Alistair Maclean

Scottish adventure thriller novelist Alistair Stuart MacLean (Scottish Gaelic: Alasdair MacGill-Eain; was born 21 April 1922 in Glasgow. He spent much of his childhood and youth in Daviot, ten miles south of Inverness. He was the third of four sons. He joined the Royal Navy in 1941, serving in World War II with the ranks of Ordinary Seaman, Able Seaman, and Leading Torpedo Operator. He was first assigned to PS Bournemouth Queen, a converted excursion ship fitted for anti-aircraft guns, on duty off the coasts of England and Scotland. Beginning in 1943, he served on HMS Royalist, a Dido-class light cruiser. There he saw action in 1943 in the Atlantic theatre, on two Arctic convoys and escorting carrier groups in operations against Tirpitz and other targets off the Norwegian coast.

In 1944 he and the ship served in the Mediterranean theatre, as part of the invasion of southern France and in helping to sink blockade runners off Crete and bombard Milos in the Aegean. During this time MacLean may have been injured in a gunnery practice accident.In 1945, in the Far East theatre, MacLean and Royalist saw action escorting carrier groups in operations against Japanese targets in Burma, Malaya, and Sumatra. (MacLean’s late-in-life claims that he was captured by the Japanese and tortured have been dismissed by both his son and his biographer as drunken ravings. After the Japanese surrender, Royalist helped evacuate liberated POWs from Changi Prison in Singapore.

MacLean was released from the Royal Navy in 1946. He then studied English at the University of Glasgow, graduating in 1953, and then worked as a school teacher in Rutherglen. While a university student, MacLean began writing short stories for extra income, winning a competition in 1954 with the maritime story “Dileas”. The publishing company Collins asked him for a novel and he responded with HMS Ulysses, based on his own war experiences, as well as credited insight from his brother Ian, a Master Mariner. The novel was a great success and MacLean was soon able to devote himself entirely to writing war stories, spy stories and other adventures.

In the early 1960s, Alistair MacLean published two novels under the pseudonym “Ian Stuart” in order to prove that the popularity of his books was due to their content rather than his name on the cover. They sold well, but MacLean made no attempt to change his writing style and his fans may easily have recognized him behind the Scottish pseudonym. He wrote many popular thrillers and adventure stories, the best known being The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra, and Where Eagles Dare MacLean’s books eventually sold so well that he moved to Switzerland as a tax exile. Between 1963–1966, he took a hiatus from writing to run a hotel business in England. MacLean was also awarded a Doctor of Letters by the University of Glasgow in 1983.

Sadly MacLean’s later books were not as well received as the earlier publications and, in an attempt to keep his stories in keeping with the time, he sometimes lapsed into overly improbable plots. Many of McClean’s adventure thrillers have also been made into popular films including Guns of Navrone, Ice Station Zebra and Where Eagles Dare. Unfortunately McClean struggled constantly with alcoholism, which eventually brought about his death in Munich on 2 February 1987. He is buried a few yards from Richard Burton in Céligny, Switzerland. He was married twice and had two sons by his first wife, as well as an adopted third son.

Charlotte Brontë

English novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë was Born 21st April 1816 She was the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood, whose novels are English literature standards. She wrote Jane Eyre under the pen name Currer Bell. Charlotte was born in Thornton, Yorkshire in 1816, the third of six children. In August 1824, Charlotte was sent with three of her sisters, Emily, Maria, and Elizabeth, to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge in Lancashire (Charlotte later used the school as the basis for the fictional Lowood School in Jane Eyre). She and the other surviving children — Branwell, Emily, and Anne – created their own literary fictional worlds, and began chronicling the lives and struggles of the inhabitants of these imaginary kingdoms. Charlotte and Branwell wrote Byronic stories about their imagined country (“Angria”) and Emily and Anne wrote articles and poems about theirs (“Gondal”). The sagas which they created were elaborate and convoluted (and still exist in partial manuscripts) and provided them with an obsessive interest during childhood and early adolescence, which prepared them for their literary vocations in adulthood.

