• Jamaican Golden Lightning Strikes 3 Times Again... info

    Hi everyone and welcome to the blog. This week’s blog is dedicated the king of sprinting Usain Bolt, who celebrates his birthday this week and to the country of his birth Jamaica, who celebrated 50 years of independence this month.

    Usain Bolt was born Usain St. Leo Bolt on 21 August 1986 in Sherwood Content, a small town in Trelawny, Jamaica, and grew up with his parents, Wellesley and Jennifer Bolt, his brother Sadiki, and his sister Sherine. His parents ran the local grocery store in the rural area, and Bolt spent his time playing cricket and football in the street with his brother, later saying, "When I was young, I didn’t really think about anything other than sports".

    As a child, Bolt attended Waldensia Primary, where he first began to show his sprinting potential, running in the annual national primary-schools' meeting for his parish. By the age of twelve, Bolt had become the school's fastest runner over the 100 metres distance.

    Upon his entry to William Knibb Memorial High School, Bolt continued to focus on other sports, but his cricket coach noticed Bolt's speed on the pitch and urged him to try track and field events. Pablo McNeil, a former Olympic sprint athlete, and Dwayne Jarrett coached Bolt, encouraging him to focus his energy on improving his athletic abilities. The school had a history of success in athletics with past students, including sprinter Michael Green. Bolt won his first annual high school championships medal in 2001, taking the silver medal in the 200 metres with a time of 22.04 seconds. McNeil soon became his primary coach, and the two enjoyed a positive partnership, although McNeil was occasionally frustrated by Bolt's lack of dedication to his training and his penchant for practical jokes.

    Performing for Jamaica in his first Caribbean regional event, Bolt clocked a personal best of 48.28s in the 400 metres in the 2001 CARIFTA Games, winning a silver medal. The 200 m also yielded a silver medal as Bolt finished in 21.81s.

    He made his first appearance on the world stage at the 2001 IAAF World Youth Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. Running in the 200 m event, he failed to qualify for the finals, but he still set a new personal best of 21.73s. Bolt still did not take athletics or himself too seriously, however, and he took his mischievousness to new heights by hiding in the back of a van when he was supposed to be preparing for the 200 m finals at the CARIFTA Trials. He was detained by the police for his practical joke, and there was an outcry from the local community, which blamed coach McNeil for the incident. However, the controversy subsided, and both McNeil and Bolt went to the CARIFTA Games, where Bolt set championship records in the 200 m and 400 m with times of 21.12s and 47.33s, respectively. He continued to set records with 20.61s and 47.12s finishes at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships.

    Bolt is one of only 8 athletes, (along with Valerie Adams, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Jacques Freitag, Yelena Isinbayeva, Jana Pittman, Dani Samuels) to win world championships at the youth, junior, and senior level of an athletic event. Former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson recognised Bolt's talent and arranged for him to move to Kingston, along with Jermaine Gonzales, so he could train with the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA) at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

    The 2002 World Junior Championships before a home crowd in Kingston, Jamaica, gave Bolt a chance to prove his credentials on the world stage. By the age of 15, he had grown to 1.96 metres (6 ft 5 in) tall, and he physically stood out amongst his peers. He won the 200 m, in a time of 20.61s, 0.03 seconds slower than his personal best of 20.58s set in the 1st round. Bolt's 200 m win made him the youngest world-junior gold medalist ever. The expectation from the home crowd had made him so nervous that he had put his shoes on the wrong feet. However, it turned out to be a revelatory experience for Bolt as he vowed never again to let himself be affected by pre-race nerves. As a member of the Jamaican sprint relay team, he also took two silver medals and set national junior records in the 4×100 metres and 4×400 metres relay, running times of 39.15s and 3:04.06 minutes respectively.

    The flow of medals continued as he won four gold medals at the 2003 CARIFTA Games, and was awarded the Austin Sealy Trophy for the most outstanding athlete of the games. He won another gold at the 2003 World Youth Championships. He set a new championship record in the 200 m with a time of 20.40 s, despite a 1.1 m/s head wind. Michael Johnson, the 200 m world-record holder, took note of Bolt's potential but worried that the young sprinter might be over-pressured, stating, "It's all about what he does three, four, five years down the line". Bolt had also impressed the athletics hierarchy, and he received the IAAF Rising Star Award for 2002.

    Bolt turned his main focus to the 200 m and equalled Roy Martin's world junior record of 20.13s at the Pan-American Junior Championships. This performance attracted interest from the press, and his times in the 200 m and 400 m led to him being touted as a possible successor to Johnson. Indeed, at sixteen years old, Bolt had reached times that Johnson did not register until he was twenty, and Bolt's 200 m time was superior to Maurice Greene's season's best that year.

    In his final Jamaican High School Championships in 2003, he broke both the 200 m and 400 m records with times of 20.25s and 45.35s, respectively. Bolt's runs were a significant improvement upon the previous records, beating the 200 m best by more than half a second and the 400 m record by almost a second.

    Bolt was growing more popular in his homeland. Howard Hamilton, who was given the task of Public Defender by the government, urged the JAAA to nurture him and prevent burnout, calling Bolt "the most phenomenal sprinter ever produced by this island". His popularity and the attractions of the capital city were beginning to be a burden to the young sprinter. Bolt was increasingly unfocused on his athletic career and preferred to eat fast food, play basketball, and party in Kingston's club scene. In the absence of a disciplined lifestyle, he became ever-more reliant on his natural ability to beat his competitors on the track.

    As the reigning 200 m champion at both the World Youth and World Junior championships, Bolt hoped to take a clean sweep of the world 200 m championships in the Senior World Championships in Paris. Bolt beat all comers at the 200 m in the World Championship trials, but he was pragmatic about his chances and noted that, even if he did not make the final, he would consider setting a personal best a success. However, he suffered a bout of conjunctivitis before the event, and it ruined his training schedule. Realising he would not be in peak condition, the JAAA refused to let him participate in the finals on the grounds that he was too young and inexperienced. Bolt was dismayed at missing out on the opportunity, but focused on getting himself in shape to gain a place on the Jamaican Olympic team instead. Even though he missed the World Championships, Bolt was awarded the IAAF Rising Star Award for the 2003 season on the strength of his junior record-equalling run.

    Under the guidance of new coach Fitz Coleman, Bolt turned professional in 2004, beginning with the CARIFTA Games in Bermuda. He became the first junior sprinter to run the 200 m in under twenty seconds, taking the world junior record outright with a time of 19.93s. For the second time in the role, he was awarded the Austin Sealy Trophy for the most outstanding athlete of the 2004 CARIFTA Games. A hamstring injury in May ruined Bolt's chances of competing in the 2004 World Junior Championships, but he was still chosen for the Jamaican Olympic squad. Bolt headed to the 2004 Athens Olympics with confidence and a new record on his side. However, he was hampered by a leg injury and was eliminated in the first round of the 200 metres with a disappointing time of 21.05s. American colleges offered Bolt track scholarships on the strength of his performances, but the teenager from Trelawny refused them all, stating that he was content to stay in his homeland of Jamaica. Bolt instead chose the surroundings of the University of Technology, Jamaica, as his professional training ground, staying with the university's primitive track and weight room that had served him well in his amateur years.

    The year 2005 signalled a fresh start for Bolt in the form of a new coach, Glen Mills, and a new attitude to athletics. Mills recognised Bolt's potential and aimed to cease the sprinter's unprofessional approach to the sport. Bolt began training with Mills in preparation for the upcoming athletics season, partnering with more-seasoned sprinters such as Kim Collins and Dwain Chambers. The year began well, and in July he knocked more than a third of a second off the 200 m CAC Championship record with a run of 20.03s, then registered his 200 m season's best at London's Crystal Palace, running in 19.99s. Misfortune awaited Bolt at the next major event, the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki. Bolt felt that both his work ethic and athleticism had much improved since the 2004 Olympics, and he saw the World Championships as a way to live up to expectations, stating, "I really want to make up for what happened in Athens. Hopefully, everything will fall into place". Bolt qualified with runs under 21’s, but he suffered an injury in the final, finishing in last place with a time of 26.27s. Injuries were preventing him from completing a full professional athletics season, and the eighteen-year-old Bolt still had not proven his mettle in the major world-athletics competitions. Bolt was involved in a car accident in November, and although he suffered only minor facial lacerations, his training schedule was further upset. His manager, Norman Peart, made Bolt's training less intensive, and he had fully recuperated the following week. Bolt had continued to improve his performances, and he reached the world top-5 rankings in 2005 and 2006. Peart and Mills stated their intentions to push Bolt to do longer sprinting distances with the aim of making the 400 m event his primary event by 2007 or 2008. Bolt was less enthusiastic, and demanded that he feel comfortable in his sprinting. He suffered another hamstring injury in March 2006, forcing him to withdraw from the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and he did not return to track events until May. After his recovery, Bolt was given new training exercises to improve flexibility, and the plans to move him up to the 400 m event were put on hold.

    Upon his return to competition, the 200 m remained his primary event, and he beat Justin Gatlin's meet record in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Bolt had aspired to run under twenty seconds to claim a season's best but, despite the fact that bad weather had impaired his run, he was happy to end the meeting with just the victory. However, a sub-20-second finish was soon his, as he set a new personal best of 19.88s at the 2006 Athletissima Grand Prix in Lausanne, Switzerland, finishing behind Xavier Carter and Tyson Gay to earn a bronze medal. Bolt had focused his athletics aims, stating that 2006 was a year to gain experience. Also, he was more keen on competing over longer distances, setting his sights on running regularly in both 200 m and 400 m events within the next two years. Bolt claimed his first major world medal two months later at the IAAF World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, Germany. He passed the finishing post with a time of 20.10s, gaining a bronze medal in the process. The IAAF World Cup in Athens, Greece, yielded Bolt's first senior international silver medal. Wallace Spearmon from the United States won gold with a championship record time of 19.87s, beating Bolt's respectable time of 19.96s. Further 200 m honours on both the regional and international stages awaited Bolt in 2007. He yearned to run in the 100 metres but Mills was sceptical, believing that Bolt was better suited for middle distances. The coach cited the runner's difficulty in smoothly starting out of the blocks, and poor habits such as looking back at opponents in sprints. Mills told Bolt that he could run the shorter distance if he broke the 200 m national record. In the Jamaican Championships, he ran 19.75s in the 200 m, breaking the 36-year-old Jamaican record held by Don Quarrie by 0.11s.

    Mills complied with Bolt's demand to run in the 100 m, and he was entered to run the event at the 23rd Vardinoyiannia meeting in Rethymno, Crete. In his debut tournament run, he set a personal best of 10.03s, winning the gold medal and feeding his enthusiasm for the event.

    He built on this achievement at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, winning a silver medal. Bolt recorded 19.91s with a headwind of 0.8 m/s but this paled in comparison with Tyson Gay's time of 19.76s, which set a new championship record.

    The Jamaican national record fell when Bolt partnered with Asafa Powell, Marvin Anderson, and Nesta Carter in the 4×100 metres relay. However, their finish in 37.89s was not enough to beat the Americans' time of 37.78s. Bolt did not win any gold medals at the major tournaments in 2007, but Mills felt that Bolt's technique was much improved, pinpointing improvements in Bolt's balance at the turns over 200 m and an increase in his stride frequency, giving him more driving power on the track.

    The silver medals from the 2007 Osaka World Championships boosted Bolt's desire to run, and he took a more serious, more mature stance towards his career. Bolt continued to develop in the 100 m, and he entered to run in the event at the Jamaica Invitational in Kingston. On 3 May 2008, Bolt ran a time of 9.76s, aided by a tail wind of 1.8 m/s, considerably improving upon his previous personal best of 10.03s. This was the second-fastest legal performance in the history of the event, second only to compatriot Asafa Powell's 9.74s record set the previous year in Rieti, Italy. Rival Tyson Gay lauded the performance, praising Bolt's form and technique especially. Michael Johnson, who was observing the race, said that he was shocked at how quickly he had improved over the 100 m distance. The Jamaican surprised even himself with the time, but coach Glen Mills remained confident that there was more to come.

    Mills' prediction came true before the end of the month when Bolt established a new 100 m world record on 31 May 2008. Pushed on by a tail wind of 1.7 m/s, Bolt ran 9.72s at the Reebok Grand Prix held in the Icahn Stadium in New York City, breaking Powell's record. The record time was even more remarkable in light of the fact that it was only his fifth senior run over the distance. Gay again finished second and said of Bolt "It looked like his knees were going past my face". Commentators noted that Bolt appeared to have gained a psychological advantage over fellow Olympic contender Gay.

    In June 2008, Bolt responded to claims that he was a lazy athlete, saying that the comments were unjustified, and he trained hard to achieve his potential. However, he surmised that such comments stemmed from his lack of enthusiasm for the 400 metres event, and chose to not make the effort to train for distance running. Turning his efforts to the 200 m, Bolt proved that he could excel in multiple events—first setting the world-leading time in Ostrava, then breaking the national record for the second time with a 19.67s finish in Athens, Greece. Although Mills still preferred that Bolt focus on the longer distances, the acceptance of Bolt's demand to run in the 100 m worked for both sprinter and trainer. Bolt was more focused in practice, and a training schedule to boost his top speed and his stamina, in preparation for the Olympics, had improved both his 100 m and 200 m times. His confidence was building, and he was sure that he would perform well in the upcoming Olympics.

    Bolt announced that he would double-up with the 100 metres and 200 metres events at the Beijing Summer Olympics, and the new 100 m world-record holder was the favourite to win both. Michael Johnson, the 200 m and 400 m record holder, personally backed the sprinter, saying that he did not believe that a lack of experience would work against him. Bolt qualified for the 100 m final with times of 9.92s and 9.85s in the quarter-finals and semifinals, respectively.

    In the Olympic 100 m final, Bolt broke new ground, winning in 9.69s (unofficially 9.683s) with a reaction time of 0.165s. This was an improvement upon his own world record, and he was well ahead of second-place finisher Richard Thompson, who finished in 9.89s. Not only was the record set without a favourable wind (+0.0 m/s), but he also visibly slowed down to celebrate before he finished and his shoelace was untied. Bolt's coach reported that, based upon the speed of Bolt's opening 60 m, he could have finished with a time of 9.52s. After scientific analysis of Bolt's run by the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Oslo, Hans Eriksen and his colleagues also predicted a sub 9.60s time. Considering factors such as Bolt's position, acceleration and velocity in comparison with second-place-finisher Thompson, the team estimated that Bolt could have finished in 9.55±0.04 s had he not slowed to celebrate before the finishing line.

    Bolt stated that setting a record was not a priority for him, and that his goal was just to win the gold medal, Jamaica's first of the 2008 Games. Olympic medalist Kriss Akabusi construed Bolt's chest slapping before the finish line as showboating, noting that the actions cost Bolt an even faster record time. IOC president Jacques Rogge also condemned the Jamaican's actions as disrespectful. Bolt denied that this was the purpose of his celebration by saying, "I wasn't bragging. When I saw I wasn't covered, I was just happy". Lamine Diack, president of the IAAF, supported Bolt and said that his celebration was appropriate given the circumstances of his victory. Jamaican government minister Edmund Bartlett also defended Bolt's actions, stating, "We have to see it in the glory of their moment and give it to them. We have to allow the personality of youth to express itself".

    Bolt then focused on attaining a gold medal in the 200 m event, aiming to emulate Carl Lewis' double win in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Michael Johnson felt that Bolt would easily win gold but believed that his own world record of 19.32s set at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta would remain intact at the Olympics. Bolt eased through the first and second rounds of the 200 m, jogging towards the end of his run both times. He won his semifinal and progressed to the final as the favourite to win. Retired Jamaican sprinter Don Quarrie praised Bolt, saying he was confident that Johnson's record could be beaten. The following day, at the final, he won Jamaica's fourth gold of the Games, setting a new world and Olympic record of 19.30 s. Johnson's record fell despite the fact that Bolt was impeded by a 0.9 m/s headwind. The feat made him the first sprinter since Quarrie to hold both 100 m and 200 m world records simultaneously and the first since the introduction of electronic timing. Furthermore, Bolt became the first sprinter to break both records at the same Olympics. Unlike in the 100 m final, Bolt sprinted hard all the way to the finishing line in the 200 m race, even dipping his chest to improve his time. Following the race, "Happy Birthday" was played over the stadium's sound system as his 22nd birthday would begin at midnight.

