Elvis Presley

Often referred to as the “King of Rock and Roll” or simply “the King”, Elvis Presley tragically died 16 August 1977 at the age of 42. He was born 8th January, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. At the age of 13 Presley moved to Memphis, Tennessee, with his family and began his career there in 1954, working with Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, who wanted to bring the sound of African American music to a wider audience. Accompanied by guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, Presley was one of the originators of rockabilly, an uptempo, backbeat-driven fusion of country and rhythm and blues. Presley’s rise to national attention in 1956 transformed the field of popular music and had a huge effect on the broader scope of popular culture.

Presley’s first RCA single, “Heartbreak Hotel“, was released in January 1956, and was a number one hit. He became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll with a series of network television appearances and chart-topping records. His energized interpretations of songs, many from African American sources, and his uninhibited performance style made him enormously popular—and controversial. In November 1956, he made his film debut in Love Me Tender. He was Conscripted into military service in 1958, and relaunched his recording career two years later with some of his most commercially successful work. He staged few concerts however, and guided by Colonel Tom Parker, he proceeded to devote much of the 1960s to making Hollywood movies and soundtrack albums, most of them critically derided. In 1968, after seven years away from the stage, he returned to live performance in a celebrated comeback television special that led to an extended Las Vegas concert residency and a string of profitable tours. In 1973 Presley staged the first concert broadcast globally via satellite, Aloha from Hawaii, seen by approximately 1.5 billion viewers.

Presley is regarded as one of the most important figures of 20th-century popular culture. He had a versatile voice and unusually wide success encompassing many genres, including country, pop ballads, gospel, and blues. He is the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music. Nominated for 14 competitive Grammys, he won three, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36. He has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame, and is regarded As the catalyst for the cultural revolution that was rock and roll, he was central not only to defining it as a musical genre but in making it a touchstone of youth culture and rebellious attitude. His name, image, and voice are instantly recognizable around the globe, and in In polls and surveys, he is recognized as one of the most important popular music artists and influential Americans.

“Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century”, said composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. “He introduced the beat to everything and he changed everything—music, language, clothes. It’s a whole new social revolution—the sixties came from it.” Bob Dylan described the sensation of first hearing Presley as “like busting out of jail”. A New York Times editorial on the 25th anniversary of Presley’s death observed, “All the talentless impersonators and appalling black velvet paintings on display can make him seem little more than a perverse and distant memory. But before Elvis was camp, he was its opposite: a genuine cultural force. … Elvis’s breakthroughs are underappreciated because in this rock-and-roll age, his hard-rocking music and sultry style have triumphed so completely.” Not only Presley’s achievements, but his failings as well, are seen by some cultural observers as adding to the power of his legacy.

His sudden death was contributed to by Prescription drug abuse And poor diet which severely compromised his health. Despite this Elvis Presley remains a supreme figure in American life, one whose presence, no matter how banal or predictable, brooks no real comparisons, The cultural range of his music has expanded to the point where it includes not only the hits of the day, but also patriotic recitals, pure country gospel, and really dirty blues. Elvis emerged as a great artist, a great rocker, a great purveyor of schlock, a great heart throb, a great bore, a great symbol of potency, a great ham, a great nice person, and a great American.

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James Cameron

Canadian film director, film producer, deep-sea explorer, screenwriter, and editor James Cameron was born August 16, 1954. His first film was called Xenogenesis (1978). . He then became a production assistant on a film called Rock and Roll High School, though uncredited in 1979. While continuing to educate himself in film-making techniques, Cameron started working as a miniature-model maker at Roger Corman Studios. Making rapidly-produced, low-budget productions taught Cameron to work efficiently and effectively. He soon found employment as an art director in the sci-fi movie Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). He did special effects work design and direction on John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981), acted as production designer on Galaxy of Terror (1981), and consulted on the design of Android (1982). Cameron was hired as the special effects director for the sequel to Piranha, entitled Piranha II: The Spawning in 1981. The original director, Miller Drake, left the project due to creative differences with producer Ovidio Assonitis, who then gave Cameron his first job as overall director. The interior scenes were filmed in Italy while the underwater sequences were shot at Grand Cayman Island. While Filming in Jamaica, they had numerous problems plus adverse weather. James Cameron was fired after failing to get a close up of Carole Davis in her opening scene. Ovidio ordered Cameron to do the close-up the next day before he started on that day’s shooting. Cameron spent the entire day sailing around the resort to reproduce the lighting but still failed to get the close-up. After he was fired, Ovidio invited Cameron to stay on location and assist in the shooting. Once in Rome, Ovidio took over the editing when Cameron was stricken with food poisoning.