Charlotte continued her education at Roe Head, Mirfield, from 1831 to 32, where she met her lifelong friends and correspondents, Ellen Nussey and Mary Taylor. During this period, she wrote her novella The Green Dwarf (1833) under the name of Wellesley. Charlotte returned to Roe Head as a teacher from 1835 to 1838. In 1839, she took up the first of many positions as governess to various families in Yorkshire, a career she pursued until 1841. In 1842 Charlotte and Emily travelled to Brussels to enroll in a boarding school run by Constantin Heger In return for board and tuition, Charlotte taught English and Emily taught music. Their time at the boarding school was cut short when Elizabeth Branwell, their aunt who joined the family after their mother died Charlotte returned alone to Brussels in January 1843 to take up a teaching post at the boarding school but returned to Haworth in January 1844 and later used her time at the boarding school as the inspiration for some experiences.

In May 1846, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne self-financed the publication of a joint collection of poetry under the assumed names of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Charlotte’s first manuscript, called The Professor, did not secure a publisher, although she was heartened by an encouraging response she received from Smith, Elder & Co of Cornhill, who expressed an interest in any longer works which “Currer Bell” might wish to send.Charlotte responded by finishing and sending a second manuscript in August 1847, and six weeks later this second manuscript (titled Jane Eyre: An Autobiography) was published. Jane Eyre was a success, and initially received favourable reviews. It was followed by the subsequent publication of the first novels by Charlotte’s sisters: Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey.

In June 1854, Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls, her father’s curate and, in the opinion of many scholars, the model for several of her literary characters such as Jane Eyre’s Edward Rochester and St. John Rivers. She became pregnant soon after the marriage. Her health declined rapidly during this time, and according to Gaskell, her earliest biographer, she was attacked by “sensations of perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness.” Charlotte Sadly passed away shortly afterwoods on 31 March 1855, at the young age of 38

Her death certificate gives the cause of death as phthisis (tuberculosis), but many biographers suggest she may have died from dehydration and malnourishment, caused by excessive vomiting from severe morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum. There is also evidence to suggest that Charlotte died from typhus she may have caught from Tabitha Ackroyd, the Bronte household’s oldest servant, who died shortly before her. Charlotte was interred in the family vault in The Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Haworth, West Yorkshire, England. Her endurng popularty & legacy stll lives on To this day and all Charlotte Bronte’s novels Particularly Jane Eyre, are still as popular as ever. There have also been many Television Radio and Film adaptations of her novels and her classic novel’s are stll widely taught in schools

Bram Stoker

Irish novelist and short story writer Abraham “Bram” Stoker Sadly passed away on 20 April 1912 after suffering a number of strokes. He was Born 8th November 1847 in Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland. Stoker was bedridden until he started school at the age of seven, when he made a complete recovery. He was educated in a private school run by the Rev. William Woods. After his recovery, he grew up without further major health issues, even excelling as an athlete (he was named University Athlete) at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with honours in mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society (‘the Hist’) and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on “Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.

While a student Stoker became interested in the theatre & became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail, co-owned by the author of Gothic tales Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. After giving a favourable review of Henry Irving’s Hamlet Irving invited him to dinner and the two became friends. Stoker also wrote stories, and in 1872 “The Crystal Cup” was published by the London Society, followed by “The Chain of Destiny” in four parts and “The Shamrock”. while a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote a non-fiction book (The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland. Stoker was also interested in art, and founded the Dublin Sketching Club. In 1874 The Stokers moved to London, where he became acting manager and then business manager of Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, London, a post he held for 27 years. The collaboration with Irving was important for Stoker and through him he became involved in London’s high society, where he met James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related)