    Two days later, Bolt ran as the third leg in the Jamaican 4x100 metres relay team, increasing his gold medal total to three. Along with teammates Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, and Asafa Powell, Bolt broke another world and Olympic record, their 37.10s finish breaking the previous record by three tenths of a second. Powell, who anchored the team to the finishing line, lamented the loss of his 100 m record to Bolt but showed no animosity towards his Jamaican rival, stating that he was delighted to help him set his third world record. Following his victories, Bolt donated US$50,000 to the children of the Sichuan province of China to help those harmed by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

    Bolt's record-setting runs caused commentators not only to praise his achievements but also to speculate about his potential to become one of the most successful sprinters ever. Critics hailed his Olympic success as a new beginning for a sport that had long suffered through high-profile drug scandals. The previous six years had seen the BALCO scandal, Tim Montgomery and Justin Gatlin stripped of their 100 m world records, and Marion Jones returning three Olympic gold medals. All three sprinters were disqualified from athletics after drugs tests detected banned substances in their systems. Bolt's record-breaking performances caused suspicion among some commentators, including Victor Conte, and the lack of an independent Caribbean anti-doping federation raised more concerns. The accusations of drug use were vehemently rejected by Glen Mills (Bolt's coach) and Herb Elliott (the Jamaican athletics team doctor). Elliott, a member of the IAAF anti-doping commission, urged those concerned about the issue to "come down and see our programme, come down and see our testing, we have nothing to hide". Mills had been equally ardent that Bolt was a clean athlete, declaring to the Jamaica Gleaner: "We will test any time, any day, any part of the body...[he] doesn't even like to take vitamins". Bolt stated that he had been tested four times prior to the Olympics, and all had tested negative for banned substances. He also welcomed anti-doping authorities to test him to prove that he was clean, stating, "We work hard and we perform well and we know we're clean".
    “I was slowing down long before the finish and wasn't tired at all. I could have gone back to the start and done it all over again.” —Usain Bolt's thoughts on his 100m sprint at the 2008 Olympics, published in his autobiography Usain Bolt 9.58

    The end of the 2008 athletics season saw Bolt compete in the ÅF Golden League, beginning in Weltklasse Zürich. Despite having the slowest start among his competitors in the 100 m race, he still crossed the finishing line in 9.83s. Even though the time was slower than both his newly set world record and Asafa Powell's track record, it was still among the top-fifteen 100 m finishes by any sprinter to that date. Bolt admitted that he was not running at full strength, suffering from a cold, but he had concentrated on both winning the race and finishing the season in good health. At the Super Grand Prix final in Lausanne, Bolt ran his second-fastest 200 m with a time of 19.63s, equalling Xavier Carter's track record. However, it was the 100 m final, featuring Asafa Powell, that drew the most interest. Powell had moved closer to Bolt's world record after setting a new personal best of 9.72s, reaffirming his status as Bolt's main contender. Bolt's final event of the season came three days later at the Golden League final in Brussels. This was the first 100 m race featuring both Bolt and Powell since the final in the Olympics. Both Jamaicans broke the track record, but Bolt came out on top with a time of 9.77s, beating Powell by 0.06 s. Victory, however, did not come as smoothly as it had in Beijing. Bolt made the slowest start of the nine competitors and had to recover ground in cold conditions and against a 0.9 m/s headwind. Yet the results confirmed Jamaican dominance in the 100 m, with nine of the ten-fastest legal times in history being recorded by either Bolt or Powell. On his return to Jamaica, Bolt was honoured in a homecoming celebration and received an Order of Distinction in recognition of his achievements at the Olympics.

    He was selected as the IAAF Male Athlete of the year and won a Special Olympic Award for his performances. However, Bolt turned his attention to future events, suggesting that he could aim to break the 400 metres world record in 2010 as no major championships were scheduled that year.

    Bolt started the season competing over 400 metres in order to improve his speed, winning two races and registering 45.54 s in Kingston, and windy conditions gave him his first sub-10 second finish of the season in the 100 m in March. In late April Bolt suffered minor leg injuries in a car crash. However, he quickly recovered following minor surgery and (after cancelling a track meet in Jamaica) he stated that he was fit to compete in the 150 metres street race at the Manchester Great City Games. Bolt won the race in 14.35 s, the fastest time ever recorded for 150 m. Despite not being at full fitness, he took the 100 and 200 m titles at the Jamaican national championships, with runs of 9.86s and 20.25s respectively. This meant he had qualified for both events at the 2009 World Championships. Rival Tyson Gay suggested that Bolt's 100 m record was within his grasp, but Bolt dismissed the claim and instead noted that he was more interested in Asafa Powell's return from injury. Bolt defied unfavourable conditions at the Athletissima meet in July, running 19.59 seconds into a 0.9 m/s headwind and rain, to record the fourth fastest time ever over 200 m, one hundredth off Gay's best time.

    At the 2009 World Championships in August, Bolt eased through the 100 m heats, clocking the fastest ever pre-final performance of 9.89 seconds. The final was the first time Bolt and Gay had met in the season, and Bolt improved his world record with a time of 9.58s to win his first World Championship gold medal. Taking over a tenth of a second off the previous best mark, this was the largest ever margin of improvement in the 100 m world record since the beginning of electronic timing. Gay finished with a time of 9.71s, 0.02s off Bolt's 9.69s world-record run in Beijing. Although Gay withdrew from the second race of the competition, the Jamaican once again produced world record-breaking form in the 200 metres final. He broke his own record by 0.11 seconds, finishing with a time of 19.19 seconds. He won the 200 m race by the biggest margin in World Championships history, even though the race had three other athletes running under 19.90 seconds, the greatest number ever in the event. Bolt's pace impressed even the more experienced of his competitors; third-placed Wallace Spearmon complimented his speed, and former Olympic champion Shawn Crawford said "Just coming out there...I felt like I was in a video game, that guy was moving – fast". Bolt pointed out that an important factor in his performance at the World Championships was his improved start to the races: his reaction times in the 100 m (0.146) and 200 m (0.133) were significantly faster than those he had produced in his world record runs at the Beijing Olympics. However, he, together with other members of Jamaican 4x100 m relay team, fell short of their own world record of 37.10s set at 2008 Summer Olympics by timing 37.31s, which is, however, a championship record and the second fastest time in history at that date.

    On the last day of the Berlin Championships, the governing Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, presented Bolt with a 12-foot high section of the Berlin Wall in a small ceremony, saying Bolt had shown that "one can tear down walls that had been considered as insurmountable." The nearly three-ton segment will be delivered to Bolt's training camp in Jamaica.

    Several days after Bolt broke the world records in 100 and 200 metres events, Mike Powell, the world record holder in long jump (8.95 metres set in 1991) argued that Bolt could become the first man to jump over 9 metres, the long jump event being "a perfect fit for his speed and height". At the end of the season he was selected as the IAAF World Athlete of the Year for the second year running.

    Early on in the 2010 outdoor season, Bolt ran 19.56 seconds in the 200 m in Kingston, Jamaica for the fourth-fastest run of all-time, although he stated that he had no record breaking ambitions for the forthcoming season. He took to the international circuit May with wins in East Asia at the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting and then a comfortable win in his 2010 IAAF Diamond League debut at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix. Bolt made an attempt to break Michael Johnson's best time over the rarely competed 300 metres event at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava. He failed to match Johnson's ten-year-old record of 30.85 and suffered a setback in that his 30.97-second run in wet weather had left him with an Achilles tendon problem.

    On his return from injury a month later, he asserted himself with a 100 m win at the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne (9.82 seconds) and a victory over Asafa Powell at Meeting Areva in Paris (9.84 seconds). Despite this run of form, he suffered only the second loss of his career in a 100 m final at the DN Galan. Tyson Gay soundly defeated him with a run of 9.84 to Bolt's 9.97 seconds, and the Jamaican reflected that he had slacked off in training early in the season while Gay had been better prepared and in a better condition. This marked Bolt's first loss to Gay in the 100 m, which coincidentally occurred in the same stadium where Powell had beaten Bolt for the first time two years earlier.

    Considered the overwhelming favourite to win in the 100 metres at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, Bolt was eliminated from the final, breaking "ridiculously early" according to the starter in an interview for BBC Sport, and receiving a false start. Usain Bolt's countryman, Yohan Blake, won in a season best of 9.92 seconds. In the 200 m, Bolt cruised through to the final which he won in a time of 19.40s. Bolt also won gold in 4x100 metres relay with team Jamaica setting a world record time of 37.04. In June 2012, Usain Bolt won the 100 m race in Diamond League in 9.79 seconds.

    Before the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Bolt came in second at the Jamaican trials in both 100 m and 200 m. However, at the Olympics, he won the 100 metres gold medal with a time of 9.63 seconds, setting a new Olympic record for that distance and defending his gold medal from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. He was followed by fellow Jamaican, Yohan Blake, who won silver with a time of 9.75 seconds. Following the race, seventh place finisher Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago declared "There's no doubt he's the greatest sprinter of all time", while USA Today referred to Bolt as a Jamaican "national hero", noting that his victory came just hours before Jamaica was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence from the United Kingdom. With his 2012 win, Bolt became the first man to defend an Olympic sprint title since Carl Lewis in 1988.

    Bolt then "re-defined everything", by following up that impressive performance with a successful defense of his 200 metres gold medal with a time of 19.32 seconds, followed by fellow Jamaicans second-place Yohan Blake at 19.44 and bronze medalist Warren Weir at 19.84. With this, Bolt became the first man in history to defend both the 100 m and 200 m Olympic sprint titles. In fact, Bolt was so comfortably ahead near the finish that he was able to slow down, put his left finger to his mouth and "tell everyone to shush." As soon as Bolt crossed the finish line, he did five push-ups, one for each of his Olympic gold medals. Following the race, eighth place finisher Anaso Jobodwana of South Africa compared Bolt to a "ghost" who "disappears in front of you". When asked about his greatness as a sprinter following his victory, Bolt placed himself in the category of Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali, in their respective sports. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge initially stated that Bolt was not yet a "legend" and would not deserve such acclaim until the end of Bolt's career, but later called him the best sprinter of all time.

    On the final day of the 2012 Olympics' athletics, Bolt participated in Jamaica's gold medal-winning 4×100 metres relay team consisting of Bolt, Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Yohan Blake. With a running time of 36.84 seconds, they broke Jamaica's previous world record of 37.04 from 2011. He celebrated by doing the "Mobot" in tribute to Mo Farah.

    The first sport to interest him was cricket and he said if he was not a sprinter he would be a fast bowler instead. As a child he was a supporter of the Pakistani cricket team and admired the bowling of Waqar Younis. He is also a fan of Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, West Indian opener Chris Gayle and Australian opener Matthew Hayden. During a charity cricket match Bolt clean-bowled Chris Gayle. Gayle was complimentary of Bolt's pace and swing. Bolt also struck a six off Chris Gayle's bowling. Another bowler complimentary of Bolt's pace was former West Indies fast-bowling great Curtly Ambrose.

    Australian cricketer Shane Warne said on 12 August, 2012 that Bolt would be interested in playing in the Big Bash League. Bolt confirmed this saying: "[Shane Warne] contacted me and asked me about if I am serious and if I really want to do it then he can put in a few words that should get it done. So we will see if I get the time off. I will try." He also said he likes the Twenty20 version of the game: "Just the fact that it is so exciting, it's about going hard the whole time, not just about playing shots. It's about being aggressive and I like that style of batsman. If I get the chance I will definitely try because I know it's going to be a lot of fun. I don't know how good I am. I will probably have to get a lot of practice in." The social media campaign Warne started to get Bolt into the league also gained support from Australian Hollywood actor Russell Crowe. In response to Bolt's interest, Melbourne Stars Chief Executive Clint Cooper said: "We're going to wait until the Olympics is over and re-engage with him and his management company. We've got a couple of spots left on our list."

    Bolt expresses a love for dancing and his character is frequently described as laid-back and relaxed. Bolt's Jamaican track and field idols include Herb McKenley and former Jamaican 100 m 200 m world record holder, Don Quarrie. Michael Johnson, the former 200 m world and Olympic record holder, is also held in high esteem by Bolt. In 2010, he also revealed his fondness of music, when he played a reggae DJ set to a crowd in Paris. He has also expressed his love for football and is a fan of Manchester United. Bolt has also declared he is a fan of Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy. He was a special guest of Manchester United at the 2011 UEFA Champions League final in London, where he stated he'd like to play for them after he retires.

    Jamaica Jamaica, officially the Commonwealth of Jamaica, is the 4th largest island nation of the Greater Antilles, 234kms (145miles) in length, up to 80kms (50miles) in width, and 10,990sq kms (4,240 sq miles) in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about 145kms (90miles) south of Cuba, and 191kms (119miles) west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Jamaica is the 5th largest island country in the Caribbean. The indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno name for the island was Xaymaca, meaning the "Land of Wood and Water" or the "Land of Springs".

    Once a Spanish possession known as Santiago, it became an English colony in 1655 under the name Jamaica. It achieved full independence from Britain on August 6, 1962. With 2.8 million people, it is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada. It remains a Commonwealth realm in concert with the Monarchy of Jamaica holding ultimate executive power, where Queen Elizabeth II is the current head of state and Queen of Jamaica. The head of government and Prime Minister of Jamaica is currently Portia Simpson-Miller, who holds full legislative power of the country. Kingston is the country's largest city, with a population of 937,700, and its capital. Jamaica has a large diaspora around the world consisting of Jamaican citizens migrating from the country.

    The Arawak and Taino indigenous people, originating in South America, settled on the island between 4000 and 1000 BC. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1494, there were over 200 villages ruled by caciques (chiefs of villages). The south coast of Jamaica was the most populated, especially around the area now known as Old Harbour. The Tainos were still inhabiting Jamaica when the English took control of the island. The Jamaican National Heritage Trust is attempting to locate and document any evidence of the Taino/Arawaks.

    Christopher Columbus claimed Jamaica for Spain after landing there in 1494 and his probable landing point was Dry Harbour, now called Discovery Bay. There is some debate as to whether he landed in St. Ann's Bay or in Discovery Bay. St. Ann's Bay was the "Saint Gloria" of Columbus who first sighted Jamaica at this point. One mile west of St. Ann's Bay is the site of the first Spanish settlement on the island, Sevilla, which was established in 1509 and abandoned around 1524 because it was deemed unhealthy. The capital was moved to Spanish Town, then called "St. Jago de la Vega", around 1534 and is located in present day St. Catherine.

    Out of all the British colonies in the Caribbean, Spanish Town has the oldest cathedral. The Spanish were forcibly evicted by the English at Ocho Rios in St. Ann. In 1655 the English, led by William Penn and General Robert Venables, took over the last Spanish fort in Jamaica. The name of Montego Bay, the capital of the parish of St. James, was derived from the Spanish name manteca bahía (or Bay of Lard) for the large quantity of boar used for the lard-making industry.

    Henry Morgan was a famous Caribbean pirate and privateer who had arrived in the West Indies as an indentured servant, like many of the early settlers. In 1660, the population of Jamaica was about 4,500 whites and 1,500 blacks, but by as early as the 1670s, blacks formed a majority of the population. France outlawed the residence of Jews in their country in 1394. By 1660, Jamaica had become a refuge for Jews in the New World. A settlement of Jews had arrived in 1510, soon after the son of Christopher Columbus settled on the island. Primarily merchants and traders, the Jewish community was forced to live a clandestine life, calling themselves "Portugals". After the British took over rule of Jamaica, the Jews felt that the best defense against Spanish threat would be to make the colony a base for Caribbean pirates. With the pirates installed in its main port, Port Royal, the Spanish would be deterred form carrying out an attack. The British leaders were convinced of the viability of this strategy to forestall outside aggression.

    When the English captured Jamaica in 1655 the Spanish colonists fled after freeing their slaves. The slaves fled into the mountains, joining those who had previously escaped from the Spanish to live with the Taínos. These runaway slaves, who became known as the Jamaican Maroons, fought the British during the 18th century. The name is still used today for their modern descendants. During the long years of slavery Maroons established free communities in the mountainous interior of Jamaica, maintaining their freedom and independence for generations.

    During its first 200 years of British rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading sugar-exporting, slave-dependent nations, producing more than 77,000 tons of sugar annually between 1820 and 1824. After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, the British imported Indian and Chinese workers as indentured servants to supplement the labour pool. Descendants of indentured servants of Indian and Chinese origin continue to reside in Jamaica today.

    By the beginning of the 19th century, Jamaica's heavy reliance on slavery resulted in blacks outnumbering whites by a ratio of almost 20 to 1. Even though England had outlawed the importation of slaves, some were still smuggled into the colonies. The British government drew up laws regimenting the abolition of slavery, but they also included instructions for the improvement of the slaves' way of life. These instructions included a ban of the use of whips in the field, a ban on the flogging of women, notification that slaves were to be allowed religious instruction, a requirement that slaves be given an extra free day during the week when they could sell their produce as well as a ban on Sunday markets.

    In Jamaica these measures were resisted by the House of Assembly. The Assembly claimed that the slaves were content and objected to Parliament's interference in island affairs, although many slave owners feared possible revolts. Following a series of rebellions and changing attitudes in Great Britain, the nation formally abolished slavery in 1834, with full emancipation from chattel slavery declared in 1838. The population in 1834 was 371,070 of whom 15,000 were white, 5,000 free black, 40,000 ‘coloured’ or mixed race, and 311,070 slaves.

    In the 19th century, the British established a number of botanical gardens. These included the Castleton Garden, set up in 1862 to replace the Bath Garden (created in 1779) which was subject to flooding. Bath Garden was the site for planting breadfruit brought to Jamaica from the Pacific by Captain William Bligh. Other gardens were the Cinchona Plantation founded in 1868 and the Hope Garden founded in 1874. In 1872, Kingston became the island's capital.

    In 1945, Sir Horace Hector Hearne became Chief Justice and Keeper of the Records in Jamaica. He headed the Supreme Court, Kingston between 1945 and 1950/1951. He then moved to Kenya where he was appointed Chief Justice.

    Jamaica slowly gained increasing independence from the United Kingdom and in 1958, it became a province in the Federation of the West Indies, a federation among the British West Indies. Jamaica attained full independence by leaving the federation in 1962.

    Strong economic growth, averaging approximately 6% per annum, marked the first ten years of independence under conservative governments which were led successively by Prime Ministers Alexander Bustamante, Donald Sangster and Hugh Shearer. The growth was fuelled by strong investments in bauxite/alumina, tourism, manufacturing industry and, to a lesser extent, the agricultural sector.

    The optimism of the first decade was accompanied by a growing sense of inequality, and a sense that the benefits of growth were not being experienced by the urban poor. This, combined with the effects of a slowdown in the global economy in 1970, prompted the electorate to change government, electing the PNP (People's National Party) in 1972. Despite efforts to create more socially equitable policies in education and health, Jamaica continued to lag economically, with its gross national product having fallen in 1980 to some 25% below the 1972 level. Rising foreign and local debt, accompanied by large fiscal deficits, resulted in the invitation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) financing from the United States and others, and the imposition of IMF austerity measures (with a greater than 25% interest rate per year).

    Economic deterioration continued into the mid-1980s, exacerbated by a number of factors; the first and third largest alumina producers, Alpart and Alcoa closed, and there was a significant reduction in production by the second largest producer, Alcan. In addition, tourism decreased and Reynolds Jamaica Mines, Ltd. left the Jamaican industry.