During his illness, he had a nightmare about an invincible robot hitman sent from the future to kill him, giving him the idea for The Terminator. After completing a screenplay for The Terminator, Cameron decided to sell it so that he could direct the movie. However, the production companies he contacted, while expressing interest in the project, were unwilling to let a largely inexperienced feature film director make the movie. Finally, Cameron found a company called Hemdale Pictures, which was willing to let him direct. Gale Anne Hurd, who had started her own production company, Pacific Western Productions, had previously worked with Cameron in Roger Corman’s company and agreed to buy Cameron’s screenplay for one dollar, on the condition that Cameron direct the film. Hurd was signed on as producer, and Cameron finally got his first break as director. Orion Pictures distributed the film. For the role of the Terminator, Cameron envisioned a man who was not exceptionally muscular, who could “blend into” a crowd. Lance Henriksen, who had starred in Piranha II: The Spawning, was considered for the title role, but when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cameron first met over lunch to discuss Schwarzenegger playing the role of Kyle Reese, both came to the conclusion that the cyborgvillain would be the more compelling role for the Austrian bodybuilder; Henriksen got the smaller part of LAPD detective Hal Vukovich and the role of Kyle Reese went to Michael Biehn. In addition, Linda Hamilton first appeared in this film in her iconic role of Sarah Connor, and later married Cameron.The Terminator was a box office hit, breaking expectations by Orion Pictures executives that the film would be regarded as no more than a sci-fi film, and only last a week in theaters. It was a low-budget film which cost $6.5 million to make, cutting expenses in such ways as recording the audio track in mono. However, The Terminator eventually earned over $78 million worldwide.

He next began the film Aliens, the sequel to Alien, by Ridley Scott and cast Sigourney Weaver in the iconic role of Ellen Ripley. According to Cameron, the crew on Aliens was hostile to him, regarding him as a poor substitute for Ridley Scott. Cameron sought to show them The Terminator but the majority of the crew refused to watch it and remained skeptical of his direction throughout production. Despite this and other off-screen problems (such as clashing with an uncooperative camera man and having to replace one of the lead actors – Michael Biehn of Terminator took James Remar’s place as Corporal Hicks), Aliens became a box office success. It received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Weaver, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and won awards for Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects. In addition, the film and its lead actress made the cover ofTIME magazine as a result of its numerous and extensive scenes of women in combat – these were almost without precedent and expressed the feminist theme of the film very strongly.

Three years after filming Aliens Cameron followed up withThe Abyss (1989) Inspred by an idea he had during a high school biology class. It concerns oil-rig workers who discover otherworldly underwater creatures and stars Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Michael Biehn. it was considered to be one of the most expensive films of its time, and required cutting-edge effects technology. Because much of the film takes place underwater and the technology wasn’t advanced enough to digitally create an underwater environment, Cameron chose to shoot much of the movie “reel-for-real”, at depths of up to 40 feet (12 m). Following the success of The Terminator, there had always been talks about a sequel to continue the story of Sarah Connor and her struggle against machines from the future. Although Cameron had come up with a core idea for the sequel, and Schwarzenegger expressed interest in continuing the story, there were still problems regarding who had the rights to the story, as well as the logistics of the special effects needed to make the sequel.

Finally, in late-1980s, Mario Kassar of Carolco Pictures secured the rights to the sequel, allowing Cameron to greenlight production of the film, now called Terminator 2: Judgment Day. For the film, Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprised their roles as Sarah Connor and The Terminator, but this time as a protector. Unlike Schwarzenegger’s character—the T-800 Terminator which is made of a metal endoskeleton—the new villain of the sequel, called the T-1000, is a more-advanced Terminator made of liquid metal, and with polymorphic abilities. The T-1000 would also be much less bulky than the T-800. For the role, Cameron cast Robert Patrick, a sharp contrast to Schwarzenegger. Cameron explained, “I wanted someone who was extremely fast and agile. If the T-800 is a human Panzer tank, then the T-1000 is a Porsche.” Cameron had originally wanted to incorporate this advanced-model Terminator into the first film, but the special effects at the time were not advanced enough. The ground-breaking effects used in The Abyss to digitally depict the water tentacle convinced Cameron that his liquid metal villain was now possible. The movie, co-written by Cameron and his longtime friend, William Wisher, Jr. Was finished in one year. Like Cameron’s previous film, it was one of the most expensive films of its era, with a budget of about $100 million. The biggest challenge of the movie was the special effects used in creating the T-1000. Nevertheless, the film was finished on time, and released to theaters on July 3, 1991.

Terminator 2, or T2, as it was abbreviated, broke box-office records (including the opening weekend record for an R-rated film), earning over $200 million in the United States and Canada, and over $300 million in other territories, and became the highest-grossing film of that year. It won four Academy Awards: Best Makeup, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing, but lost both Awards to JFK.James Cameron announced a third Terminator film many times during the 1990s, but without coming out with any finished scripts. Kassar and Vajna purchased the rights to the Terminator franchise from a bankruptcy sale of Carolco’s assets. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was eventually made and released in July 2003 without Cameron’s involvement. Jonathan Mostow directed the film and Schwarzenegger returned as the Terminator.Cameron reunited with the main cast of Terminator 2 to film T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, an attraction at Universal Studios Florida, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan. It was released in 1996 and was a mini-sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The show is in two parts: a prequel segment in which a spokesperson talks about Cyberdyne, and a main feature, in which the performers interact with a 3-D movie.

