Good Omens

Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is being made into a six-part humorous fantasy drama, for Amazon and BBC Two. Equal parts humour and horror, fantasy and drama, the series is written by Neil Gaiman (American Gods), who will also serve as Executive Producer

It is based on the internationally best selling novel Good Omens by Terry Pratchett (Hogfather) and Neil Gaiman. The story stretches from the beginning of time to quite near the end of time. It stars Multi-award-winning actor Michael Sheen, OBE (Masters Of Sex, Passengers and the upcoming films Home Again and Brad’s Status) as the somewhat fussy angel and rare-book dealer Aziraphale”. It also stars David Tennant (Broadchurch, Doctor Who, Jessica Jones) as the fast living demon Crowley, both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and of each other. However they find out that if Heaven and Hell have their way, the world will end on Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner. So The armies of Good and Evil amass, Atlantis rises, tempers flare. The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse make ready to ride and Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist…

Good Omens is being produced by the comedy team at BBC Studios including Chris Sussman, Head of Comedy at BBC Studios and Executive Producer plusthe BBC’s commercial production arm, Narrativia under Rob Wilkins, Executive Producer and Narrativia MD, and The Blank Corporation, in association with BBC Worldwide. It was commissioned for Amazon by Roy Price, Head of Amazon Studios and Prime Video content globally, and for BBC Two by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two; Shane Allen, Controller, BBC Comedy Commissioning and BBC commissioning editor Gregor Sharp. Neil Gaiman, Writer and Executive Producer. It will be directed by acclaimed director Douglas Mackinnon, whose credits include Doctor Who, Outlander and the standalone Victorian episode of Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie last year.

Steig Larsson

Swedish journalist and writer “Stieg” Larsson was Born 15 August 1954. He is best known for writing the “Millennium series” of crime novels, which were published posthumously. Larsson lived and worked much of his life in Stockholm, in the field of journalism and as an independent researcher of right-wing extremism. He was the second best-selling author in the world for 2008, behind Khaled Hosseini. By December 2011, his “Millennium series” had sold 65 million copies; its last part, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, became the most sold book in the United States in 2010.Larsson’s first efforts at fiction writing were not in the genre of crime, but rather science fiction. An avid science fiction reader from an early age, he became active in Swedish science fiction fandom around 1971, co-edited with Rune Forsgren his first fanzine, Sfären, in 1972, and attended his first science fiction convention, SF•72, in Stockholm. Through the 1970s, Larsson published around 30 additional fanzine issues; after his move to Stockholm in 1977 he became active in the Scandinavian SF Society where he was a board member in 1978 and 1979, and chairman in 1980.

In his first fanzines, 1972–1974, he published a handful of early short stories while submitting others to other semi-professional or amateur magazines. SwedenHe was co-editor or editor of several science fiction fanzines, including Sfären and FIJAGH!; in 1978–1979 he was president of the largest Swedish science fiction fan club, Skandinavisk Förening för Science Fiction (SFSF). An account of this period in Larsson’s life, along with detailed information on his fanzine writing and short stories, is included in the biographical essays written by Larsson’s friend John-Henri Holmberg in The Tattooed Girl, by Holmberg with Dan Burstein and Arne De Keijzer, 2011.In early June 2010, manuscripts for two such stories, as well as fanzines with one or two others, were noted in the Swedish National Library (to which this material had been donated a few years earlier, mainly by the Alvar Appeltofft Memorial Foundation, which works to further science fiction fandom in Sweden). This discovery of what was called “unknown” works by Larsson also caused considerable excitement.

while working as a photographer, Larsson became engaged in far-left political activism. He became a member of Kommunistiska Arbetareförbundet (Communist Workers’ League), edited the Swedish Trotskyist journal Fjärde internationalen, journal of the Swedish section of the Fourth International. He also wrote regularly for the weekly Internationalen. Larsson spent parts of 1977 in Eritrea, training a squad of female Eritrean People’s Liberation Front guerrillas in the use of grenade launchers, but became ill and was forced to return to Sweden, Upon his return to Sweden, he worked as a graphic designer at the largest Swedish news agency, Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. Larsson’s political convictions, as well as his journalistic experiences, led him to found the Swedish Expo Foundation, similar to the British Searchlight Foundation, established to “counteract the growth of the extreme right and the white power-culture in schools and among young people.” He also became the editor of the foundation’s magazine, Expo, in 1995.When he was not at his day job, he worked on independent research of right-wing extremism in Sweden. In 1991, his research resulted in his first book Extremhögern (Extreme Right). Larsson quickly became instrumental in documenting and exposing Swedish extreme right and racist organizations; he was an influential debater and lecturer on the subject, reportedly living for years under death threats from his political enemies. The political party Sweden Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna) was a major subject of his research.