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DRACULA http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CVb2q0eNFxI ===========================================================
Working for Irving, the most famous actor of his time, and managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy man. He was dedicated to Irving and his memoirs show he idolised him. In London Stoker also met Hall Caine, who became one of his closest friends – he dedicated Dracula to him. In the course of Irving’s tours, Stoker travelled the world, although he never visited Eastern Europe, a setting for his most famous novel, and began writing novels beginning with The Snake’s Pass in 1890 and Dracula in 1897. Stoker was also part of the literary staff of the London Daily Telegraph and wrote other fiction, including the horror novels The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911)

Stoker also met Ármin Vámbéry who was a Hungarian writer and traveler and the story may have been inspired by Vámbéry’s dark stories set among the Carpathian mountains. He also spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires, particularly That of Vlad Tepes, a.k.a Vlad III Dracula, the ruler of Targoviste, in Wallachia, Romania, whose brutal regime And predilection for impaling his enemies gave him a fearsome reputation. He may also have learnt about Hoia Baciu forest which is said to be haunted and is well known for its disturbing and inexplicable Paranormal phenomenon. Stoker also visited Whitby Abbey, Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire and the crypts of St. Michan’s Church in Dublin and also read the novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. All of which gave him plenty of inspiration for his novel Dracula.

Following his untimely death Stoker was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium where his ashes were place in a display urn . To visit his remains at Golders Green, visitors must be escorted to the room the urn is housed in, for fear of vandalism. Nevertheless his Gothic novels, especially Dracula remain popular and have been adapted for film and television numerous times.

Chaucer Day

Chaucer day takes place annually on 17 April it commemorates the anniversary of the date of 17 April1397 when Geoffrey Chaucer told the Canterbury Tales for the first time at the court of Richard II. April 17 is also the start date of the book’s pilgrimage. The Canterbury Tales is a collection of 24 stories by Geoffrey Chaucer who wrote them Between 1386 and 1400 when he became Controller of Customs and Justice of Peace and, then Clerk of the King’s work in 1389. The tales are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The prize for this contest is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return.

Chaucer uses the Canterbury tales and descriptions of its characters to paint an ironic and critical portrait of English society and the Church. Although the characters are fictional, they still offer a variety of insights into customs and practices of the time. It was written during a turbulent time in English history.

The Catholic Church was in the midst of the Western Schism and, though it was still the only Christian authority in Europe, was the subject of heavy controversy. Lollardy an early English religious movement led by John Wycliffe, is mentioned in the Tales, which mentions a specific incident involving pardoners (sellers of indulgences, which were believed to relieve the temporal punishment due for sins that were already forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession) who nefariously claimed to be collecting for St. Mary Rouncesval hospital in England. The Canterbury Tales is among the first English literary works to mention paper, a relatively new invention that allowed dissemination of the written word never before seen in England. Political clashes, such as the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt and clashes ending in the deposing of King Richard II. Many of Chaucer’s close friends were executed and he himself moved to Kent to get away from events in London.

Some readers have interpreted the characters of The Canterbury Tales as real historical figures while others maintain it is a mildly satirical critique of society during his lifetime. The Tales reflect diverse views of the Church in Chaucer’s England. After the Black Death, many Europeans began to question the authority of the established Church. Some started new monastic orders or smaller movements exposing church corruption in the behaviour of the clergy, false church relics or abuse of indulgences. Two characters, the Pardoner and the Summoner, are both portrayed as deeply corrupt, greedy, and abusive. Other Churchmen of various kinds are represented by the Monk, the Prioress, the Nun’s Priest, and the Second Nun.

The upper class or nobility, is also represented chiefly by the Knight and his Squire in the Canterbury Tales. In Chaucer’s time they were steeped in a culture of chivalry and courtliness as illustrated in the Knights Tale. This shows how the brotherly love of two fellow knights can turn into a deadly feud at the sight of a woman whom both idealise. Many other characters are included such as the Reeve, the Miller, The Cook, the Wife of Bath, the Franklin, the Shipman, the Manciple, the Merchant, Clerk at Oxford, the Sergeant at Law, Physician, the Parson

At the time Canterbury Tales was written Pilgrimage was a very prominent feature of medieval society. The ultimate pilgrimage destination was Jerusalem, but within England Canterbury was a popular destination. Pilgrims would journey to cathedrals that preserved relics of saints, believing that such relics held miraculous powers. Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, had been murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by knights of Henry II during a disagreement between Church and Crown. The concept of liminality also figures prominently within The Canterbury Tales. A liminal space, which can be both geographical as well as metaphorical or spiritual, is the transitional or transformational space between a “real” (secure, known, limited) world and an unknown or imaginary space of both risk and possibility. The Canterbury Tales remains popular and is regularly read in schools.

International Haiku Day

International Haiku Day takes place on 17 April. A haiku in English is a very short poem in the English language, following to a greater or lesser extent the form and style of the Japanese haiku. Many Haikus follow a three-line format with 17 syllables arranged in a 5–7–5 pattern; or about 10 to 14 syllables, with the second line being the longest. A typical haiku is a wistful three-line observation about a fleeting moment involving nature.

The first haiku written in English date from the early 20th century, influenced by English translations of traditional Japanese haiku, which are slightly different, and the form has grown in popularity ever since. Many well-known English-language poets have written what they called haiku, even though they sometimes weren’t real haiku. Haiku has also proven popular in English-language schools as a way to encourage the appreciation and writing of poetry.

Proper Haiku have certain characteristics such as a focus on some aspect of nature or the seasons, a division into two asymmetrical sections, usually with a cut at the end of the first or second section, creating a juxtaposition of two subjects (e.g. something large and something small, something natural and something human-made, two unexpectedly similar things,). Haikus often have A contemplative or wistful tone, An elliptical “telegram style” syntax and no superfluous words. imagery predominating over ideas and statements, avoidance of metaphor and similes and non-rhyming lines.

The first successful haiku in English was “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound, published in 1913. During the Imagist period, a number of mainstream poets, including Pound, wrote what they called hokku, usually in a five-six-four syllable pattern. American poet Amy Lowell published several hokku in her book “What’s O’Clock” (1925; winner of the Pulitzer Prize). Individualistic haiku-like verses by the innovative Buddhist poet and artist Paul Reps (1895–1990) appeared in print as early as 1939 (More Power to You—Poems everyone Can Make, Preview Publications, Montrose CA.). Inspired by R. H. Blyth’s translations, other Westerners, including those of the Beat period, such as Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Richard Wright and James W. Hackett, wrote original haiku in English.

In 1966 Helen Stiles Chenoweth compiled Borrowed Water, an early anthology of American haiku featuring the work by the Los Altos Roundtable. The experimental work of Beat and minority haiku poets expanded the popularity of haiku in English. Despite claims that haiku has not had much impact on the literary scene, a number of mainstream poets, such as W. H. Auden, Richard Wilbur, James Merrill, Etheridge Knight, William Stafford, W. S. Merwin, John Ashbery, Donald Hall, Ruth Stone, Sonia Sanchez, Billy Collins, (as well as Seamus Heaney, Wendy Cope, and Paul Muldoon in Ireland and Britain) and others have tried their hand at haiku.

In 1963 the journal American Haiku was founded in Platteville, Wisconsin, edited by the European-Americans James Bull and Donald Eulert. Among contributors to the first issue were poets James W. Hackett, O Mabson Southard (1911–2000), and Nick Virgilio. In the second issue of American Haiku Virgilio published his “lily” and “bass” haiku, which became models of brevity, breaking down the traditional 5-7-5 syllabic form, and used the leaner conception of haiku . Early Haiku journals included Haiku Highlights (founded 1965 by European-American writer Jean Calkins and later taken over by the European-American writer Lorraine Ellis Harr who changed the name to Dragonfly), Eric Amann’s Haiku (founded 1967), and Haiku West (founded 1967).