Before the release of T2, Schwarzenegger came to Cameron with the idea of remaking the French comedy La Totale! Titled True Lies, with filming beginning after T2’s release, the story revolves around a secret-agent spy who leads a double life as a married man, whose wife believes he is a computer salesman. Schwarzenegger was cast as Harry Tasker, a spy charged with stopping a plan by a terroristto use nuclear weapons against the United States. Jamie Lee Curtis and Eliza Dushku played the character’s family, and Tom Arnold the sidekick.Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment signed on with Twentieth Century Fox for production of True Lies. Made on a budget of $115 million and released in 1994, the film earned $146 million in North America, and $232 million abroad. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects.

Cameron’s next film concerned the sinking of the RMS Titanic. The picture featured a fictional romance story between two young lovers from different social classes who meet on board. Before production began, he took dives to the bottom of the Atlantic and shot actual footage of the ship underwater, which he inserted into the final film. Much of the film’s dialogue was also written during these dives. Subsequently, Cameron cast Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Victor Garber, Danny Nucci, David Warner, Suzy Amis, and Bill Paxton as the film’s principal cast. Cameron’s budget for the film reached about $200 million, making it the most expensive movie ever made at the time. Titanic went on to gross more than $1 billion worldwide and remained the highest-grossing film since 1998, until Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar surpassed it in 2010. The CG visuals surrounding the sinking and destruction of the ship were considered spectacular. It received 14 Oscar nominations (tied with All About Eve) at the 1998 Academy Awards. It won 11 Oscars (also tying the record for most Oscar wins with Ben-Hur and later The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Original Song. Upon receiving the Best Director Oscar, Cameron exclaimed, “I’m king of the world!”, in reference to one of the main characters’ lines from the film. After receiving the Best Picture Oscar along withJon Landau, Cameron asked for a moment of silence for the 1500 men, women and children, who died when the ship sank. Titanic was re-released in 3D in April 2012, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the real ship.

Following Titanic Cameron began a project that took almost 10 years to make: his science-fiction epic Avatar (2009), This concerns a disabled ex-marine named Jake Sully who is stationed on the lush Planet Pandora and is asked to make contact with the planets indiginous Na’avi people by means of using an Artifically grown body known as an Avatar. Jake is asked to mediate between the locals and the human settlers concerning mining rights to a valuable mineral which can only be found on Pandora. After a while Jake begins to find the Na’avi way of life rather enjoyable and is horrified when the Military attack and decide to start using deadly force So he switches his allegiance and encourages the Na’avi to start fighting back. Following Avatar’s release Cameron was again nominated for Best Director and Film Editing again.

Between making Titanic and Avatar, Cameron spent several years creating many documentary films (specifically underwater documentaries) and co-developed the digital 3D Fusion Camera System. Described by a biographer as part-scientist and part-artist, Cameron has also contributed to underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies. On March 26, 2012, Cameron reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, in the Deep sea Challenger submersible. He is the first person to do this in a solo descent, and is only the third person to do so ever. Cameron Then moved to television and created Dark Angel, a superheroine-centered series influenced bycyberpunk, biopunk, contemporary superhero franchises, and third-wave feminism. Co-produced with Charles H. Eglee, Dark Angel starred Jessica Alba as Max Guevara, a genetically enhanced super-soldier created by a secretive organization.

Cameron’s work was said to “bring empowered female warriors back to television screens by mixing the sober feminism of his The Terminator and Aliens characters with the sexed-up Girl Power of a Britney Spears concert.” sadly low ratings in the second led to its cancellation. Cameron himself directed the series finale, a two-hour episode wrapping up many of the series’ loose ends. He has been nominated for six Academy Awards overall and won three for Titanic. In total, Cameron’s directorial efforts have grossed approximately US$2 billion in North America and US$6 billion worldwide. Not adjusted for inflation, Cameron’s Titanic and Avatar are the two highest-grossing films of all time at $2.19 billion and $2.78 billion respectively. In March 2011 he was named Hollywood’s top earner by Vanity Fair, with estimated 2010 earnings of $257 million

Danielle Steel

Prolific Best selling American romance novellist Danielle Steel was born August 14, 1947. in New York City. Her father, John Schulein-Steel, was a German-Jewish immigrant and a descendant of owners of Löwenbräu beer. Her mother, Norma da Camera Stone dos Reis, was the daughter of a Portuguese diplomat. She spent much of her childhood in France, where from an early age she was included in her parents’ dinner parties. Steel started writing stories as a child, and by her late teens had begun writing poetry. Raised Catholic, she thought of becoming a nun during her early years.A 1963 graduate of the Lycée Français de New York, she studied literature design and fashion design, first at Parsons School of Design and then at New York University.

In 1965 Steel married French-American banker Claude-Eric Lazard in 1965 at age 18. While a young wife, and still attending New York University, Steel began writing, completing her first manuscript at the age of 19. After the birth of their daughter Beatrix, Steel worked for a public-relations agency in New York called Supergirls. A client (Ladies’ Home Journal editor John Mack Carter) encouraged her to focus on writing having been impressed with her freelance articles. He suggested she write a book, which she did. She later moved to San Francisco, and worked as a copywriter for Grey Advertising. Steel and Lazard divorced. In 1972 and her first novel, Going Home, was published. The novel contained many of the themes that her writing would become known for, including a focus on family issues and human relationships. The heroine of Going Home was a divorced single mother.