However soon after Larsson’s death, the manuscripts of three completed, but unpublished, novels – written as a series – were discovered. He had written them for his own pleasure after returning home from his job in the evening, and had made no attempt to get them published until shortly before his death. The first was published in Sweden in 2005 as Swedish: Män som hatar kvinnor – literally – Men who hate women. It was titled for the English-language market as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and published in the United Kingdom in February 2008. It was awarded the Glass Key award as the best Nordic crime novel in 2005. His second novel, Flickan som lekte med elden (The Girl Who Played with Fire), received the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award in 2006, and was published in the United Kingdom in January 2009. The third novel in the Millennium series, Luftslottet som sprängdes (“The air castle that was blown up”), published in English as The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, was published in the United Kingdom in October 2009, and the United States in May 2010. Larsson left about three quarters of a fourth novel on a notebook computer, now possessed by his partner, Eva Gabrielsson: synopses or manuscripts of the fifth and sixth in the series, which he intended to contain an eventual total of ten books, may also exist. Gabrielsson has stated in her book, “There Are Things I Want You to Know” About Stieg Larsson and Me (2011) that finishing the book is a task that she is capable of doing.

The Swedish film production company Yellow Bird has produced film versions of the Millennium series, co-produced with the Danish film production company Nordisk Film, which were released in Scandinavia in 2009. Larsson Sadly passed away on 9 November 2004 in Stockholm at the age of 50 of a heart attack after climbing seven flights of stairs to his office because the lift was not working. There were rumours that his death was in some way induced, because of death threats received as editor of Expo, but these have been denied by Eva Gedin, his Swedish publisher. Stieg Larsson is interred at the Högalid church cemetery in the district of Södermalm in Stockholm. Novellist David Lagencrantz has written further novels “The Girl in the Spiders Web” and “The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye” which is due for release in 2017, both of which continue the Millenium Saga and remain faithful to Steig Larsson’s original novels.

 

E. Nesbit

English author and poet Edith Nesbit was born 15th August 1858. She wrote or collaborated on over 60 books of fiction for children, several of which have been adapted for film and television. She was also a political activist and co founoded the Fabian Society, a precursor to the modern Labour Party.Nesbit published approximately 40 books for children, including novels, collections of stories and picture books. Collaborating with others, she published almost as many more. Nesbit was “the first modern writer for children”and unlike authors such asLewis Carroll, George MacDonald and Kenneth Grahame, who turned away from tough truths, Nesbit dealt with things-as-they-are, previously the province of adult novels.” Nesbit is also credited with having invented the children’s adventure story. Noël Coward was a great admirer of hers and, in a letter to an early biographer Noel Streatfeild, wrote “she had an economy of phrase, and an unparalleled talent for evoking hot summer days in the English countryside.”

Among Nesbit’s best-known books are The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1898) and The Railway Children. This concerns a family who move to “Three Chimneys”, a house near the railway, after the father, who works at the Foreign office, is imprisoned after being falsely accused of spying. The children befriend an Old Gentleman who regularly takes the 9:15 train near their home; he is eventually able to help prove their father’s innocence, and the family is reunited. The family also take care of a Russian exile, Mr Szczepansky, who came to England looking for his family (later located) and Jim, the grandson of the Old Gentleman, who suffers a broken leg in a tunnel. The theme of an innocent man being falsely imprisoned for espionage and finally vindicated might have been influenced by the Dreyfus Affair, which was a prominent worldwide news item a few years before the book was written. And the Russian exile, persecuted by the Tsars for writing “a beautiful book about poor people and how to help them” and subsequently helped by the children, was most likely an amalgam of the real-life dissidents Sergius Stepniak and Peter Kropotkin who were both friends of the author.

