A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

Having read both The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, I would like to read The continuing saga of Kingsbridge in Ken Follett’s latest novel A Column of Fire. It begins in turbulent times during Christmas 1558. Elizabeth Tudor has been Crowned Queen of England. However there are many including her estranged sister the alluring, and headstrong Mary Queen of Scots who is currently in Paris with the brutally ambitious French Royal family. They have proclaimed her the rightful ruler of England, and there are many supporters in France who are scheming to get rid of Queen Elizabeth I and much of Europe turns against England.

However Elizabeth is a shrewd, and determined young monarch and To counter any threat she decides to set up a secret network of resourceful spies and courageous agents led by Sir Francis Walsingham, whose job it is to keep her informed concerning any threats to the Monarchy and give an early warning of any assassination plots, rebellions and invasion plans. Walsingham rose from relative obscurity become an important figure in Elizabethan England, overseeing foreign, domestic and religious policy. He served as English ambassador to France in the early 1570s and witnessed the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. As principal secretary, he supported exploration, colonization, the use of England’s maritime strength and the plantation of Ireland. He worked to bring Scotland and England together and encouraged a foreign policy which bolstered the role of England as a maritime, Protestant power with intercontinental trading ties. He also oversaw operations that penetrated Spanish military preparation and gathered intelligence from across Europe.

Meanwhile young Ned Willard returns home to Kingsbridge to find that Kingsbridge has also changed. The ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral now look down on a city torn by religious hatred. Then Ned is given an opportunity to serve his Queen when he asked to join Elizabeth’s network of spies and agents. However this position comes at a price and Ned soon finds himself at odds with the girl he longs to marry, Margery Fitzgerald who is actually marrying someone else And the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed.

Gradually extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva as Europe is enveloped in turmoil when high principles clash bloodily with friendship, loyalty and love, and Ned finds himself involved in a battle for tolerance and compromise against tyrants intent on imposing their ideas on everyone else no matter the cost.

International Day of the Disappeared

The International Day of the Disappeared, occurs annually on August 30. The purpose of the International Day of the Disappeared is to draw attention to the fate of individuals imprisoned at places unknown to their relatives and/or legal representatives and often in poor conditions. The impulse for the day came from the Latin American Federation of Associations for Relatives of Detained-Disappeared (Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos, or FEDEFAM), a non-governmental organization founded in 1981 in Costa Rica as an association of local and regional groups actively working against secret imprisonment, forced disappearances and abduction in a number of Latin-American countries.

Work on secret imprisonment is an important part of the activities for a number of international bodies and organizations in the fields of human rights activism and humanitarian aid, including for example Amnesty International (AI), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The International Day of the Disappeared is an opportunity to highlight these institutions’ work, increase public awareness, and to call for donations and volunteers. The ICRC has additional privileges due to its special status as a non-governmental sovereign entity and its strict policy of neutrality. In some cases, the ICRC is the only institution granted access to specific groups of prisoners, thereby enabling a minimum level of contact and inspection of their treatment. For affected families, messages transmitted by the ICRC are often the only hint about the fate of these prisoners.

Visiting those detained in relation to conflicts and enabling them to restore and maintain contact with their families, is a very important part of the ICRC’s mandate. But the definition of the Missing or the Disappeared goes far beyond the victims of enforced disappearance. It includes all those whose families have lost contact as the result of conflicts, natural disasters or other tragedies. These missing people may be detained, stranded in foreign countries, hospitalized or dead. Through its tracing services and working with the 189 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world, the ICRC seeks to obtain information about their fate on behalf of their families. It reminds governments and other groups of their obligations to respect the families’ right to know the fate of their loved ones. It also works with families of the missing to help them address their particular psychological, social legal and financial needs.

Imprisonment under secret or uncertain circumstances is a grave violation of some conceptions of human rights as well as, in the case of an armed conflict, of International Humanitarian Law. The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance as resolution 47/133 on December 18, 1992. It is estimated that secret imprisonment is practiced in about 30 countries. The OHCHR Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has registered about 46,000 cases of people who disappeared under unknown circumstances.

In 2007, hundreds of Philippine relatives and supporters of desaparecidos, mostly activists, missing after being abducted or killed by Philippine security forces protested against the government to mark International Day of the Disappeared. Edita Burgos remembered her missing son, Jonas, a member of the Peasants’ Movement of the Philippines. In 2008 the International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances, which gathers family member organizations and human rights organizations from around the world, joined hands for a global campaign event to promote the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Wes Craven

American film director, writer, producer and actor Wesley Earl Craven sadly died August 30, 2015, from brain cancer, at the age of 76 at his home in Los Angeles. He was born August 2, 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio. Craven earned an undergraduate degree in English and Psychology from Wheaton College in Illinois and a master’s degree in Philosophy and Writing from Johns Hopkins University. Craven also briefly taught English at Westminster College and was a humanities professor at Clarkson College of Technology (later named Clarkson University) in Potsdam, New York. He additionally taught at Madrid-Waddington High School in Madrid, New York. During this time, he purchased a used 16mm film camera and began making short movies. When his friend Tom Chapin informed him of a messenger position at a New York City post-production company run by his brother, future folk-rock star Harry Chapin, Craven moved to Manhattan. His first creative job in the film industry was as a sound editor for Chapin’s firm.

Harry was a fantastic film editor and producer of industrials. He taught me The Chapin Method of editing: ‘Nuts and bolts! Nuts and bolts!” Craven afterward became the firm’s assistant manager, and broke into film editing with You’ve Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You’ll Lose That Beat. Craven left the academic world for the more lucrative role of pornographic film director. In the documentary Inside Deep Throat, Craven says on camera he made “many hard core X-rated films including Deep Throat most of his early known work involved writing, film editing or both. Craven’s first feature film as director was The Last House on the Left, which was released in 1972.

Craven frequently collaborated with Sean S. Cunningham. In Craven’s debut feature, The Last House on the Left, Cunningham served as producer. Later, in Craven’s best-known film, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and launched actor Johnny Depp’s career by casting him in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Depp’s first major film role.Cunningham directed one of the chase scenes, although he was not credited. Their characters, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, appeared together in the slasher film Freddy vs. Jason (2003) with Cunningham acting as producer, while screenwriter Victor Miller is credited as “Character Creator”. Later, in The Last House on the Left remake (2009), Cunningham and Craven share production credits. Although known for directing horror/thriller films, he had worked on two other films: Music of the Heart (1999), and as one of the 22 directors responsible for Paris, je t’aime (2006). Craven alao created Coming of Rage, a five-issue comic book series, with 30 Days of Night comic book writer Steve Niles.The series was released in digital form in 2014 by Liquid Comics with a print edition scheduled for an October 2015 debut.

He is best known for creating the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise featuring the Freddy Krueger character, directing the first installment and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and co-writing A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors with Bruce Wagner. Craven also directed all four films in the Scream series and two films in the Hills Have Eyes series. Some of his other films include The Last House on the Left, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, Vampire in Brooklyn and Red Eye. Following his untimely passing The 10th episode of Scream was dedicated in his memory. He was known for his pioneering work in the genre of horror films, particularly slasher films, where his impact on the genre was considered prolific and influential. Due to the success and cultural impact of his works in the horror film genre Craven has been called the “Master of Horror”.

Mary Shelley

Best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus, the English Novellist, short story writer essayist, biographer and travel writer Mary Shelley (née Wollstonecraft Godwin) was Born 30 August 1797, When Mary was four, William Godwin married his neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont. Godwin provided his daughter with a rich, if informal, education. In 1814, Mary Godwin began a romantic relationship 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. In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. which remains popular to this day and has been adapted for theatre, Film and Television numerous times. During her prolific writing career Shelley also wrote the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826), and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Together with lesser-known works such as the travel book Rambles in Germany and Italy (1844) and the biographical articles for Dionysius Lardner’s Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1829–46)

Upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy’s child, who tragically died prematurely. They married in 1816 after the suicide of Percy Shelley’s first wife Harriet. Sadly the marriage was dogged with tragedy, their first second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence. In 1818 The Shelleys left Britain for Italy, sadly though In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm near Viareggio. year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son Percy and a career as a professional author.

During 1840 and 1842, mother and son travelled together on the continent, journeys that Mary Shelley recorded in Rambles in Germany and Italy in 1840, 1842 and 1843 (1844). In 1844, Sir Timothy Shelley finally died at the age of ninety. In 1848, Percy Florence married Jane Gibson St John. The marriage proved a happy one, and Mary Shelley and Jane were fond of each other. Mary lived with her son and daughter-in-law at Field Place, Sussex, the Shelleys’ ancestral home, and at Chester Square, London, and accompanied them on travels abroad and in order to fulfil Mary Shelley’s wishes, Percy Florence and his wife Jane had the coffins of Mary Shelley’s parents exhumed and buried with her in Bournemouth. In the mid-1840s, Mary Shelley found herself the target of three separate blackmailers. In 1845, an Italian political exile called Gatteschi, whom she had met in Paris, threatened to publish letters she had sent him. Shortly afterwards, Mary Shelley bought some letters written by herself and Percy Bysshe Shelley from a man calling himself G. Byron and posing as the illegitimate son of the late Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s cousin Thomas Medwin approached her claiming to have written a damaging biography of Percy Shelley.

Mary Shelley’s last years were blighted by illness. From 1839, she suffered from headaches and bouts of paralysis in parts of her body, which sometimes prevented her from reading and writing. Shelley Sadly died On 1 February 1851, at Chester Square, at the age of fifty-three from a suspected brain tumour. According to Jane Shelley, Mary Shelley had asked to be buried with her mother and father; but Percy and Jane, judging the graveyard at St Pancras to be “dreadful”, chose to bury her instead at St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth, near their new home at Boscombe.On the first anniversary of Mary Shelley’s death, the Shelleys opened her box-desk. Inside they found locks of her dead children’s hair, a notebook she had shared with Percy Bysshe Shelley, and a copy of his poem Adonaïs with one page folded round a silk parcel containing some of his ashes and the remains of his heart.