    People always say I'm a legend, but I'm not. Not until I've defended my Olympic titles. That's when I've decided I'll be a legend.

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  • The bittersweet taste of Revolution... Info

    Hi everyone and welcome to the blog. This week’s blog is dedicated to two revolutionaries, in more than one sense of the word, who’s anniversaries are remembered this week Emiliano Zapata and Henri Nestlé.

    Emiliano Zapata was born Emiliano Zapata Salazar to Gabriel Zapata and Cleofas Salazar of Zacatepillo. Zapata's family were Mexicans being of mixed Nahua and Spanish ancestry; Emiliano was the ninth of ten children. A peasant since childhood, he gained insight into the severe difficulties of the countryside. He received a limited education from his teacher, Emilio Vara. He had to care for his family because his father died when Zapata was 17. Around the turn of the 20th century Anenecuilco was an indigenous Nahuatl speaking community; there exist eyewitness accounts stating that Emiliano Zapata spoke Nahuatl fluently.

    After Porfirio Díaz rose to power in 1876, the Mexican social and economic system was essentially a feudal system, with large estates (haciendas) controlling much of the land and squeezing out the independent communities of the people who were subsequently forced into debt slavery (peonaje) on the haciendas. Díaz ran local elections to pacify the people, and a government that could be argued was self-imposed. Under Díaz, close confidants and associates were given offices in districts throughout Mexico. These officials became enforcers of "land reforms" that drove the haciendas into the hands of progressively fewer and wealthier landowners.

    Zapata came from an Indian family (so did Diaz) and got married to a Mexican woman from a middle-class family that was able to avoid peonage, as well as maintain their own land (rancho). In fact, the family had been porfiristas: supporters of Porfirio Díaz. In 1906, he attended a meeting in Cuautla to discuss a way to defend the land of the people, on which he had worked as a farmhand. In 1908, due to his first acts of rebellion, he was drafted into the Ninth Regiment and sent to Mexico. However, because of his skill with horses, he remained a soldier for only six months. At the request of Ignacio de la Torre, who employed him as a groom, he left for Mexico City. Though his gaudy attire might have suggested an affiliation with the rich hacendados who controlled the lands, he retained the admiration of the people of his village, Anenecuilco.

    In 1909 an important meeting was called by the elders of Anenecuilco, whose chief elder was José Merino in which he announced his intention to resign from his position due to his old age and limited abilities to continue the fight for the land rights of the village. The meeting was used as a time for discussion and nomination of individuals as a replacement for Merino as the president of the village council. The elders on the council were so well respected by the village men that no one would dare to override their nominations or overtake the vote for an individual against the advice of the current council at that time. The nominations made were: Modesto Gonzales, Bartolo Parral, and Emiliano Zapata. After the completion of nominations, a vote was taken and Zapata became the new council president without contest.

    Although Zapata had turned 30 only a month before, the voters knew that it was necessary to elect an individual who would be responsible for the village and who was well respected by the village people. Even though he was young, the village was ready to hand over the controlling force to him without any worry of failure. Before he was elected he had shown the village his nature by helping to head up a campaign in opposition to a candidate for governor. Even though his efforts and his cause failed greatly, he was able to create and cultivate relationships with political authority figures that would prove useful for him.

    Zapata became a leading figure in the village of Anenecuilco, where his family had lived for many generations, and he became involved in struggles for the rights of the campesinos of Morelos. He was able to oversee the redistribution of the land from some haciendas peacefully, but had problems with others. He observed numerous conflicts between villagers and hacendados, or landowners, over the constant theft of village land, and in one instance, saw the hacendados torch an entire village.

    For many years, he campaigned steadfastly for the rights of the villagers, first establishing via ancient title deeds their claims to disputed land, and then pressing the recalcitrant governor of Morelos into action. Finally, disgusted with the slow response from the government and the overt bias towards the wealthy plantation owners, Zapata began making use of armed force, simply taking over the land in dispute.

    At this time, Porfirio Díaz was being threatened by the candidacy of Francisco I. Madero. Zapata, seeing an opportunity to promote land reform in Mexico, made quiet alliances with Madero, whom he perceived to be the best chance for genuine change in the country. Although he was wary about Madero, Zapata cooperated with him when Madero made vague promises about land reform. Land reform would be the only issue which Zapata cared about.

    Zapata joined Madero’s campaign against President Diaz. When Zapata's army captured Cuautla after a six-day battle on May 19, 1911, it became clear the Diaz would not hold on to power for long. With the support of Pancho Villa, Pascual Orozco, Emiliano Zapata, and rebellious peasants, Madero overthrew Díaz in May 1911 at the Battle of Ciudad Juárez. A provisional government was formed under Francisco León de la Barra. Under Madero, some new land reforms were carried out and elections were to be ensured. However, Zapata was dissatisfied with Madero's stance on land reform, which Madero did not really believe in, and was unable, despite repeated efforts, to make him understand the importance of the issue or to get him to act on it.

    Madero was not ready to create a radical change in the manner that agrarian relations operated during this time. Some other individuals, called "anarcho-syndicalist agitators", had made promises to take things back to the way that they had been done previously. The major method of agrarian relations had been that of communal lands, called "ejidos". Although some believed that this could be the best course of action, Madero simply demanded that "Public servants act 'morally' in enforcing the law...". Upon seeing the response by villagers, Madero offered formal justice in courts to individuals who had been wronged by others with regard to agrarian politics. Zapata decided that on the surface it seemed as though Madero was doing good things for the people of Mexico, but Zapata did not know the level of sincerity in Madero's actions and thus did not know if he should support him completely.

    Madero and Zapata's relations worsened during the summer of 1911 as Madero appointed a governor who supported plantation owners and refused to meet Zapata’s agrarian goals. Compromises between the two failed in November 1911, days after Madero appointed himself President, and Zapata and Montano fled to the mountains of southwest Puebla. There they formed the most radical reform plan in Mexico; the Plan de Ayala (Plan of Ayala). The plan declared Madero a traitor, named Pascual Orozco head of the Revolution, and outlined a plan for true land reform.

    The Plan of Ayala called for all lands stolen under Díaz to be immediately returned: there was considerable land fraud under the old dictator, so a great deal of territory was involved. It also stated that large plantations owned by a single person or family should have one-third of their land nationalized and would then be required to give it to poor farmers. It also argued that if any large plantation owner resisted this action, they should have the other two-thirds confiscated as well. The Plan of Ayala also invoked the name of Benito Juárez, one of Mexico's great leaders, and compared the taking of land from the wealthy to Juarez's actions when he took land from the church in the 1860s. While the of Plan of Ayala also denounced the historical role of church hierarchy, in contradiction, it denounced the church itself.

    Zapata was partly influenced by an (communal – anti private property) anarchist from Oaxaca named Ricardo Flores Magón. The influence of Flores Magón on Zapata can be seen in the Zapatistas' Plan de Ayala, but even more noticeably in their slogan (this slogan was never used by Zapata) "Tierra y libertad" or "land and liberty", the title and maxim of Flores Magón's most famous work. Zapata's introduction to anarchism came via a local schoolteacher, Otilio Montaño Sánchez – later a general in Zapata's army, executed on May 17, 1917 – who exposed Zapata to the works of Peter Kropotkin and Flores Magón at the same time as Zapata was observing and beginning to participate in the struggles of the peasants for the land.

    The plan proclaimed the Zapatista demands for "Reforma, Libertad Ley y Justicia" (Reform, Freedom, Law and Justice). Zapata also declared the Maderistas as a counter-revolution and denounced Madero. Zapata mobilized his Liberation Army and allied with former Maderistas Pascual Orozco and Emiliano Vázquez Gómez. Orozco was from Chihuahua, near the U.S. border, and thus was able to aid the Zapatistas with a supply of arms.

    In the following weeks, the development of military operations "betrayed good evidence of clear and intelligent planning." During Orozco's rebellion, Zapata fought Mexican troops in south and near Mexico City. In the original design of the armed force, Zapata was a mere colonel among several others; however, the true plan that came about through this organization lent itself to Zapata. Zapata believed that the best route of attack would be to centre the fighting and action in Cuautla. If this political location could be overthrown, the army would have enough power to "veto anyone else's control of the state, negotiate for Cuernavaca or attack it directly, and maintain independent access to Mexico City as well as escape routes to the southern hills." However, in order to gain this great success, Zapata realized that his men needed to be better armed and trained.

    The first line of action demanded that Zapata and his men "control the area behind and below a line from Jojutla to Yecapixtla." When this was accomplished it gave the army the ability to complete raids as well as wait. As the opposition of the federal army and police detachments slowly dissipated, the army would be able to eventually gain powerful control over key locations in the Interoceanic Railway from Puebla City to Cuautla. If these feats could be completed, it would gain access to Cuautla directly and the city would fall.

    The plan of action was carried out and saw amazing success in Jojutla. However, Torres Burgos, the commander of the operation, was disappointed that the army disobeyed his orders against looting and ransacking. The army took complete control of the area and it seemed as though Torres Burgos lost any type of control that he believed he had over his forces prior to this event. Shortly after, Burgos called a meeting and resigned from his position. Upon leaving Jojutla with his two sons, Burgos was surprised by a federal police patrol who subsequently shot all three of the men on the spot. This seemed to some to be an ending blow to the movement because Burgos had not selected a successor for his position; however, Zapata was ready to take up where Burgos had left off.

    Shortly after Burgos' death, a party of rebels elected Zapata as "Supreme Chief of the Revolutionary Movement of the South". This seemed to be the fix to all of the problems that had just arisen, but other individuals wanted to replace Zapata as well. Due to this new conflict, the individual who would come out on top would have to do so by "convincing his peers he deserved their backing".

    Zapata finally did gain the support necessary by his peers and was considered a "singularly qualified candidate". This decision to make Zapata the true leader of the revolution did not occur all at once, nor did it ever reach a true definitive level of recognition. In order to succeed, Zapata needed a strong financial backing for the battles to come. This came in the form of 10,000 pesos delivered by Rodolfo from the Tacubayans. Due to this amazing sum of money Zapata's group of rebels became one of the strongest in the state financially.

    Zapata's trademark saying was, "It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." After some time Zapata became the leader of his "strategic zone." This gave him tremendous power and control over the actions of many more individual rebel groups and thus increased his margin of success greatly. "Among revolutionaries in other districts of the state, however, Zapata's authority was more tenuous." After a meeting with Zapata and Ambrosio Figueroa in Jolalpan, it was decided that Zapata would have joint power with Figueroa with regard to operations in Morelos. This was a turning point in the level of authority and influence that Zapata had gained and proved useful in the direct overthrow of Morelos.

    Zapata immediately began to use his newly-found power and began to overthrow city after city with gaining momentum. Madero, alarmed, asked Zapata to disarm and demobilize. Zapata responded that, if the people could not win their rights now, when they were armed, they would have no chance once they were unarmed and helpless. Madero sent several generals in an attempt to deal with Zapata, but these efforts had little success. It seemed as though Zapata would shortly be able to overthrow Morelos. Before he could overthrow Madero, General Victoriano Huerta beat him to it in February 1913, ordering Madero arrested and executed. This officially and formally ended the civil war.

    Although this may have caused individuals to believe that the revolution was over, it was not. The battle continued for years to come over the fact that Mexican individuals did not have agrarian rights that were fair, nor did they have the protection necessary to fight against those who pushed such exploitation upon them. If there was anyone that Zapata hated more than Díaz and Madero, it was Victoriano Huerta, the bitter, violent alcoholic who had been responsible for many atrocities in southern Mexico while trying to end the rebellion. Zapata was not alone: in the north, Pancho Villa, who had supported Madero, immediately took to the field against Huerta. Zapata revised the Plan of Ayala and named himself the leader of his revolution. He was joined by two newcomers to the Revolution, Venustiano Carranza and Alvaro Obregón, who raised large armies in Coahuila and Sonora respectively. Together they made short work of Huerta, who resigned and fled in June 1914 after repeated military losses to the “Big Four."

    With Huerta gone, the Big Four almost immediately began fighting among themselves. Villa and Carranza, who despised one another, almost began shooting before Huerta was even removed. Obregón, who considered Villa a loose cannon, reluctantly backed Carranza, who named himself provisional president of Mexico. Zapata didn’t like Carranza, so he sided with Villa (to an extent). He mainly stayed on the sidelines of the Villa/Carranza conflict, attacking anyone who came onto his turf in the south but rarely sallying forth. Obregón defeated Villa over the course of 1915, allowing Carranza to turn his attention to Zapata.

    Zapata’s army was unique in that he allowed women to join the ranks and serve as combatants. Although other revolutionary armies had many women followers, in general they did not fight (although there were exceptions). Only in Zapata’s army were there large numbers of women combatants: some were even officers. Some modern Mexican feminists point to the historical importance of these soldaderas as a milestone in women’s rights.

    In early 1916, Carranza sent Pablo González, his most ruthless general, to track down and stamp out Zapata once and for all. González employed a no-tolerance, scorched earth policy: he destroyed villages, executing all those he suspected of supporting Zapata. Although Zapata was able to drive the federales out for a while in 1917-8, they returned to continue the fight. After gaining success against Zapata, Carranza then told Gonzalez to finish Zapata by any means necessary.

    In 1919, Zapata became the victim to a carefully staged ambush by Gen. Pablo González and his lieutenant, Col. Jesús Guajardo. González proposed Guajardo feign a defection to Zapata's forces. Guajardo agreed, and to make the defection appear sincere, Pablo arranged for Guajardo to attack a Federal column, killing 57 soldiers. Zapata subsequently agreed to receive a messenger from Guajardo, to arrange a meeting to speak about Guajardo's defection.

    On April 10, 1919, Guajardo invited Zapata to a meeting, intimating that he intended to defect to the revolutionaries. However, when Zapata arrived at the Hacienda de San Juan, in Chinameca, Ayala municipality, Guajardo's men riddled him with bullets. They then took his body to Cuautla to claim the bounty, where they are reputed to have been given only half of what was promised.

    Following Zapata's death, the Liberation Army of the South slowly fell apart, his rebellion in the south soon fizzled and, in the short run, his ideals of land reform and fair treatment for Mexico's poor farmers were put to an end. However, Zapata's heir apparent Gildardo Magaña and many other Zapata adherents went on to political careers as representatives of Zapatista causes and positions in the Mexican army and government. Some of his former generals like Genovevo de la O allied with Obregón while others eventually disappeared after Carranza was deposed.

    Zapata's influence continues to this day, particularly in revolutionary tendencies in south Mexico. In the long run, he has done more for his ideals in death than he did in life. Like many charismatic idealists, Zapata became a martyr after his treacherous murder. Even though Mexico still has not implemented the sort of land reform he wanted, he is remembered as a visionary who fought for his countrymen. Zapata's Plan of Ayala also influenced Article 27 of the progressive 1917 Mexican Constitution that codified an agrarian reform program. While the Mexican Revolution did restore some land that had been stolen under Diaz, the land reform on the scale imagined by Zapata would never be enacted. However, a great deal of the significant land distribution which Zapata sought would later be enacted after Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas took office in the 1930s. Cardenas would fulfil not only the land distribution policies written in Article 27, but also the other reforms written in the Mexican Constitution as well.

    There are controversies about the portrayal of Emiliano Zapata and his followers, over whether they were simply bandits or revolutionaries. But in modern times, Zapata is one of the most revered national heroes of Mexico. To many Mexicans, specifically the peasant and indigenous citizens, Zapata was a practical revolutionary who sought the implementation of liberties and agrarian rights outlined in the Plan of Ayala. He was a realist with the goal of achieving political and economic emancipation of the peasants in southern Mexico, and leading them out of severe poverty.

    Many popular organizations take their name from Zapata, most notably the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional or EZLN in Spanish), the revolutionary movement of indigenous peoples that emerged in the state of Chiapas in 1994 and is colloquially known as "the Zapatistas". Towns, streets, and housing developments called "Emiliano Zapata" are common across the country and he has, at times, been depicted on Mexican banknotes.

    Modern activists in Mexico frequently make reference to Zapata in their campaigns, his image is commonly seen on banners and many chants invoke his name: Si Zapata viviera con nosotros anduviera, "If Zapata lived, he would walk with us." Zapata vive, la lucha sigue, "Zapata lives; the struggle continues."

    Henri Nestlé was born Heinrich Nestle on 10 August 1814, in Frankfurt, Germany. He was the eleventh of fourteen children of Johann Ulrich Matthias Nestle and Anna-Maria Catharina Ehemann. Heinrich Nestle's father by tradition inherited the business of his father Johann Ulrich Nestle and became a glazier in Töngesgasse. The later Lord Mayor of Frankfurt am Main, Gustav Edmund Nestle, was his brother.

    The Nestle family has its origin in southern Swabian Germany, predominantly in the boroughs of the Black Forest as Dornstetten, Freudenstadt, Mindersbach, Nagold and Sulz am Neckar. In the Swabian dialect "Nestle" is a small bird's nest. The Nestle family tree began with three brothers (thus the three young birds in the nest being fed by their mother on the family coat of arms) from Mindersbach called Hans, Heinrich and Samuel Nestlin. The father of these three sons was born circa 1495. Hans, the eldest, was born in 1520 and had a son with the same name, who later became mayor of Nagold. His son Ulrich was a barber and his fifth son was the first glazier in the family. For over five generations this profession was passed down from father to son. Additionally the Nestles provided a number of mayors for the boroughs of Dornstetten, Freudenstadt, Nagold and Sulz on Neckar.

    Before Nestlé turned 20 in 1836, he had completed a 4-year apprenticeship with J. E. Stein, an owner of a pharmacy. At the end of 1839, he was officially authorized to perform chemical experiments, make up prescriptions, and sell medicines. During this time, he changed his name to Henri Nestlé in order to adapt better to the new social conditions in French-speaking Vevey, Switzerland.