The Railway Children was also adapted into 1970 British drama film based on the novel by E. Nesbit. The film was directed by Lionel Jeffries, and stars Dinah Sheridan, Jenny Agutter (who had earlier featured in the successful BBC’s 1968 dramatisation of the novel), Sally Thomsett and Bernard Cribbins in leading roles. The film was released to cinemas in the United Kingdom on 21 December 1970. The film rights were bought by Lionel Jeffries. It was his directorial debut, and he was also responsible for writing the screenplay for the film. The Railway Children turned out to be a critical success, both at the time of its release and in later years. It has gone on to gain a place in several surveys of the greatest films ever made, including surveys conducted by the British Film Institute and Total Film magazine. The Railway Children was later remade with Jenny Agutter playing the Mother of the three children.

Nesbitt also wrote The Wouldbegoods (1899), which recount stories about the Bastables, a middle class family that has fallen on relatively hard times. The Railway Children is also extremely well known. Her children’s writing also included numerous plays and collections of verse.She created an innovative body of work that combined realistic, contemporary children in real-world settings with magical objects – what would now be classed as contemporary fantasy – and adventures and sometimes travel to fantastic worlds. In doing so, she was a direct or indirect influence on many subsequent writers, including P. L. Travers (author of Mary Poppins), Edward Eager, Diana Wynne Jones and J. K. Rowling. C. S. Lewis wrote of her influence on his Narnia series and mentions the Bastable children in The Magician’s Nephew. Michael Moorcock would go on to write a series of steampunk novels with an adult Oswald Bastable (of The Treasure Seekers) as the lead character .Nesbit also wrote for adults, including eleven novels, short stories and four collections of horror stories. Nesbit sadly passed away on 4 May 1924, but has left a long lasting legacy in the form of some great novels and Poems.

The Wizard of Oz

The musical fantasy the Wizard of Oz was released On 15 August 1939. It was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.The film stars Judy Garland; Terry the dog, billed as Toto; Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, with Charley Grapewin and Clara Blandick, and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins, with Pat Walshe as leader of the flying monkeys.

The Wizard of Oz tells the story of Dorothy Gale who finds herself swept up on an magical adventure after a tornado transports her house in Kansas to the land of Oz. Here she encounters the local Munchkins and the Good Fairy Glinda and asks them how to get home. They suggest asking the Wizard of Oz to help, so she must travel the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City where the Wizard of Oz lives. Along the way she encounters the Tin-man a Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, who all agree to accompany her to the Emerald City.

However the evil Wicked Witch of the West is also after Dorothy because she inadvertantly killed the Witches’ sister when the house landed in Oz, so the Witch continually tries to stop Dorothy and the others reaching the Emerald City. Then the Witches’ Flying Monkey servants successfully manage to kidnap one of the group so they must mount a daring rescue attempt and defeat the Wicked Witch once and for all before Dorothy can return to Kansas.

Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture. It also featured in cinema what may be for the time the most elaborate use of character make-ups and special effects. Despite this It was not a box office success on its initial release, earning only $3,017,000 on a $2,777,000 budget, despite receiving largely positive reviews Wizard of Oz did not recoup much of the studio’s investment until subsequent re-releases when it was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture but lost out to Gone with the Wind. It did however win in two other categories including Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow.” The song was ranked first in two list: the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs and the Recording Industry Association of America’s “365 Songs of the Century”.

The 1956 Television broadcasts of the film re-introduced the film to the public and subsequent broadcasts have made it an annual tradition staple and one of the most known films in cinema history. The film was named the most viewed motion picture on television syndication in history by the Library of Congress who also included the film in its National Film Registry in its inaugural year in 1989. Designation on the registry calls for efforts to preserve it for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant”. It is often included in the Top 10 Best Movies of All Time by critics’ and public polls. It is the source of many quotes referenced in modern popular culture. It was directed primarily by Victor Fleming. Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, but there were uncredited contributions by others. The songs were by Edgar “Yip” Harburg (lyrics) and Harold Arlen (music). The incidental music, based largely on the songs, was composed by Herbert Stothart, with interspersed renderings from classical composers.

Berthold Brecht

Influential German poet, playwright, and theatre director Bertolt Brecht sadly died on 14 August 1956 of a heart attack at the age of 58. He was born 10 February 1898 in in Augsburg, Bavaria. Berthold’s mother taught Brecht the Bible and the “dangers of the self denying woman” which both influenced his later writing.  When he was 16, the First World War broke out. Initially enthusiastic, Brecht soon changed his mind on seeing his classmates “swallowed by the army”. So Brecht registered for an additional medical course at Munich University instead, and studied drama. From July 1916, Brecht’s newspaper articles began appearing under the new name “Bert Brecht” (his first theatre criticism for the Augsburger Volkswille appeared in October 1919). Some time in either 1920 or 1921, Brecht took a small part in the political cabaret of the Munich comedian Karl Valentin whom he compared to Charlie Chaplin.

