John Betjeman

English poet, writer and broadcaster Sir John Betjeman, CBE. sadly passed away on 19 May 1984, aged 77. He was Born 28 August 1906, and was a founding member of the Victorian Society and a passionate defender of Victorian architecture. He Started his career as a journalist, and ended it as one of the most popular British Poets Laureates and a much-loved figure on British television. Betjeman’s early schooling was at the local Byron House and Highgate School, where he was taught by the poet T. S. Eliot. After this, he boarded at the Dragon School preparatory school in North Oxford and Marlborough College, a public school in Wiltshire. In his penultimate year, he joined the secret ‘Society of Amici’ in which he was a contemporary of both Louis MacNeice and Graham Shepard. While at school, his exposure to the works of Arthur Machen won him over to High Church Anglicanism, a conversion of importance to his later writing and conception of the arts.

Betjeman studied at the newly created School of English Language and Literature at Magdalen College , Oxford University ,where he dedicated most of his time to cultivating his social life, his interest in English ecclesiastical architecture, and to private literary pursuits.He also had a poem published in Isis, the university magazine and was editor of the Cherwell student newspaper during 1927. His first book of poems was privately printed with the help of fellow-student Edward James. Betjeman left Oxford without a degree but he had made the acquaintance of people who would influence his work. After university, Betjeman worked briefly as a private secretary, school teacher and film critic for the Evening Standard. He was employed by the Architectural Review between 1930 and 1935, as a full time assistant editor, following their publishing of some of his freelance work. At this time, while his prose style matured, he joined the MARS Group, an organisation of young modernist architects and architectural critics in Britain.The Shell Guides, were developed by Betjeman and Jack Beddington, a friend who was publicity manager with Shell-Mex Ltd. The series aimed to guide Britain’s growing number of motorists around the counties of Britain and their historical sites. They were published by the Architectural Press and financed by Shell. By the start of World War II 13 had been published, of which Cornwall (1934) and Devon (1936) had been written by Betjeman. A third, Shropshire, was written with and designed by his good friend John Piper in 1951.

Upon the outbreak of World War II In 1939, Betjeman was rejected for active service but found work with the films division of the Ministry of Information. During his time he wrote a number of poems based on his experiences in “Emergency” World War II Ireland including “The Irish Unionist’s Farewell to Greta Hellstrom in 1922″ (actually written during the war) which contained the refrain “Dungarvan in the rain”. After the war Betjaman published more work and By 1948 he had published more than a dozen books. Five of these were verse collections and The popularity of the book prompted Ken Russell to make a film about him, John Betjeman: A Poet in London which was first shown in England on BBC’s Monitor programme. He continued writing guidebooks and works on architecture during the 1960s and 1970s and started broadcasting. He was also a founder member of The Victorian Society (1958). In 1973 he made a widely acclaimed television documentary for the BBC called Metro-land, directed by Edward Mirzoeff. Betjeman was also fond of the ghost stories of M.R. James and supplied an introduction to Peter Haining’s book M.R. James – Book of the Supernatural. Betjeman also wrote a great many poems which are often humorous and in broadcasting he exploited his bumbling and fogeyish image. His wryly comic verse is accessible and has attracted a great following for its satirical and observant grace. Betjeman s religious beliefs come through in some of his poems .Betjeman became Poet Laureate in 1972, the first Knight Bachelor ever to be appointed (the only other, Sir William Davenant, had been knighted after his appointment). This role, combined with his popularity as a television performer, ensured that his poetry eventually reached an enormous audience.

Betjeman also had a fondness for Victorian architecture and was a founding member of Victorian Society and also wrote on this subject in First and Last Loves (1952) and more extensively in London’s Historic Railway Stations in 1972, defending the beauty of the twelve London railway stations. He led the campaign to save Holy Trinity, Sloane Street in London when it was threatened with demolition in the early 1970s. He fought a spirited but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to save the Propylaeum, known commonly as the Euston Arch, London. He is considered instrumental in helping to save the famous façade of St Pancras railway station, London and was commemorated when it re-opened as an international and domestic terminus in November 2007. He called the plan to demolish St Pancras a “criminal folly”. ” On the re-opening St Pancras in 2007, a statue of Betjeman was commissioned from curators Futurecity. A proposal by artist Martin Jennings was selected from a shortlist. The finished work was erected in the station at platform level, including a series of slate roundels depicting selections of Betjeman’s writings. Betjeman responded to architecture as the visible manifestation of society’s spiritual life as well as its political and economic structure. He attacked speculators and bureaucrats for what he saw as their rapacity and lack of imagination. He is buried in the churchyard at St Enodoc’s Church.