    In 1843, Henri Nestlé bought into one of the region's most progressive and versatile industries at that time, the production of rapeseeds. He also became involved in the production of nut oils (used to fuel oil lamps), liqueurs, rum, absinth and vinegar. He also began manufacturing and selling carbonated mineral water and lemonade, although during the crisis years from 1845 to 1847 Nestlé gave up mineral water production. In 1857 he began concentrating on gas lighting and fertilizers. Henri Nestlé and Anna Clémentine Thérèse Ehemant were married on 23 May 1860.

    It is impossible to know when Henri Nestlé started working on the infant formula project. His interest is known to have been spurred by several factors: The high infant death rate in his family. Half of the 14 children died before reaching adulthood. His background as a pharmacist’s assistant. His wife who knew all about infant mortality being a daughter of a charity doctor. Henri Nestlé combined cow’s milk with wheat, flour, and sugar to produce a substitute of mother’s milk for those children who could not accept breast-feeding. Moreover, Henri Nestlé and Jean Balthasar Schnetzler, his friend and a scientist in human nutrition, removed the acid and the starch in wheat flour because they were difficult for babies to digest. The product could be prepared by simply adding water and is considered the first infant formula. People quickly recognized the value of the new product, and soon, Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé (Henri Nestlé's Milk Flour in French) was being sold in much of Europe. By the 1870s, Nestle's Infant Food, made with malt, cow's milk, sugar, and wheat flour, was selling in the US, for $0.50 a bottle.

    Henri Nestlé sold his company in 1875 to his business associates and then lived with his family alternately in Montreux and Glion, where they helped people with small loans and publicly contributed towards improving the local infrastructure. In Glion he moved into a house later known as Villa Nestle. Henri Nestlé-Ehmant died of a heart attack in Glion on 7 July 1890.

    Nestlé's origins date back to 1867, when two separate Swiss enterprises were founded that would later form the core of Nestlé. In the succeeding decades, the two competing enterprises aggressively expanded their businesses throughout Europe and the United States. In August 1867 Charles (US consul in Switzerland) and George Page, two brothers from Lee County, Illinois, USA, established the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company in Cham, Switzerland. Their first British operation was opened at Chippenham, Wiltshire, in 1873.

    In September 1867 in Vevey, Henri Nestlé developed a milk-based baby food, and soon began marketing it. The following year saw Daniel Peter begin seven years of work perfecting his invention, the milk chocolate manufacturing process. Nestlé's was the crucial cooperation that Peter needed to solve the problem of removing all the water from the milk added to his chocolate and thus preventing the product from developing mildew. Henri Nestlé retired in 1875 but the company under new ownership retained his name as Société Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé.

    In 1877 Anglo-Swiss added milk-based baby foods to their products and in the following year the Nestlé Company added condensed milk so that the firms became direct and fierce rivals. In 1905 the companies merged to become the Nestlé and Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company, retaining that name until 1947 when the name Nestlé Alimentana SA was taken as a result of the acquisition of Fabrique de Produits Maggi SA (founded 1884) and its holding company Alimentana SA of Kempttal, Switzerland. Maggi was a major manufacturer of soup mixes and related foodstuffs. The company’s current name was adopted in 1977. By the early 1900s, the company was operating factories in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain. The First World War created demand for dairy products in the form of government contracts, and, by the end of the war, Nestlé's production had more than doubled.

    After the war, government contracts dried up, and consumers switched back to fresh milk. However, Nestlé's management responded quickly, streamlining operations and reducing debt. The 1920s saw Nestlé's first expansion into new products, with chocolate-manufacture becoming the company's second most important activity. Louis Dapples was CEO till 1937, when succeeded by Édouard Muller till his death in 1948.

    Nestlé felt the effects of the Second World War immediately. Profits dropped from US$20 million in 1938, to US$6 million in 1939. Factories were established in developing countries, particularly in Latin America. Ironically, the war helped with the introduction of the company's newest product, Nescafé ("Nestlé's Coffee"), which became a staple drink of the US military. Nestlé's production and sales rose in the wartime economy.

    The end of World War II was the beginning of a dynamic phase for Nestlé. Growth accelerated and numerous companies were acquired. In 1947 Nestlé merged with Maggi, a well-known manufacturer of seasonings and soups. Crosse & Blackwell followed in 1950, as did Findus (1963), Libby's (1971) and Stouffer's (1973). Diversification came with a shareholding in L'Oréal in 1974. In 1977, Nestlé made its second venture outside the food industry, by acquiring Alcon Laboratories Inc.

    In 1984, Nestlé's improved bottom line allowed the company to launch a new round of acquisitions, notably American food giant Carnation and the British confectionery company Rowntree Mackintosh in 1988, which brought the Willy Wonka brand - among others - to Nestlé.

    The first half of the 1990s proved to be favourable for Nestlé. Trade barriers crumbled, and world markets developed into more or less integrated trading areas. Since 1996, there have been various acquisitions, including San Pellegrino (1997), Spillers Petfoods (1998), and Ralston Purina (2002). There were two major acquisitions in North America, both in 2002 – in June, Nestlé merged its U.S. ice cream business into Dreyer's, and in August a US$2.6 billion acquisition was announced of Chef America, the creator of Hot Pockets. In the same time-frame, Nestlé came close to purchasing the iconic American company Hershey's, one of its fiercest confectionery competitors, although the deal eventually fell through. Another recent purchase included the Jenny Craig weight-loss program, for US$600 million.

    In December 2005, Nestlé bought the Greek company Delta Ice Cream for €240 million. In January 2006, it took full ownership of Dreyer's, thus becoming the world's largest ice cream maker, with a 17.5% market share. In November 2006, Nestlé purchased the Medical Nutrition division of Novartis Pharmaceutical for $2.5B, also acquiring, in 2007, the milk-flavouring product known as Ovaltine. In April 2007, returning to its roots, Nestlé bought US baby-food manufacturer Gerber for $5.5 billion.

    In December 2007, Nestlé entered into a strategic partnership with a Belgian chocolate maker, Pierre Marcolini. Nestlé agreed to sell its controlling stake in Alcon to Novartis on 4 January 2010. The sale was to form part of a broader US$39.3 billion offer, by Novartis, for full acquisition of the world’s largest eye-care company.

    On 1 March 2010, Nestlé concluded the purchase of Kraft Foods's North American frozen pizza business for $3.7 billion. In July 2011, Nestlé SA agreed to buy 60 percent of Hsu Fu Chi International Ltd. for about $1.7 billion. On 23 April 2012, Nestlé agreed to acquire Pfizer Inc.'s infant-nutrition unit for $11.9 billion.

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  • Rowling from One Potter to Another... Info

    Hi everyone and welcome to the blog. This week’s blog is dedicated to two of Britian’s most famous authors, who’s birthdays are remembered this week J. K. Rowling OBE and Beatrix Potter.

    J K Rowling was born Joanne "Jo" Rowling, to Peter James Rowling and Anne Rowling (née Volant), on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, 10 miles northeast of Bristol. Her mother Anne was half-French, half-Scottish. Her mother's maternal grandfather, Dr. Dugald Campbell, was born in Lamlash on the Isle of Arran. Her mother's paternal grandfather, Louis Volant, was awarded the Croix de Guerre for exceptional bravery in defending the village of Courcelles-le-Comte during the First World War.

    Rowling's sister Dianne was born at their home when Rowling was 23 months old. The family moved to the nearby village Winterbourne when Rowling was four. She attended St Michael's Primary School, a school founded by abolitionist William Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah More. Her headmaster at St Michael's, Alfred Dunn, has been suggested as the inspiration for the Harry Potter headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

    As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories, which she would usually then read to her sister. She recalls that "I can still remember me telling her a story in which she fell down a rabbit hole and was fed strawberries by the rabbit family inside it. Certainly the first story I ever wrote down (when I was five or six) was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called Miss Bee." At the age of nine, Rowling moved to Church Cottage in the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, Wales. When she was a young teenager, her great aunt, who Rowling said "taught classics and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a questionable kind", gave her a very old copy of Jessica Mitford's autobiography, Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling's heroine, and Rowling subsequently read all of her books.

    She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College, where her mother, Anne, had worked as a technician in the Science Department. Rowling said of her adolescence, "Hermione is loosely based on me. She's a caricature of me when I was eleven, which I'm not particularly proud of." Sean Harris, her best friend in the Upper Sixth owned a turquoise Ford Anglia, which she says inspired the one in her books. "Ron Weasley isn't a living portrait of Sean, but he really is very Sean-ish." Of her musical tastes of the time, she said "My favourite group in the world is The Smiths. And when I was going through a punky phase, it was The Clash." Rowling studied A Levels in English, French and German before reading for a BA in French and Classics at the University of Exeter, which she says was a "bit of a shock" as she "was expecting to be amongst lots of similar people – thinking radical thoughts." Once she made friends with "some like-minded people" she says she began to enjoy herself. After a year of study in Paris, Rowling moved to London to work as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International.

    After working at Amnesty International in London, Rowling and her then-boyfriend decided to move to Manchester. In 1990, while she was on a four-hour-delayed train trip from Manchester to London, the idea for a story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry "came fully formed" into her mind. She told The Boston Globe that "I really don't know where the idea came from. It started with Harry, then all these characters and situations came flooding into my head." When she had reached her Clapham Junction flat, she began to write immediately.

    In December of that year, Rowling's mother died, after ten years suffering from multiple sclerosis. Rowling commented, "I was writing Harry Potter at the moment my mother died. I had never told her about Harry Potter." Rowling said this death heavily affected her writing and that she introduced much more detail about Harry's loss in the first book, because she knew about how it felt.

    Rowling then moved to Porto in Portugal to teach English as a foreign language. While there, on 16 October 1992, she married Portuguese television journalist Jorge Arantes. Their child, Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes, was born on 27 July 1993 in Portugal. They separated in November of the same year. In December 1993, Rowling and her daughter moved to be near Rowling's sister in Edinburgh.

    Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as "the biggest failure I knew." Her marriage had failed, she was jobless with a dependent child, but she described her failure as liberating:
    Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. – J. K. Rowling, Harvard commencement address, 2008.

    In order to teach in Scotland she would need a postgraduate certificate of education (PGCE), requiring a full-time, year-long course of study. She began this course in August 1995, after completing her first novel while having survived on social security. She wrote in many cafés, especially Nicolson's Café, wherever she could get Jessica to fall asleep. In a 2001 BBC interview, Rowling denied the rumour that she wrote in local cafés to escape from her unheated flat, remarking, "I am not stupid enough to rent an unheated flat in Edinburgh in midwinter. It had heating." Instead, as she stated on the American TV programme A&E Biography, one of the reasons she wrote in cafés was because taking her baby out for a walk was the best way to make her fall asleep.

    In 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on an old manual typewriter. Upon the enthusiastic response of Bryony Evens, a reader who had been asked to review the book's first three chapters, the Fulham-based Christopher Little Literary Agents agreed to represent Rowling in her quest for a publisher. The book was submitted to twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript. A year later she was finally given the green light (and a £1500 advance) by editor Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, a small publishing house in London. The decision to publish Rowling's book apparently owes much to Alice Newton, the eight-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury's chairman, who was given the first chapter to review by her father and immediately demanded the next. Although Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book, Cunningham says that he advised Rowling to get a day job, since she had little chance of making money in children's books. Soon after, in 1997, Rowling received an £8000 grant from the Scottish Arts Council to enable her to continue writing. In early 1998, an auction was held in the United States for the rights to publish the novel, and was won by Scholastic Inc., for $105,000. In Rowling's own words, she "nearly died" when she heard the news.

    In June 1997, Bloomsbury published Philosopher's Stone with an initial print run of 1,000 copies, 500 of which were distributed to libraries. Today, such copies are valued between £16,000 and £25,000. Five months later, the book won its first award, a Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. In February, the novel won the prestigious British Book Award for Children's Book of the Year, and later, the Children's Book Award. In October 1998, Scholastic published Philosopher's Stone in the US under the title of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: a change Rowling claims she now regrets and would have fought if she had been in a better position at the time. Its sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published in July 1998 and again Rowling won the Smarties Prize.

    In December 1999, the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, won the Smarties Prize, making Rowling the first person to win the award three times running. She later withdrew the fourth Harry Potter novel from contention to allow other books a fair chance. In January 2000, Prisoner of Azkaban won the inaugural Whitbread Children's Book of the Year award, though it lost the Book of the Year prize to Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf.

    The fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released simultaneously in the UK and the U.S. on 8 July 2000, and broke sales records in both countries. Some 372,775 copies of the book were sold in its first day in the UK, almost equalling the number Prisoner of Azkaban sold during its first year. In the US, the book sold three million copies in its first 48 hours, smashing all literary sales records. Rowling admitted that she had had a moment of crisis while writing the novel; "Halfway through writing Four, I realised there was a serious fault with the plot ... I've had some of my blackest moments with this book ... One chapter I rewrote 13 times, though no-one who has read it can spot which one or know the pain it caused me." Rowling was named author of the year in the 2000 British Book Awards.

    A wait of three years occurred between the release of Goblet of Fire and the fifth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This gap led to press speculation that Rowling had developed writer's block, speculations she fervently denied. Rowling later admitted that writing the book was a chore. "I think Phoenix could have been shorter", she told Lev Grossman, "I knew that, and I ran out of time and energy toward the end."

    The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was released on 16 July 2005. It too broke all sales records, selling nine million copies in its first 24 hours of release. While writing, she told a fan online, "Book six has been planned for years, but before I started writing seriously I spend two months re-visiting the plan and making absolutely sure I knew what I was doing." She noted on her website that the opening chapter of book six, which features a conversation between the Minister of Magic and the British Prime Minister, had been intended as the first chapter first for Philosopher's Stone, then Chamber of Secrets then Prisoner of Azkaban. In 2006, Half-Blood Prince received the Book of the Year prize at the British Book Awards.

    The title of the seventh and final Harry Potter book was revealed 21 December 2006 to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In February 2007 it was reported that Rowling wrote on a bust in her hotel room at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh that she had finished the seventh book in that room on 11 January 2007. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on 21 July 2007 and broke its predecessor's record as the fastest-selling book of all time. It sold 11 million copies in the first day of release in the United Kingdom and United States. She wrote the last chapter of the book "in something like 1990", as part of her earliest work on the entire series. During a year period when Rowling was completing the last book, she allowed herself to be filmed for a documentary which aired in Britain in December 2007. It was entitled J K Rowling... A Year In The Life and showed her returning to her old Edinburgh tenement flat where she lived, and completed the first Harry Potter book. Re-visiting the flat for the first time reduced her to tears, saying it was "really where I turned my life around completely."

    In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Rowling gave credit to her mother for the success of the series saying that "the books are what they are because she died...because I loved her and she died." During this period Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression, and contemplated suicide. It was the feeling of her illness which brought her the idea of Dementors, soul-sucking creatures introduced in the third book.

    Harry Potter is now a global brand worth an estimated £7 billion ($15 billion), and the last four Harry Potter books have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history. The series, totalling 4,195 pages, has been translated, in whole or in part, into 65 languages. The Harry Potter books have also gained recognition for sparking an interest in reading among the young at a time when children were thought to be abandoning books for computers and television, although it is reported that despite the huge uptake of the books, adolescent reading has continued to decline.

    In October 1998, Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to the first two novels for a seven-figure sum. A film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was released on 16 November 2001, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on 15 November 2002. Both films were directed by Chris Columbus. 4 June 2004 saw the release of the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The fourth film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was directed by another new director, Mike Newell, and released on 18 November 2005. The film of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released on 11 July 2007. David Yates directed, and Michael Goldenberg wrote the screenplay, having taken over the position from Steve Kloves. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released on 15 July 2009. David Yates directed again, and Kloves returned to write the script. In March 2008, Warner Bros. announced that the final instalment of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, would be filmed in two segments, with part one being released in November 2010 and part two being released in July 2011. Yates would again return to direct both films.

    Warner Bros took considerable notice of Rowling's desires and thoughts when drafting her contract. One of her principal stipulations was the films be shot in Britain with an all-British cast, which has been adhered to strictly. In an unprecedented move, Rowling also demanded that Coca-Cola, the victor in the race to tie in their products to the film series, donate $18 million to the American charity Reading is Fundamental, as well as a number of community charity programs.

    The first four, sixth and seventh films were scripted by Steve Kloves; Rowling assisted him in the writing process, ensuring that his scripts did not contradict future books in the series. She has said that she told him more about the later books than anybody else (prior to their release), but not everything. She also told Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) certain secrets about their characters before they were revealed in the books. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) asked her if Harry died at any point in the series; Rowling answered him by saying, "You have a death scene", thereby not explicitly answering the question. Director Steven Spielberg was approached to helm the first film, but dropped out. The press has repeatedly claimed that Rowling played a role in his departure, but Rowling stated that she has no say in who directs the films and would not have vetoed Spielberg if she had. Rowling's first choice for the director had been Monty Python member Terry Gilliam, as she is a fan of his work, but Warner Bros. wanted a more family-friendly film and chose Columbus. Rowling had gained some creative control on the films, reviewing all the scripts as well as acting as a producer on the final two-part instalment, Deathly Hallows. Rowling, producers David Heyman and David Barron, along with directors David Yates, Mike Newell and Alfonso Cuarón collected the Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema at the 2011 British Academy Film Awards in honour of the Harry Potter film franchise.

    On her website, Rowling revealed that she was considered to have a cameo in the first film as Lily Potter in the Mirror of Erised scene. Rowling, however, turned down the role, stating that she was not cut out to be an actor and, "would have messed it up somehow". The role ultimately went to Geraldine Somerville. Forbes has named Rowling as the first person to become a U.S.-dollar billionaire by writing books, the second-richest female entertainer and the 1,062nd richest person in the world. When first listed as a billionaire by Forbes in 2004, Rowling disputed the calculations and said she had plenty of money, but was not a billionaire. In addition, the 2008 Sunday Times Rich List named Rowling the 144th richest person in Britain.

