Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice was first published in the United Kingdom 28 January 1813. Pride and Prejudice concerns young Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London. Though the story is set at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of “most loved books” such as The Big Read. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature and receives considerable attention from literary scholars and has been adapted for film and television numerous times. To date, the book has sold some 20 million copies worldwide.

The novel centres on Elizabeth Bennet, the second of the five daughters of a country gentleman. Mr Bennet is a bookish man, and somewhat neglectful of his responsibilities. Mrs Bennet is a woman lacking in social graces and primarily concerned with finding suitable husbands for her five daughters. Jane Bennet, the eldest daughter, is distinguished by the kindness of her attitudes and her beauty; Elizabeth Bennet, the second daughter, shares her father’s keen wit and occasionally sarcastic outlook; Mary is not pretty, but is studious, devout and musical albeit lacking in taste; Kitty, the fourth sister follows where her younger sister leads, while Lydia is flirtatious and unrestrained. The novel opens with news that Mr Bingley, a wealthy, charismatic and sociable young bachelor, is moving into Netherfield Park in the neighbourhood. Mr Bingley is soon well received, while his friend Mr Darcy makes a less favourable impression by appearing proud and condescending at a ball that they attend (he detests dancing and is not much for light conversation). Mr Bingley singles out Jane for particular attention, and it soon becomes apparent that they have formed an attachment to each other, though Jane does not alter her conduct for him, confessing her great happiness only to Lizzie. By contrast, Darcy slights Elizabeth, who overhears and jokes about it despite feeling a budding resentment. On paying a visit to Mr Bingley’s sister, Caroline, Jane is caught in a heavy downpour, catches cold, and is forced to stay at Netherfield for several days. Elizabeth arrives to nurse her sister and is thrown into frequent company with Mr Darcy, who begins to act less coldly towards her.

Mr Collins, a clergyman, and heir to the Bennet estate, pays a visit to the Bennets. It soon becomes apparent that Mr Collins has come to Longbourn to choose a wife from among the Bennet sisters (his cousins) and Elizabeth is singled out. Elizabeth forms an acquaintance with Mr Wickham, a militia officer who dislikes Mr Darcy, despite having been a godson and favourite of Mr Darcy’s father. This and Elizabeth’s attraction to Mr Wickham, increase her dislike of Mr Darcy.At a ball ,mr Darcy becomes aware that Mr Bingley and Jane may marry. The following morning, Mr Collins proposes marriage to Elizabeth, who refuses him, much to her mother’s distress. Mr Collins becomes engaged to Elizabeth’s close friend Charlotte Lucas, meanwhile Mr Bingley abruptly leaves Netherfield and returns to London, devastating Jane, and Elizabeth becomes convinced that Mr Darcy and Caroline Bingley have colluded to separate him from Jane.Jane is persuaded that Mr Bingley is not in love with her, but goes on an extended visit to her aunt and uncle Gardiner in London in the hope of maintaining her relationship with Caroline if not with Charles Bingley.

During spring, Elizabeth visits Charlotte and Mr Collins in Kent. Elizabeth and her hosts are frequently invited to Rosings Park, home of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Darcy’s aunt; coincidentally, Darcy also arrives to visit. Elizabeth meets Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Elizabeth rightly assumes that the said friend is none other than Mr Bingley. Then Darcy arrives and, quite unexpectedly, confesses love for Elizabeth and begs her hand in marriage.However Elizabeth rebukes Mr Darcy, for his actions and he tries to persuade her otherwise. Meanwhile Wickham then attempts to elope with Darcy’s young sister Georgiana, and thereby secure her fortune for himself. Regarding Jane and Bingley, Darcy claims he had observed no reciprocal interest in Jane for Bingley, and had assumed her not to be in love with him. In addition to this, he cites the “want of propriety” in the behaviour of Mr and Mrs Bennet and her three younger daughters. Elizabeth begins to warm to Mr Darcy

Later, Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle Gardiner visit Pemberley, Darcy’s estate, and Darcy introduces Elizabeth to his sister, and Elizabeth begins to acknowledge her attraction to him. Their re-acquaintance is cut short, however, by the news that Lydia has eloped with Mr Wickham. Elizabeth and the Gardiners return to Longbourn (the Bennet family home). Lydia and Wickham are located, and persuaded to marry And Jane, Elizabeth and Mr Bennet suspect that their Uncle Gardiner may have bribed Wickham to marry Lydia. Mr and Mrs Wickham visit Longbourn, Elizabeth discovers that Mr Darcy was responsible for their marriage. Meanwhile Bingley’s returs and proposes to Jane, who immediately accepts. Then Lady Catherine de Bourgh pays an unexpected visit to Longbourn hoping To persuade Elizabeth not to marry Mr Darcy

His Dark Materials

The Lavish 8 Part BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s epic fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials is out on DVD and Blu-Ray. It stars James McAvoy, Ann Marie Duff, and Ruth Wilson. It features a twelve year old orphan named Lyra Belacqua, who lives a carefree existence at Jordan College, Oxford under the guardianship of the College’s Master with her friend Roger and her daemon Pantalaimon. Daemons are the physical manifestation of humans’ souls which naturally exist outside of their bodies in the form of sentient talking animals”.

Meanwhile her Uncle, Lord Asriel is off exploring the North Pole researching the controversial nature of an illusive substance called dust, however this could get him into serious trouble, as it is considered heresy by a mysterious, all powerful and rather sinister religious group called the “Magisterium”. Lyra then meets the seemingly pleasant and glamorous Mrs Coulter. Then when her Uncle Lord Asriel returns she witnesses the Master poison wine intended for Lord Asriel, Lyra’s rebellious and adventuring uncle. She warns Asriel not to drink the wine, then spies on his lecture about “Dust”, mysterious elementary particles attracted to adults more than to children. Asriel shows the college scholars images of a parallel universe seen through the Northern Lights amidst a concentration of Dust.