Brecht’s first full-length play, Baal was written 1918 and Brecht completed his second play, Drums in the Night in February 1919. Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, by touring with the Berliner Ensemble – the post-war theatre company operated by Brecht. He was also awarded the prestigious Kleist Prize (intended for unestablished writers and probably Germany’s most significant literary award for his first three plays (Baal, Drums in the Night, and In the Jungle. In 1923, Brecht wrote a scenario for what was to become a short slapstick film, Mysteries of a Barbershop, directed by Erich Engel and starring Karl Valentin, which it is now considered one of the most important films in German film history. In May 1923, Brecht’s In the Jungle premiered in Munich, also directed by Engel. Opening night proved to be a “scandal”—a phenomenon that would characterize many of his later productions during the Weimar Republic—in which Nazis blew whistles and threw stink bombs at the actors on the stage. In 1924 Brecht worked with the novelist and playwright Lion Feuchtwanger on an adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II that proved to be a milestone in Brecht’s early theatrical and dramaturgical development.That September, a job as assistant dramaturg at Max Reinhardt’s Deutsches Theater—at the time one of the leading three or four theatres in the world—brought him to Berlin. In his role as dramaturg, Brecht had much to stimulate him but little work of his own.[26] Reinhardt staged Shaw’s Saint Joan, Goldoni’s Servant of Two Masters and Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author in his group of Berlin theatres. A new version of Brecht’s third play, now entitled Jungle: Decline of a Family,also opened at the Deutsches Theater in October 1924.

In 1925, he completed his collection of poems, Devotions for the Home. In 1925 in Mannheim the artistic exhibition Neue Sachlichkeit (“New Objectivity”) had given its name to the new post-Expressionist movement in the German arts. Brecht also began to develop his Man Equals Man project, which was to become the first product of “the ‘Brecht collective’—that shifting group of friends and collaborators on whom he henceforward depended.This collaborative approach to artistic production, together with aspects of Brecht’s writing and style of theatrical production, mark Brecht’s work from this period as part of the Neue Sachlichkeit movement (New Matter-of-Factness)which stressed the collective and downplayed of the individual. In 1925, Brecht also saw two films that had a significant influence on him: Chaplin’s The Gold Rush and Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.In 1926 a series of short stories was published under Brecht’s name, and also produced the play Man Equals Man. In 1927 Brecht became part of the “dramaturgical collective” of Erwin Piscator’s first company, which was designed to tackle the problem of finding new plays for its “epic, political, confrontational, documentary theatre”, this influenced Brecht’s ideas about staging and design, and alerted him to the radical potentials offered to the “epic” playwright by the development of stage technology. Brecht was struggling at the time with the question of how to dramatize the complex economic relationships of modern capitalism. 1927 also saw the first collaboration between Brecht and the young composer Kurt Weill.They produced The Little Mahagonny for a music festival in July, as what Weill called a “stylistic exercise” in preparation for the large-scale piece. Together they began to develop Brecht’s Mahagonny project, and In 1930 Brecht formed a writing collective which became prolific and very influential.

Brecht’s first great play, Saint Joan of the Stockyards, attempted to portray the drama in financial transactions. The collective also adapted John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, with Brecht’s lyrics set to music by Kurt Weill. Retitled The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) it was the biggest hit in Berlin of the 1920s and a renewing influence on the musical worldwide. One of its most famous lines underscored the hypocrisy of conventional morality working in conjunction with the established order, in the face of working-class hunger and deprivation.The success of The Threepenny Opera was followed by the quickly thrown together Happy End and Brecht used elements of Happy End in Saint Joan of the Stockyards,Happy End’s score by Weill produced many Brecht/Weill hits like “Der Bilbao-Song” and “Surabaya-Jonny”.The masterpiece of the Brecht/Weill collaborations, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny), caused an uproar when it premiered in 1930 in Leipzig, with Nazis in the audience protesting. The Mahagonny opera would premier later in Berlin in 1931 as a triumphant sensation. Brecht spent the early 1930′s in Berlin working with his “collective” on the Lehrstücke. These were a group of plays driven by morals, music and Brecht’s budding epic theatre and were often aimed at educating workers on Socialist issues. These included The Measures Taken (Die Massnahme), Kuhle Wampe (1932), which is notable for its subversive humour, outstanding cinematography and still provides a vivid insight into Berlin during the last years of the Weimar Republic Brecht was also influenced by The so-called “Westend Berlin Scene”.