    On 26 December 2001, Rowling married Neil Michael Murray, an anaesthetist, in a private ceremony at her Aberfeldy home. Rowling's and Murray's son, David Gordon Rowling Murray, was born in March 2003. Shortly after Rowling began writing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince she took a break from working on the novel to care for him in his early infancy. Rowling's youngest child, daughter Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray, to whom she dedicated Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was born in January 2005.

    In an interview with Stephen Fry in 2005, Rowling claimed that she would much prefer to write any subsequent books under a pseudonym; however, she conceded to Jeremy Paxman in 2003 that if she did, the press would probably "find out in seconds." In 2006, Rowling revealed that she had finished writing a few short stories and another children's book (a "political fairy story") about a monster, aimed at a younger audience than Harry Potter readers.

    As regards the possibility of an eighth Harry Potter book, she has said, "I can't say I'll never write another book about that world just because I think, what do I know, in ten years' time I might want to return to it but I think it's unlikely." On 1 October 2010, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Rowling stated a new book on the saga might happen.

    Rowling plans to write an encyclopaedia of Harry Potter's wizarding world consisting of various unpublished material and notes. Any profits from such a book would be given to charity. During a news conference at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre in 2007, Rowling, when asked how the encyclopaedia was coming along, said, "It's not coming along, and I haven't started writing it. I never said it was the next thing I'd do." At the end of 2007, Rowling said that the encyclopaedia could take up to ten years to complete, stating "There is no point in doing it unless it is amazing. The last thing I want to do is to rush something out". On 13 April 2012, following the release of her new website, Rowling confirmed that she had started work on the project and would donate all royalties to charity as she had previously planned.

    In July 2007, Rowling said that she wants to dedicate "lots" of her time to her family, but is currently "sort of writing two things", one for children and the other for adults. She did not give any details about the two projects but did state that she was excited because the two book situation reminded her of writing the Philosopher's Stone, explaining how she was then writing two books until Harry took over. She stated in October 2007 that her future work was unlikely to be in the fantasy genre, explaining, "I think probably I've done my fantasy ... it would be incredibly difficult to go out and create another world that didn't in some way overlap with Harry's or maybe borrow a little too much from Harry." In November 2007, Rowling said that she was working on another book, a "half-finished book for children that I think will probably be the next thing I publish." In March 2008, Rowling confirmed that her "political fairy tale" for children was nearing completion.

    In March 2008, Rowling revealed in an interview that she had returned to writing in Edinburgh cafés, intent on composing a new novel for children. "I will continue writing for children because that's what I enjoy," she told The Daily Telegraph. "I am very good at finding a suitable café; I blend into the crowd and, of course, I don't sit in the middle of the bar staring all around me."

    In June 2011, Rowling announced that future Harry Potter projects, and all electronic downloads, would be concentrated in a new website, called Pottermore. The site includes 18,000 words of additional information on characters, places and objects in the Harry Potter universe. The following month, she parted company with her agent, Christopher Little, moving to a new agency founded by one of his staff, Neil Blair.

    On 23 February 2012, Rowling's agency, The Blair Partnership announced on its website that Rowling was set to publish a new book targeted at adults. In a press release, Rowling noted the differences between her new project and the Potter series, saying "Although I've enjoyed writing it just as much, my next novel will be very different from the Harry Potter series." On 12 April 2012, Little, Brown and Company announced that the book was entitled The Casual Vacancy and would be released on 27 September 2012.

    In 2000, Rowling established the Volant Charitable Trust, which uses its annual budget of £5.1 million to combat poverty and social inequality. The fund also gives to organisations that aid children, one parent families, and multiple sclerosis research. Rowling said, "I think you have a moral responsibility when you've been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give intelligently." Rowling, once a single parent herself, is now president of the charity Gingerbread (originally One Parent Families), having already become their first Ambassador in 2000. Rowling collaborated with Sarah Brown to write a book of children's stories to aid One Parent Families.

    In 2001, the UK anti-poverty fundraiser Comic Relief asked three best-selling British authors – cookery writer and TV presenter Delia Smith, Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding, and Rowling – to submit booklets related to their most famous works for publication. Rowling's two booklets, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages, are ostensibly facsimiles of books found in the Hogwarts library. Since going on sale in March 2001, the books have raised £15.7 million ($30 million) for the fund. The £10.8 million ($20 million) they have raised outside the UK have been channelled into a newly created International Fund for Children and Young People in Crisis.

    In 2005, Rowling and MEP Emma Nicholson founded the Children's High Level Group (now Lumos). In January 2006, Rowling went to Bucharest to highlight the use of caged beds in mental institutions for children. To further support the CHLG, Rowling auctioned one of seven handwritten and illustrated copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a series of fairy tales referred to in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The book was purchased for £1.95 million by on-line bookseller Amazon.com on 13 December 2007, becoming the most expensive modern book ever sold at auction. Rowling commented, "This will mean so much to children in desperate need of help. It means Christmas has come early to me." Rowling gave away the remaining six copies to those who have a close connection with the Harry Potter books. In 2008, Rowling agreed to publish the book with the proceeds going to the Children's High Level Group. On 1 June 2010 (International Children’s Day), Lumos launched an annual initiative – Light a Birthday Candle for Lumos . To support the campaign on 1 June 2011, JK Rowling gave an interview to Redonline.co.uk

    Rowling has contributed money and support for research and treatment of multiple sclerosis, from which her mother suffered before her death in 1990. In 2006, Rowling contributed a substantial sum toward the creation of a new Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh University, later named the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic. In 2010 she donated a further £10 million to the centre. For reasons unknown, Scotland, Rowling's country of adoption, has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world. In 2003, Rowling took part in a campaign to establish a national standard of care for MS sufferers. In April 2009, she announced that she was withdrawing her support for Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland, citing her inability to resolve an ongoing feud between the organisation's northern and southern branches that had sapped morale and led to several resignations.

    In May 2008, bookseller Waterstones asked Rowling and 12 other writers (Sebastian Faulks, Doris Lessing, Lisa Appignanesi, Margaret Atwood, Lauren Child, Richard Ford, Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby, Michael Rosen, Axel Scheffler, Tom Stoppard and Irvine Welsh) to compose a short piece of their own choosing on a single A5 card, which would then be sold at auction in aid of the charities Dyslexia Action and English PEN. Rowling's contribution was an 800-word Harry Potter prequel that concerns Harry's father, James Potter, and godfather, Sirius Black, and takes place three years before Harry was born. The cards were collected together and sold for charity in book form in August 2008.

    On 1 and 2 August 2006 she read alongside Stephen King and John Irving at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Profits from the event were donated to the Haven Foundation, a charity that aids artists and performers left uninsurable and unable to work, and the medical NGO Médecins Sans Frontières. In May 2007, Rowling pledged a donation reported as over £250,000 to a reward fund started by the tabloid News of the World for the safe return of a young British girl, Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in Portugal. Rowling, along with Nelson Mandela, Al Gore, and Alan Greenspan, wrote an introduction to a collection of Gordon Brown's speeches, the proceeds of which are donated to the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory. Rowling is a supporter of The Shannon Trust, which runs the Toe by Toe Reading Plan and the Shannon Reading Plan in prisons across Britain, helping and giving tutoring to prisoners who cannot read.

    In September 2008, on the eve of the Labour Party Conference, Rowling announced that she had donated £1 million to the Labour Party, and publicly endorsed Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown over Tory challenger David Cameron, saying in a statement:
    I believe that poor and vulnerable families will fare much better under the Labour Party than they would under a Cameron-led Conservative Party. Gordon Brown has consistently prioritised and introduced measures that will save as many children as possible from a life lacking in opportunity or choice. The Labour government has reversed the long-term trend in child poverty, and is one of the leading EU countries in combating child poverty. David Cameron's promise of tax perks for the married, on the other hand, is reminiscent of the Conservative government I experienced as a lone parent. It sends the message that the Conservatives still believe a childless, dual-income, but married couple is more deserving of a financial pat on the head than those struggling, as I once was, to keep their families afloat in difficult times.

    Rowling is a close friend of Sarah Brown, wife of Gordon Brown, whom she met when they collaborated on a charitable project. When Brown's son Fraser was born in 2003, Rowling was one of the first to visit her in the hospital.

    Rowling discussed the 2008 United States presidential election with the Spanish-language newspaper El País. She said she was obsessed with the United States elections because they would have a profound effect on the rest of the world. In February 2008, she said that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would be "extraordinary" in the White House. In the same interview, she also said her hero was Robert F. Kennedy.

    In April 2010, Rowling published an article in The Times in which she heavily criticised Cameron's plan to encourage married couples to stay together by offering them a £150 annual tax credit.
    Nobody who has ever experienced the reality of poverty could say "it's not the money, it's the message". When your flat has been broken into, and you cannot afford a locksmith, it is the money. When you are two pence short of a tin of baked beans, and your child is hungry, it is the money. When you find yourself contemplating shoplifting to get nappies, it is the money. If Mr Cameron's only practical advice to women living in poverty, the sole carers of their children, is "get married, and we'll give you £150", he reveals himself to be completely ignorant of their true situation. How many prospective husbands did I ever meet, when I was the single mother of a baby, unable to work, stuck inside my flat, night after night, with barely enough money for life's necessities? Should I have proposed to the youth who broke in through my kitchen window at 3 am? Half a billion pounds, to send a message – would it not be more cost-effective, more personal, to send all the lower-income married people flowers?

    Over the years, some religious people have decried Rowling's books for supposedly promoting witchcraft; however, Rowling identifies as a Christian. She attended a Church of Scotland congregation while writing Harry Potter and her eldest daughter, Jessica, was baptised there. "I go to church myself", she says, "I don't take any responsibility for the lunatic fringes of my own religion". She once said, "I believe in God, not magic." Early on she felt that if readers knew of her Christian beliefs, they would be able to "guess what is coming in the books."

    In 2007, Rowling described her religious background in an interview with the Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant:
    I was officially raised in the Church of England, but I was actually more of a freak in my family. We didn't talk about religion in our home. My father didn't believe in anything, neither did my sister. My mother would incidentally visit the church, but mostly during Christmas. And I was immensely curious. From when I was 13, 14 I went to church alone. I found it very interesting what was being said there, and I believed in it. When I went to university, I became more critical. I got more annoyed with the smugness of religious people and I went to church less and less. Now I'm at the point where I started: yes, I believe. And yes, I go to the church. A Protestant church here in Edinburgh. My husband is also raised Protestant, but he comes from a very strict Scottish group. One where they couldn't sing and talk.

    Rowling has occasionally expressed ambivalence about her religious faith. In a 2006 interview with Tatler magazine, Rowling noted that, "like Graham Greene, my faith is sometimes about if my faith will return. It's important to me." In a British documentary, JK Rowling: A Year in the Life, when asked if she believed in God, she said, "Yes. I do struggle with it; I couldn't pretend that I'm not doubt-ridden about a lot of things and that would be one of them but I would say yes." When asked if she believed in an afterlife, she said, "Yes; I think I do." She further said, "It's something that I wrestle with a lot. It preoccupies me a lot, and I think that's very obvious within the books." In a 2008 interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Rowling said, "I feel very drawn to religion, but at the same time I feel a lot of uncertainty. I live in a state of spiritual flux. I believe in the permanence of the soul." In an interview with the Today Show in July 2007, she said, "...until we reached Book Seven, views of what happens after death and so on... would give away a lot of what was coming. So... yes, my belief and my struggling with religious belief and so on I think is quite apparent in this book."

    Rowling, her publishers, and Time Warner, the owner of the rights to the Harry Potter films, have taken numerous legal actions to protect their copyright. The worldwide popularity of the Harry Potter series has led to the appearance of a number of locally produced, unauthorised sequels and other derivative works, sparking efforts to ban or contain them. Another area of legal dispute involves a series of injunctions obtained by Rowling and her publishers to prohibit anyone from reading her books before their official release date. The injunction drew fire from civil liberties and free speech campaigners and sparked debates over the "right to read".

    Rowling has had a difficult relationship with the press. She admits to being "thin-skinned" and dislikes the fickle nature of reporting. "They went in one day from saying, 'She's got writer's block' to saying, 'She's been self-indulgent'", she told The Times in 2003, "And I thought, well, what a difference 24 hours makes." Rowling disputes her reputation as a recluse who hates to be interviewed. In 2001, the Press Complaints Commission upheld a complaint by Rowling over a series of unauthorised photographs of her with her daughter on the beach in Mauritius published in OK! Magazine. In 2007, Rowling's young son, David, assisted by Rowling and her husband, lost a court fight to ban publication of a photograph of him. The photo, taken by a photographer using a long-range lens, was subsequently published in a Sunday Express article featuring Rowling's family life and motherhood. The judgment was overturned in David's favour in May 2008.

    Rowling has said she particularly dislikes the British tabloid the Daily Mail, which made references to a stalker Rowling insists does not exist, and conducted interviews with her estranged ex-husband. As one journalist noted, "Harry's Uncle Vernon is a grotesque philistine of violent tendencies and remarkably little brain. It is not difficult to guess which newspaper Rowling gives him to read [in Goblet of Fire]."

    Some have speculated that Rowling's fraught relationship with the press was the inspiration behind the character Rita Skeeter, a gossipy celebrity journalist who first appears in Goblet of Fire, but Rowling noted in 2000 that the character actually predates her rise to fame: "People have asked me whether Rita Skeeter was invented [to reflect Harry Potter's popularity], but in fact she was always planned." "I tried to put Rita in Philosopher's Stone – you know when Harry walks into the Leaky Cauldron for the first time and everyone says, "Mr. Potter you're back!", I wanted to put a journalist in there. She wasn't called Rita then but she was a woman. And then I thought, as I looked at the plot overall, I thought, that's not really where she fits best, she fits best in Four when Harry's supposed to come to terms with his fame."

    In September 2011, Rowling was named a "core participant" in the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press, as one of dozens of celebrities who may have been the victim of phone hacking. On 24 November 2011, Rowling gave evidence before the inquiry; although she was not suspected to have been the victim of phone hacking (she "hardly used her phone in the 90s", she said), her testimony included accounts of photographers camping on her doorstep, her fiancé being duped into giving his home address to a journalist masquerading as a tax official, a journalist leaving a note inside her then-five-year-old daughter's schoolbag, and an attempt by the Sun to "blackmail" her into a photo opportunity in exchange for the return of a stolen manuscript. Rowling claimed she had to leave her former home in Merchiston, Edinburgh because of press intrusion.

    Although she writes under the pen name "J. K. Rowling", pronounced like rolling, her name when her first Harry Potter book was published was simply "Joanne Rowling". Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name. As she had no middle name, she chose K as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother Kathleen Ada Bulgen Rowling. She calls herself "Jo" and has said, "No one ever called me 'Joanne' when I was young, unless they were angry." Following her marriage, she has sometimes used the name Joanne Murray when conducting personal business. During the Leveson Inquiry she gave evidence under the name of Joanne Kathleen Rowling.

    Beatrix Potter was born Helen Beatrix Potter on 28 July 1866 in South Kensington, London to Rupert and Helen Potter. Both parents were artistically talented, and Rupert was an adept amateur photographer. Rupert had invested in the stock market and by the early 1890s was extremely wealthy. Beatrix was educated by three able governesses, the last of whom was Annie Moore (née Carter), just three years older than Beatrix, who tutored Beatrix in German as well as acting as lady's companion. She and Beatrix remained friends throughout their lives and Annie's eight children were the recipients of many of Potter’s delightful picture letters. It was Annie who later suggested that these letters might make good children’s books.

    In their school room Beatrix and her brother, Bertram, kept a variety of small pets, mice, rabbits, a hedgehog, some bats along with collections of butterflies and other insects which they drew and studied. There is no evidence to support claims that any of these creatures were mistreated, or that the motive for their study was anything more sinister than natural curiosity and a desire to draw from life. Quite the contrary, Beatrix was devoted to the care of her small animals, often taking them with her on long holidays.

    For most of the first fifteen years of her life, Beatrix spent summer holidays at Dalguise, an estate on the River Tay in Perthshire, Scotland. There she sketched and explored an area that nourished her imagination and her observation. Beatrix and her brother were allowed great freedoms in the country and both children became adept students of natural history. In 1887, when Dalguise was no longer available, the Potters took their first summer holiday in Lancashire in the Lake District, at Wray Castle near Windermere. As a result, Beatrix came to meet Hardwicke Rawnsley, incumbent vicar at Wray and later the founding secretary of the National Trust, whose interest in the countryside and country life inspired the same in Beatrix and who was to have a lasting impact on her life.

    About the age of 14 Beatrix, like many girls at the time, began to keep a diary. Beatrix's was written in a code of her own devising which was a simple letter for letter substitution. Her Journal was an important laboratory for her creativity serving as both sketchbook and literary experiment where in tiny handwriting she reported on society, recorded her impressions of art and artists, recounted stories, and observed life around her. The Journal, decoded and transcribed by Leslie Linder in 1958, does not provide an intimate record of her personal life, but it is an invaluable source for understanding a vibrant part of British society in the late 19th century. It describes Potter’s maturing artistic and intellectual interests, her often amusing insights on the places she visited, and her unusual ability to observe nature and to describe it. Begun in 1881, her journal ends in 1897 when her artistic and intellectual energies were absorbed in scientific study and in efforts to publish her drawings. Precocious but reserved and often bored, she was searching for more independent activities and a desire to earn some money of her own whilst dutifully taking care of her parents, dealing with her especially demanding mother, and managing their various households.