Lyra’s best friend Roger then goes missing, and is presumed kidnapped by mysterious child abductors called “Gobblers”. Mrs Coulter, a charming socialite, adopts Lyra. Before Lyra leaves Jordan, the Master secretly entrusts her with an alethiometer, a strange truth-telling device, which she quickly learns to use intuitively. After several weeks, Lyra discovers that Coulter is actually involved with the sinisterGobblers, or “General Oblation Board”, a secret Church-funded project. Horrified by this, Lyra flees to the Gyptians, canal-faring nomads, many of whose children have also been abducted including a Gyptian named Billy Costa who also reveal Alarming information concerning Asriel and Coulter.

The Gyptians led by Farder Coram then journey to the Arctic with Lyra, where they believe the Gobblers are holding their children. They stop in Trollesund, where Lyra meets Iorek Byrnison, the dispossessed royal heir of the panserbjørne (armoured bears). Lyra uses her alethiometer to locate Iorek’s missing armour; in return, he and his human aeronaut friend, Lee Scoresby, join her group. She also learns that Lord Asriel has been exiled on Svalbard. Trollesund’s witch consul tells the Gyptians of a prophecy about Lyra which she must not know, and that the witch clans are choosing sides for an upcoming war.

The search party continues towards the Gobbler research station at Bolvangar, along the way Lyra discovers an abandoned child and realises the Gobblers are performing sinister experiments on children by severing the bond between human and dæmon, in a soul-splitting process called intercision. Unfortunately Lyra is also captured and taken to Bolvangar, for intercision herself.

Luckily Lee Scoresby, Iorek, Roger, the Gyptians, and the witch clan of Serafina Pekkala, are in hot pursuit in Lee Scoresby’s hot air balloon. However This does not go very well and Lyra ends up at the mercy of the Usurper panserbjorne, Iofur Raknison. However Iorek Bernyson shows up and confronts Iofor Raknison to reclaim his rightful place as King of the Panserbjorne throne. Lyra, Iorek, and Roger then continue onwards to Svalbard, looking for Asriel. Upon reaching the Northern Lights Lyra learns that Dust could be connected to many wonderful things including Parallel Universes, however she also discovers that there are many others who believe it is evil and would stop at nothing to destroy it and stop people from discovering the truth….

Lewis Carroll

Author, mathematician, Logician, Anglican Deacon and Photographer Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) was born 27 January 1832, his most famous writings are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well asthe poems “The Hunting of the Snark” and “Jabberwocky”, all examples of the genre of literary nonsense. He is noted for his facility at word play, logic, and fantasy, and there are societies in many parts of the world (including the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, and New Zealand) dedicated to the enjoyment and promotion of his works and the investigation of his life. From a young age, Dodgson wrote poetry and short stories, both contributing heavily to the family magazine Mischmasch and later sending them to various magazines, enjoying moderate success. Between 1854 and 1856, his work appeared in he national publications, The Comic Times and The Train, as well as smaller magazines like the Whitby Gazette and the Oxford Critic. Most of this output was humorous, sometimes satirical, but his standards and ambitions were exacting. sometime after 1850, he did write puppet plays for his siblings’ entertainment, of which one has survived, La Guida di Bragia.

220px-Alice_in_Wonderlandin 1856 he published his first piece of work under the name that would make him famous. A romantic poem called “Solitude” appeared in The Train under the authorship of “Lewis Carroll”. This pseudonym was a play on his real name; Lewis was the anglicised form of Ludovicus, which was the Latin for Lutwidge, and Carroll an Irish surname similar to the Latin name Carolus, from which comes the name Charles. The transition went as follows: “Charles Lutwidge” translated into Latin as “Carolus Ludovicus”. This was then translated back into English as “Carroll Lewis” and then reversed to make “Lewis Carroll”. In, 1856, a new dean, Henry Liddell, arrived at Christ Church, bringing with him his young family, all of whom would figure largely in Dodgson’s life and, over the following years, greatly influence his writing career. Dodgson became close friends with Liddell’s wife, Lorina, and their children, particularly the three sisters: Lorina, Edith and Alice Liddell. He was for many years widely assumed to have derived his own “Alice” from Alice Liddell. This was given some apparent substance by the fact the acrostic poem at the end of Through the Looking Glass spells out her name and also that there are many superficial references to her hidden in the text of both books. It has been noted that Dodgson himself repeatedly denied in later life that his “little heroine” was based on any real child, and frequently dedicated his works to girls of his acquaintance, adding their names in acrostic poems at the beginning of the text. Gertrude Chataway’s name appears in this form at the beginning of The Hunting of the Snark and it is not suggested that this means any of the characters in the narrative are based on her.

Carroll’s friendship with the Liddell family was an important part of his life in the late 1850s and he took the children on rowing trips accompanied by an adult friend.to nearby Nuneham Courtenay or Godstow.it was on one such expedition, on 4 July 1862, that Dodgson invented the outline for Alice in Wonderland after Alice Liddell persuaded him to write it down, Dodgson presented her with a handwritten, illustrated manuscript entitled Alice’s Adventures Under Ground in November 1864 Before this, the family of friend and mentor George MacDonald read Dodgson’s incomplete manuscript, and the enthusiasm of the MacDonald children encouraged Dodgson to seek publication. In 1863, he had taken the unfinished manuscript to Macmillan the publisher, who liked it immediately. After the possible alternative titles Alice Among the Fairies and Alice’s Golden Hour were rejected, the work was finally published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 under the Lewis Carroll pen-name, which Dodgson had first used some nine years earlier. The illustrations this time were by Sir John Tenniel; Dodgson evidently thought that a published book would need the skills of a professional artist.

