best known being The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra, and Where Eagles Dare MacLean’s books eventually sold so well that he moved to Switzerland as a tax exile. Between 1963–1966, he took a hiatus from writing to run a hotel business in England. MacLean was also awarded a Doctor of Letters by the University of Glasgow in 1983.

Sadly MacLean’s later books were not as well received as the earlier publications and, in an attempt to keep his stories in keeping with the time, he sometimes lapsed into overly improbable plots. Many of McClean’s adventure thrillers have also been made into popular films including Guns of Navrone, Ice Station Zebra and Where Eagles Dare. Unfortunately McClean struggled constantly with alcoholism, which eventually brought about his death in Munich on 2 February 1987. He is buried a few yards from Richard Burton in Céligny, Switzerland. He was married twice and had two sons by his first wife, as well as an adopted third son.

Sebastian Faulks CBE

British novelist, journalist and broadcaster Sebastian Charles Faulks CBE was born 20 April 1953 in Donnington, Berkshire. His father was a decorated soldier (he won the Military Cross), who later became a solicitor and judge. His brother Edward Faulks, Baron Faulks QC, a barrister, became a Conservative Government Minister in January 2014 in the Ministry of Justice.He was educated at Elstree School, Reading and went on to Wellington College, Berkshire. He read English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, of which he was made an Honorary Fellow in 2007.Whilst at Cambridge he participated in University Challenge, in which Emmanuel College lost in the opening round. Faulks commented that his team were most probably hampered by a trip to the pub before the show, as recommended by the show’s producer.

After graduating, Faulks lived in France for a year. When he returned to England he worked as a teacher at a private school in Camden Town, and then as a journalist. Faulks’ first novel, A Trick of the Light, was published in 1984. He became the first literary editor of The Independent in 1986. He became deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday in 1989; in the same year he published The Girl at the Lion d’Or, the first of his historical novels set in France. Faulks is best known for his three novels set in early twentieth-century France. This was followed by Birdsong (1993), and Charlotte Gray (1998). The latter two were best-sellers, and Charlotte Gray was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In April 2003 Birdsong came 13th in the BBC’s Big Read initiative which aimed to identify Britain’s best loved novels.

In 1991 he left The Independent, and wrote for various other papers. Following the success of Birdsong Faulks quit journalism to write full-time. He has since published eight novels; including: Devil May Care a James Bond continuation novel, To mark the 2008 centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth, which was commissioned by the late author’s estate in 2006. He also wrote Human Traces (which is set in a Victorian Lunatic Asylum), a continuation of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and the Wedding Bells (2013) and Engleby, which is Set in Cambridge in the 1970s, it is narrated by Cambridge University fresher Mike Engleby who is implicated when a fellow student disappears. He next wrote A Week in December (2009) which takes place, in the seven days leading up to Christmas in December 2007 and focuses on the lives of a varied cast of characters living in London during the Banking Crisis which also features reality television and Islamic Militancy. Among his His latest novels are A Possible Life and Where my Heart used to beat.

Faulks was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1993 he won the 1994 British Book Awards Author of the Year, the 1998 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction (shortlist) for Charlotte Gray. In 2002 he was Appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), “For services to Literature” and in 2009 he won the British Book Awards Popular Fiction Award for Devil May Care. In 2001 Charlotte Gray was made into a film starring Cate Blanchett and directed by Gillian Armstrong. In 2010 a stage version of Birdsong, adapted by Rachel Wagstaff (who had previously adapted The Girl at the Lion d’Or for radio) and directed by Trevor Nunn, opened at the Comedy Theatre in London; and was subsequently made into a two-part BBC TV serial in 2012, written by Abi Morgan, directed by Philip Martin and starring Eddie Redmayne.

Faulks also appears regularly on British TV and radio. He has been a regular team captain on BBC Radio 4’s literary quiz The Write Stuff since 1998 The quiz involves the panellists each week writing a pastiche of the work of a selected author, Faulks has published a collection of his efforts as a book, Pistache (2006). In 2011 Faulks presented a four-part BBC Two series called Faulks on Fiction, looking at the British novel and its characters and also wrote a series tie-in book of the same name.

Beam Stoker

Best known today for his classic 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula, the Irish novelist and short story writer Abraham “Bram” Stoker passed away April 20 1912. He was Born 8th November 1847 in Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland and was bedridden until he started school at the age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. He was educated in a private school run by the Rev. William Woods. After his recovery, he grew up without further major health issues, even excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete) at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with honours in mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society (‘the Hist’) and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on “Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.

Whilst he was a student Stoker became interested in the theatre & became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail, co-owned by the author of Gothic tales Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. After giving a favourable review of Henry Irving’s Hamlet Irving invited him to dinner and the two became friends. Stoker also wrote stories, and in 1872 “The Crystal Cup” was published by the London Society, followed by “The Chain of Destiny” in four parts and “The Shamrock”. while a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote a non-fiction book (The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland. Stoker was also interested in art, and founded the Dublin Sketching Club. In 1874 The Stokers moved to London, where he became acting manager and then business manager of Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, London, a post he held for 27 years. The collaboration with Irving was important for Stoker and through him he became involved in London’s high society, where he met James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related)

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DRACULA http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CVb2q0eNFxI

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Working for Irving, the most famous actor of his time, and managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy man. He was dedicated to Irving and his memoirs show he idolised him. In London Stoker also met Hall Caine, who became one of his closest friends – he dedicated Dracula to him.In the course of Irving’s tours, Stoker travelled the world, although he never visited Eastern Europe, a setting for his most famous novel, and began writing novels beginning with The Snake’s Pass in 1890 and Dracula in 1897. Stoker was also part of the literary staff of the London Daily Telegraph and wrote other fiction, including the horror novels The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911). Stoker also met Ármin Vámbéry who was a Hungarian writer and traveler and the story may have been inspired by Vámbéry’s dark stories by Carpathian mountains. He also spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires as well as visiting Whitby Abbey, Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire and the crypts of St. Michan’s Church in Dublin and also read the novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Sadly Stoker suffered a number of strokes, and passed passed away on 20 April 1912. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium where his ashes were place in a display urn . To visit his remains at Golders Green, visitors must be escorted to the room the urn is housed in, for fear of vandalism.

George Takei

Best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the 60′s television series Star Trek and numerous Star Trek Movies Amercan Actor George Takei was born 20th April in 1937. Takei began his career in Hollywood in the late 1950s, His first role was providing voiceover for several characters in the English dub of Japanese monster films such as Godzilla Raids Again and Rodan, followed by an appearance in the Emmy award winning television series Playhouse 90 and Perry Mason The Case of the Blushing Pearls.He originated the role of George in the musical Fly Blackbird!, but when the show traveled from Los Angeles to Broadway the west coast actors were forced to audition and the role went to William Sugihara instead. Eventually Sugihara had to give up the role and Takei closed out the show’s final months.Takei subsequently appeared alongside such actors as Frank Sinatra in Never So Few (uncredited), Richard Burton in Ice Palace, Jeffrey Hunter in Hell to Eternity, Alec Guinness in A Majority of One, James Caan in Red Line 7000 and Cary Grant in Walk, Don’t Run. He featured in a lead role in “The Encounter” (1964), an episode of The Twilight Zone He had an uncredited role in the film PT-109 (1963) and also guest-starred in an episode of Mission: Impossible (1966). He also appeared in two Jerry Lewis comedies, The Big Mouth and Which Way to the Front? In 1969 Takei narrated the award winning documentary The Japanese Sword as the Soul of the Samurai.

In 1965, producer Gene Roddenberry cast him as Hikaru Sulu in the second Star Trek pilot and eventually the Star Trek television series. It was intended that Sulu’s role be expanded in the second season, but Takei’s role as Captain Nim, a South Vietnamese Army officer, alongside John Wayne’s character in The Green Berets meant that he only appeared in half the season, with Walter Koenig as Pavel Chekov substituting for him in the other episodes. When Takei returned, the two men had to share a dressing room and a single episode script. Takei also appeared in the first six Star Trek motion pictures, and today he is a regular on the science fiction convention circuit throughout the world. He has also acted and provided voice acting for several science fiction computer games, including Freelancer and numerous Star Trek games. In 1996, in honor of the 30th anniversary of Star Trek, he reprised his role as Captain Hikaru Sulu on an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, appearing as a memory of Lt. Tuvok, who served on the USS Excelsior under Sulu, during the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He appeared alongside Shatner on the 2006 Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner in which the two mocked each other in good humor and embraced, Takei is also one of six actors (the other actors being Jonathan Frakes, Kate Mulgrew, Michael Dorn, Avery Brooks and Majel Barrett) to lend his voice to Star Trek: Captain’s Chair, reprising his role of Captain Hikaru Sulu when users visit the bridge of the original Enterprise in the computer game. In the summer of 2007, Takei reprised his role of Sulu in the fan-made Internet based series Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II.

Aside from his film and television career with Star Trek, which spans from the 1960’s He also has a lengthy record of public service through his involvement with organizations such as the Japanese American Citizens League and the Human Rights Campaign.He is a proponent of gay rights and active in state and local politics as well as continuing his acting career. He has won several awards and accolades in his work on human rights and Japanese American relations, including his work with the Japanese American National Museum. In 2004, the government of Japan conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, which represents the fourth highest of eight classes associated with the award. This decoration was presented in acknowledgment of his contributions to US-Japanese relations. George Takei also has an Asteroid named after him.

I also enjoyed the more recent Star Trek films too starring John Cho as Hikaru Sulu alongside Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana Bendict Cumberbatch, Simon Pegg and Karl Urban Who also played Eomer in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which also starred the English Actor, Director and Author Andy Serkis as the villainous Gollum, who was also coincidentally born April 20th in 1964. Serkis is known for his performance capture roles comprising motion capture acting, animation and voice work for such computer-generated characters as: Gollum in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003) and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), King Kong in the eponymous 2005 film, Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Captain Haddock in Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin (2011). Serkis’ film work in motion capture has been critically acclaimed, earning him recognition from many associations that do not traditionally recognise motion capture as “real acting”. Serkis has received an Empire Award, a National Board of Review Award, two Saturn Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his motion capture work. Serkis also earned a Golden Globe Award nomination for his portrayal of serial killer Ian Brady in the British television film Longford (2006); and he was nominated for a BAFTA Award for his portrayal of New Wave and punk musician Ian Dury in the biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010). Serkis also reprised his role as the villainous Gollum in Peter Jackson’s latest three part Tolkien film adaptation “The Hobbit” and the first two parts – An unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug have been released on DVD and the final Installment “The Battle of Five Armies” was released 20 April 2015.

Harold Lloyd

American silent film actor and producer Harold Lloyd was Born April 20th 1893. He is best remembered for his silent black and White films which contained a mixture of slapstick comedy combined with many entertaining but dangerous stunts. Among his best known films is “Safety Last!” durng which he dangles precariously from a clock tower whilst trying to escape his pursuers. This film also inspired Jackie Chan who did a similar stunt during the film“Project A” – Which is another entertaining film.

Harold Lloyd ranks alongside Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most popular and influential film comedians of the silent film era. Lloyd made nearly 200 comedy films, both silent and “talkies”, between 1914 and 1947. He is best known for his “Glasses Character”, a resourceful, success-seeking go-getter who was perfectly in tune with 1920s era America. His films frequently contained “thrill sequences” of extended chase scenes and daredevil physical feats, for which he is best remembered today. Lloyd hanging from the hands of a clock high above the street in Safety Last! (1923) is one of the most enduring images in all of cinema.

Lloyd did many of these dangerous stunts himself, despite having injured himself in August, 1919 while doing publicity pictures for the Roach studio. An accident with a bomb mistaken as a prop resulted in the loss of the thumb and index finger of his right hand (the injury was disguised on future films with the use of a special prosthetic glove. Although Lloyd’s individual films were not as commercially successful as Charlie Chaplin’s on average, he was far more prolific (releasing twelve feature films in the 1920s while Chaplin released just three), and made more money overall ($15.7 million to Chaplin’s $10.5 million). Lloyd Sadly passed away March 8 1971 but hs legacy lives on