During his life he recieved many honours including the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire), Companion of Literature, the Royal Society of Literature, a Knight Bachelor he was also made an Honorary Member, the American Academy of Arts in 1973 and was made poet Laureate in 1972. To commemorate Betjeman A memorial window, designed by John Piper, is set in All Saints’ Church, Farnborough, Berkshire, where Betjeman lived in the adjoining Rectory and there is also The Betjeman Millennium Park at Wantage in Oxfordshire as well as a statue of John Betjeman at St Pancras station by sculptor Martin Jennings which was unveiled in 2007. In addition The John Betjeman Young People’s Poetry Competition was inaugurated in 2006 to celebrate Betjeman’s centenary. The competition is open to 11–14 year olds living anywhere in the British Isles and the Republic of Ireland. The spirit behind the competition is to encourage young people to understand and appreciate the importance of place.

L. Frank Baum

Best known for writing “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, the prolific American author Lyman “L.” Frank Baum was born on May 15, 1856 in Chittenango, New York, in 1856, and grew up on his parents’ expansive estate, Rose Lawn. AS a young child, he was tutored at home with his siblings, but at the age of 12, he was sent to study at Peekskill Military Academy, and after two utterly miserable years he was allowed to return home. Baum started writing at an early age and His father bought him a cheap printing press; which, with the help of his younger brother Henry (Harry) Clay Baum, he used to produce The Rose Lawn Home Journal.

The brothers published several issues of the journal, Baum also established a second amateur journal, The Stamp Collector, he also printed “Baum’s Complete Stamp Dealers” Directory, and started a stamp dealership with friends. At the age of 20, Baum started breeding fancy poultry, and specialized in raising a particular breed of fowl, the Hamburg. In March 1880 he established a monthly trade journal, The Poultry Record, and in 1886, he published his first book: The Book of the Hamburgs: A Brief Treatise upon the Mating, Rearing, and Management of the Different Varieties of Hamburgs.

Baum, then became interested in theatre, performing under the stage names of Louis F. Baum and George Brooks. In 1880, his father built him a theatre in Richburg, New York, and he set about writing plays and gathering a company to act in them. The Maid of Arran, a melodrama with songs based on William Black’s novel A Princess of Thule, proved a modest success. Baum not only wrote the play but composed songs for it and also acted in the leading role. His aunt was also the founder of Syracuse Oratory School, and Baum advertised his services in her catalog to teach theatre, including stage business, playwriting, directing, and translating, revision, and operettas.

In 1882, Baum married Maud Gage, and in 1888 they moved to Aberdeen, Dakota, where he opened a store, “Baum’s Bazaar” and later editing a local newspaper, The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, where he wrote a column, “Our Landlady”. Baum’s description of Kansas in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is based on his experiences in drought-ridden South Dakota. After Baum’s newspaper failed in 1891, he, Maud and their four sons moved to Humboldt Park, Chicago, where Baum took a job reporting for the Evening Post. In 1897 he wrote and published Mother Goose in Prose, a collection of Mother Goose rhymes written as prose stories, which was illustrated by Maxfield Parrish. This was followed in 1899 when Baum partnered with illustrator W. W. Denslow, to publish Father Goose, which was a collection of nonsense poetry, which became the best-selling children’s book of the year.

In 1900, Baum and Denslow published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to much critical acclaim and financial success, and this became the best-selling children’s book for two years after its initial publication. Baum went on to write thirteen more novels based on the places and people of the Land of Oz.Two years after Wizard’s publication, Baum and Denslow teamed up with composer Paul Tietjens and director Julian Mitchell to produce a musical stage version of the book under Fred R. Hamlin, which, opened in Chicago in 1902, then ran on Broadway for 293 stage nights from January to October 1903. It returned to Broadway in 1904, where it played from March to May and again from November to December. It successfully toured the United States with much of the same cast, until 1911, it differed considerably from the book, and was aimed primarily at adults.

Baum then wrote a sequel, The Woggle-Bug, however the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman were omitted from this adaptation. He later worked on a musical version of Ozma of Oz, which eventually became The Tik-Tok Man Of Oz. This did fairly well in Los Angeles, and also began a stage version of The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Baum also wrote several plays for various celebrations. and In 1914, after moving to Hollywood, Baum started his own film production company, The Oz Film Manufacturing Company. Many times during the development of the Oz series, Baum declared that he had written his last Oz book and devoted himself to other works of fantasy fiction based in other magical lands, However, persuaded by popular demand, letters from children, and the failure of his new books, he returned to the series each time.

Sadly on May 6th 1919 L Frank Baum passed away after having a stroke, nine days short of his 63rd birthday. He was buried in Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. His final Oz book, Glinda of Oz, was published on July 10, 1920, a year after his death. The Oz series was continued long after his death by other authors, notably Ruth Plumly Thompson, who wrote an additional nineteen Oz books. his other works also remained popular after his death, with The Master Key appearing on St. Nicholas Magazine’s survey of readers’ favorite books well into the 1920s. His novels also predicted such century-later commonplaces as television, laptop computers (The Master Key), wireless telephones (Tik-Tok of Oz), women in high risk, action-heavy occupations (Mary Louise in the Country), and the ubiquity of advertising on clothing (Aunt Jane’s Nieces at Work), and the Wonderful Wizard of Oz series of books remains popular to this day and his novels have been adapted for screen numerous times, the most famous being the 1939 version starring Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale which is a perennial Favourite on television during holidays.

Daphne du Maurier

English author and playwright Dame Daphne du Maurier, Lady Browning DBE was born 13 May 1907. Many of her works have been adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca (which won the Best Picture Oscar in 1941), Jamaica Inn and the short stories The Birds and Don’t Look Now. The first three were directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the latter by Nicolas Roeg she is considered a first-rate storyteller, a mistress of suspense and Her ability to recreate a sense of place is much admired, and her work remains popular worldwide.The novel Rebecca, which has been adapted for stage and screen several times, is generally regarded as her masterpiece.

In the U.S. she won the National Book Award for favourite novel of 1938, voted by members of the American Booksellers Association. One of her strongest influences here was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Her fascination with the Brontë family is also apparent in The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë, her biography of the troubled elder brother to the Brontë girls. The fact that their mother had been Cornish no doubt added to her interest.[citation needed]Other significant works include The Scapegoat, The House on the Strand, and The King’s General. The last is set in the middle of thefirst and second English Civil Wars. Though written from the Royalist perspective of her adopted Cornwall, it gives a fairly neutral view of this period of history.Several of her other novels have also been adapted for the screen, including Jamaica Inn, Frenchman’s Creek, Hungry Hill, and My Cousin Rachel (1951). The Hitchcock film The Birds (1963) is based on a treatment of one of her short stories, as is the film Don’t Look Now (1973). Of the films, du Maurier often complained that the only ones she liked were Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Nicolas Roeg’sDon’t Look Now. Hitchcock’s treatment of Jamaica Inn involved a complete re-write of the ending to accommodate the ego of its star,Charles Laughton. Du Maurier also felt that Olivia de Havilland was wrongly cast as the anti-heroine of My Cousin Rachel.

Frenchman’s Creek fared rather better in a lavish Technicolor version released in 1944. Du Maurier later regretted her choice of Alec Guinness as the lead in the film of The Scapegoat, which she partly financed. In 1989, Indian director Pavithran adapted her short story “No Motive” from the collection The Rendezvous and Other Stories (1980) for his critically acclaimed mystery thriller Utharam(Answer).Du Maurier was often categorised as a “romantic novelist” (a term she deplored), though most of her novels, with the notable exception of Frenchman’s Creek, are quite different from the stereotypical format of a Georgette Heyer or a Barbara Cartland novel. Du Maurier’s novels rarely have a happy ending, and her brand of romanticism is often at odds with the sinister overtones and shadows of the paranormal she so favoured. In this light, she has more in common with the “sensation novels” of Wilkie Collins and others, which she admired.

Du Maurier’s novel Mary Anne (1954) is a fictionalised account of the real-life story of her great-great-grandmother, Mary Anne Clarkenée Thompson (1776–1852). From 1803 to 1808, Mary Anne Clarke was mistress of Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827). He was the “Grand Old Duke of York” of the nursery rhyme, a son of King George III and brother of the later King George IV.The central character of her last novel, Rule Britannia, is an ageing and eccentric actress who was based on Gertrude Lawrence andGladys Cooper (to whom it is dedicated).It was in her short stories that she was able to give free rein to the harrowing and terrifying side of her imagination; “The Birds”, “Don’t Look Now”, “The Apple Tree” and “The Blue Lenses” are exquisitely crafted tales of terror that shocked and surprised her audience in equal measure.

Daphne du Maurier wrote three plays. Her first was a successful adaptation of her novel Rebecca, she also wrote the auto biographical drama The Years Between about the unexpected return of a senior officer, thought killed in action, who finds that his wife has taken his seat as Member of Parliament and has started a romantic relationship with a local farmer. Better known is her third play, September Tide, about a middle-aged woman whose bohemian artist son-in-law falls for her. She also wrote family novels/biographies about her own ancestry, of which Gerald, the biography of her father, was most lauded. Later she wrote The Glass-Blowers, which traces her French ancestry and gives a vivid depiction of the French Revolution. The du Mauriers is a sequel of sorts describing the somewhat problematic ways in which the family moved from France to England in the 19th century and finally Mary Anne, the novel based on the life of a notable, and infamous, English ancestor – her great-grandmother Mary Anne Clarke, former mistress of Frederick, Duke of York.

Her final novels reveal just how far her writing style had developed. The House on the Strand (1969) combines elements of “mental time-travel”, a tragic love affair in 14th century Cornwall, and the dangers of using mind-altering drugs. Her final novel, Rule Britannia, written post-Vietnam, plays with the resentment of English people in general and Cornish people in particular at the increasing dominance of the U.S. Du Maurier sadly passed away aged 81 at her home in Cornwall, on 19 April 1989, which had been the setting for many of her books. Her body was cremated and her ashes scattered at Kilmarth

Edward Lear

Renowned for humourous poetry, prose and limericks, the British artist, illustrator, author, and poet Edward Lear was born 12 May 1812 in the village of Holloway, and was raised by his eldest sister, 21 years his senior. Due to the family’s failing financial fortune, at age four he and his sister had to leave the family home and set up house together. Ann doted on Edward and continued to mother him until her death, when he was almost 50 years of age. Lear suffered from health problems. From the age of six he suffered frequent grand mal epileptic seizures, and bronchitis, asthma, and in later life, partial blindness. Lear experienced his first seizure at a fair near Highgate with his father this event scared and embarrassed him. Lear felt lifelong guilt and shame for his epileptic condition. His adult diaries indicate that he always sensed the onset of a seizure in time to remove himself from public view. How Lear was able to anticipate them is not known, but many people with epilepsy report a ringing in their ears (tinnitus) or an aura before the onset of a seizure. In Lear’s time epilepsy was believed to be associated with demonic possession, which contributed to his feelings of guilt and loneliness. When Lear was about seven he began to show signs of depression, possibly due to the constant instability of his childhood. He suffered from periods of severe depression which he referred to as “the Morbids.

Lear was already drawing by the time he was aged 16 and soon developed into a serious “ornithological draughtsman” employed by the Zoological Society and then from 1832 to 1836 by the Earl of Derby, who kept a private menagerie at his estate Knowsley Hall. Lear’s first publication, published when he was 19 years old, was Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots in 1830.His paintings were well received and he was compared favourably with the naturalist John James Audubon.He was also widely travelled and visited Greece and Egypt during 1848–49, and toured India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) during 1873–75. While travelling he produced large quantities of coloured wash drawings in a distinctive style, which he converted later in his studio into oil and watercolour paintings, as well as prints for his books.His landscape style often shows views with strong sunlight, with intense contrasts of colour. Throughout his life he continued to paint seriously. He had a lifelong ambition to illustrate Tennyson’s poems; near the end of his life a volume with a small number of illustrations was published

In 1846 Lear published A Book of Nonsense, a volume of limericks that went through three editions and helped popularize the form. In 1865 The History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple-Popple was published, and in 1867 his most famous piece of nonsense, The Owl and the Pussycat, which he wrote for the children of his patron Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby. Many other works followed. Lear’s nonsense books were quite popular during his lifetime, but a rumor developed that “Edward Lear” was merely a pseudonym, and the books’ true author was the man to whom Lear had dedicated the works, his patron the Earl of Derby. Promoters of this rumour offered as evidence the facts that both men were named Edward, and that “Lear” is an anagram of “Earl.” Lear travelled widely throughout his life and eventually settled in Sanremo, on his beloved Mediterranean coast, in the 1870s, at a villa he named “Villa Tennyson.” The closest he came to marriage was two proposals, both to the same woman 46 years his junior, which were not accepted. For companions he relied instead on a circle of friends and correspondents, and especially, in later life, on his Albanian Souliote chef, Giorgis, a faithful friend and, as Lear complained, a thoroughly unsatisfactory chef. Another trusted companion in Sanremo was his cat, Foss, who died in 1886 and was buried with some ceremony in a garden at Villa Tennyson.

Lear’s most fervent and painful friendship involved Franklin Lushington. He met the young barrister in Malta in 1849 and then toured southern Greece with him. Lear developed an undoubtedly homosexual passion for him that Lushington did not reciprocate. Although they remained friends for almost forty years, until Lear’s death, the disparity of their feelings for one another constantly tormented Lear. Indeed, none of Lear’s attempts at male companionship were successful; the very intensity of Lear’s affections seemingly doomed the relationships. The closest he came to marriage with a woman was two proposals, both to the same person 46 years his junior, which were not accepted. For companions he relied instead on friends and correspondents, and especially, during later life, on his Albanian Souliote chef, Giorgis, a faithful friend and, as Lear complained, a thoroughly unsatisfactory chef. Another trusted companion in Sanremo was his cat, Foss, who died in 1886 and was buried with some ceremony in a garden at Villa Tennyson. Lear eventually settled in San Remo, on his beloved Mediterranean coast, in the 1870s, at a villa he named “Villa Tennyson.” Lear was known to introduce himself with a long pseudonym: “Mr Abebika kratoponoko Prizzikalo Kattefello Ablegorabalus Ableborinto phashyph” or “Chakonoton the Cozovex Dossi Fossi Sini Tomentilla Coronilla Polentilla Battledore & Shuttlecock Derry down Derry Dumps” which he based on Aldiborontiphoskyphorniostikos.

Sadly After a long decline in his health, Lear died at his villa on 29 January 1888, of heart disease. Lear’s funeral was said to be a sad, lonely affair by the wife of Dr. Hassall, Lear’s physician, with none of Lear’s many lifelong friends being able to attend. Lear is buried in the Cemetery Foce in San Remo. The centenary of his death was marked in Britain with a set of Royal Mail stamps in 1988 and an exhibition at the Royal Academy. Lear’s birthplace area is now marked with a plaque at Bowman’s Mews, Islington, in London.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

English Poet, illustrator and translator Dante Gabriel Rossetti was Born 12 May 1828 . Like all his siblings, he aspired to be a poet and attended King’s College School, in its original location near the Strand. He also wished to be a painter, having shown a great interest in Medieval Italian art. He studied at Henry Sass’s Drawing Academy from 1841 to 1845 when he enrolled at the Antique School of the Royal Academy, leaving in 1848. After leaving the Royal Academy, Rossetti studied under Ford Madox Brown, with whom he retained a close relationship throughout his life. Following the exhibition of William Holman Hunt’s painting The Eve of St. Agnes, Rossetti sought out Hunt’s friendship. The painting illustrated a poem by the little-known John Keats. Rossetti’s own poem, “The Blessed Damozel”, was an imitation of Keats, and he believed Hunt might share his artistic and literary ideals. Together they developed the philosophy of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which they founded along with John Everett Millais. The group’s intention was to reform English art by rejecting what they considered to be the mechanistic approach first adopted by the Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo and the formal training regime introduced by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Their approach was to return to the abundant detail, intense colours, and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian and Flemish art. For the first issue of the brotherhood’s magazine, The Germ, published early in 1850, Rossetti contributed a poem, “The Blessed Damozel”, and a story about a fictional early Italian artist inspired by a vision of a woman who bids him combine the human and the divine in his art.Rossetti was always more interested in the medieval than in the modern side of the movement, working on translations of Dante and other medieval Italian poets, and adopting the stylistic characteristics of the early Italians.

He started out painting in oils with water-colour brushes, as thinly as in water-colour, on canvas which he had primed with white till the surface was a smooth as cardboard, and every tint remained transparent. I saw at once that he was not an orthodox boy, but acting purely from the aesthetic motive. The mixture of genius and dilettantism of both men shut me up for the moment, and whetted my curiosity. Stung by criticism of his second major painting, Ecce Ancilla Domini, exhibited in 1850, and the “increasingly hysterical critical reaction that greeted Pre-Raphaelitism”, Rossetti turned to watercolours. Although his work subsequently won support from John Ruskin. For many years, Rossetti worked on English translations of Italian poetry including Dante Alighieri’s La Vita Nuova . These and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur inspired his art of the 1850s. He created a method of painting in watercolours, using thick pigments mixed with gum to give rich effects similar to medieval illuminations. He also developed a novel drawing technique in pen-and-ink. His first published illustration was “The Maids of Elfen-Mere” (1855), for a poem by his friend William Allingham. Rossetti also painted the upper wall of the Oxford Union debating-hall with scenes from Le Morte d’Arthur and to decorate the roof between the open timbers. Seven artists were recruited,and the work was hastily begun and they are now barely visible. Rossetti also contributed two illustrations to the 1857 edition of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Poems and illustrations for works by his sister Christina Rossetti.His visions of Arthurian romance and medieval design also inspired William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones who were much influenced by his works, and met him by recruiting him as a contributor to their Oxford and Cambridge Magazine which Promoted his ideas about art and poetry.

Around 1860, Rossetti returned to oil painting, abandoning the dense medieval of the 1850s in favour of powerful close-up images of women in flat pictorial spaces characterised by dense colour. These paintings became a major influence on the development of the European Symbolist movement. Rossetti’s depiction of women became almost obsessively stylised. He portrayed his new lover Fanny Cornforth as the epitome of physical eroticism, whilst Jane Burden, the wife of his business partner William Morris, was glamorised as an ethereal goddess. “As in Rossetti’s previous reforms, the new kind of subject appeared, These new works were based on the Italian High Renaissance artists of Venice, Titian and Veronese.In 1861, Rossetti became a founding partner in the decorative arts firm, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. with Morris, Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown, Philip Webb, Charles Faulkner and Peter Paul Marshall.Rossetti contributed designs for stained glass and other decorative objects. Sadly Rossetti’s wife Elizabeth Siddal died of an overdose of laudanum in 1862, shortly after giving birth to a stillborn child. Rossetti became increasingly depressed, and on the death of his beloved Lizzie, buried the bulk of his unpublished poems with her at Highgate Cemetery, though he later had them dug up. He idealised her image as Dante’s Beatrice in a number of paintings, such as Beata Beatrix. Rossetti lived in Chelsea for 20 years surrounded by extravagant furnishings and a parade of exotic birds and animals and was fascinated with wombats, frequently visiting the “Wombat’s Lair” at the London Zoo in Regent’s Park. In September 1869 he acquired the first of two pet wombats, which he named “Top”. Rossetti’s fascination with exotic animals continued throughout his life, culminating in the purchase of a llama and a toucan.

Rossetti also maintained Fanny Cornforth (described delicately by William Allington as Rossetti’s “housekeeper” inher own establishment nearby in Chelsea, and painted many voluptuous images of her.In 1865 he discovered auburn-haired Alexa Wilding, a dressmaker and would-be actress who was engaged to model for him on a full-time basis and sat for The Blessed Damozel and other paintings. Rossetti also used Jane Morris,as a model for the Oxford Union murals he painted with William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones in 1857, and she also sat for him during these years, she “consumed and obsessed him in paint, poetry, and life”. Rossetti was prevailed upon by Charles Augustus Howell, to exhume his poems from his wife’s grave which he did, collating and publishing them in 1870 in the volume Poems by D. G. Rossetti. This included the poems Nuptial Sleep, the House of Life and The Ballad of Dead Ladies which all created offence and controversy With their eroticism and sensuality but became Rossetti’s most substantial literary achievement. In 1881, Rossetti published a second volume of poems, Ballads and Sonnets, which included the remaining sonnets from The House of Life sequence. Unfortunately The savage reaction of critics to Rossetti’s first collection of poetry contributed to a mental breakdown in June 1872. After he recovered he began creating a soulful series of dream-like portraits featuring Alexa Wilding and Jane Morris

He spent his last days at Cheyne Walk battling deppression , exacerbated by his drug addiction to chloral hydrate and increasing mental instability, until finally On Sunday 9 April 1882 he died at the country house of a friend, where he had gone in a vain attempt to recover his health, which had been destroyed by chloral as his wife’s had been destroyed by laudanum. He died of Brights Disease, a disease of the kidneys from which he had been suffering for some time. He is buried at Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, England. His work influenced went on to influence many including the European Symbolists and the Aesthetic movement. Rossetti’s art was characterised by its sensuality and its medieval revivalism. His early poetry was influenced by John Keats. Among his most famous paintings are he Girlhood of Mary Virgin (1849) and Astarte Syriaca (1877). He also created art to illustrate poems such as Goblin Market by his sister, the celebrated poet Christina Rossetti.