While still married to Lazard, Steel met Danny Zugelder while interviewing an inmate in a prison near Lompoc, California, where Zugelder was also incarcerated. He moved in with Steel when he was paroled in June 1973, but returned to prison in early 1974 on robbery and rape charges. After receiving her divorce from Lazard in 1975, she married Zugelder in the prison canteen. She divorced him in 1978, however the relationship spawned Passion’s Promise and Now and Forever, the two novels that launched her career. Steel married her third husband, William George Toth, the day after her divorce from Zugelder was finalized. She was already 8​1⁄2 months pregnant with his child. With the success of her fourth book, The Promise, she became a participant in San Francisco high society while Toth, a former drug addict, was left out. They divorced in March 1981

Steel married for the fourth time in 1981, to vintner John Traina. Traina subsequently adopted Steel’s son Nick and gave him his family name. Together they had an additional five children, Samantha (April 14, 1982), Victoria, Vanessa a fashion stylist, Maxx and Zara. Steel became a near-permanent fixture on the New York Times hardcover and paperback bestsellers lists. In 1989, she was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having a book on the New York Times Bestseller List for the most consecutive weeks of any author—381 consecutive weeks at that time.  Since her first book was published, every one of her novels has hit bestseller lists in paperback, and each one released in hardback has also been a hardback bestseller. During this time Steel also contributed to her first non-fiction work. Having a Baby was published in 1984 and featured a chapter by Steel about suffering through miscarriage she also published a book of poetry, Love: Poems. Steel has also written a series of 10 illustrated books for young readers, known as the “Max and Martha” series, which aim to help children face real life problems: new baby, new school, loss of loved one, etc. In addition, Steel has authored the “Freddie” series. These four books address other real life situations: first night away from home, trip to the doctor, etc.

In 1993 Steel sued a writer who intended to disclose in her book that her son Nick was adopted by her then-current husband John Traina, despite the fact that adoption records are sealed in California. A San Francisco judge made a highly unusual ruling allowing the seal on Nick’s adoption to be overturned, although he was still a minor and the book was allowed to be published. Nicholas Traina, tragically committed suicide in 1997. Traina was the lead singer of San Francisco punk bands Link 80 and Knowledge. To honor his memory, Steel wrote the nonfiction book His Bright Light, about Nick’s life and death. Proceeds of the book, which reached the New York Times Non-Fiction Bestseller List were used to found the Nick Traina Foundation, which Steel runs, to fund organizations dedicated to treating mental illness. To gain more recognition for children’s mental illnesses, Steel has lobbied for legislation in Washington, and previously held a fundraiser every two years (known as The Star Ball) in San Francisco.

In 1998 Steel married for a fifth time, to Silicon Valley financier Thomas Perkins, but the marriage ended after four years in 2002. Steel has said that her novel The Klone and I was inspired by a private joke between herself and Perkins.In 2006, Perkins dedicated his novel Sex and the Single Zillionaire to Steel. In 2003 Steel opened an art gallery in San Francisco, Steel Gallery, exhibitting contemporary work together with paintings and sculptures of emerging artists. The gallery closed in 2007. She continues to curate shows a few times a year for the Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco. In 2002, Steel was decorated by the French government as an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, for her contributions to world culture. She has also received the Induction into the California Hall of Fame, The. Distinguished Service in Mental Health Award” (first time awarded to a non-physician) from New York Presbyterian Hospital, Department of Psychiatry and Columbia University Medical School and Cornell Medical College, The “Outstanding Achievement Award” for work with adolescents from Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco. The “Service to Youth Award” for improving the lives of mentally ill adolescents and children from the University of San Francisco Catholic Youth Organization and St. Mary’s Medical Center, November 1999. The “Outstanding Achievement Award” in Mental Health from the California Psychiatric Association Distinguished Service Award” from the American Psychiatric Association and launched a new perfume, Danielle by Danielle Steel With Elizabeth Arden. Many of Steel’s novels have also been adapted for film and television.

Sir Walter Scott FRSE

Scottish historical novelist, playwright, poet and historian. Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet FRSE was born 15 August 1771 inCollege Wynd, Edinburgh, near the gates of theUniversity of Edinburgh (Old College). A childhood bout of polio in 1773 left him lame And had a significant effect on his life and writing. To alleviate his lameness he was sent in 1773 to live in the rural Scottish Borders at his paternal grandparents’ farm at Sandyknowe, adjacent to the ruin of Smailholm Tower, the earlier family home. Here he was taught to read by his aunt Jenny, and learned from her the speech patterns and many of the tales and folklore of the Scottish Borders. Scott sometimes travelled with his father from Selkirk to Melrose, where some of his novels are set. At a certain spot the old gentleman would stop the carriage and take his son to a stone on the site of the Battle of Melrose. His father was a member of a cadet branch of the Scotts Clan, and his mother descended from the Haliburton family, the descent from whom granted Walter’s family the hereditary right of burial in Dryburgh Abbey. Via the Haliburton family, Walter was a cousin of the pre-eminent contemporaneous property developer James Burton, who was a Haliburton who had shortened his surname, and of his son, the architect Decimus Burton. In 1775 he returned to Edinburgh, then went with his aunt Jenny to take spa treatment at Prestonpans, Bath in England, and they lived at 6 South Parade between 1775 and 1776.