The overwhelming commercial success of the first Alice book changed Dodgson’s life in many ways. The fame of his alter ego “Lewis Carroll” soon spread around the world. He was inundated with fan mail and with sometimes unwanted attention. Indeed, according to one popular story, Queen Victoria herself enjoyed Alice In Wonderland so much that she suggested he dedicate his next book to her, and was accordingly presented with his next work, a scholarly mathematical volume entitled An Elementary Treatise on Determinants. Dodgson himself vehemently denied this story, commenting “…It is utterly false in every particular: nothing even resembling it has occurred”; and it is unlikely for other reasons: as T.B. Strong comments in aTimes article, “It would have been clean contrary to all his practice to identify [the] author of Alice with the author of his mathematical works”. He also began earning quite substantial sums of money but continued with his seemingly disliked post at Christ Church.Late in 1871, a sequel – Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There – was published. It is somewhat darker and the mood possibly reflects the changes in Dodgson’s life. His father had recently died (1868), plunging him into a depression that lasted some years. In 1876, Dodgson produced his last great work, The Hunting of the Snark, a fantastical “nonsense” poem, exploring the adventures of a bizarre crew of tradesmen, and one beaver, who set off to find the eponymous creature. The painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti reputedly became convinced the poem was about him. In 1895, 30 years after publication of his masterpieces, Carroll attempted a comeback, producing a two-volume tale of the eponymous fairy siblings. Carroll entwines two plots, set in two alternate worlds, one the fairytale kingdom of Elfland, the other a realm called Outland, which satirizes English society, and more specifically, the world of academia. It came out in two volumes, and is considered a lesser work, although it has remained in print for over a century.

In 1856, Dodgson took up the new art form of photography, first under the influence of his uncleSkeffington Lutwidge, and later his Oxford friend Reginald Southey.He soon excelled at the art and became a well-known gentleman-photographer, and he seems even to have toyed with the idea of making a living out of it in his very early years. Dodgson also made many studies of men, women, male children and landscapes; his subjects also include skeletons, dolls, dogs, statues and paintings, and trees.His pictures of children were taken with a parent in attendance and many of the pictures were taken in the Liddell garden, because natural sunlight was required for good exposures.He also found photography to be a useful entrée into higher social circles. During the most productive part of his career, he made portraits of notable sitters such as John Everett Millais, Ellen Terry, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Julia Margaret Cameron, Michael Faraday, Lord Salisbury, andAlfred, Lord Tennyson. Dodgson abruptly ceased photography in 1880. Over 24 years, he had completely mastered the medium, set up his own studio on the roof of Tom Quad, and created around 3,000 images. Fewer than 1,000 have survived time and deliberate destruction. He reported that he stopped taking photographs because keeping his studio working was difficult (he used the wet collodion process) and commercial photographers (who started using the dry-plate process in the 1870s) took pictures more quickly.

Dodgson also worked in mathematics, in the fields of geometry, linear and matrix algebra,mathematical logic and recreational mathematics, producing nearly a dozen books under his real name. Dodgson also developed new ideas in linear algebra (e.g. the first printed proof of the Kronecker-Capelli theorem),probability, and the study of elections (e.g.,Dodgson’s method) and committees; some of this work was not published until well after his death. He worked as the Mathematical Lecturer at Christ Church, an occupation that gave him some financial security. His mathematical work attracted renewed interest in the late 20th century. Martin Gardner’s book on logic machines and diagrams, and William Warren Bartley’s posthumous publication of the second part of Carroll’s symbolic logic book have sparked a reevaluation of Carroll’s contributions to symbolic logic. Robbins’ and Rumsey’s investigation of Dodgson condensation, a method of evaluating determinants, led them to the Alternating Sign Matrix conjecture, now a theorem. The discovery in the 1990s of additional ciphers that Carroll had constructed, in addition to his “Memoria Technica”, showed that he had employed sophisticated mathematical ideas to their creation

Dodgson invented many things including the Wonderland Postage-Stamp Case in 1889. This was a cloth-backed folder with twelve slots, two marked for inserting the then most commonly used penny stamp, and one each for the other current denominations to one shilling. The folder was then put into a slip case decorated with a picture of Alice on the front and the Cheshire Cat on the back. All could be conveniently carried in a pocket or purse. When issued it also included a copy of Carroll’s pamphletted lecture, Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter-Writing. Another invention is a writing tablet called the nyctograph for use at night that allowed for note-taking in the dark; thus eliminating the trouble of getting out of bed and striking a light when one wakes with an idea. The device consisted of a gridded card with sixteen squares and system of symbols representing an alphabet of Dodgson’s design, using letter shapes similar to the Graffiti writing system on a Palm device.

He also devised a number of word games, including an early version of what today is known as Scrabble. He also appears to have invented, or at least certainly popularised, the “doublet” a form of brain-teaser that is still popular today: the game of changing one word into another by altering one letter at a time, each successive change always resulting in a genuine word. For instance, CAT is transformed into DOG by the following steps: CAT, COT, DOT, DOG Other items include a rule for finding the day of the week for any date; a means for justifying right margins on a typewriter; a steering device for a velociam (a type of tricycle); new systems of parliamentary representation;more nearly fair elimination rules for tennis tournaments; a new sort of postal money order; rules for reckoning postage; rules for a win in betting; rules for dividing a number by various divisors; a cardboard scale for the college common room he worked in later in life, which, held next to a glass, ensured the right amount of liqueur for the price paid; a double-sided adhesive strip for things like the fastening of envelopes or mounting things in books; a device for helping a bedridden person to read from a book placed sideways; and at least two ciphers for cryptography.

During the remaining twenty years of his life He continued to teach at Christ Church until 1881, and remained in residence there until his death. The two volumes of his last novel, Sylvie and Bruno, were published in 1889 and 1893, but the intricacy of this work was apparently not appreciated by contemporary readers; it achieved nothing like the success of the Alice books, with disappointing reviews and sales of only 13,000 copies. The only known occasion on which he travelled abroad was a trip to Russia in 1867 as an ecclesiastical together with the Reverend Henry Liddon. He recounts the travel in his “Russian Journal”, which was first commercially published in 1935. On his way to Russia and back he also saw different cities in Belgium, Germany, the partitioned Poland, and France. He sadly died on 14 January 1898 at his sisters’ home, “The Chestnuts” in Guildford, of pneumonia following influenza. He was two weeks away from turning 66 years old. He is buried in Guildford at the Mount Cemetery.