So long and thanks for all the fish

Best known as the author of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, English author Douglas Adams, sadly passed away on 11th May 2001. He was born 11th March 1952 in Cambridge, England, and attended Primrose Hill Primary School in Brentwood. At nine, he passed the entrance exam for Brentwood School, an independent school whose alumni include Robin Day, Jack Straw, Noel Edmonds, and David Irving. Griff Rhys Jones was also a year below him. He attended the prep school from 1959 to 1964, then the main school until December 1970. He became the only student ever to be awarded a ten out of ten by Halford for creative writing,Some of his earliest writing was published at the school, such as reports or spoof reviews in the school magazine Broadsheet He also designed the cover of one issue of the Broadsheet, and had a letter and short story published nationally in The Eagle, in 1965, he was awarded a place at St John’s College, Cambridge to read English, Which he attended from 1971, though the main reason he applied to Cambridge was to join the Footlights, an invitation-only student comedy club that has acted as a hothouse for some of the most notable comic talent in England.

He graduated from St. John’s in 1974 with a B.A. in English literature. After leaving university Adams moved back to London, determined to break into TV and radio as a writer. The Footlights Revue appeared on BBC2 television in 1974 and also performed live in London’s West End which led to Adams being discovered by Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. The two formed a brief writing partnership, earning Adams a writing credit in episode 45 of Monty Python for a sketch called “Patient Abuse”, which plays on the idea of mind-boggling paper work in an emergency, a joke later incorporated into the Vogons’ obsession with paperwork. Adams also contributed to a sketch on the album for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Adams also continued to write and submit other sketches, though few were accepted. In 1976 he wrote and performed, Unpleasantness at Brodie’s Close at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Some of Adams’s early radio work included sketches for The Burkiss Way in 1977 and The News Huddlines. He also wrote the 20 February 1977 episode of the “Doctor on the Go” television comedy series, with Graham Chapman.

After writing the Doctor Who episode “The Pirate planet” Adams became the script editor for Doctor Who’s seventeenth season in 1979 and wrote three Doctor Who serials starring Tom Baker as the Doctor: The Pirate Planet, City of Death and Shada. Adams also allowed in-jokes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to appear in the Doctor Who stories he wrote and other stories on which he served as Script Editor. Elements of Shada and City of Death were also reused in Adams’s later novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Adams is also credited with introducing a fan and later friend of his, the evolutionaruy biologist Richard Dawkins, to Dawkins’s future wife, Lalla Ward, who had played the part of Romana in Doctor Who.Adams also sent the script for the HHGG pilot radio programme to the Doctor Who production office in 1978. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy started As a concept for a science-fiction comedy radio series pitched by Adams and radio producer Simon Brett to BBC Radio 4 in 1977.

Adams came up with an outline for a pilot episode, as well as a few other stories (reprinted in Neil Gaiman’s book Don’t Panic: The Official Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion) that could potentially be used in the series. It started life in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy and a after the first radio series became successful, Adams was made a BBC radio producer, working on Week Ending and a pantomime called Black Cinderella Two Goes East. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was also developed into a series of five books that sold over 15 million copies in his lifetime, a television series, several stage plays, comics, a computer game, and in 2005 a feature film. Adams’s contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy’s Hall of Fame. Adams also wrote Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987) and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988), and co-wrote The Meaning of Liff (1983), Last Chance to See (1990), and three stories for the television series Doctor Who. A posthumous collection of his work, including an unfinished novel, was published as The Salmon of Doubt in 2002. He submit a potential movie script, which later became his novel Life, the Universe and Everything (which in turn became the third Hitchhiker’s Guide radio series).

Adams also played the guitar and had a collection of twenty-four guitars when he died in 2001 and also studied piano in the 1960s with the same teacher as Paul Wickens, the pianist who plays in Paul McCartney’s band (and composed the music for the 2004–2005 editions of the Hitchhiker’s Guide radio series). The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Procol Harum all had important influence on Adams’s work.Adams included a direct reference to Pink Floyd in the original radio version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which he describes the main characters surveying the landscape of an alien planet while Marvin, their android companion, hums Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”. This was cut out of the CD version. Adams also compared the various noises that the kakapo makes to “Pink Floyd studio out-takes” in his nonfiction book on endangered species, Last Chance to See.

Adams’s official biography shares its name with the song “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. Adams was friends with Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and, on the occasion of Adams’s 42nd birthday (the number 42 having special significance, being the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything and also Adams’s age when his daughter Polly was born), he was invited to make a guest appearance at Pink Floyd’s 28 October 1994 concert at Earls Court in London, playing guitar on the songs “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse”. Adams chose the name for Pink Floyd’s 1994 album, The Division Bell, by picking the words from the lyrics to one of its tracks, namely “High Hopes”. Gilmour also performed at Adams’s memorial service following his death in 2001, and what would have been Adams’ 60th birthday party in 2012.Douglas Adams was also a friend of Gary Brooker, the lead singer, pianist and songwriter of the progressive rock band Procol Harum. Adams is known to have invited Brooker to one of the many parties that Adams held at his house. On one such occasion Gary Brooker performed the full version of his hit song “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. Brooker also performed at Adams’s memorial service. Adams also appeared on stage with Brooker to perform “In Held Twas in I” at Redhill when the band’s lyricist Keith Reid was not available.Adams was also an advocate for environmental and conservation causes, and a lover of fast cars, cameras, and the Apple Macintosh, and was a staunch atheist. Biologist Richard Dawkins also dedicated his book, The God Delusion, to Adams, writing on his death that, “Science has lost a friend, literature has lost a luminary, the mountain gorilla and the black rhino have lost a gallant defender.

Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE

Best selling novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE, was born 10 May 1933) in Leeds, Yorkshire. Fellow Yorkshire writer Alan Bennett attended the same nursery school as Taylor Bradford in the Leeds suburb of Upper Armley. As a child during World War II Taylor Bradford held a jumble sale at her school, and donated the £2 proceeds to the ‘Aid to Russia’ fund. She later received a handwritten thank-you letter from Clementine Churchill, the wife of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

She decided to be a writer at the age of ten after she sent a story to a magazine.She was paid 7s 6d for the story, with which she bought handkerchiefs and a green vase for her parents. Taylor Bradford left school at 15, and after a spell in the typing pool of the Yorkshire Evening Post, she became a reporter for the newspaper. As a reporter at the post, Taylor Bradford sat alongside Keith Waterhouse. In her youth Taylor Bradford read Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy, and the French novelist and performer Colette. Taylor Bradford regards the Irish historian and author Cornelius Ryan as her literary mentor, Ryan encouraged her writing and was the first person other than her mother that Taylor Bradford told she wanted to be a novelist. Her favourite contemporary authors are P. D. James, Bernard Cornwell and Ruth Rendell

Taylor Bradford moved to London at the age of 20 as the fashion editor of Woman’s Own magazine, and would later work as a columnist on the London Evening News.Taylor Bradford later had a column on interior decoration that was syndicated to 183 newspapers.Taylor Bradford’s first efforts at fiction writing were with four suspense novels, which she later abandoned. However Her debut novel, A Woman of Substance, which was published in 1979, became an enduring best seller. She also fictionalise her parent’s marriage in the 1986 novel, An Act of Will.

Taylor Bradford is married to, American film producer Robert Bradford, whom she met on a blind date in 1961 after being introduced by the English screenwriter Jack Davies. They married on Christmas Eve in 1963, and the couple moved permanently to the United States. She has been an American citizen since 1992. Barbara and Robert Bradford live in Manhattan in New York City. The couple have no children. They married on Christmas Eve in 1963, and the couple moved permanently to the United States. She has been an American citizen since 1992. Barbara and Robert Bradford live in Manhattan in New York City. The couple have no children.

Taylor Bradford has been awarded honorary doctorate from Leeds University, the University of Bradford, Mount St. Mary’s College, Sienna College and Post University in Connecticut. Taylor Bradford was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours list for her contributions to literature. Her original manuscripts are archived at the Brotherton Library at Leeds University beside those of the Brontë sisters. To date she has written 29 best selling novels Which have sold more than ninety-two million copies worldwide in more than ninety countries and forty languages. Ten of her books have been made into television mini-series and television movies, produced by her husband, Robert Bradford and Five of her television adaptations were also re-released on DVD These are A Woman of Substance; Hold The Dream; To Be The Best; Act of Will and Voice of the Heart.