In 1778, Scott returned to Edinburgh for private education and joined his family in their new house built as one of the first in George Square. In 1779 he began at the Royal High School of Edinburgh (in High School Yards). He was now well able to walk and explore the city and the surrounding countryside. His reading included chivalric romances, poems, history and travel books. He was given private tuition by James Mitchell in arithmetic and writing, and learned from him the history of the Church of Scotland with emphasis on the Covenanters. After finishing school he was sent to stay for six months with his aunt Jenny in Kelso, attending the local grammar school where he met James and John Ballantyne, who later became his business partners and printed his books.

In 1783 Scott began studying classics at the University of Edinburgh at the age of 12. In March 1786 he began an apprenticeship in his father’s office to become a Writer to the Signet. While at the university Scott had become a friend of Adam Ferguson, the son of Professor Adam Ferguson who hosted literary salons. Scott met the blind poet Thomas Blacklock, who lent him books and introduced him to James Macpherson’s Ossian cycle of poems. During the winter of 1786–87 the 15-year-old Scott saw Robert Burns at one of these salons, for what was to be their only meeting. When Burns noticed a print illustrating the poem “The Justice of the Peace” and asked who had written the poem, only Scott knew that it was by John Langhorne, and was thanked by Burn When it was decided that he would become a lawyer, he returned to the university to study law, first taking classes in Moral Philosophy and Universal History in 1789–90. After completing his studies in law, he became a lawyer in Edinburgh. As a lawyer’s clerk he made his first visit to the Scottish Highlands directing an eviction. He was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1792. He had an unsuccessful love suit with Williamina Belsches of Fettercairn, who married Scott’s friend Sir William Forbes, 7th Baronet.

Scott became fascinated by the oral traditions of the Scottish Borders. He was an obsessive collector of stories, and developed an innovative method of recording what he heard at the feet of local story-tellers using carvings on twigs, to avoid the disapproval of those who believed that such stories were neither for writing down nor for printing. At the age of 25 he began to write professionally, translating works from German, his first publication being rhymed versions of ballads by Gottfried August Bürger in 1796. He then published an idiosyncratic three-volume set of collected ballads of his adopted home region, The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. This was the first sign from a literary standpoint of his interest in Scottish history. Due to his early polio infection, Scott had a pronounced limp. He was described in 1820 as tall, neither fat nor thin, with forehead very high, nose short, upper lip long and face rather fleshy, complexion fresh and clear, eyes very blue, shrewd and penetrating, with hair now silvery white. Scott enlisted as a volunteer in the 1st Lothian and Border yeomanry.

On a trip to the Lake District with old college friends he met Charlotte Charpentier (or Carpenter), daughter of Jean Charpentier of Lyon in France, and ward of Lord Downshire in Cumberland, an Episcopalian, Scott proposed and they were married on Christmas Eve 1797 in St Mary’s Church, Carlisle. After renting a house in George Street, they moved to nearby South Castle Street. They had five children, of whom four survived by the time of Scott’s death, most baptized by an Episcopalian clergyman. In 1799 he was appointed Sheriff-Depute of the County of Selkirk, based in the Royal Burgh of Selkirk.

After their third son was born in 1801, they moved to 39 North Castle Street. This remained Scott’s base in Edinburgh until 1826, when he could no longer afford two homes. From 1798 Scott had spent the summers in a cottage at Lasswade, where he entertained guests including literary figures, and it was there that his career as an author began. While working as Sheriff-Depute he stayed at a local inn. In 1804 he ended his use of the Lasswade cottage and leased the substantial house of Ashestiel, 6 miles (9.7 km) from Selkirk on the south bank of the River Tweed,

In 1796, Scott’s friend James Ballantyne founded a printing press in Kelso, in the Scottish Borders. Through Ballantyne, Scott was able to publish his first works, including “Glenfinlas” and “The Eve of St. John”, and his poetry then began to bring him to public attention. In 1805, The Lay of the Last Minstrel captured wide public imagination, and his career as a writer was established in spectacular fashion.
Over the next decade He published many other poems, including The Lady of the Lake, printed in 1810 and set in the Trossachs. Portions of the German translation of this work were set to music by Franz Schubert. One of these songs, “Ellens dritter Gesang”, is popularly labelled as “Schubert’s Ave Maria”. Beethoven’s opus 108 “Twenty-Five Scottish Songs” includes 3 folk songs whose words are by Walter Scott. The poem Marmion, was published in 1808. In 1809 Scott persuaded James Ballantyne and his brother to move to Edinburgh and to establish their printing press there. He became a partner in their business. As a political conservative, Scott helped to found the Tory Quarterly Review, a review journal to which he made several anonymous contributions. Scott was also a contributor to the Edinburgh Review, which espoused Whig views.