The first English-language haiku society in America, founded in 1956, was the Writers’ Roundtable of Los Altos, California, under the direction of Helen Stiles Chenoweth. The Haiku Society of America was founded in 1968 and began publishing its journal Frogpond in 1978. Other Haiku books include William J. Higginson’s Haiku Handbook (and Lee Gurga’s Haiku: A Poet’s Guide (Modern Haiku Press, 2003). Significant contributors to American haiku include Hackett, Virgilio, Charles B. Dickson (1915–1991), Elizabeth Searle Lamb (1917–2005), Raymond Roseliep (1917–1983), Robert Spiess (1921–2002), John Wills (1921–1993), Anita Virgil (b. 1931), and Peggy Willis Lyles (1939–2010).

In the UK, the British Haiku Society publishes Blithe Spirit and the World Haiku Club publishes The World Haiku Review another magazine id Presence (formerly Haiku Presence) In Ireland, twenty issues of Haiku Spirit edited by Jim Norton were published between 1995 and 2000. Shamrock, the online journal of the Irish Haiku Society , has been publishing international haiku in English since 2007. In Australia, twenty issues of Yellow Moon, were published Nowadays Paper Wasp is published in Australia, Kokako in New Zealand and Chrysanthemum (bilingual German/English) in Germany and Austria. Snapshot Press is a notable UK-based publisher of haiku books. In the early 20th century, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore composed haiku in Bengali. He also translated some from Japanese. In February 2008, the World Haiku Festival was held in Bangalore, gathering haijin from all over India and Bangladesh, as well as a few from Europe and the United States.[44] The Turkish poet Kadir Aydemir has published a book of Turkish Haiku titled Sessizliğin Bekçisi.[

Emma Watson

English actress and modeL Emma Charlotte Duerre Watson was born 15 April 1990. in Paris and brought up in Oxfordshire, Watson attended the Dragon School and trained as an actress at the Oxford branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts. As a child artist, she rose to prominence after landing her first professional acting role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series, having acted only in school plays previously. Watson appeared in all eight Harry Potter films from 2001 to 2011, earning worldwide fame, critical accolades, and around $60 million.

Watson continued to work outside of the Harry Potter films, appearing in the 2007 television adaptation of the novel Ballet Shoes and lending her voice to The Tale of Despereaux (2008). Following the last Harry Potter film, she took on starring and supporting roles in My Week with Marilyn (2011), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) and The Bling Ring (2013), made an appearance as an exaggerated version of herself in This Is the End (2013), and portrayed the title character’s adopted daughter in Noah (2014). In 2017, she starred as Belle in a live-action adaptation of the musical romantic fantasy film Beauty and the Beast. Her other roles include Regression (2015), Colonia (2015) and The Circle (2017).

Between 2011 and 2014, Watson split her time between working on film projects and continuing her education, studying at Brown University and Worcester College, Oxford and graduating from Brown with a bachelor’s degree in English literature in May 2014. Her modelling work has included campaigns for Burberry and Lancôme. As a fashion consultant, she helped create a line of clothing for People Tree. She was honoured by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2014, winning for British Artist of the Year and was also appointed as a UN Women Goodwill ambassador in 2014 and helped launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe, which calls for men to advocate gender equality.

Maisie Williams

English actress Margaret Constance “Maisie” Williams was born 15 April 1997 in Bristol, UK. She is nicknamed “Maisie” after the character from the comic strip The Perishers. Maisie is the youngest of four children; her three older siblings are James, Beth, and Ted. Born to Hilary Pitt (now Frances) a former university course administrator, she grew up in Clutton, Somerset. She attended Clutton Primary School and Norton Hill School in Midsomer Norton, before moving to Bath Dance College to study Performing Arts.

She made her professional acting debut as Arya Stark of Winterfell in the HBO fantasy television series Game of Thrones in 2011, for which she won the EWwy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, the Portal Award for Best Supporting Actress – Television and Best Young Actor, and the Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor. In 2016, she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

Williams has also had a recurring role in Doctor Who as Ashildr in 2015. She made her feature film debut in the mystery The Falling (2014), for which she won the London Film Critics’ Circle Award for Young Performer of the Year.