In 1933 Brecht left Germany Fearing persecution from the Nazis. After brief spells in Prague, Zurich and Paris he and Weigel moved to Denmark, where they settled in a house in Svendborg on the island of Funen. Brecht also travelled to Copenhagen, Paris, Moscow, New York and London . in April 1939, he moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where he remained for a year. During the war years, Brecht became a prominent writer of the Exilliteratur. He expressed his opposition to the National Socialist and Fascist movements in his most famous plays: Life of Galileo, Mother Courage and Her Children, The Good Person of Szechwan, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, and many others. Brecht also wrote the screenplay for the Fritz Lang-directed film Hangmen Also Die! which was loosely based on the 1942 assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi Reich Protector of German-occupied Prague, number-two man in the SS, and a chief architect of the Holocaust, who was known as “The Hangman of Prague. he then wrote The Visions of Simone Machard, Schweik in the Second World War and an adaptation of Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. Hanns Eisler was nominated for an Academy Award for his musical score.

Brecht and Weigel also protested on the roof of the Berliner Ensemble during the International Workers’ Day demonstrations in 1954 and In the years of the Cold War and “Red Scare”, Brecht was blacklisted by movie studio bosses and interrogated by the House Un-American Activities Committee, Along with about 41 other Hollywood writers, directors, actors and producers. In 1947 Brecht testified that he had never been a member of the Communist Party Brecht’s decision to appear before the committee led to criticism, including accusations of betrayal. The day after his testimony, on 31 October, Brecht returned to Europe. In Chur in Switzerland, Brecht staged an adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone, based on a translation by Hölderlin. It was published under the title Antigonemodell 1948, accompanied by an essay on the importance of creating a “non-Aristotelian” form of theatre.An offer for his own theatre and theatre company (the Berliner Ensemble) encouraged Brecht to return to Berlin in 1949.Though he was never a member of the Communist Party, Brecht had been deeply schooled in Marxism by the dissident communist Karl Korsch and Brecht received the Stalin Peace Prize in 1954.At first Brecht supported the measures taken by the East German government against the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany, which included the use of Soviet military force. Brecht’s subsequent commentary on those events, however, offered a different assessment— especially in one of the poems in the Elegies, “Die Lösung” (The Solution). Although Brecht wrote very few plays in his final years in East Berlin, Some of his most famous poems, including the “Buckow Elegies”, were written at this time. He is buried in the Dorotheenstädtischer cemetery on Chausseestraße in the Mitte neighbourhood of Berlin.

H. G. Wells

English science-fiction author, Herbert George “H. G.” Wells sadly passed away on 13 August 1946 in London, aged 79. Hewas born 21st September 1866 in Bromley, Kent. He is best known for his work in the science fiction genre but also wrote contemporary novels about, history, politics and social commentary, as well as textbooks and rules for war games. Together with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback, Wells has been referred to as “The Father of Science Fiction”. His most notable science fiction works include The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau & his earliest specialised training was in biology, and his thinking on ethical matters took place in a specifically and fundamentally Darwinian context.

Wells became interested in literature after an accident in 1874 left Him with a broken leg. To pass the time he started reading books from the local library, brought to him by his father. He soon became devoted to the other worlds and lives to which books gave him access; they also stimulated his desire to write. In 1874 he entered Thomas Morley’s Commercial Academy, until 1880. From 1880 to 1883, Wells had an apprenticeship as a draper at the Southsea Drapery Emporium. This later inspired the novels The Wheels of Chance and Kipps, which portray the life of a draper’s apprentice as well as providing a critique of society’s distribution of wealth. In October 1879 Wells joined the National School at Wookey in Somerset as a pupil-teacher. After a short apprenticeship at a chemist in nearby Midhurst, and an even shorter stay as a boarder at Midhurst Grammar School, Who offered him the opportunity to become a pupil-teacher, where his proficiency in Latin and science enabled him to continue his self-education in earnest. In 1880 Wells won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science (later the Royal College of Science in South Kensington, now part of Imperial College London) in London,

Studying biology under Thomas Henry Huxley (Who was an English biologist known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his advocacy of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution) and also entered the Debating Society of the school. Whilst at the Imperial College he read The Republic by Plato, whose ideas interested him. He also turned to contemporary ideas of socialism as expressed by the recently formed Fabian Society and free lectures delivered at Kelmscott House, the home of William Morris. He also helped establish the Science School Journal, which allowed him to express his views on literature and society, as well as trying his hand at fiction: the first version of his novel The Time Machine was published in the journal under the title, The Chronic Argonauts. Wells also entered the College of Preceptors (College of Teachers). He later received his Licentiate and Fellowship FCP diplomas from the College. Wells earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of London External Programme, In 1889–90 he managed to find a post as a teacher at Henley House School where he taught A. A. Milne.

Wells’s first non-fiction bestseller was Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought. Some of his early novels, invented a number of themes now classic in science fiction in such works as The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, When the Sleeper Wakes, and The First Men in the Moon, and wrote dozens of short stories and novellas, the best known of which is “The Country of the Blind” (1904) ands some of these also inspired Science Fiction Television- His short story “The New Accelerator” was also the inspiration for the Star Trek episode Wink of an Eye. Wells also wrote non fiction novels which received critical acclaim, including Kipps, Tono-Bungay, The Outline of History, A Short History of the World, The Science of Life and The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind and wrote a number of Utopian novels including A Modern Utopia, which usually begin with the rushing to catastrophe, until a solution is found – such as abandoning war (In the Days of the Comet) or having a world council of scientists taking over, as in The Shape of Things to Come, which was later adapted for the 1936 Alexander Korda film, Things to Come. Wells also contemplated the ideas of nature versus nurture and questions humanity in books such as The Island of Doctor Moreau, where a person discovers an island of animals being vivisected unsuccessfully into human beings, and tries to escape,

In 1936, Wells called for the compilation of a constantly growing and changing World Encyclopaedia, to be reviewed by outstanding authorities and made accessible to every human being. In 1938, he published a collection of essays on the future organisation of knowledge and education, World Brain, including the essay, “The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopaedia”. Seeking a more structured way to play war games, Wells also wrote Floor Games followed by Little Wars which is recognised today as the first recreational wargame and Wells is regarded by gamers and hobbyists as “the Father of Miniature War Gaming”.

He was also an outspoken socialist, often sympathising with pacifist views and becoming increasingly political and often wrote about the ills of Society leading him to be touted as a worthy successor to Charles Dickens, but Wells described a range of social strata and wrote abundantly about the “New Woman” and the Suffragettes. His most consistent political ideal was the World State, which he considered inevitable. He envisioned the state to be a planned society that would advance science, end nationalism, and allow people to progress by merit rather than birth, Wells also believed in the theory of eugenics and Some contemporary supporters even suggested connections between the degenerate man-creatures portrayed in The Time Machine and Wells’s eugenic beliefs. Wells also brought his interest in Art & Design and politics together which led to the foundation of the Design and Industries Association. In his last book Mind at the End of its Tether he considered the idea that humanity being replaced by another species might not be a bad idea. He also came to call the era “The Age of Frustration”.

During his final years he became particularly outspoken in his criticism of the Catholic Church, he was also a diabetic, and in 1934 co-founded what is now Diabetes UK, the leading charity for people living with diabetes in the UK. On 28 October 1940 Wells was interviewed by Orson Welles, who two years previously had performed an infamous radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds, on KTSA radio in San Antonio, Texas. In the interview, Wells admitted his surprise at the widespread panic that resulted from the broadcast, but acknowledged his debt to Welles for increasing sales of one of his “more obscure” titles. In his preface to the 1941 edition of The War in the Air, Wells had stated that his epitaph should be: “I told you so. You damned fools”. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium on 16 August 1946, his ashes scattered at sea. A commemorative blue plaque in his honour was installed at his home in Regent’s Park.