Scott was ordained as an elder in the Presbyterian Church of Duddington and sat in the General Assembly for a time as representative elder of the burgh of Selkirk. When the lease of Ashestiel expired in 1811, Scott bought Cartley Hole Farm, on the south bank of the River Tweed nearer Melrose, which was nicknamed “Clarty Hole”, (Ewwwww!🤣) and when Scott built a family cottage there in 1812 he named it “Abbotsford”. He continued to expand the estate, and built Abbotsford House in a series of extensions. In 1813 Scott was offered the position of Poet Laureate. He declined, and the position went to Scott’s friend, Robert Southey

Scott wrote and published his first novel, Waverley, in 1814. It was a tale of the Jacobite rising of 1745. Its English protagonist, Edward Waverley, like Don Quixote a great reader of romances, has been brought up by his Tory uncle, who is sympathetic to Jacobitism, although Edward’s own father is a Whig. The youthful Waverley obtains a commission in the Whig army and is posted in Dundee. On leave, he meets his uncle’s friend, the Jacobite Baron Bradwardine and is attracted to the Baron’s daughter Rose. On a visit to the Highlands, Edward overstays his leave and is arrested and charged with desertion but is rescued by the Highland chieftain Fergus MacIvor and his mesmerizing sister Flora, whose devotion to the Stuart cause, “as it exceeded her brother’s in fanaticism, excelled it also in purity”. Through Flora, Waverley meets Bonnie Prince Charlie, and under her influence goes over to the Jacobite side and takes part in the Battle of Prestonpans. He escapes retribution, however, after saving the life of a Whig colonel during the battle. Waverley (whose surname reflects his divided loyalties) eventually decides to lead a peaceful life of establishment respectability under the House of Hanover rather than live as a proscribed rebel. He chooses to marry the beautiful Rose Bradwardine, rather than cast his lot with the sublime Flora MacIvor, who, after the failure of the ’45 rising, retires to a French convent.

There followed a succession of novels over the next five years, each with a Scottish historical setting , including Tales of my Landlord and The Bride of Lammermoor. This was afictionalized version of an actual incident in the history of the Dalrymple family that took place in the Lammermuir Hills in 1669. The novel concerns the Wealthy Lucie Ashton and the nobly born but now dispossessed and impoverished Edgar Ravenswood exchange vows. But the Ravenswoods and the wealthy Ashtons, who now own the former Ravenswood lands, are enemies, and Lucie’s mother forces her daughter to break her engagement to Edgar and marry the wealthy Sir Arthur Bucklaw with tragic results. In 1821, French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix painted a portrait depicting himself as the melancholy, disinherited Edgar Ravenswood. The prolonged, climactic coloratura mad scene for Lucia in Donizetti’s 1835 bel canto opera Lucia di Lammermoor is based on events in the the Bride of Lammermuir.

Tales of my Landlord includes the now highly regarded novel Old Mortality, set in 1679–89 against the backdrop of the ferocious anti-Covenanting campaign of the Tory Graham of Claverhouse, subsequently made Viscount Dundee (called “Bluidy Clavers” but dubbed “Bonnie Dundee” by Scott). The Covenanters were presbyterians who had supported the Restoration of Charles II on promises of a Presbyterian settlement, but he had instead reintroduced Episcopalian church government with draconian penalties for Presbyterian worship. This led to the destitution of around 270 ministers who had refused to take an oath of allegiance and submit themselves to bishops, and who continued to conduct worship among a remnant of their flock in caves and other remote country spots. The relentless persecution of these conventicles and attempts to break them up by military force had led to open revolt. The story is told from the point of view of Henry Morton, a moderate Presbyterian, who is unwittingly drawn into the conflict and barely escapes summary execution.

In writing Old Mortality Scott drew upon the knowledge he had acquired from his researches into ballads on the subject for The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.[Scott’s background as a lawyer also informed his perspective, for at the time of the novel, which takes place before the Act of Union of 1707, English law did not apply in Scotland, and afterwards Scotland has continued to have its own Scots law as a hybrid legal system. A recent critic, who is a legal as well as a literary scholar, argues that Old Mortality not only reflects the dispute between Stuart’s absolute monarchy and the jurisdiction of the courts, but also invokes a foundational moment in British sovereignty, namely, the Habeas Corpus Act (also known as the Great Writ), passed by the English Parliament in 1679.

Scott’s next novel, Ivanhoe, is an entertaining escapist romance, with a political subtext which is set in 12th-century England during the era of the creation of the Magna Carta, which political conservatives like Walter Scott and Edmund Burke regarded as rooted in immemorial British custom and precedent. This novel was Based partly on Hume’s History of England and the ballad cycle of Robin Hood, Ivanhoe was quickly translated into many languages and inspired countless imitations and theatrical adaptations. Ivanhoe depicts the cruel tyranny of the Norman overlords (Norman Yoke) over the impoverished Saxon populace of England, with two of the main characters, Rowena and Locksley (Robin Hood), representing the dispossessed Saxon aristocracy and end up being captured and imprisoned by a Norman baron. Ivanhoe was published when the English Parliament, fearful of French-style revolution in the aftermath of Waterloo, had passed the Habeas Corpus Suspension acts of 1817 and 1818 and other extremely draconian measures.