John James Audubon

French American Ornithologist, Naturalist, Hunter and painter John James Audubon (Jean-Jacques Audubon sadly passed away January 27, 1851. Born in Les Cayes in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) he is famous for having painted, catalogued, and described the birds of North America in a manner far superior to any before him. From his earliest days, Audubon had an affinity for birds and His father encouraged this interest in nature. Once in America Audubon went to a boarding house run by Quaker women. They taught him English, and He traveled with the family’s Quaker lawyer to

the Audubon family farm in what he considered a paradise. “Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment, Studying his surroundings, Audubon quickly learned the ornithologist’s rule, which he wrote, “The nature of the place—whether high or low, moist or dry, whether sloping north or south, or bearing tall trees or low shrubs—generally gives hint as to its inhabitants.”His father hoped that the lead mines on the property could be commercially developed, as lead was an essential component of bullets. This could provide his son with a profitable occupation. Audubon met his neighbor William Bakewell, the owner of the nearby estate, whose daughter Lucy he married five years later. The two young people shared many common interests, and early on began to spend time together, exploring the natural world around them.

Audubon then set about studying American birds with the goal of illustrating his findings in a more realistic manner than most artists did then. He began conducting the first known bird-banding on the continent: he tied yarn to the legs of Eastern Phoebes and determined that they returned to the same nesting spots year after year. He also began drawing and painting birds, and recording their behaviour Audubon continued his bird studies and created his own nature museum, perhaps inspired by Charles Willson Peale, whose bird exhibits were considered scientifically advanced. Audubon’s room was brimming with birds’ eggs, stuffed raccoons and opossums, fish, snakes, and other creatures. He had become proficient at specimen preparation and taxidermy.With his father’s approval, Audubon sold part of his farm, including the house and mine, as they deemed the mining venture too risky. He retained some land for investment, then went to New York to learn the import-export trade, hoping to find a business to support his marriage to Lucy.

On October 12, 1820, Audubon went to Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida in search of ornithological specimens with George Lehman, a professional Swiss landscape artist. The following summer, he moved to the Oakley Plantation in the Felicianas, where he taught drawing. After a short stay in Cincinnati to work as a naturalist and taxidermist at a museum, Audubon traveled south on the Mississippi. By this time He was committed to find and paint all the birds of North America for eventual publication. His goal was to surpass the earlier ornithological work of poet-naturalist Alexander Wilson, whose work he used to guide him .Audubon called his future work “Birds of America”. He attempted to paint one page each day. Painting with newly discovered technique, He hired hunters to gather specimens for him. Audubon realized the ambitious project would take him away from his family for months at a time.

in 1824 Audubon returned to Philadelphia to seek a publisher for his bird drawings. He was rebuffed by many publishers, until he met Thomas Sully, one of the most famous portrait painters of the time and had earned the enmity of some of the city’s leading scientists at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He took oil painting lessons from Sully and met Charles Bonaparte, who admired his work and recommended he go to Europe to have his bird drawings engraved. So in 1826 Audubon took his growing collection of work to England, taking a portfolio of over 300 drawings. With letters of introduction to prominent Englishmen, Audubon gained their quick attention.

The British could not get enough of his images of backwoods America and its natural attractions. He met with great acceptance as he toured around England and Scotland, and was lionized as “the American woodsman.” He raised enough money to begin publishing his Birds of America. This monumental work consists of 435 hand-colored, life-size prints of 497 bird species, made from engraved copper plates of various sizes depending on the size of the image. They were printed on sheets measuring about 39 by 26 inches (660 mm). The work contains just over 700 North American bird species. The pages were organized for artistic effect and contrasting interest, as if the reader were taking a visual tour. The first and perhaps most famous plate was the Wild Turkey, which had been Benjamin Franklin’s candidate for the national bird. It lost to the Bald Eagle. Audubon also sold oil-painted copies of the drawings to make extra money and publicize the book.

Audubon soon had many fans including King George IV was also a subscriber to his book. London’s Royal Society recognized his achievement by electing Audubon a fellow. He followed Benjamin Franklin, who was the first American fellow. While in Edinburgh to seek subscriptions for the book, Audubon gave a demonstration of his method of propping up birds with wire at professor Robert Jameson’s Wernerian Natural History Association. Student Charles Darwin was in the audience. Audubon also visited the dissecting theatre of the anatomist Robert Knox. Audubon was a hit in France as well, gaining the King and several of the nobility as subscribers. Audubon returned to America in 1829 to complete more drawings for his magnum opus. He also hunted animals and shipped the valued skins to British friends. He was reunited with his family. After settling business affairs, Lucy accompanied him back to England.

He followed Birds of America with a sequel Ornithological Biographies. This was a collection of life histories of each species written with Scottish ornithologist William MacGillivray. The two books were printed separately to avoid a British law requiring copies of all publications with text to be deposited in Crown libraries, a huge financial burden for the self-published Audubon. Both books were published between 1827 and 1839. During the 1830s, Audubon continued making expeditions in North America. During a trip to Key West, a companion wrote in a newspaper article, “Mr. Audubon is the most enthusiastic and indefatigable man I ever knew…Mr. Audubon was neither dispirited by heat, fatigue, or bad luck”. he would draw during the day before returning to the field in the evening, a routine he kept up for weeks and months. In 1833, Audubon set forth from Maine accompanied by his son John, and five other young colleagues to explore the ornithology of Labrador. On the return voyage, the Ripley made a stop at St.George’s, Newfoundland and Audubon and his assistants documented 36 species of birds.