Ian Fleming

English author, journalist and Naval Intelligence Officer Ian Fleming sadly died 12 August 1964. He was born 28 May 1908 in Mayfair . He is best known for creating the fictional spy James Bond and the series of twelve novels and nine short stories about the character. Fleming was from a wealthy family, connected to the merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co. and his father was MP for Henley from 1910 until his death on the Western Front in 1917. In 1914 Fleming was sent to Durnford School, a preparatory school on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. The school was near to the estate of a family called Bond, who could trace their ancestry back to an Elizabethan spy called John Bond and whose motto was Non Sufficit Orbis—The World Is Not Enough. From 1921 Fleming followed his brother Peter to Eton College. Although not one of the academic stars of the school, he excelled at athletics and was Victor Ludorum.He left Eton a term early for a crammer course to gain entry to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Fleming spent less than a year at Sandhurst, leaving in 1927 without gaining a commission. He then went to a small private school, the Tennerhof, in Kitzbühel, Austria, run by a former British spy, and his American wife, the novelist Phyllis Bottome.

His language skills developed well and from the Tennerhof he studied briefly at Munich University and the University of Geneva. Foreign Office, but failed the examinations. In October 1931 he was eventually given a position as a sub-editor and journalist for the Reuters news service. in October 1933 moved into the banking world with a position at financiers Cull & Co. He was not a good banker and, in October 1935, became a stockbroker with Rowe and Pitman, headquartered on Bishopsgate, London. From 1929 onwards Fleming Also collected a library of over one thousand books of what Fleming described as “books that made things happen.”These books represented “milestones in modern science, technology and Western civilization.” He concentrated on science and technology, had a copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species but also owned other significant works ranging from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf to Baden Powell’s Scouting for Boys.Second World WarDuring the Second World War Fleming was recruited by the Director of Naval Intelligence of the Royal Navy to become his personal assistant with the codename “17F”. On 29 September 1939 a document comparing deception of an enemy in wartime with fly fishing was published which contained a number of schemes to be considered for use against the Axis powers, in order to lure U-boats and German surface ships towards minefields. Number 28 on the list was an idea to use a corpse, carrying misleading papers, which the enemy could find: this suggestion formed the basis of Operation Mincemeat, the successful 1943 deception plan to cover the intended invasion of Italy from North Africa. On 12 September 1940 Fleming wrote a memo instigating a plan named Operation Ruthless, aimed at obtaining details of the Enigma codes used by the German Navy. The memo suggested “obtaining” a German bomber, putting ina German-speaking crew, all dressed in Luftwaffe uniforms, and crashing the plane into the English channel. When the Germans would come to rescue the crew, they would be attacked and the boat, including its Enigma machine, would be brought back to England. Fleming also worked on intelligence co-operation between London and Washington.In May 1941 Fleming went to the United States and assisted in writing a blueprint for the Office of the Coordinator of Information, the department which turned into the Office of Strategic Services and eventually became the CIA. In 1941-42 Fleming was put in charge of Operation Golden Eye, a plan to maintain an intelligence framework in Spain in the event of a German takeover of the territory. The plan, drawn up by Fleming, involved maintaining communication with Gibraltar and launching sabotage operations against the Nazis.

in 1942 Fleming formed a unit of commandos, known as No. 30 Commando, or 30 Assault Unit (30AU), a group of specialist intelligence troops. 30 AU’s job was to be near the front line of an advance—sometimes in front of it— to seize enemy documents from HQs previously targeted. Fleming selected targets and directed operations from the rear, The unit was filled with men from other commando units and trained in unarmed combat, safe-cracking and lock-picking at the Special Operations Executive (SOE) facilities. Prior to the Normandy landings, most of 30AU’s operations were in the Mediterranean. Because of their successes in Sicily and Italy, 30AU became greatly trusted by naval intelligence. In March 1944, Fleming oversaw the distribution of intelligence through to Royal Navy units in preparation for Operation Overlord and he subsequently followed the unit into Germany after they located the German naval archives from 1870, archived in Tambach Castle. During an Intelligence fact-finding trip to the Far East on behalf of the Director of Naval Intelligence, Fleming spent Much of the trip identifying opportunities for 30AU in the Pacific. In August 1944. Following the success of 30AU, it was decided to establish a “Target Force”, which became known as T-Force. The official memorandum, held at The National Archives in London described their primary role as: “T-Force = Target Force, to guard and secure documents, persons, equipment, with combat and Intelligence personnel, after capture of large towns, ports etc. in liberated and enemy territory.”It was responsible for securing targets of interest to the British military. These included nuclear laboratories, gas research centres and individual rocket scientists. The unit’s most notable coup was during the advance on the German port of Kiel, where it captured the research centre for German engines used for the V-2 rocket, Messerschmitt Me 163 fighters and high speed U-boats. Fleming Later used elements of T-Force, in his 1955 Bond novel Moonraker. In 1942 Fleming attended an Anglo-American intelligence summit in Jamaica and Fleming decided to live on the island a friend helped him find a plot of land in Saint Mary Parish and, in 1945, Fleming had a house built there, which he named Goldeneye. The name of the house and estate where he wrote his novels has many possible sources. Ian Fleming himself cited both his wartime Operation Golden Eye, but also the 1941 novel, Reflections in a Golden Eye by Carson McCullers. n May 1945, he joined The Sunday Times and became Foreign Manager.