Ivanhoe was also remarkable in its sympathetic portrayal of Jewish characters: Rebecca, considered by many critics the book’s real heroine, does not in the end get to marry Ivanhoe, whom she loves, but Scott allows her to remain faithful to her own religion, rather than having her convert to Christianity. Likewise, her father, Isaac of York, a Jewish moneylender, is shown as a victim rather than a villain. In Ivanhoe, which is one of Scott’s Waverley novels, religious and sectarian fanatics are the villains, while the eponymous hero is a bystander who must weigh the evidence and decide where to take a stand. Scott’s positive portrayal of Judaism, which reflects his humanity and concern for religious toleration, also coincided with a contemporary movement for the Emancipation of the Jews in England.

Scott’s fame grew as his explorations and interpretations of Scottish history and society captured popular imagination. Impressed by this, the Prince Regent (the future George IV) permitted Scott to search for the Crown Jewels (“Honours of Scotland”). Which had been hidden away, but had subsequently been used to crown Charles II. They were not used to crown subsequent monarchs, but were regularly taken to sittings of Parliament, to represent the absent monarch, until the Act of Union 1707. When they were stored in Edinburgh Castle, but the large locked box in which they were stored was not opened for more than 100 years, and stories circulated that they had been “stolen”. So In 1818, Scott and a small team of military men opened the box, and “unearthed” the honours from the Crown Room in the depths of Edinburgh Castle. A grateful Prince Regent granted Scott the title of baronet, and in March 1820 he received the baronetcy in London, becoming Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet.

After George’s accession to the throne, the city council of Edinburgh invited Scott, at the King’s behest, to stage-manage the 1822 visit of King George IV to Scotland. Scott created a spectacular pageant, designed not only to impress the King, but also in some way to heal the rifts that had destabilised Scots society. The King was dressed in tartan, and was greeted by his people, many of whom were also dressed in similar tartan ceremonial dress. This form of dress, proscribed after the 1745 rebellion against the English, became one of the seminal, potent and ubiquitous symbols of Scottish identity.

Although he continued to be extremely popular and widely read, Scott’s critical reputation declined in the last half of the 19th century as serious writers turned from romanticism to realism, and Scott began to be regarded as an author suitable for children. This trend accelerated in the 20th century. In his study Aspects of the Novel E. M. Forster harshly criticized Scott’s clumsy and slapdash writing style, “flat” characters, and thin plots. In contrast, the novels of Scott’s contemporary Jane Austen, once appreciated only by the discerning few (including, Scott himself) became more popular. Nevertheless, Scott’s importance as an innovator continued to be recognized. He was acclaimed as the inventor of the genre of the modern historical novel. Scott’s Waverley novels played a significant part in the movement (begun with James Macpherson’s Ossian cycle) in rehabilitating the public perception of the Scottish Highlands and its culture, which was formerly suppressed as barbaric, and viewed in the southern mind as a breeding ground of hill bandits, religious fanaticism, and Jacobite rebellions.

Scott served as chairman of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and was also a member of the Royal Celtic Society. His own contribution to the reinvention of Scottish culture was enormous. It is a testament to Scott’s contribution in creating a unified identity for Scotland that Edinburgh’s central railway station, opened in 1854 by the North British Railway, is called Waverley. The fact that Scott was a Lowland Presbyterian, rather than a Gaelic-speaking Catholic Highlander, made him more acceptable to a conservative English readers. At the time Scott wrote, Scotland was poised to move away from an era of socially divisive clan warfare to a modern world of literacy and industrial capitalism. Through novels such as Waverley Scott helped Scotland move on from the violent religious and political conflicts of the country’s recent past. Scott’s advocacy of objectivity and moderation and his strong repudiation of political violence on either side also had a strong, though unspoken, contemporary resonance when many conservative English feared a violent revolution in Britain. Scott’s involvement in King George IV’s visit to Scotland, in 1822, was a pivotal event intended to inspire a view of his home country that, in his view, accentuated the positive aspects of the past allowing a peaceful future. A revival of critical interest began from the 1960s. Postmodern tastes were more favourable to Scott’s work than Modernist tastes. Scott is now seen as an important innovator and a key figure in the development of Scottish and world literature, and particularly as the principal inventor of the historical novel.

Walter Scott sadly died on 21 September 1832. Scott was buried in Dryburgh Abbey, where his wife had earlier been interred. Nearby is a large statue of William Wallace, one of Scotland’s many romanticised historical figures. Abbotsford later gave its name to the Abbotsford Club, founded in 1834 in memory of Sir Walter Scott. All of his novels including Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Old Mortality, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor continue to remain popular and many have been adapted for film and television. Besides his extensive literary works and his political engagement, Scott was an advocate, judge and legal administrator by profession, and throughout his career combined his writing and editing work with his daily occupation as Clerk of Session and Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire. He was also A prominent member of the Tory establishment in Edinburgh, Scott was an active member of the Highland Society and served a long term as President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1820–32).