In 1839 having finished the Ornithological Biography, Audubon returned to the United States with his family. He bought an estate on the Hudson River (now Audubon Park). In 1842, he published an octavo edition of Birds of America, with 65 additional plates. It earned $36,000 and was purchased by 1100 subscribers. Audubon spent much time on “subscription gathering trips”, drumming up sales of the octavo edition, as he hoped to leave his family a sizable income. Audubon made some excursions out West where he hoped to record Western species he had missed, but his health began to fail, Until In 1848, he manifested signs of senility, his “noble mind in ruins.” He died at his family home on January 27, 1851. Audubon is buried, close to the location of his home, in the graveyard at the Church of the Intercession in the Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum at 155th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. There is an imposing monument in his honor at the cemetery, which is the center of the Heritage Rose District of NYC.

Audubon’s final work was on mammals, the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, prepared in collaboration with his good friend Rev. John Bachman of Charleston, South Carolina. Bachman supplied much of the scientific text. The work was completed by Audubon’s sons and son-in-law and published posthumously. His son John did most of the drawings. Audubon’s influence on ornithology and natural history was far reaching. Nearly all later ornithological works were inspired by his artistry and high standards. Charles Darwin quoted Audubon three times in On the Origin of Species and also in later works. Audubon’s field notes were a significant contribution to the understanding of bird anatomy and behavior. Birds of America is still considered one of the greatest examples of book art. Audubon discovered 25 new species and 12 new subspecies. He was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Linnaean Society, and the Royal Society in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Natural history

And now for something completely different (and rather tragic)

Best remembered for the the surreal and boundary-breaking zany humour of Monty Python and As co-director of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), with Terry Gilliam, and sole director of Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life (1983). British comedian, screenwriter, actor, film director and author Terry Jones, passed away on, 21 January 2020 at the age of 77 after being diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (a form of Alzheimer’s) in 2016.

Terry Jones was born 1 February 1942 in the seaside town of Colwyn Bay, on the north coast of Wales. The family home was named Bodchwil. His father was stationed with the RAF in India. When Jones was 4½, the family moved to Surrey in England. Terry Jones was educated at the Royal Grammar School Guildford, Surrey, and was head boy during the 1960-61 academic year. Later He read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, but “strayed into history”. He graduated with a 2:1. While there, he also performed comedy with future Monty Python castmate Michael Palin in The Oxford Revue.

Jones appeared in Twice a Fortnight with Michael Palin, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Jonathan Lynn, as well as the television series The Complete and Utter History of Britain. He also appeared in Do Not Adjust Your Set with Palin, Eric Idle and David Jason. He wrote for The Frost Report and several other David Frost programmes on British television. Along with Palin, he wrote lyrics for the 1968 Barry Booth album “Diversions”. Early on, Jones was interested in devising a fresh format for the Python TV shows, and it was largely he who developed the stream-of-consciousness style which abandoned punchlines and encouraged the fluid movement of one sketch into another, allowing the troupe’s conceptual humour the space to “breathe”. Jones took a keen interest in the direction of the show. As demonstrated in many of his sketches with Palin, Jones was interested in making comedy that was visually impressive, feeling that interesting settings augmented, rather than detracted from, the humour. His methods encouraged many future television comedians to break away from conventional studio-bound shooting styles, as demonstrated by shows such as Green Wing, Little Britain and The League of Gentlemen. Of Jones’ contributions as a performer, his depictions of middle-aged women are among the most memorable and his humour, in collaboration with Palin, tends to be conceptual in nature. A typical Palin/Jones sketch draws its humour from the absurdity of the scenario. For example, in the “Summarise Proust Competition”, Jones plays a cheesy game show host who gives contestants 15 seconds to condense Marcel Proust’s lengthy work À la recherche du temps perdu. Jones was also noted for his gifts as a Chaplinesque physical comedian. His performance in the “Undressing in Public” sketch, for instance, is done in total silence.

Jones co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam, and was sole director on two further Monty Python movies, Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. As a film director, Jones finally gained fuller control of the projects and devised a visual style that complemented the humour. His later films include Erik the Viking (1989) and The Wind in the Willows (1996). In 2008, Jones wrote and directed an opera titled Evil Machines. in 2011, he was commissioned to direct and write the libretto for another opera, entitled The Doctor’s Tale. On the commentary track of the 2004 “2 Disc Special Edition” DVD for the film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Terry Jones stated that to his knowledge Ireland had banned only four movies, three of which he had directed: The Meaning of Life, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Personal Services. He was also the creator and co-producer of the animated television program Blazing Dragons, which ran for two seasons. set in a fantasy medieval setting, the series’ protagonists are dragons who are beset by evil humans, reversing a common story convention. When the series was broadcast on US television, several episodes were censored due to minor cursing and the implied sexuality of an overtly effeminate character named “Sir Blaze”. The series was turned into a game for the Sega Saturn in 1994, featuring Jones’s voice. He co-wrote Ripping Yarns with Palin, and wrote the screenplay for Labyrinth (1986), although his draft went through several rewrites and several other writers before being filmed; much of the finished film wasn’t written by Jones at all. He has also written numerous works for children, including Fantastic Stories, The Beast with a Thousand Teeth, and a collection of Comic Verse called The Curse of the Vampire’s Socks.

He has written books and presented many award nominated television documentaries on medieval and ancient history and the history of numeral systems. such ad Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives (2004) (for which he received a 2004 Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming”) and Terry Jones’ Barbarians (2006) which presents the cultural achievements of peoples conquered by the Roman Empire in a more positive light than Roman historians typically have, while criticising the Romans as the true “barbarians” who exploited and destroyed higher civilizations (Romanes eunt Domus!)

He has written numerous editorials for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Observer condemning the Iraq war. Many of these editorials were published in a paperback collection titled Terry Jones’s War on the War on Terror. Chaucer’s Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary (1980) offers an alternative take on the historical view of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale as being a paragon of Christian virtue. His most recent book, Evil Machines, was launched by the online publishing house Unbound at the Adam Street Club in London on 4 November 2011. Evil Machines is the first book to be published by a crowd funding website dedicated solely to books. Jones provided significant support to Unbound and also a member of the UK Poetry Society, his poems have also appeared in Poetry Review.

Jones has performed with The Carnival Band and appears on their 2007 CD Ringing the changes. In January 2008, the Teatro São Luiz, in Lisbon, Portugal, premiered Evil Machines – a musical play, written by Jones (based on his book) and with original music by Luis Tinoco. Jones was invited by the Teatro São Luiz to write and direct the play, after a very successful run of Contos Fantásticos, a short play based on Jones’ Fantastic Stories, also with music by Luis Tinoco. In January 2012, it was announced that Jones is working with songwriter/producer Jim Steinman on a heavy metal version of “The Nutcracker.” Apart from a cameo in Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky and a memorable minor role as a drunken vicar in BBC sitcom The Young Ones, Jones has rarely appeared in work outside of his own projects. Since January 2009, however, he has provided narration for The Legend of Dick and Dom, a CBBC fantasy series set in the Middle Ages. He also appears in two French films by Albert Dupontel : Le Créateur (1999) and Enfermés dehors (2006). In 2009 Jones took part in the BBC Wales programme Coming Home which featured his Welsh family history.

Lord Byron📚

English poet George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS was born 22 January 1788. When Byron’s great-uncle, the “wicked” Lord Byron, died on 21 May 1798, the 10-year-old boy became the 6th Baron Byron of Rochdale and inherited the ancestral home, Newstead Abbey, in Nottinghamshire and leased it to Lord Grey de Ruthyn, among others, during Byron’s adolescence. Described as “a woman without judgment or self-command”, Catherine either spoiled and indulged her son or aggravated him with her capricious stubbornness. Her drinking disgusted him, and he often mocked her for being short and corpulent”. Upon the death of Byron’s mother-in-law Judith Noel, the Hon. Lady Milbanke, in 1822, he changed his surname to “Noel” in order to inherit half of her estate And obtained a Royal Warrant. Byron received his early formal education at Aberdeen Grammar School, and in August 1799 entered the school of Dr. William Glennie, in Dulwich.

Unfortunately His mother interfered with his studies, often withdrawing him from school, with the result that he lacked discipline and his classical studies were neglected. From 1801 until 1805 he attended Harrow. Byron fell in love with Mary Chaworth, whom he met while at school, and refused to return to Harrow in September 1803. Byron finally returned in January 1804, and became friends with John FitzGibbon, 2nd Earl of Clare — four years Byron’s junior. He later wrote nostalgic poems about his Harrow friendships, Childish Recollections(1806). He later attended Trinity College, Cambridge. where he met and formed a close friendship with the younger John Edleston, John Cam Hobhouse and Francis Hodgson, a Fellow at King’s College.

While not at school or college, Byron lived with his mother in Southwell, Nottinghamshire and became friends with Elizabeth Pigot and her brother, John, with whom he staged two plays for the entertainment of the community. His first volumes of poetry. Fugitive Pieces was printed by Ridge of Newark, which contained poems written when Byron was only 14. However, it was promptly recalled and burned on the advice of his friend, the Reverend Thomas Beecher, on account of its more amorous verses, particularly the poem To Mary. His next collection of Poems Hours of Idleness, was followed by his first major satire, English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809). Which upset many of his critics who challenged Byron to a duel; however over time, in subsequent editions it became a mark of prestige to be the target of Byron’s pen. After returning from his travels, he published the poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, in 1812. He followed up with the poem’s last two cantos, “Oriental Tales”: The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, The Corsair and Lara.

Byron racked up numerous debts as a young man, and had a “reckless disregard for money” And from 1809 to 1811, Byron went on the Grand Tour, then customary for a young nobleman. The Napoleonic Wars forced him to avoid most of Europe, and he instead turned to the Mediterranean. He had read about the Ottoman and Persian lands as a child, was attracted to Islam (especially Sufi mysticism). He travelled from England over Portugal, Spain and the Mediterranean to Albania and spent time at the court of Ali Pasha of Ioannina, and in Athens with his friend John Cam Hobhouse. When visiting Portugal Byron particularly enjoyed his stay in Sintra that is described in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage as “glorious Eden”. From Lisbon he travelled overland to Seville, Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz, Gibraltar and from there by sea on to Malta and Greece.While in Athens, Byron met 14-year-old Nicolò Giraud and taught him Italian Before sending him to school at a monastery in Malta. Whilst in Athens Byron wroteMaid of Athens. Byron made his way to Smyrna, where he and Hobhouse cadged a ride to Constantinople on HMSSalsette. Then went to Malta and returned to England from Malta in June 1813 aboard HMS Volage

Byron again left England, Travelling through Belgium up the Rhine River, Settling at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva, Switzerland, with his personal physician, the young, brilliant, and handsome John William Polidori. There Byron befriended the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shelley’s future wife Mary Godwin. He was also joined by Mary’s stepsister,Claire Clairmont. Kept indoors at the Villa Diodati by the “incessant rain over three days in June, the five turned to reading fantastical stories, including Fantasmagoriana, and then devising their own tales. Mary Shelley produced what would become Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, and Polidori was inspired by a fragmentary story of Byron’s, Fragment of a Novel, to produce The Vampyre, the progenitor of the romantic vampire genre. Byron’s story fragment was published as a postscript to Mazeppa; he also wrote the third canto of Childe Harold. Whilst in Venice Byron fell in love with Marianna Segati, and 22-year-old Margarita Cogni; both married women.Cogni could not read or write, and she left her husband to move into Byron’s Venice house.Their fighting often caused Byron to spend the night in his gondola; when he asked her to leave the house, she threw herself into the Venetian canal.Ultimately, Byron resolved to escape the disapproval of British society of his living arrangements by living abroad, and did not return for the last eight years of his life.

In 1816, Byron visited San Lazzaro degli Armeni in Venice, and studied Armenian culture with the help of the abbots belonging to the Mechitarist Order. With the help of Father H. Avgerian, he learned the Armenian language And attended many seminars about language and history. He wrote English Grammar and Armenian(Kerakanutyun angğiakan yev hayeren) in 1817, and Armenian Grammar and English(Kerakanutyun hayeren yev angğiakan) in 1819, including quotations fromclassical and modern Armenian. Byron also participated in the compilation of the English Armenian dictionary (Barraran angghieren yev hayeren, 1821) and wrote the preface in which he explained the relationship of the Armenians with and the oppression of the Turkish “pashas” and the Persian satraps, and their struggle of liberation. His two main translations are the Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, two chapters of Movses Khorenatsi’s History of Armenia and sections of Nerses of Lambron’s Orations. He studied the legend of Armenian patriarch Haik and his ideological courage has inspired many Armenian poets, the likes of Ghevond Alishan, Smbat Shahaziz, Hovhannes Tumanyan, Ruben Vorberian and others. In 1817, he journeyed to Rome. On returning to Venice, he wrote the fourth canto of Childe Harold and published Manfred, Cain and The Deformed Transformed. The first five cantos of Don Juan were written between 1818 and 1820, during which he eloped with Countess Guiccioli, and later married her. Between 1819 and 1821 Lord Byron lived in Ravenna where he continued the Don Juan and wrote the Ravenna Diary, My Dictionary and Recollections. From 1821 to 1822, he finished Cantos 6–12 of Don Juan at Pisa, and published a newspaper called “The Liberal” with Leigh Hunt and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Byron started giving dinner parties; his guests included the Shelleys, Edward Ellerker Williams, Thomas Medwin, John Taaffe and Edward John Trelawney; and “never”, as Shelley said, “did he display himself to more advantage than on these occasions; being at once polite and cordial, full of social hilarity and the most perfect good humour; never diverging into ungraceful merriment, and yet keeping up the spirit of liveliness throughout the evening.”Shelley and Williams rented a house on the coast and had a schooner built. Byron decided to have his own yacht, and engaged Trelawny’s friend, Captain Daniel Roberts, to design and construct the boat. Named the Bolivar, it was later sold to Charles John Gardiner, 1st Earl of Blessington, and Marguerite, Countess of Blessington, when Byron left for Greece in 1823. Byron attended the funeral of Shelley, which was orchestrated by Trelawny after Williams and Shelley drowned in a boating accident on 8 July 1822. His last Italian home was Genoa, where he was still accompanied by the Countess Guiccioli, however, in 1823, while growing bored with his life there, he accepted overtures for his support from representatives of the movement for Greek independence from theOttoman Empire.With the assistance of his banker and Captain Daniel Roberts, Byron chartered the Brig Hercules to take him to Greece. On 16 July, Byron left Genoa arriving atKefalonia on 4 August.

Byron chartered the Hercules And Between 1815 and 1823 the vessel was in service between England and Canada. Suddenly in 1823, the ship’s Captain decided to sail to Genoa and offer the Hercules for charter. After taking Byron to Greece, the ship returned to England, never again to venture into the Mediterranean. “The Hercules ran aground on 21 September 1852, aground near Hartlepool, only 25 miles south of Sunderland, where in 1815, her keel was laid.”Byron spent £4000 of his own money to refit the Greek fleet, then sailed for Missolonghi in western Greece, arriving on 29 December, to join Alexandros Mavrokordatos, a Greek politician with military power.When the famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen heard about Byron’s heroics in Greece, he voluntarily resculpted his earlier bust of Byron in Greek marble. Mavrokordatos and Byron planned to attack the Turkish-held fortress of Lepanto, at the mouth of the Gulf of Corinth. Byron employed a fire-master to prepare artillery and took part of the rebel army under his own command, despite his lack of military experience, but before the expedition could sail, on 15 February 1824, he fell ill, and the usual remedy of bloodletting weakened him further.He made a partial recovery, but in early April he caught a violent cold which therapeutic bleeding, insisted on by his doctors, aggravated. It is suspected this treatment, carried out with unsterilised medical instrumentation, may have caused him to develop sepsis. He developed a violent fever, and died on 19 April 1824.

Had Byron lived and gone on to defeat the Ottomans, he might have been declared King of Greece. Greeks mourned Lord Byron deeply, and he became a hero.The national poet of Greece, Dionysios Solomos, wrote a poem about the unexpected loss, named To the Death of Lord Byron. He is buried at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. At her request, Ada Lovelace, the child he never knew, was buried next to him. There is a duplicate of a marble slab given by the King of Greece, which is laid directly above Byron’s grave. Trinity College, Cambridge, have a statue of Byron in its library. In 1969, 145 years after Byron’s death, a memorial to him was finally placed in Westminster Abbey And On a very central area of Athens, Greece, outside the National Garden, is a statue depicting Greece in the form of a woman crowning Byron. The statue was made by the French Henri-Michel Chapu and Alexandre Falguière. Upon his death, the barony passed to Byron’s cousin George Anson Byron, a career naval officer.

Ursula K. LeGuin

American Sci-fi and Fantasy novelist Ursula K. Le Guin, Sadly died 22 January 2018. She was born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley, California, on October 21, 1929. Her father Alfred Louis Kroeber was an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Le Guin’s mother Theodora Kroeber had a graduate degree in psychology, but turned to writing in her sixties. She developed a successful career as an author: her best known work was Ishi in Two Worlds, a biographical volume about Ishi, an indigenous American who was the last known member of the Yahi tribe. Ursula had three older brothers, Karl, Theodore, and Clifton. The family had a large book collection, and the siblings all became interested in reading while they were young. The Kroeber family knew well-known academics such as Robert Oppenheimer. Le Guin would later use Oppenheimer as the model for her protagonist in The Dispossessed.

The family divided its time between a summer home in the Napa valley, and a house in Berkeley during the academic year. Le Guin’s reading included science fiction and fantasy: she and her siblings frequently read issues of Thrilling Wonder Stories and Astounding Science Fiction. She was fond of myths and legends, particularly Norse mythology, and of Native American legends that her father would narrate. Le Guin developed an early interest in writing; she wrote a short story when she was nine, and submitted her first short story to Astounding Science Fiction when she was eleven and She was also interested in biology and poetry but had difficulties with mathematics. Le Guin attended Berkeley High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Renaissance French and Italian literature from Radcliffe College in 1951, and graduated as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Le Guin undertook graduate studies at Columbia University, and earned a Master of Arts in French in 1952. Soon after, she began working towards a Ph.D., and won a Fulbright grant to continue her studies in France from 1953 to 1954.

In 1953, she traveled to France aboard the Queen Mary, And met historian Charles Le Guin, whom she married in Paris in December 1953. While her husband finished his doctorate at Emory University in Georgia, and later at the University of Idaho, Le Guin taught French and worked as a secretary until the birth of her daughter Elisabeth in 1957. In 1959 Charles became an instructor in history at Portland State University, and the couple moved to Portland, Oregon. Le Guin received further Fulbright grants to travel to London in 1968 and 1975. The couple had two daughters, Elisabeth and Caroline, by the time they moved, and a son, Theodore, was born in Portland in 1964.

Le Guin began writing in the 1950s, but the time she spent caring for her children constrained her writing schedule. She also became an editor and a teacher at the undergraduate level. She served on the editorial boards of the journals Paradoxa and Science Fiction Studies, in addition to writing literary criticism herself. She also taught courses at Tulane University, Bennington College, and Stanford University, among others.

Le Guin’s first published work was the poem “Folksong from the Montayna Province” in 1959, while her first short story was “An die Musik”, in 1961; both were set in her fictional country of Orsinia. Between 1951 and 1961 she also wrote five novels, all set in Orsinia, which were rejected by publishers on the grounds that they were inaccessible. Some of her poetry from this period was published in 1975 in the volume Wild Angels. Le Guin turned her attention to science fiction after lengthy periods of receiving rejections from publishers, knowing that there was a market for writing that could be readily classified as such. Her first professional publication was the short story “April in Paris” in 1962 in Fantastic Science Fiction, and four other stories followed in the next few years, in Fantastic or Amazing Stories Among them was The Dowry of the Angyar, which introduced the fictional Hainish Universe, and “The Rule of Names” and “The Word of Unbinding”, which introduced the world of Earthsea.

Rocannon’s World, Le Guin’s first published novel was released in 1966. Followed by, Planet of Exile and City of Illusions these became known as the Hainish Trilogy and contained many themes and ideas also present in Le Guin’s later works, including the “archetypal journey”, cultural contact and communication, the search for identity, and reconciling opposing forces. Le Guin’s next two books brought her sudden and widespread critical acclaim. A Wizard of Earthsea, published in 1968, was a fantasy coming of age story set in the fictional archipelago of Earthsea, the book received a positive reception in both the US and Britain

Her next novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, was a Hainish Universe story exploring themes of gender and sexuality on a fictional planet where humans have no fixed sex. it won both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards for best novel, making Le Guin the first woman to win these awards, and a number of other accolade. A Wizard of Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness were described by critic Harold Bloom as Le Guin’s masterpieces. She won the Hugo Award again in 1973 for The Word for World is Forest. Between 1966 and 1974, Le Guin also wrote the Hugo Award-winning “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” and the Nebula Award-winning “The Day Before the Revolution”, the next two novels in the Earthsea series, The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore, were published in 1971 and 1972. Her next novel The Dispossessed, was published in 1974 and took place in the Hainish Universe and explored anarchism and utopianism. This won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards for best novel, making her the first person to win both for the same two books.

However Le Guin refused a Nebula Award for her story “The Diary of the Rose” in 1975, in protest at the Science Fiction Writers of America’s revocation of Stanisław Lem’s membership. Le Guin attributed the revocation to Lem’s criticism of American science fiction and willingness to live in the Soviet Union, and said she felt reluctant to receive an award “for a story about political intolerance from a group that had just displayed political intolerance”.

Next Le Guin published the speculative fiction collection The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, the novels The Eye of the Heron, Orsinian Tales, Malafrena and Far Away from Anywhere Else, a realistic novel for adolescents, in 1979 she released a collection of essays entitled The Language of the Night and a volume of poetry entitled Wild Angels. Between 1979, and 1994, Le Guin wrote primarily for a younger audience releasing an adolescent fantasy novel called The Beginning Place, the experimental Always Coming Home together with 11 children’s picture books, between 1979 and 1994. Le Guin also wrote four more poetry collection and another Earthsea novel Tehanu in 1992. In 1983 she delivered a commencement address entitled “A Left-Handed Commencement Address” at Mills College in Oakland, California.

In 1990 Le Guin published – “The Shobies’ Story” containing the story “Coming of Age in Karhide”. She also published Four Ways to Forgiveness, and “Old Music and the Slave Women”, and In 2000 she published The Telling, her final Hainish novel. Several collections and anthologies of Le Guin’s work were also published. A series of her stories from the period 1994–2002 was released in 2002 Including The Birthday of the World and Other Stories, the novella Paradises Lost, the novel Changing Planes and the anthology The Unreal and the Real. In 2008 she published Lavinia, this was based on a character from Virgil’s Aeneid and the Annals of the Western Shore trilogy, consisting of Gifts, Voices and Powers which received the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 2009.

Le Guin’s final publication, was a collection of non-fiction, titled Dreams Must Explain Themselves. Le Guin also resigned from the Authors Guild in protest over its endorsement of Google’s book digitization project. “You decided to deal with the devil”, she wrote in her resignation letter. “There are principles involved, above all the whole concept of copyright; and these you have seen fit to abandon to a corporation, on their terms, without a struggle. In a speech at the 2014 National Book Awards, Le Guin criticized Amazon and the control it exerted over the publishing industry, specifically referencing Amazon’s treatment of the Hachette Book Group during a dispute over ebook publication. Sadly. Le Guin died on January 22, 2018, at her home in Portland, Oregon at the age of 88 having been in poor health She was survived by her husband Charles and her three children. Private memorial services for her were held in Portland and A public memorial service, which included speeches by Margaret Atwood, Molly Gloss, and Walidah Imarisha, was held in Portland in June 2018.