During the war Fleming mentioned to friends that he wanted to write a spy novel, but it was not until 1952 that he began to write his first novel, Casino Royale. He started writing his book at his Jamaican home Goldeneye, on 17 February 1952. On 13 April 1953 Casino Royale was released in the UK in hardcover, Three print runs were needed, all of which sold out. The novel centred on the exploits of James Bond, an intelligence officer in the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6. Bond was also known by his code number, 007, and was a Royal Naval Reserve commander. Bond was a composite based on all the secret agents and commando types Fleming came across during his time in the Naval Intelligence Division during World War II. Between 1953 and 1966, two years after his death, twelve Bond novels and two short-story collections were published, with the last two books—The Man with the Golden Gun, Octopussy and The Living Daylights—published posthumously.Much of the background to the stories came from Fleming’s previous work in the Naval Intelligence Division or to events he knew of from the Cold War. me from Fleming’s previous work in the Naval Intelligence Division or to events he knew of from the Cold War. The plot of From Russia, with Love uses a fictional Soviet Spektor decoding machine as a lure to trap Bond; the Spektor had its roots in the German World War II Enigma machine.

Many of the names used in the Bond works are from people Fleming knew: the primary villain of The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga was named after a fellow schoolboy at Eton, with whom Fleming fought; Goldfinger, from the eponymous novel, was named after British architect Erno Goldfinger, whose work Fleming abhorred; Sir Hugo Drax, the protagonist from Moonraker, was named after an acquaintance of Fleming’s, Admiral Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax and one of the homosexual villains from Diamonds Are Forever, ‘Boofy’ Kidd, was named after one of Fleming’s close friends. the first five books —Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds Are Forever and From Russia with Love proved to be wildly successful. In 1958 Dr. No was published and the next book Fleming produced was a collection of short stories, For Your Eyes Only. Fleming followed up the book by novelizing a film script that he had worked on with others, the resulting novel being Thunderball. In April 1961, he also began working on a children’s novel, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, which was published in October 1964. Fleming’s creation has also appeared in film twenty-four times with seven actors playing the role of Bond, the film rights to his James Bond novels and short stories were sold in 1962 to Harry Saltzman who along with Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli co-produced Dr. No, which was released in 1962.

Sadly because Fleming was a heavy smoker and heavy drinker throughout his adult life he suffered from heart disease and In 1961 he suffered a heart attack and by the age of 56, Fleming was rather ill. So In January 1964 Fleming went to Goldeneye to write The Man with the Golden Gun, Sadly Five months after returning from Jamaica, on the morning of 12 August 1964, Fleming died of a heart attack. He was buried in the churchyard of Sevenhampton village, near Swindon, and Fleming’s last two books—The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy and The Living Daylights—were published posthumously. During his lifetime Fleming sold thirty million books; double that number were sold in the two years following his death and The Bond books are among the biggest-selling series of fictional books of all time, having sold over 100 million copies worldwide and in observance of what would have been Fleming’s 100th birthday in 2008, Ian Fleming Publications commissioned Sebastian Faulks to write a new Bond novel entitled Devil May Care. The book, released in May 2008, was credited to Fleming. Fleming also wrote the children’s story Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and two works of non-fiction.Fleming was ranked fourteenth in a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″. The Eon Productions series of Bond films, started in 1963 with Dr. No, continued after Fleming’s death. The lates bond movies includE Skyfall and Spectre. A further five continuation authors have also produced Bond novels including “Sebastian Faulks, writing as Ian Fleming”, who was followed by American thriller author Jeffery Deaver, whose novel, Carte Blanche, was published in May 2011, William Boyd wrote the novel “Solo” in 2013 and Anthony Horowitz released the Bond novel Trigger Mortis in 2015.