Scott is memorialised at The Scott Monument on Edinburgh’s Princes Street and the Scott Monument in Glasgow’s George Square. During his lifetime, Scott’s portrait was painted by Sir Edwin Landseer and fellow Scots Sir Henry Raeburn and James Eckford Lauder. Scott is also commemorated on a stone slab in Makars’ Court, outside The Writers’ Museum, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, along with other prominent Scottish writers; quotes from his work are also visible on the Canongate Wall of the Scottish Parliament building in Holyrood. There is a tower dedicated to his memory on Corstorphine Hill in the west of the city and, as mentioned, Edinburgh’s Waverley railway station takes its name from one of his novels. The annual Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction was created in 2010 by the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, whose ancestors were closely linked to Sir Walter Scott. At £25,000, it is one of the largest prizes in British literature.

The award has been presented at Scott’s historic home, Abbotsford House. Scott has been credited with rescuing the Scottish banknote. In 1826, there was outrage in Scotland at the attempt of Parliament to prevent the production of banknotes of less than five pounds. Scott wrote a series of letters to the Edinburgh Weekly Journal under the pseudonym “Malachi Malagrowther” campaigning to allow Scottish banks to issue their own banknotes. During and immediately after World War I there was a movement spearheaded by President Woodrow Wilson and other eminent people to encourage patriotism in American school children, especially immigrants, and to stress the American connection with the Literature of Great Britain and. Scott’s Ivanhoe continued to be required reading for many American high school students until the end of the 1950s. His influence on other European and American novelists is profound, and his reputation remains secure.

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 books for adults, including eleven novels, short stories and four collections of horror stories. Edith Nesbit sadly passed away on 4 May 1924, but has left a long lasting legacy in the form of some great novels and Poems which continue to remain popular. Her novel The Railway Children has also been adapted for film and Television numerous times.

Wizard of Oz

The musical fantasy film 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 magical land of Oz which is inhabited by Witches, Wizards, Fairies, talking Animals and other semtient beings. Here she encounters the diminutive local Munchkins and the Good Fairy Glinda and asks them how to get home. They suggest asking the Wizard of Oz to help, who lives in the Emerald City. 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 for reasons of their own, all agree to accompany her to the Emerald City.

Meanwhile the evil Wicked Witch of the West is also after Dorothy because she inadvertantly killed the Witches’ sister “Elphaba” when the house landed in Oz, This angers the Wicked witch of the West and she continually tries to clobber Dorothy and the others and stop them reaching the Emerald City. Until eventually the Witches’ Flying Monkey servants successfully manage to kidnap one of the group along the way so they must all journey to the evil witches castle and mount a daring rescue attempt before defeating the Wicked Witch once and for all before  travelling to the Emerald City in order to return to Kansas.

The film is Notable for its use of Technicolor during a time when all other films were black and white, its fantasy storytelling, musical score and unusual characters. Over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and has become 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.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

The science fiction musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show opened in London On The 14 August 1975 and went on to become the longest-running release in film history. It concerns Brad Majors and Janet Weiss who find themselves lost and with a flat tyre on a cold and rainy late November evening, somewhere near Denton, Ohio. Seeking a telephone, the couple walk to a nearby castle where they discover a group of strange and outlandish people who are holding an Annual Transylvanian Convention. They are soon swept into the world of Dr. Frank N. Furter, a self-proclaimed “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania” and also meet Riff Raff, his sister Magenta, and a groupie named Columbia.

In his lab, Frank claims to have discovered the “secret to life itself”. His creation, Rocky, is brought to life. The ensuing celebration is soon interrupted by Eddie (an ex-delivery boy, both Frank and Columbia’s ex-lover, as well as partial brain donor to Rocky and proceeds to seduce Columbia but Eddie is killed by Frank. Brad and Janet are shown to separate bedrooms, where each is visited and seduced by Frank, who poses as Brad (when visiting Janet) and then as Janet (when visiting Brad). Janet finds Brad in bed with Frank and discovers Rocky hiding from Riff Raff, who has been tormenting him. While tending to his wounds, Janet becomes intimate with Rocky while Magenta and Columbia are watching.

Frank returns to the lab with Brad and Riff Raff, to look for Rocky and discovers that Brad and Janet’s old high school science teacher, Dr. Everett Scott, has come looking for his nephew, Eddie. Although Frank suspects that Dr. Scott actually investigates UFOs for the government. Upon learning of Brad and Janet’s connection to Dr. Scott, Frank suspects them of working for him. Frank, Dr. Scott, Brad, and Riff Raff then discover Janet and Rocky together. Later on Janet, Brad, Dr. Scott, Rocky, and Columbia all meet in Frank’s lab, where Frank captures them with the Medusa Transducer. Then Riff Raff, Magenta and Frank reveal that they are aliens from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania…