Victor Hugo


French poet, novelist, and dramatist Victor Marie Hugo sadly passed away 22 May 1885. He was born 26 February 1802 in Besançon, France. Hugo’s childhood was a period of national political turmoil. Napoléon was proclaimed Emperor two years after Hugo’s birth, and the Bourbon Monarchy was restored before his eighteenth birthday. The opposing political and religious views of Hugo’s parents reflected the forces that would battle for supremacy in France throughout his life. Since Hugo’s father was an officer in the army, the family moved frequently and Hugo learned much from these travels. On a childhood family trip to Naples, Hugo saw the vast Alpine passes and the snowy peaks, the magnificently blue Mediterranean, and Rome during its festivities.ugo published his first novel the year following his marriage (Han d’Islande, 1823), and his second three years later (Bug-Jargal, 1826). Between 1829 and 1840 he would publish five more volumes of poetry (Les Orientales, 1829; Les Feuilles d’automne, 1831; Les Chants du crépuscule, 1835; Les Voix intérieures, 1837; and Les Rayons et les ombres, 1840), cementing his reputation as one of the greatest elegiac and lyric poets of his time.Like many young writers of his generation, Hugo was profoundly influenced by François-René de Chateaubriand, the famous figure in the literary movement of Romanticism and France’s preeminent literary figure during the early 19th century.

In his youth, Hugo resolved to be “Chateaubriand or nothing,” and his life would come to parallel that of his predecessor in many ways. Like Chateaubriand, Hugo would further the cause of Romanticism, become involved in politics as a champion of Republicanism, and be forced into exile due to his political stances. The precocious passion and eloquence of Hugo’s early work brought success and fame at an early age. His first collection of poetry (Odes et poésies diverses) was published in 1822, when Hugo was only twenty years old, and earned him a royal pension from Louis XVIII. Though the poems were admired for their spontaneous fervor and fluency, it was the collection that followed four years later in 1826 (Odes et Ballades) that revealed Hugo to be a great poet, a natural master of lyric and creative song.Victor Hugo’s first mature work of fiction appeared in 1829, and reflected the acute social conscience that would infuse his later work. Le Dernier jour d’un condamné (The Last Day of a Condemned Man) would have a profound influence on later writers such as Albert Camus, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

A documentary short story entitled Claude Gueux appeared in 1834, concerning a real-life murderer who had been executed in France. This was later considered by Hugo himself to be a precursor to his great work on social injustice, Les Misérables. Hugo’s first full-length novel would be the enormously successful Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame), which was published in 1831 and quickly translated into other languages across Europe. One of the effects of the novel was to shame the City of Paris into restoring the much-neglected Cathedral of Notre Dame, which was attracting thousands of tourists who had read the popular novel. The book also inspired a renewed appreciation for pre-Renaissance buildings, which thereafter began to be actively preserved. Hugo also began planning a major novel about social misery and injustice as early as the 1830s, but it would take a full 17 years for Les Misérables to be realized and finally published in 1862.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame begins on Epiphany (6 January), 1482, the day of the Feast of Fools in Paris, France. Quasimodo, a deformed hunchback who is the bell-ringer of Notre Dame, is introduced by his crowning as the Pope of Fools.Esmeralda, a beautiful Gypsy with a kind and generous heart, captures the hearts of many men, including those of Captain Phoebus and Pierre Gringoire, a poor street poet, but especially those of Quasimodo and his adoptive father, Claude Frollo, the Archdeacon of Notre Dame. Frollo is torn between his obsessive love and the rules of the church. He orders Quasimodo to kidnap her, but the hunchback is suddenly captured by Phoebus and his guards who save Esmeralda. Quasimodo is sentenced to be flogged and turned on the pillory for one hour, followed by another hour’s public exposure. He calls for water. Esmeralda, seeing his thirst, offers him a drink. It saves him, and she captures his heart.Esmeralda is later charged with the attempted murder of Phoebus, whom Frollo actually attempted to kill in jealousy after seeing him about to have sex with Esmeralda, and is tortured and sentenced to death by hanging. As she is being led to the gallows, Quasimodo swings down by the bell rope of Notre Dame and carries her off to the cathedral under the law of sanctuary. Frollo later informs Pierre Gringoire that the Court of Parliament has voted to remove Esmeralda’s right to sanctuary so she can no longer seek shelter in the church and will be taken from the church and killed. Clopin, a street performer, hears the news from Gringoire and rallies the Truands (criminals of Paris) to charge the cathedral and rescue Esmeralda.When Quasimodo sees the Truands, he assumes they are there to hurt Esmeralda, so he drives them off. Likewise, he thinks the King’s men want to rescue her, and tries to help them find her. She is rescued by Frollo and her phony husband Gringoire. But after yet another failed attempt to win her love, Frollo betrays Esmeralda with tragic results.

Les Misérables remains Hugo’s most enduringly popular work. It is popular worldwide, and has been adapted for cinema, television and stage shows. The story begins in 1815 in Digne, as the peasant Jean Valjean, is released from Toulon prison by Inspector Javert after spending 19 years imprisoned for stealing bread. Myriel The Bishop of Digne is the only person to offer the convict food and shelter, and saves his life when he is caught stealing the bishop’s silver. Valjean Promises Bishop Myriel to start a new life elsewhere. Eight years later, Valjean has become a factory owner and mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Fantine , one of his workers, is dismissed by the foreman because of her illigitimate daughter Cossette and is forced to become a prostitute. However During an argument with an abusive customer, Javert, now a police inspector in Montreuil, arrests Fantine, but Valjean takes her to a hospital and promises a dying Fantine he will care for Cosette. After a brief confrontation with Javert, Valjean flees and pays innkeeper Madame Thénardier and her dodgy husband to take Cosette in and raise her.sadly though they mistreat Cosette while indulging their own destitute daughter Éponine. Nine years later, Paris is in turmoil because Jean Maximilien Lamarque, the only man in the government who shows any sympathy for the poor, is nearing death.

So a street urchin named Gavroche, incites the prostitutes and beggars to take action, while a student revolutionary and young firebrand named Marius Pontmercy and his friend Enjolras organize a group of idealistic students to protest against the Governments treatment of the poor. While organising the protest Marius becomes friends with the Thenardiers’ daughter, Éponine, then he meets Cosette and they fall in love. Later The Thénardiers gang are prevented from robbing Valjean and Cosettes ‘s house by Javert, who does not recognise Valjean until after he escapes. Valjean refuses to tell Cosette about his past or Fantine and decides to flee Paris with Cosette. Later, Éponine laments that her love for Marius will never be reciprocated as he joins the other students who are preparing for the upcoming conflict; while Javert briefs his soldiers as he reveals his plans to spy on the students. With the June Rebellion underway, the students interrupt Lamarque’s funeral and begin their assault on the army. They build a barricade when Javert, disguised as one of the rebels, volunteers to “spy” on the government troops. When Javert lies that the government will attack the next morning, he is exposed as a spy. Éponine, mortally wounded, returns to the barricades and professes her love for Marius before her death. Valjean, searching for Marius in the barricades, saves Enjolras. Despite being allowed to execute Javert, Valjean tells the inspector that he is not in his debt. As the students reminisce for the night, Valjean prays to God to save Marius from the oncoming assault.Although most Parisians have abandoned the rebels, Enjolras resolves to fight on, however When Gavroche is killed, Enjolras and the students realize they could end up paying a heavy price if they resist and some escape into the sewers hotly pursued by Javert and his men

The shortest correspondence in history is said to have been between Hugo and his publisher Hurst and Blackett Following the publication of Les Misérables in 1862. Hugo was on vacation when. He queried the reaction to the work by sending a single-character telegram to his publisher, asking “?”. The publisher replied with a single “!” to indicate its success.After the success of Les Misérables Hugo turned away from social/political issues for his next novel, Les Travailleurs de la Mer (Toilers of the Sea), published in 1866, which depicts Man’s battle with the sea and the horrible creatures lurking beneath its depths and this spawned an unusual fad in Paris: Squids. From squid dishes and exhibitions, to squid hats and parties, Parisians became fascinated by these unusual sea creatures, which at the time were still considered by many to be mythical. Hugo returned to political and social issues in his next novel, L’Homme Qui Rit (The Man Who Laughs), which was published in 1869 and painted a critical picture of the aristocracy.His last novel, Quatre-vingt-treize (Ninety-Three), published in 1874, dealt with a subject that Hugo had previously avoided: the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. Though Hugo’s popularity was on the decline at the time of its publication, many now consider Ninety-Three to be a work on par with Hugo’s better-known novels. Hugo is still considered one of the most well-known French Romantic writers. In France, Hugo’s literary fame comes first from his poetry but also rests upon his novels and his dramatic achievements. Among many volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles stand particularly high in critical esteem. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831 (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame).

World Goth Day

World Goth Day takes place annually on May 22. The Official World Goth Day site defines it as “a day where the goth scene gets to celebrate its own being, and an opportunity to make its presence known to the rest of the world.” World Goth Day originated in the United Kingdom in 2009. BBC Radio 6 was looking at a number of music subcultures throughout a week in May, including Goth music. Goth DJs Cruel Britannia and martin oldgoth got an event up and running. It was decided that May 22 would be the day when this event would be held regularly. The tradition continued and spread outside the United Kingdom, with a website being initiated to coordinate and advertise events worldwide.

The goth subculture began in England during the early 1980s, where it developed from the audience of gothic rock, an offshoot of the post-punk genre. The name, goth subculture, derived directly from the music genre. Seminal post-punk and gothic rock artists that helped develop and shape the subculture include Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cure, Joy Division, and Bauhaus. World Goth Day celebrates All aspects of the Goth subculture, such as fashion, music and art are celebrated by fashion shows, art exhibitions and music performance.

The goth subculture has survived much longer than others of the same era, and has continued to diversify and spread throughout the world. Its imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from the 19th century Gothic literature and gothic horror films. The scene is centered on music festivals, nightclubs and organized meetings, especially in Western Europe.

Goth subculture has associated tastes in music, aesthetics, and fashion. The music preferred by the goth subculture includes a number of different styles, e.g. gothic rock, death rock, post-punk, new wave, dark wave (e.g. ethereal wave and neoclassical), and dark ambient/industrial. Styles of dress within the subculture draw on punk, new wave and new romantic fashion as well as fashion of earlier periods such as the Victorian and Edwardian eras (Belle Époque), or combinations of the above. The style usually includes dark attire (often black), pale face makeup and black hair. The subculture continues to draw interest from a large audience decades after its emergence.

Many of the events feature local Goth bands, and some have taken on a charity aspect with events in the United Kingdom and Australia supporting favoured charities like the UK Sophie Lancaster Foundation, a charity that tries to curb prejudice and hatred against subcultures. The event has evolved to be now celebrated by goths all around the world, including the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Macedonia, South Africa and In 2016 there were over 40 events across the world.

Sir Laurence Olivier

One of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century, the English stage & screen actor, director, and producer Sir Laurence Olivier, was born 22nd May 1907. He was also the youngest actor to be knighted and the first to be elevated to the peerage. He married three times, to actresses Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright. Actor Spencer Tracy said that Olivier was ‘the greatest actor in the English-speaking world’.During his long and distinguished career Olivier played a wide variety of roles on stage and screen from Greek tragedy, Shakespeare and Restoration comedy to modern American and British drama. He was the first artistic director of the National Theatre of Great Britain and its main stage is named in his honour. He is regarded by some to be the greatest actor of the 20th century, in the same category as David Garrick, Richard Burbage, Edmund Kean and Henry Irving in their own centuries. Olivier’s AMPAS acknowledgments are considerable: twelve Oscar nominations, with two awards (for Best Actor and Best Picture for the 1948 film Hamlet), plus two honorary awards including a statuette and certificate. He was also awarded five Emmy awards from the nine nominations hereceived. Additionally, he was a three-time Golden Globe and BAFTA winner.

Olivier’s career as a stage and film actor spanned more than six decades and included a wide variety of roles, from the title role in Shakespeare’s Othello and Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night to the sadistic Nazi dentist Christian Szell in Marathon Man and the kindly but determined Nazi-hunter in The Boys from Brazil. A High church clergyman’s son who found fame on the West End stage, Olivier became determined early on to master Shakespeare, and eventually came to be regarded as one of the foremost Shakespeare interpreters of the 20th century. He continued to act until the year before his death in 1989. Olivier played more than 120 stage roles: Richard III, Macbeth, Romeo, Hamlet, Othello, Uncle Vanya, and Archie Rice in The Entertainer. He appeared in nearly sixty films, including William Wyler’s Wuthering Heights, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, Otto Preminger’s Bunny Lake Is Missing, Richard Attenborough’s Oh! What a Lovely War, and A Bridge Too Far, Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Sleuth, John Schlesinger’s Marathon Man, Daniel Petrie’s The Betsy, Desmond Davis’ Clash of the Titans, and his own Henry V, Hamlet, and Richard III. He also preserved his Othello on film, with its stage cast virtually intact.

For television, he starred in The Moon and Sixpence, John Gabriel Borkman, Long Day’s Journey into Night, Brideshead Revisited, The Merchant of Venice, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and King Lear, among others.Olivier was created a Knight Bachelor on 12 June 1947 in the King’s Birthday Honours, becoming the youngest actor so honored. Nominated by Prime Minister Harold Wilson, he was created a life peer on 13 June 1970 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours as Baron Olivier, of Brighton in the County of Sussex, the first actor to be accorded this distinction. He was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1981, the first actor to be so honoured.

The Laurence Olivier Awards, organised by The Society of London Theatre, were renamed in his honour in 1984.Though he was a knight, a life peer, and one of the most respected personalities in the industry, Olivier insisted he be addressed as “Larry”, which he made clear he preferred to “Sir Laurence” or “Lord Olivier”. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Olivier among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, at number 14 on the list. Sadly Olivier died at his home in Steyning, West Sussex, England, from renal failure on 11 July 1989. He was survived by his son Tarquin from his first marriage, as well as his wife Joan Plowright and their three children. He was cremated and his ashes interred in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, London. Olivier is one of only a few actors, along with David Garrick, Henry Irving, Ben Jonson and Sybil Thorndike to have been accorded this honour. Olivier is buried alongside some of the people he portrayed in theatre and film, for example King Henry V, General John Burgoyne and Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding. Fifteen years after his death, Olivier once again received star billing in a film. Through the use of computer graphics, footage of him as a young man was integrated into the 2004 film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow in which played the villain.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- The game’s afoot

Scottish physician and writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was born 22nd May 1859. He is most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger. He was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction and historical novels. He was born at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland and was sent to the Roman Catholic Jesuit preparatory school Hodder Place, Stonyhurst, at the age of nine (1868-1870). He then went on to Stonyhurst College until 1875. From 1875 to 1876 he was educated at the Jesuit school Stella Matutina in Feldkirch, Austria.From 1876 to 1881 he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, including periods working in Aston in Birmingham, Sheffield and Ruyton-XI-Towns in Shropshire . While studying, Conan Doyle began writing short stories. His earliest extant fiction, “The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe”, was unsuccessfully submitted to Blackwood’s Magazine. His first published piece “The Mystery of Sasassa Valley”, a story set in South Africa, was printed in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal on 6 September 1879.

Later that month, on 20 September, he also published his first non-fictional article, “Gelsemium as a Poison” in the British Medical Journal. In 1882 he joined a former classmate at a medical practice in Plymouth, however he soon left and set up an independent medical practice in Southsea. While waiting for patients, Conan Doyle again began writing stories and composed his first novels, The Mystery of Cloomber, not published until 1888, and the unfinished Narrative of John Smith, which would go unpublished until 2011. He amassed a portfolio of short stories including “The Captain of the Pole-Star” and “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement”, both inspired by Doyle’s time at sea. His first significant piece, A Study in Scarlet, appeared later that year in the Beeton’s Christmas Annual and received good reviews. The story featured the first appearance of Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes. A sequel to A Study in Scarlet called The Sign of the Four appeared in Lippincott’s Magazine in February 1890.

Following the success of these stories Conan Doyle then went on to write many more Sherlock Holmes short stories including A Scandal in Bohemia, A Case of identity, The Red Headed league, The Boscombe Valley Mystery, The Man wth the Twisted Lip and The Five Orange Pips. In 1890 after studying ophthalmology in Vienna, Conan Doyle moved to London, first living in Montague Place and then in South Norwood. He set up a practice as an ophthalmologist. He wrote in his autobiography that not a single patient crossed his door. This gave him more time for writing, and in November 1891 he wrote to his mother: “I think of slaying Holmes… and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things.” His mother responded, “You won’t! You can’t! You mustn’t!”In December 1893, in order to dedicate more of his time to what he considered his more important works (his historical novels), Conan Doyle had Holmes and Professor Moriarty apparently plunge to their deaths together down the Reichenbach Falls in the story “The Final Problem”. Public outcry, however, led him to bring the character back in 1901, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, though this was set at a time before the Reichenbach incident.

In 1903, Conan Doyle published his first Holmes short story in ten years, “The Adventure of the Empty House”, in which it was explained that only Moriarty had fallen; but since Holmes had other dangerous enemies—especially Colonel Sebastian Moran—he had arranged to also be perceived as dead. Holmes ultimately was featured in a total of 56 short stories and four Conan Doyle novels, and has since appeared in many novels and stories by other authors. ‘The Final Problem’ was published in 1913 and ‘The Valley of Fear’ was serialised in 1914.

Conan Doyle sadly passed away on 7 July 1930. after having a heart attack at the age of 71. His last words were directed toward his wife: “You are wonderful.” The epitaph on his gravestone in the churchyard reads, in part: “Steel true/Blade straight/Arthur Conan Doyle/Knight/Patriot, Physician, and man of letters”. A statue honours Conan Doyle at Crowborough Cross in Crowborough, where he lived for 23 years and There is also a statue of Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, close to the house where Conan Doyle was born. His Sherlock Holmes stories remain popular today and have also been adapted for screen and television multiple times, with actors such as Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, Jeremy Brett and Robert Downey Jnr all portraying Sherlock Holmes.

International Day for Biological Diversity

The International Day for Biological Diversity (or World Biodiversity Day) takes place annually on May 22. It is a United Nations–sanctioned international day for the promotion of biodiversity issues. Created by the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly in 1993 until 2000, it was held on December 29 to celebrate the day the Convention on Biological Diversity went into effect.

Biodiversity, is a portmanteau of “biological diversity,” and generally refers to the variety and variability of life on Earth. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, biodiversity typically measures variation at the genetic, the species, and the ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity tends to be greater near the equator, which seems to be the result of the warm climate and high primary productivity. Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth, and is richest in the tropics. These tropical forest ecosystems cover less than 10 per cent of earth’s surface, and contain about 90 percent of the world’s species. Marine biodiversity tends to be highest along coasts in the Western Pacific, where sea surface temperature is highest and in the mid-latitudinal band in all oceans. There are latitudinal gradients in species diversity. Biodiversity generally tends to cluster in hotspots, and has been increasing through time,but may slow in the future.

Rapid environmental changes typically cause mass extinctions. More than 99.9 percent of all species, amounting to over five billion species, that ever lived on Earth are estimated to be extinct. Estimates on the number of Earth’s current species range from 10 million to 14 million, of which about 1.2 million have been documented and over 86 percent have not yet been described. More recently, in May 2016, scientists reported that 1 trillion species are estimated to be on Earth currently with only one-thousandth of one percent described.The total amount of related DNA base pairs on Earth is estimated at 5.0 x 1037 and weighs 50 billion tonnes. In comparison, the total mass of the biosphere has been estimated to be as much as 4 TtC (trillion tons of carbon). In July 2016, scientists reported identifying a set of 355 genes from the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) of all organisms living on Earth.

The age of the Earth is about 4.54 billion years old. The earliest undisputed evidence of life on Earth dates at least from 3.5 billion years ago, during the Eoarchean Era after a geological crust started to solidify following the earlier molten Hadean Eon. There are microbial mat fossils found in 3.48 billion-year-old sandstone discovered in Western Australia. Other early physical evidence of a biogenic substance is graphite in 3.7 billion-year-old meta-sedimentary rocks discovered in Western Greenland. More recently, in 2015, “remains of biotic life” were found in 4.1 billion-year-old rocks in Western Australia. Many researchers postulate that, “If life arose relatively quickly on Earth .. then it could be common in the universe.”

Since life began on Earth, five major mass extinctions and several minor events have led to large and sudden drops in biodiversity. The Phanerozoic eon (the last 540 million years) marked a rapid growth in biodiversity via the Cambrian explosion—a period during which the majority of multicellular phyla first appeared. The next 400 million years included repeated, massive biodiversity losses classified as mass extinction events. In the Carboniferous, rainforest collapse led to a great loss of plant and animal life. The Permian–Triassic extinction event, 251 million years ago, was the worst; vertebrate recovery took 30 million years. The most recent, the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, occurred 65 million years ago and has often attracted more attention than others because it resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The period since the emergence of humans has displayed an ongoing biodiversity reduction and an accompanying loss of genetic diversity. Named the Holocene extinction, the reduction is caused primarily by human impacts, particularly habitat destruction. Conversely, biodiversity impacts human health in a number of ways, both positively and negatively. The United Nations designated 2011–2020 as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.

The date of International Biodiversity Dat was shifted to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on May 22, 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, partly to avoid the many other holidays that occur in late December. Areas of Biodiversity promoted so far include Water and Biodiversity, Marine Biodiversity, Forest Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation, Invasive Alien Species, Biodiversity and Agriculture, Biodiversity and Climate Change, ways to protect Biodiversity in Drylands, Biodiversity: Life Insurance for our Changing World, how Biodiversity affects Food, Water and Health for All, how biodiversity can help with poverty alleviation sustainable development and forest biodiversity