    Beatrix Potter’s parents did not discourage higher education. As was common in the Victorian era, women of her class were privately educated and rarely sent to college. Beatrix Potter was interested in every branch of natural science save astronomy. Botany was a passion for most Victorians and nature study was a popular enthusiasm. Potter was eclectic in her tastes; collecting fossils, studying archaeological artefacts from London excavations, and interested in entomology. In all of these areas she drew and painted her specimens with increasing skill. By the 1890s her scientific interests centred on mycology. First drawn to fungi because of their colours and evanescence in nature and her delight in painting them, her interest deepened after meeting Charles McIntosh, a revered naturalist and mycologist during a summer holiday in Perthshire in 1892. He helped improve the accuracy of her illustrations, taught her taxonomy, and supplied her with live specimens to paint during the winter. Curious as to how fungi reproduced Potter began microscopic drawings of fungi spores (the agarics) and in 1895 developed a theory of their germination. Through the aegis of her scientific uncle, Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe, a chemist and vice chancellor of the University of London, she consulted with botanists at Kew Gardens, convincing George Massee of her ability to germinate spores and her theory of hybridisation. She did not believe in the theory of symbiosis proposed by Simon Schwendener, the German mycologist as previously thought, rather she proposed a more independent process of reproduction.

    Rebuffed by William Thiselton-Dyer, the Director at Kew, because of her gender and her amateur status, Beatrix wrote up her conclusions and submitted a paper On the Germination of the Spores of the Agaricineae to the Linnean Society in 1897. It was introduced by Massee because, as a female, Potter could not attend proceedings or read her paper. She subsequently withdrew it realising that some of her samples were contaminated, but continued her microscopic studies for several more years. Her paper has only recently been rediscovered, along with the rich, artistic illustrations and drawings that accompanied it. Her work is only now being properly evaluated. Potter later gave her other mycological drawings and scientific drawings to the Armitt Museum and Library in Ambleside where mycologists still refer to them to identify fungi. There is also a collection of her fungi paintings at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery in Perth, Scotland donated by Charles McIntosh. In 1967 the mycologist W.P.K. Findlay included many of Potter’s beautifully accurate fungi drawings in his Wayside & Woodland Fungi, thereby fulfilling her desire to one day have her fungi drawings published in a book. In 1997 the Linnean Society issued a posthumous apology to Potter for the sexism displayed in its handling of her research.

    Potter’s artistic and literary interests were deeply influenced by fairies, fairy tales and fantasy. She was a student of the classic fairy tales of Western Europe. As well as stories from the Old Testament, John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, she grew up with Aesop’s Fables, the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies, the folk tales and mythology of Scotland, the German Romantics, Shakespeare, and the romances of Sir Walter Scott. As a young child, before the age of eight, Edward Lear's Book of Nonsense, including the much loved The Owl and the Pussycat, and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland had made their impression, although she later said of Alice that she was more interested in Tenniel's illustrations than what they were about. The Brer Rabbit stories of Joel Chandler Harris had been family favourites and she later studied his Uncle Remus stories and illustrated them. She studied book illustration from a young age and developed her own tastes, but the work of the picture book triumvirate Walter Crane, Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott, the last an illustrator whose work was later collected by her father, was a great influence. When she started to illustrate, she chose first the traditional rhymes and stories, "Cinderella", "Sleeping Beauty", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", "Puss-in-boots", and "Red Riding Hood". But most often her illustrations were fantasies featuring her own pets: mice, rabbits, kittens, and guinea pigs.

    In her teenage years Potter was a regular visitor to the art galleries of London, particularly enjoying the summer and winter exhibitions at the Royal Academy in London. Her Journal reveals her growing sophistication as a critic as well as the influence of her father’s friend the artist Sir John Everett Millais who recognised Beatrix’s talent of observation. Although Potter was aware of art and artistic trends, her drawing and her prose style were uniquely her own.

    As a way to earn a bit of money in the 1890s, Beatrix and her brother began to print Christmas cards of their own design, as well as cards for special occasions. Mice and rabbits were the most frequent subject of her fantasy paintings. In 1890 the firm of Hildesheimer and Faulkner bought several of her drawings of her rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, to illustrate verses by Frederic Weatherly titled A Happy Pair. In 1893 the same printer brought several more drawings for Weatherly’s Our Dear Relations, another book of rhymes, and the following year Potter successfully sold a series of frog illustrations and verses for Changing Pictures, a popular annual offered by the art publisher Ernest Nister. Potter was pleased by this success and determined to publish her own illustrated stories.

    Whenever Potter went on holiday to the Lake District or Scotland, she sent letters to young friends illustrating them with quick sketches. Many of these letters were written to the children of her former governess Annie Carter Moore, particularly to her eldest son Noel who was often ill. In September 1893 Potter was on holiday at Eastwood in Dunkeld, Perthshire. She had run out of things to say to Noel and so she told him a story about "four little rabbits whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter." It became one of the most famous children’s letters ever written and the basis of Potter’s future career as a writer-artist-storyteller.

    In 1900, Potter revised her tale about the four little rabbits, and fashioned a dummy book of it - it has been suggested, in imitation of Helen Bannerman's 1899 bestseller The Story of Little Black Sambo. Unable to find a buyer for the work, she published it for family and friends at her own expense in December 1901. It was drawn in black and white with a coloured frontispiece. Family friend Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley had great faith in Potter's tale, recast it in didactic verse, and made the rounds of the London publishing houses. Frederick Warne & Co. had previously rejected the tale but, eager to compete in the booming small format children's book market, reconsidered and accepted the "bunny book" (as the firm called it) following the recommendation of their prominent children's book artist L. Leslie Brooke. The firm declined Rawnsley's verse in favour of Potter's original prose, and Potter agreed to colour her pen and ink illustrations, choosing the then-new Hentschel three-colour process for reproducing her watercolours.

    On 2 October 1902 The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published, and was an immediate success. It was followed the next year by The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester which had also first been written as picture letters to the Moore children. Working with Norman Warne as her editor, Potter published two or three little books each year for a total of twenty-three books. The last book in this format was Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes in 1922, a collection of favourite rhymes. Although The Tale of Pigling Bland was not published until 1930, it had been written much earlier. Potter continued creating her little books until after the First World War when her energies were increasingly directed toward her farming, sheep-breeding and land conservation.

    The immense popularity of Potter’s books was based on the lively quality of her illustrations, the non-didactic nature of her stories, the depiction of the rural countryside, and the imaginative qualities she lent to her animal characters. Potter was also a canny businesswoman. As early as 1903 she made and patented a Peter Rabbit doll. It was followed by other "spin-off" merchandise over the years, including painting books, board games, wall-paper, figurines, baby blankets and china tea-sets. All were licensed by Frederick Warne & Co. and earned Potter an independent income as well as immense profits for her publisher.

    In 1905, Potter and Norman Warne became unofficially engaged. Potters’ parents objected to the match because Warne was "in trade" and thus not socially suitable. Sadly the engagement lasted only one month when Warne died of leukemia at age thirty-seven. That same year Potter used some of her income and a small inheritance from an aunt to buy Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey in Lancashire in Lake District. Potter and Warne may have hoped that Hill Top Farm would be their holiday home, but after Warne's death Potter went ahead with its purchase as she had always wanted to own that farm and live in "that charming village".

    The tenant farmer John Cannon and his family agreed to stay on to manage the farm for her while she made physical improvements learned the techniques of fell farming and of raising livestock, including pigs, cows and chickens; the following year she added sheep. Realising she needed to protect her boundaries she sought advice from W.H. Heelis & Son, a local firm of solicitors with offices in nearby Hawkshead. With William Heelis acting for her she bought contiguous pasture, and in 1909 the 20 acres (81,000 m2) Castle Farm across the road from Hill Top Farm. Visiting Hill Top every chance she got, Potter’s books written during this period (such as The Tale of Ginger and Pickles, about the local shop in Near Sawrey and The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse, a wood mouse) reflect her increasing participation in village life and her delight in country living.

    Owning and managing these working farms required the routine collaboration with the widely respected William Heelis. By the summer of 1912 Heelis had proposed marriage and Beatrix had accepted, although she did not immediately tell her parents who once again disapproved because Heelis was only a country solicitor. Potter and Heelis were married on 15 October 1913 in London at St. Mary Abbots in Kensington. The couple moved immediately to Near Sawrey, residing at Castle Cottage, the renovated farm house on Castle Farm. Hill Top remained a working farm but was now remodelled to allow for the tenant family and Potter’s private studio and work shop. At last her own woman, Potter settled into the partnerships that shaped the rest of her life: her country solicitor husband and his large family, her farms, the Sawrey community and the predictable rounds of country life. The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and The Tale of Tom Kitten are representative of Hill Top Farm and of her farming life, and reflect her happiness with her country life.

    After Rupert Potter died in 1914, Potter, now a wealthy woman, found Lindeth Howe, a large house in nearby Windermere where her mother lived until her death in 1931 at the age of 93. Potter continued to write stories for Frederick Warne & Co. and fully participated in country life. She established a Nursing Trust for local villages, and served on various committees and councils responsible for footpaths and other country life issues.

    Beatrix Potter Heelis became keenly interested the breeding and raising of Herdwick sheep, the indigenous fell sheep, soon after acquiring Hill Top Farm. In 1923 she bought a former deer park and vast sheep farm in the Troutbeck Valley called Troutbeck Park Farm, restoring its land, its thousands of Herdwick sheep, and establishing her as one of the major Herdwick sheep farmers in the area. She was admired by her shepherds and farm managers for her willingness to experiment with the latest biological remedies for the common diseases of sheep, and for her employment of the best shepherds, sheep breeders, and farm managers.

    By the late 1920s Potter and her Hill Top farm manager Tom Storey had made a name for their prize-winning Herdwick flock. As a Herdwick breeder she won many prizes at the local agricultural shows and was frequently asked to serve as a judge. In 1942 she was named President-elect of The Herdwick Sheepbreeders’ Association, the first time a woman had ever been elected to that office, but died before taking office.

    Potter had been a disciple of the land conservation and preservation ideals of her long-time friend and mentor, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, the first secretary and founding member of the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty. She supported the efforts of the National Trust to preserve not just the places of extraordinary beauty, but those heads of valley and low grazing lands that would be irreparably ruined by development. She was also an authority on the traditional Lakeland crafts, period furniture and stonework. She restored and preserved the farms that she bought or managed, making sure that each farm house had in it a piece of antique Lakeland furniture. Potter was interested in preserving not only the Herdwick sheep, but the way of life of fell farming. In 1930 the Heelises became partners with the National Trust in buying and managing the fell farms included in the large Monk Coniston Estate. The estate was composed of many farms spread over a wide area of western Lancashire, including the famously beautiful Tarn Hows. Potter became the de facto estate manager for the Trust for seven years until the National Trust could afford to buy most of the property back from her. Her stewardship of these farms earned her wide regard, but she was not without her critics. She was notable in observing the problems of afforestation, preserving the intake grazing lands, and husbanding the quarries and timber on these farms. All her farms were stocked with Herdwick sheep and frequently with Galloway cattle.

    Potter continued to write stories and to draw, although mostly for her own pleasure. Her books in the late 1920s included the semi-autobiographical The Fairy Caravan, a fanciful tale set in her beloved Troutbeck fells. It was published only in the US during Potter’s lifetime, and not until 1952 in the UK. Sister Anne, Potter’s version of the story of Bluebeard was written especially for her American readers but illustrated by Katharine Sturges. A final folktale, Wag by Wall, was published posthumously by The Horn Book in 1944. Potter was a generous patron of the Girl Guides whose troops she allowed to make their summer encampments on her lands and whose company she enjoyed as an older woman.

    Potter and William Heelis enjoyed a happy marriage of thirty years, continuing their farming and preservation efforts throughout the hard days of the Second World War. Although they were childless, Potter played an important role in William’s large family, particularly enjoying her relationship with several nieces whom she helped educate and giving comfort and aid to her husband’s brothers and sisters.

    Beatrix Potter died of complications from pneumonia and heart disease on 22 December 1943 at Castle Cottage. She left nearly all her property to the National Trust, including over 4,000 acres of land, sixteen farms, cottages and herds of cattle and Herdwick sheep. Hers was the largest gift at that time to the National Trust and it enabled the preservation of the lands now included in the Lake District National Park and the continuation of fell farming. The central office of the National Trust in Swindon was named 'Heelis' in 2005 in her memory. William Heelis continued his stewardship of their properties and of her literary and artistic work for the eighteen months he survived her. When he died in August 1945 he left the remainder to the National Trust.

    Potter left almost all the original illustrations for her books to the National Trust. The copyright to her stories and merchandise was given to her publisher Frederick Warne & Co, now a division of the Penguin Group. Hill Top Farm was opened to the public by the National Trust in 1946 her artwork was displayed there until 1985 when it was moved to William Heelis’s former law offices in Hawkshead, also owned by the National Trust as the Beatrix Potter Gallery.

    Potter gave her folios of mycological drawings to the Armitt Library and Museum in Ambleside before her death. The Tale of Peter Rabbit is owned by Frederick Warne and Company, The Tailor of Gloucester by the Tate Gallery and The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by the British Museum. The largest public collection of her letters and drawings is the Leslie Linder Bequest and Leslie Linder Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In the United States, the largest public collections are those in the Special Collections of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Lloyd Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University.

    It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends. – J K Rowling

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  • The Pink Panther Can't Get Any Satisfaction... Info

    Hi everyone and welcome to the blog. This week’s blog is dedicated to two British legends, household names the world over who’s anniversaries are remembered this week Mick Jagger and Peter Sellers.

    Mick Jagger was born, Michael Philip Jagger, into a middle-class family at Livingstone Hospital, in Dartford, Kent. His father, Basil Fanshawe ("Joe") Jagger, and his grandfather David Ernest Jagger were both teachers. His mother, Eva Ensley Mary (née Scutts), born in New South Wales, Australia, was a hairdresser and an active member of the Conservative Party. Jagger is the elder of two sons (his brother Chris was born in 1947) and was raised to follow in his father's career path.

    In the book According to the Rolling Stones, Jagger states "I was always a singer. I always sang as a child. I was one of those kids who just liked to sing. Some kids sing in choirs; others like to show off in front of the mirror. I was in the church choir and I also loved listening to singers on the radio – the BBC or Radio Luxembourg – or watching them on TV and in the movies."

    From September 1950, Keith Richards and Jagger (known as "Mike" to his friends) were classmates at Wentworth Primary School in Dartford, Kent. In 1954, Jagger passed the eleven-plus, and went to Dartford Grammar School, where there is now the Mick Jagger Centre, as part of the school. Having lost contact with each other when they went to different schools, Richards and Jagger resumed their friendship in July 1960 after a chance encounter and discovered that they had both developed a love for rhythm and blues music, which began for Jagger with Little Richard.

    Jagger left school in 1961. He obtained seven O-levels and three A-levels. Jagger and Richards moved into a flat in Edith Grove in Chelsea with a guitarist they had encountered named Brian Jones. While Richards and Jones were making plans to start their own rhythm and blues group, Jagger continued his business courses at the London School of Economics, and had seriously considered becoming either a journalist or a politician. Jagger had compared the latter to a pop star.

    In their earliest days, the members played for no money in the interval of Alexis Korner's gigs at a basement club opposite Ealing Broadway tube station (subsequently called "Ferry's" club). At the time, the group had very little equipment and needed to borrow Alexis' gear to play. This was before Andrew Loog Oldham became their manager.

    The group's first appearance under the name The Rollin' Stones (after one of their favourite Muddy Waters tunes) was at the Marquee Club, a jazz club, on 12 July 1962. They would later change their name to “The Rolling Stones” as it seemed more formal. Victor Bockris states that the band members included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart on piano, Dick Taylor on bass and Tony Chapman on drums. However, Richards states in Life, "The drummer that night was Mick Avory—not Tony Chapman, as history has mysteriously handed it down..." Some time later, the band went on their first tour in the United Kingdom; this was known as the “training ground” tour because it was a new experience for all of them. The line-up did not at that time include drummer Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman. By 1963, they were finding their stride as well as popularity. By 1964, two unscientific opinion polls rated them as England's most popular group, outranking even The Beatles.

    By the autumn of 1963, Jagger had left the London School of Economics in favour of his promising musical career with the Rolling Stones. The group continued to mine the works of American rhythm and blues artists such as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, but with the strong encouragement of Andrew Loog Oldham, Jagger and Richards soon began to write their own songs. This core songwriting partnership would flourish in time; one of their early compositions, "As Tears Go By", was a song written for Marianne Faithfull, a young singer being promoted by Loog Oldham at the time. For the Rolling Stones, the duo would write "The Last Time", the group's third number-one single in the UK (their first two UK number-one hits had been cover versions). Another of the fruits of this collaboration was their first international hit, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". It also established The Rolling Stones’ image as defiant troublemakers in contrast to The Beatles' "lovable moptop" image.

    Jagger told Stephen Schiff in a 1992 Vanity Fair profile: "I wasn't trying to be rebellious in those days; I was just being me. I wasn't trying to push the edge of anything. I'm being me and ordinary, the guy from suburbia who sings in this band, but someone older might have thought it was just the most awful racket, the most terrible thing, and where are we going if this is music?... But all those songs we sang were pretty tame, really. People didn't think they were, but I thought they were tame."

    The group released several successful albums including December's Children (And Everybody's), Aftermath, and Between the Buttons, but their reputations were catching up to them. In 1967, Jagger and Richards were arrested on drug charges and were given unusually harsh sentences: Jagger was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for possession of four over-the-counter pep pills he had purchased in Italy. On appeal, Richards' sentence was overturned and Jagger's was amended to a conditional discharge (he ended up spending one night inside Brixton Prison) after an article appeared in The Times, written by its traditionally conservative editor William (now Lord) Rees-Mogg, but the Rolling Stones continued to face legal battles for the next decade. Around the same time, internal struggles about the direction of the group had begun to surface.

    After Jones' death and their move in 1971 to the south of France as tax exiles, Jagger and the rest of the band changed their look and style as the 1970s progressed. For the Rolling Stones' highly publicised 1972 American tour, Jagger wore glam-rock clothing and glittery makeup on stage. Later in the decade, they ventured into genres like disco and punk with the album Some Girls (1978). Their interest in the blues, however, had been made manifest in the 1972 album Exile on Main St. His emotional singing on the gospel-influenced "Let It Loose," one of the album's tracks, has been described by music critic Russell Hall as having been Jagger's finest ever vocal achievement.

    After the band's acrimonious split with their second manager, Allen Klein, in 1971, Jagger took control of their business affairs after speaking with an up and coming front man JB Silver and has managed them ever since in collaboration with his friend and colleague, Rupert Löwenstein. Mick Taylor, Brian Jones's replacement, left the band in December 1974 and was replaced by Faces guitarist Ronnie Wood in 1975, who also operated as a mediator within the group, and between Jagger and Richards in particular.

    While continuing to tour and release albums with the Rolling Stones, Jagger began a solo career. In 1985, he released his first solo album She's the Boss produced by Nile Rodgers and Bill Laswell, featuring Herbie Hancock, Jeff Beck, Jan Hammer, Pete Townshend, and the Compass Point All Stars. It sold fairly well, and the single "Just Another Night" was a Top Ten hit. During this period, he collaborated with The Jacksons on the song "State of Shock", sharing lead vocals with Michael Jackson. For his own personal contributions in the 1985 Live Aid multi-venue charity concert, he performed at Philadelphia's JFK Stadium; he did a duet with Tina Turner of "It's Only Rock and Roll", and the performance was highlighted by Jagger tearing away a part of Turner's dress. He also did a cover of "Dancing in the Street" with David Bowie, who himself appeared at Wembley Stadium. The video was shown simultaneously on the screens of both Wembley and JFK Stadiums. The song reached number one in the UK the same year.

    In 1987, he released his second solo album, Primitive Cool. While it failed to match the commercial success of his debut, it was critically well received. In 1988, he produced the songs "Glamour Boys" and "Which Way to America" on Living Colour's album Vivid. 15–28 March, he had a solo concert tour in Japan (Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka). The 22 March show was the Japanese artist Tokyo Dome's first performance.

    Wandering Spirit was the third solo album by Jagger and was released in 1993. It would be his only solo album release of the 1990s. Jagger aimed to re-introduce himself as a solo artist in a musical climate vastly changed from that of his first two albums, She's the Boss and Primitive Cool. Following the successful comeback of the Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels (1989), which saw the end of Jagger and Richards' well-publicised feud, Jagger began routing for new material for what would become Wandering Spirit. In January 1992, after acquiring Rick Rubin as co-producer, Jagger recorded the album in Los Angeles over seven months until September 1992, recording simultaneously as Richards was making Main Offender. Jagger would keep the celebrity guests to a minimum on Wandering Spirit, only having Lenny Kravitz as a vocalist on his cover of Bill Withers' "Use Me" and bassist Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers on three tracks.

    Following the end of the Rolling Stones' Sony Music contract and their signing to Virgin Records, Jagger signed with Atlantic Records (which had signed the Stones in the 1970s) to distribute what would be his only album with the label. Released in February 1993, Wandering Spirit was commercially successful, reaching #12 in the UK and #11 in the US, going gold there. The track "Sweet Thing" was the lead single, although it was the third single, "Don't Tear Me Up", which found moderate success, topping Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart for one week. Critical reaction was very strong, noting Jagger's abandonment of slick synthesisers in favour of an incisive and lean guitar sound.

    In 2001, Jagger released Goddess in the Doorway spawning the hit single "Visions of Paradise". In the same year, he also joined Keith Richards in the The Concert for New York City, a charity concert in response to the September 11 attacks, to sing "Salt of the Earth" and "Miss You". He celebrated The Rolling Stones' 40th anniversary by touring with them on the year-long Licks Tour in support of their career retrospective Forty Licks double album.

    In 2007, The Rolling Stones made US$437 million on their A Bigger Bang Tour, which got them into the current edition of Guinness World Records for the most lucrative music tour. Jagger has refused to say when the band will retire, stating in 2007: "I'm sure the Rolling Stones will do more things and more records and more tours. We've got no plans to stop any of that really." In October 2009, Jagger and U2 performed "Gimme Shelter" (with Fergie and will.i.am) and "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" at the 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert.

    On 20 May 2011, Jagger announced the formation of a new supergroup, SuperHeavy, which includes Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, Damian Marley, and A.R. Rahman. Jagger has featured on will.i.am's 2011 single "T.H.E (The Hardest Ever)". On 21 February 2012, Mick Jagger, B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Jeff Beck along with a blues ensemble performed at the White House concert series before President Barack Obama. When Jagger held out a mic to him, Obama sang twice the line "Come on, baby don't you want to go" of the blues cover 'Sweet Home Chicago', the blues anthem of Obama's home town. Jagger hosted the season finale of "Saturday Night Live" on 19 and 20 May 2012, doing several comic skits and playing some of the Rolling Stones' hits with Foo Fighters, Jeff Beck, with Arcade Fire playing backup.

    Jagger's relationship with band mate Richards is frequently described as "love/hate" by the media.Richards himself said in a 1998 interview: "I think of our differences as a family squabble. If I shout and scream at him, it's because no one else has the guts to do it or else they're paid not to do it. At the same time I'd hope Mick realises that I'm a friend who is just trying to bring him into line and do what needs to be done." Richards, along with Johnny Depp, tried unsuccessfully to persuade Jagger to appear in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, alongside Depp and Richards. Richards' autobiography, Life, was released 26 October 2010. On 15 October 2010, the Associated Press published an article stating that Richards refers to Mick Jagger as "unbearable" in the book and notes that their relationship has been strained "for decades."

    Jagger has also had an intermittent acting career, most notably in Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg's Performance (1968) and as Australian bushranger Ned Kelly (1970). He composed an improvised soundtrack for Kenneth Anger's film Invocation Of My Demon Brother on the Moog synthesiser in 1969. He auditioned for the role of Dr. Frank N. Furter in the 1975 film adaptation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a now iconic role that was eventually played by the original performer from its run on London's West End, Tim Curry. Appeared as himself in The Rutles film All You Need Is Cash in 1978. In the late 1970s, Jagger was cast as Wilbur, a main character in Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo. However, a delay and the illness of main actor Jason Robards (later replaced by Klaus Kinski) in the film's notoriously difficult production resulted in his being unable to continue due to schedule conflicts with a band tour; some of the footage of his work is shown in the documentary Burden of Dreams. He developed a reputation for playing the heavy later in his acting career in films including Freejack (1992), Bent (1997), and The Man From Elysian Fields (2002).

    In 1995, Jagger founded Jagged Films with Victoria Pearman "to start my own projects instead of just going in other people's and being involved peripherally or doing music." Its first release was the World War II drama Enigma in 2001. That same year, it produced a documentary on Jagger entitled Being Mick. The program, which first aired on television 22 November, coincided with the release of his fourth solo album, Goddess in the Doorway.

    In 2008, the company began work on The Women, an adaptation of the George Cukor film of the same name. It was directed by Diane English. Reviving the 1939 film met with countless delays, but Jagger's company was credited with obtaining $24 million of much-needed financing to finally begin casting. English told Entertainment Weekly: "This was much easier in 1939, when all the ladies were under contract, and they had to take the roles they were told to."

    The Rolling Stones have been the subjects of numerous documentaries, including Gimme Shelter, which was made as the band was gaining fame in the United States. Martin Scorsese worked with Jagger on Shine a Light, a documentary film featuring the Rolling Stones with footage from the A Bigger Bang Tour during two nights of performances at New York's Beacon Theatre. It screened in Berlin in February 2008. Variety's Todd McCarthy said the film "takes full advantage of heavy camera coverage and top-notch sound to create an invigorating musical trip down memory lane, as well as to provoke gentle musings on the wages of ageing and the passage of time." He predicted the film would fare better once released to video than in its limited theatrical runs. Jagger was a producer of, and guest-starred in the first episode of the short-lived comedy The Knights of Prosperity, which aired in 2007 on ABC.

    In 1970, Mick Jagger purchased Stargroves at East Woodhay in Hampshire as his country estate. It was often used as a recording venue. In the same year, he began a relationship with Nicaraguan-born Bianca De Macias, whom he married on 12 May 1971, in a Catholic ceremony in Saint-Tropez, France. The couple separated in 1977 and in May 1978, she filed for divorce on the grounds of his adultery. Bianca later said "My marriage ended on my wedding day." In late 1977, he began seeing model Jerry Hall, while still married to Bianca. After a lengthy cohabitation and several children together, the couple married on 21 November 1990, in a Hindu beach ceremony in Indonesia and moved together to Downe House in Richmond, Surrey. Jagger later contested the validity of the ceremony, and the marriage was annulled in August 1999. Mick has seven children four grandchildren. His father, Joe, died of pneumonia on Saturday, 11 November 2006, at the age of 93. Although the Rolling Stones were on the A Bigger Bang Tour, Jagger flew to Britain on Friday to see his father before returning to Las Vegas the same day, where he was to perform on Saturday night. The show went ahead as scheduled.

    In 2008, it was revealed that members of the Hells Angels had plotted to murder Jagger in 1975. They were angered by Jagger's public blaming of the Hells Angels, who had been hired to provide security at the Altamont Free Concert in December 1969, for much of the crowd violence at the event. The conspirators reportedly used a boat to approach a residence where Jagger was staying on Long Island, New York; the plot failed when the boat was nearly sunk by a storm.

    On 12 December 2003, Jagger was made a Knight Bachelor for services to music, as Sir Michael Jagger by The Prince of Wales. Mick Jagger's knighthood received mixed reactions. Some fans were disappointed when he accepted the honour as it seemed to contradict his anti-establishment stance. Charlie Watts was quoted in the book According to the Rolling Stones as saying, "Anybody else would be lynched: 18 wives and 20 children and he's knighted, fantastic!" The ceremony took place in December 2003. Jagger’s father and daughters Karis and Elizabeth were in attendance.

    As United Press International noted, the honour is odd, for unlike other knighted rock musicians, he has no "known record of charitable work or public services," although he is a patron of the British Museum. Jagger was on record as saying "apart from the Rolling Stones, the Queen is the best thing Britain has got" but was absent from the Queen's Golden Jubilee pop concert at Buckingham Palace that marked her 50 years on the throne.

    Jagger's knighthood also caused some friction between him and bandmate Keith Richards, who was irritated when Jagger accepted the "paltry honour". Richards said that he did not want to take the stage with someone wearing a "coronet and sporting the old ermine. It's not what the Stones is about, is it?" Jagger retorted: "I think he would probably like to get the same honour himself. It's like being given an ice cream—one gets one and they all want one."

    Billy the Kid Sellers was born on 8 September 1925 in Southsea, a suburb of Portsmouth. His parents were Yorkshire-born William "Bill" Sellers, and Agnes Doreen "Peg" (née Marks); both were variety entertainers, with Peg being one of the Ray Sisters troupe. Although he was christened Richard Henry, his parents always called him Peter, after his elder stillborn brother; aside from the stillborn child, Sellers was an only child. Peg Sellers was related to the pugilist Daniel Mendoza, a relative Sellers greatly revered, and whose engraving hung in Sellers' office. At one time Sellers planned to have Mendoza's image for his production company's logo. Sellers was aged two weeks, when he was carried on stage by Dickie Henderson, the headline act at the Kings Theatre, Southsea: the crowd sang "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" and Sellers burst into tears. With both his parents in variety, the family constantly on the move, touring with theatre commitments and Sellers was unhappy, saying "I really didn't like that period of my life as a kid".

    Sellers had a very close relationship with his mother; his friend Spike Milligan considered that "it really is unhealthy for a grown man to be so needful of his mother". Sellers' agent, Dennis Selinger, recalled his first meeting with Peg and Peter Sellers, noting that "Sellers was an immensely shy young man, inclined to be dominated by his mother, but without resentment or objection". Sellers' biographer, Ed Sikov, considered this influence to be more insidious, seeing Sellers to be "the painstaking product of a terrible mother, the fucked-up labour of her love."

    In 1935 the Sellers family settled in North London, initially in a flat in Muswell Hill. Although Bill Sellers, was Protestant, and Peg was Jewish, Sellers attended the North London Roman Catholic school St. Aloysius College, run by the Brothers of Our Lady of Mercy. According to Sellers' biographer, Roger Lewis, Sellers was intrigued by Catholicism, but soon after entering Catholic school, he "discovered he was a Jew—he was someone on the outside of the mysteries of faith." He was a top student at the school, and recalls that the teacher once scolded the other boys for not studying: "The Jewish boy knows his catechism better than the rest of you!"

    Later in his life, Sellers is quoted as saying "My father was solid Church of England but my mother was Jewish, Portuguese Jewish, and Jews take the faith of their mother." Film critic Kenneth Tynan noted after his interview with Sellers that one of the main "motive forces" for his ambition as an actor was "his hatred of anti-Semitism." Tynan explained that while Jewishness is "tolerated" in some professions, it was often not in actors. This led to Sellers' refusal "to be content with the secure reputation of a great mimic and his determination to go down in history as something more—a great actor, perhaps, or a great director". Sellers was of the opinion that "becoming part of some large group never does any good. Maybe that's my problem with religion," he said during an interview. He explained that "I wasn't baptised. I wasn't Bar Mitzvahed. I suppose my basic religion is doing unto others as they would do unto me. But I find it all very difficult. I am more inclined to believe in the Old Testament than in the New".

    Accompanying his family on the variety show circuit, Sellers learned stagecraft, which proved valuable later. He performed at age five at the burlesque Windmill Theatre in the drama Splash Me!, which featured his mother. However, he grew up with conflicting influences from his parents and developed ambivalent feelings about show business. His father lacked confidence in Peter's abilities to ever become much in the entertainment field, even suggesting that his son's talents were only enough to become a road sweeper, while Sellers' mother encouraged him continually.

    Whilst at St Aloysius College Sellers began to develop his improvisational skills. Sellers and his closest friend at the time, Bryan Connon, both enjoyed listening to early radio comedy shows and Connon remembers that "Peter got endless pleasure imitating the people in Monday Night at Eight. He had a gift for improvising dialogue. Sketches, too. I'd be the 'straight man', the 'feed', ... I'd cue Peter and he'd do all the radio personalities and chuck in a few voices of his own invention as well."

    With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, St Aloysius College was evacuated to Cambridgeshire, but Peg decided not to allow Sellers to go, a decision which ended his formal education aged fourteen. Early in 1940 Peg decided to move to the north Devon town of Ilfracombe, where her brother managed the Victoria Palace Theatre; Sellers got his first job at the theatre aged fifteen, starting as a caretaker. He was steadily promoted, becoming a box office clerk, usher, assistant stage manager and lighting operator. He was also offered some small acting parts. Working backstage gave him a chance to see serious actors at work, such as Paul Scofield. He also became close friends with Derek Altman, and together they launched Sellers' first stage act under the name "Altman and Sellers," where they played ukuleles, sang, and told jokes. They also both enjoyed reading detective stories by Dashiell Hammett, and were inspired to start their own detective agency. "Their enterprise ended abruptly when a potential client ripped Sellers' fake moustache off."

    During his regular job backstage at the theatre, Sellers began practising on a set of drums that belonged to the band "Joe Daniels and His Hot Shots." Daniels noticed his efforts and gave him practical instructions. Sellers' biographer Ed Sikov wrote that "drumming suited him. Banging in time Pete could envelop himself in a world of near-total abstraction, all in the context of a great deal of noise." Spike Milligan later noted that Sellers was very proficient on the drums and "might well have stayed a jazz drummer" if his mimicry and improvisation skills had not been so good.

    As the Second World War broke out in Europe, Sellers continued to develop his drumming skills, and he joined the bands of Oscar Rabin, Henry Hall and Waldini and his Gypsy Band, as well as his father's quartet, before he left and joined a band from Blackpool. In the latter two of these bands, Sellers was a member of Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA), the organisation that provided entertainment for British forces and factory workers during the war.
    In September 1943 he joined the Royal Air Force, although it is unclear whether he volunteered or was enlisted; his mother tried to have him disqualified on medical grounds, but failed. Although Sellers wished to become a pilot, his poor eyesight meant he was restricted to ground staff duties only. He found the duties dull and auditioned for Ralph Reader to become a member of his Gang Shows: Reader accepted him and Sellers toured the UK before being transferred to India. His tour also included Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Burma, although the duration of his stay in Asia is unknown and its length may have been exaggerated by Sellers himself. He also served in Germany and France after the war.

    Another Gang Show player, actor David Lodge became friends with Sellers and described Sellers' role, saying "Peter on the drums was one of the best performers ever. "Drumming Man" was how he was billed. He closed the show. To see him do his jazz numbers was a show in itself, throwing up the sticks, catching them. Nothing could have followed him!" Occasionally Sellers impersonated his superiors by bluffing his way into the Officers' Mess using mimicry and make-up. Lodge clearly remembers the first time he witnessed Sellers impersonating an officer, after he pulled a squadron leader's uniform out of the props. The band's trumpeter first tried to stop him: "I noticed his walk had even gotten years older, and carried an authority I never imagined Peter could muster. He threw open the door of the men's bunkhouse and waited a second before he entered—even then he had a great sense of timing ... Then he walked down the centre, eyeing them with quiet pride ... imitating impeccably the tones of a man unused to having his authority questioned."

    At the end of the war, Sellers was posted back to England to work at the Air Ministry prior to his demobilisation, which came in 1946. Sellers had difficulty in finding bookings and work was sporadic. He was fired after one performance of a stand-up comedy routine in Peterborough, but the headline act, Welsh vocalist Dorothy Squires, took pity on him and persuaded the management to reinstate him. Sellers was also continuing his drumming and was billed on his appearance at the Aldershot Hippodrome as "Britain's answer to Gene Krupa". In March 1948, Sellers gained a slot at the Windmill Theatre, a variety and revue theatre in London; he provided the comedy turns in between the nude shows on offer. Sellers undertook a six-week run at the theatre, earning £30 a week (£812 in today’s money).
    In 1948 Sellers wrote to the BBC, then based at Alexandra Palace, and subsequently received an audition. As a result he made his television debut on 18 March 1948 in New To You, with an act that was largely based on impressions; he was well received and returned to appear the following week.

    Frustrated with the slow development of his career, Sellers telephoned BBC radio producer Roy Speer, pretending to be Kenneth Horne, star of the radio show Much Binding in the Marsh. Speer called Sellers a "cheeky young sod" for his efforts, but he was given an audition as a result, which initially led to a brief appearance on 1 July 1948 on ShowTime and subsequently to his work on Ray's a Laugh with comedian Ted Ray. By the end of October 1948 Sellers was a regular radio performer, appearing in Starlight Hour, The Gang Show, Henry Hall's Guest Night and It's Fine To Be Young.

    In December 1948 the BBC Third Programme broadcast the comedy series Third Division, which starred Benny Hill, Harry Secombe, Carole Carr, Michael Bentine and Sellers, with scripts provided by Frank Muir and Denis Norden. One evening Sellers and Bentine visited the Hackney Empire, where Secombe was performing, and Bentine introduced Sellers to Spike Milligan. The four would meet up at Grafton's public house near Victoria, where the owner, Jimmy Grafton was also a BBC script writer; the four comedians dubbed him KOGVOS (King of Goons and Voice of Sanity) and he went on to edit some of the first Goon Shows.

    Sellers had his first inclusion in a film in 1950, dubbing the voice of Alfonso Bedoya in The Black Rose. He continued to work with Secombe, Bentine and Milligan; from their first meeting the four tried to interest the BBC in their work, but it was not until 3 February 1951 that they made a trial tape for BBC producer Pat Dixon, which was eventually accepted. The first Goon Show was broadcast on 28 May 1951 under the name Crazy People—against the wishes of the Goons themselves. Sellers appeared in every episode of The Goons; the last programme of the ten series run was broadcast on 28 January 1960.

    In 1949 Sellers had started to date Anne Howe, and he proposed to her in April 1950. The couple married at Caxton Hall in London on 15 September 1951, and their son, Michael, was born on 2 April 1954, with a daughter, Sarah, following in 1958.

    He continued with his attempts to move into film with a number of small roles, before being offered a role in the 1955 Ealing Comedies film, The Ladykillers as Harry Robinson, the teddy boy. Sellers played opposite Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom and Cecil Parker and this was seen to be his "first good role". The Ladykillers was a success in both Britain and the US and it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay at the 29th Academy Awards.

    No further film work was available for Sellers immediately after the film, so, in 1956, The Goons ran three series on Britain's new television station, ITV. The three series, The Idiot Weekly, Price 2d, A Show Called Fred and Son of Fred. Film producer Michael Relph was impressed with one of Sellers' portrayals of an elderly character in Idiot Weekly, he cast the 32-year-old actor as a 68-year-old projectionist in The Smallest Show on Earth. Sellers' difficulties in his career and life prompted him to seek periodic consultations with astrologer Maurice Woodruff, who held considerable sway over his later career. After a chance meeting with a North American Indian spirit guide in the 1950s, Sellers became convinced that the music hall comedian Dan Leno, who died in 1904, haunted him and guided him into making career and life decisions.

    Sellers released his first album in 1958, The Best of Sellers, which reached number 3 in the UK Albums Chart; the record was produced by George Martin and released on Parlophone. The same year, Sellers made his first film with John and Roy Boulting in the 1958 comedy Carlton-Browne of the F.O., in which he played a supporting role for the film's lead, Terry Thomas. Before the film had been released the Boultings, with Sellers and Terry Thomas in the cast, started filming I'm All Right Jack. When he first saw the script, Sellers turned the role down, asking "Where are the funny lines?" After a week of discussion and persuasion he agreed to take the role of Fred Kite, a shop steward; Sellers prepared for the role by watching footage of union officials, but was still unsure whether his characterisation would be humorous until his screen test was met with laughter and spontaneous applause from the crew. Sellers won the Best British Actor at the 13th British Academy Film Awards for his portrayal of Kite; the film became the biggest box office hit in Britain of 1960. In between Carlton-Browne of the F.O. and I'm All Right Jack, Sellers also starred in The Mouse That Roared; he played three leading and distinct roles: the elderly queen, the ambitious Prime Minister and the innocent and clumsy farm boy selected to lead an invasion of the United States.

    After completing I'm All Right Jack, Sellers returned to record a new series of The Goon Show. Over the course of two weekends he took his 16mm cine camera to Totteridge Lane in London and filmed himself, Spike Milligan Mario Fabrizi, Leo McKern and Richard Lester. Lester also helped with the editing and the result was The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, an eleven minute short film which was only meant for showing amongst friends. Instead the film was screened at the 1959 Edinburgh and San Francisco film festivals, winning the award for best fiction short in the latter festival. The film was then nominated for an Academy Award for Short Subject (Live Action) at the 1960 Academy Awards. 1959 also saw Sellers release his second album, Songs For Swinging Sellers, which reached number 3 in the UK Albums Chart.

    In 1960 Sellers portrayed an Indian doctor, Dr. Ahmed el Kabir, in The Millionairess with Sophia Loren. The film was based on a George Bernard Shaw play of the same name; Sellers was not interested in taking the role until he learnt that Loren was to be his co-star. When asked about his glamorous co-star, he explained to reporters "I don't normally act with romantic, glamorous women ... she's a lot different from Harry Secombe." Sellers and Loren developed a close relationship during filming, with Sellers declaring his love for her, even in front of his wife; Sellers went as far as to wake his son at 3am to ask "Do you think I should divorce your mummy?"

    The film inspired the George Martin-produced novelty hit single with Sellers and Loren, Goodness Gracious Me, which reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart in November 1960. A follow-up single by the couple, Bangers and Mash, reached number 22 in UK chart. The songs were included on an album released by the couple, Peter & Sophia, which reached number 5 in the UK Albums Chart. In 1961 Sellers directed his first film, in which he also starred: Mr. Topaze, based on the Marcel Pagnol play Topaze. The public reaction to the film was mediocre, and Sellers rarely referred to the film again.

    In 1962 Sellers starred in Only Two Can Play, a film based on the novel That Uncertain Feeling by Kingsley Amis. He was nominated for the Best British Actor award at the 16th British Academy Film Awards for his role as John Lewis, a frustrated Welsh librarian. Later in 1962, Stanley Kubrick asked Sellers to play the role of Clare Quilty in Lolita, opposite James Mason and Shelley Winters. According to Alexander Walker, working on Lolita was "the first time he tasted what it was like to work creatively during shooting, not just in the preproduction run-up." Sellers felt the part of a flamboyant American television playwright was beyond his ability, mainly because Quilty was, in Sellers' words, "a fantastic nightmare, part homosexual, part drug addict, part sadist". He became nervous about taking on the role, and many people came up to him and told him they felt the role believable. Kubrick eventually succeeded in persuading Sellers to play the part. Kubrick had American jazz producer Norman Granz record Sellers' portions of the script for Sellers to listen to, so he could study the voice and develop confidence.

    Unlike most of his earlier well-rehearsed film roles, Sellers was encouraged by Kubrick to improvise throughout the filming in order to exhaust all the possibilities of his character. In order to capture Sellers in the shortest number of takes, Kubrick often used as many as three cameras. Kubrick later described the filming process: "When Peter was called to the set he would usually arrive walking very slowly and staring morosely ... As work progressed, he would begin to respond to something or other in the scene, his mood would visibly brighten and we would begin to have fun. Improvisational ideas began to click and the rehearsal started to feel good. On many of these occasions, I think, Peter reached what can only be described as a state of comic ecstasy." Kubrick gave him free "license" to break the rules and Sellers "indulged in his liking for setting himself problems, encouraged by Kubrick to explore the outer limits of the comédie noire—and sometimes, he felt, go over them—in a way that appealed to the macabre imagination of himself and his director." Oswald Morris, the film's cinematographer, further commented that, "the most interesting scenes were the ones with Peter Sellers, which were total improvisations." Because of this experience, Sellers later claimed that his relationship with Kubrick became one of the most rewarding of his career. At the end of 1962 his marriage to Anne finally disintegrated, and in October Sellers' father Bill died, aged sixty-two. After the death, Sellers decided to get away from England and take the first international film he could; he took roles in Heavens Above! and The Wrong Arm of the Law before an international offer came in for The Pink Panther.

    Edwards' last minute offer for the role of Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau was prompted by the decision of Peter Ustinov to suddenly back out of the film; Edwards later recalled his feelings as "desperately unhappy and ready to kill, but as fate would have it, I got Mr. Sellers instead of Mr. Ustinov—thank God!" The film starred David Niven in the principal role, with two others actors in more prominent roles that Sellers, but Sellers' performance is "his first memorable performance as a visual screen comic in the Chaplin-Keaton tradition and class." Although the Clouseau character was in the script, Sellers created the personality. While flying to Rome for filming, he used the time alone to devise the character, including the accent, costume and make-up for the part, including a moustache and trench coat. Sellers described the character's personality he would portray:
    I'll play Clouseau with great dignity, because he thinks of himself as one of the world's best detectives. Even when he comes a cropper, he must pick himself up with that notion intact. The original script makes him out to be a complete idiot. I think a forgivable vanity would humanize him and make him kind of touching. It's as if filmgoers are kept one fall ahead of him.

    The Pink Panther was not released until January 1964 when it received only a lukewarm reception from the critics. Despite their reaction, Sellers was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy at the 22nd Golden Globe Awards, and for a Best British Actor award at the 18th British Academy Film Awards.

    In 1963, Stanley Kubrick cast Sellers to appear in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and asked Sellers to take four roles: US President Merkin Muffley, Dr. Strangelove, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake of the RAF and Major TJ 'King' Kong. Sellers was initially hesitant about taking on the task, but Kubrick convinced him that there was no better actor that could play the parts. Kubrick commented later that the idea of having Sellers in so many of the film's key roles was that "everywhere you turn there is some version of Peter Sellers holding the fate of the world in his hands".

    Sellers was concerned about the role of Kong, feeling that he had not managed to understand the characterisation or imitate the Texan voice. Kubrick asked the asked screenwriter Terry Southern to record a tape of Kong's lines spoken in the his natural accent. Using Southern's tape, Sellers managed to get the accent right, and started shooting the scenes in the airplane, which Kubrick thought were good. After the first day's shooting Sellers sprained his ankle while leaving a restaurant and could not work in the cramped cockpit set. Kubrick was forced to re-cast the part with Slim Pickens as Kong.

    The three roles Sellers undertook were all distinct, "variegated, complex and refined", and critic Alexander Walker considered that these roles "showed his genius at full stretch". Sellers played Muffley as a bland, placid intellectual in the mould of Adlai Stevenson; he played Mandrake as an unflappable Englishman; and Dr. Strangelove, a character influenced by pre-war German cinema, as a wheelchair-bound fanatic. For his performance in all three roles, Sellers was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor at the 37th Academy Awards, and the Best British Actor award at the 18th British Academy Film Awards.

    Between November 1963 and February 1964 Sellers began filming A Shot in the Dark, an adaptation of a stage play by Harry Kurnitz adapted from the French play L'Idiote by Marcel Achard. Sellers found the part and the director, Anatole Litvak, uninspiring, so the producers brought in Blake Edwards. Together with writer William Peter Blatty, they turned the script into a Clouseau comedy. During the making of the film, Sellers' relationship with Edwards was often strained; the two sometimes stopped speaking to each other during filming, communicating by passing each other notes. Sellers' personality was described by others as difficult and demanding and he often clashed with fellow actors and directors.

    Towards the end of filming, in early February 1964, Sellers met Britt Ekland, a Swedish actress who had arrived in London to film Guns at Batasi; ten days after their meeting—on 19 February 1964—the couple married at the Registry Office in Guildford, Surrey. Shortly after the wedding Sellers started filming for Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid, playing opposite Dean Martin and Kim Novak. On the night of 5 April 1964, Sellers suffered a series of eight heart attacks over the course of three hours after visiting Disneyland with his family. His health meant he had to withdraw from the filming of Kiss Me, Stupid and he was replaced by Ray Walston. Wilder was unsympathetic about the heart attacks, saying that "you have to have a heart before you can have an attack".

    After his illness, Sellers returned in October 1964 to film for three days, playing King of the Individualists alongside Ekland in Carol for Another Christmas, a United Nations special, broadcast on ABC on 28 December 1964. Sellers was concerned that his heart attack may have caused brain damage, or be unable to remember his lines and the experience reassured him. He followed this with the role of Doctor Fritz Fassbender in What's New Pussycat?, appearing alongside Peter O'Toole and Capucine, the latter of whom had also appeared with him in The Pink Panther; the film was the first screenwriting and acting job for Woody Allen. Because of Sellers' health, producer Charles K. Feldman personally insured him at a cost of $360,000.

    On 20 January 1965 Sellers and Ekland announced the birth of a daughter, Victoria before Sellers recorded "A Hard Day's Night" in the style of Sir Lawrence Olivier. The single reached 14 in the UK singles chart in December. In May Sellers and Ekland moved to Rome to film After the Fox in which they were both to appear. The film was directed by Vittorio De Sica, whose English Sellers struggled to understand. As a result, the film shoot was a troubled one with Sellers attempting to have De Sica fired. The problems with the film were compounded by Sellers being unhappy with his wife's performance, which put a strain on their relationship. The couple argued on a number of occasions and during one fight Sellers threw a chair at Ekland.

    Following the commercial success of What's New Pussycat?, Charles Feldman again brought together Sellers and Woody Allen for his next project, Casino Royale, with Sellers on a $1 million contract. Feldman had a team of three scriptwriters working on screenplay—Wolf Mankowitz, John Law and Michael Sayers—but eventually this list also included Ben Hecht, Terry Southern, Billy Wilder and Woody Allen. The filming process was chaotic and, according to Ekland, at the time Sellers was "so insecure, he won't trust anyone". A poor working relationship quickly developed between Sellers and Welles and Sellers eventually demanded that he and Welles should not share the same set. Sellers eventually left the film in May or June, before his part was completed, and the script was re-written for Terence Cooper to take over as another 007.

    Shortly after Sellers left Casino Royale, it was announced that he was to be made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). The day before its presentation at Buckingham Palace, Sellers and Ekland fought again, with Ekland scratching his face in the process. Sellers called a make-up artist to cover the scratches, noting afterwards that "the Queen didn't spot it". During his next film, The Bobo, which co-starred Ekland, the couple's marital situation worsened. Three weeks into production in Italy, Sellers told director Robert Parrish to fire his wife, saying "I'm not coming back after lunch if that bitch is on the set". Sellers also upset the film crew with his derogatory comments about his wife. Ekland later stated that the marriage was "an atrocious sham" at this stage. In the midst of filming The Bobo, Sellers' mother had a heart attack; Parrish asked Sellers if he wanted to visit her in hospital, but Sellers remained with the film. She died within days, without Sellers having seen her. He was deeply depressed by her death and remorseful at not having returned to London to see her. Sellers' marriage broke up shortly afterwards and Ekland served him with divorce papers; it was formally finished on 18 December 1968 and Sellers' friend Spike Milligan sent Ekland a congratulatory telegram.

    In 1970 There's a Girl in My Soup was released in which Sellers starred with Goldie Hawn; seen as a mini-revival in his career, the effects did not last long. Professionally, fellow comedian and friend Spike Milligan noted that the early 1970s were for Sellers "a period of indifference, and it would appear at one time that his career might have come to a conclusion". In his private life he had been seeing the twenty-three-year-old model Miranda Quarry and the couple married on 24 August 1970 at Caxton Hall, even though Sellers had contacted his agent, Dennis Selinger, shortly after the announcement to ask "Den, how do I get out of it?"

    On 20 April 1972, Sellers reunited with Milligan and Harry Secombe to record The Last Goon Show of All, which was broadcast on 5 October. His film career was uncertain: his biographer, Peter Evans, notes that "in four years he had made nine films: three were never released; five had flopped ... only There's a Girl in My Soup had done well. The one other exception was The Optimists of Nine Elms, for which he won the Best Actor award at the 1973 Tehran Film Festival.

    In May 1973, with his third marriage failing and divorce approaching, Sellers went to the theatre to watch Liza Minnelli perform. Sellers was entranced and three days later the couple were engaged, despite Minelli being engaged to Desi Arnaz, Jr. and Sellers still being married. The relationship lasted a month before breaking up. In 1974, Sellers' friends were concerned that he was having a nervous breakdown. Directors John and Roy Boulting considered that Sellers was "a deeply troubled man, distrustful, self-absorbed, ultimately self-destructive. He was the complete contradiction." Sellers was shy and insecure when out of character. When he was invited to appear on Michael Parkinson's eponymous chat show in 1974, he withdrew the day before, explain to Parkinson that "I just can't walk on as myself". When he was told he could come on as someone else, he appeared dressed as a member of the Gestapo. After a few lines in keeping with his assumed character, he stepped out of the role and settled down and, according to Parkinson himself, "was brilliant, giving the audience an astonishing display of his virtuosity". During the course of 1974 Sellers claimed to have again spoken with the long-dead music hall comic Dan Leno, who advised him to return to the role of Clouseau,

    In 1975 he again teamed up with Blake Edwards for The Return of the Pink Panther, which earned him a nomination for the Best Actor - Musical or Comedy award at the 33rd Golden Globe Awards. In 1976 he followed The Return of the Pink Panther with The Pink Panther Strikes Again and earned himself a nomination the for Best Actor - Musical or Comedy award at the 34th Golden Globe Awards.

    On 18 February 1977 Sellers married Lynne Frederick, having dated her for the previous eleven months. On 20 March he suffered a second major heart attack, resulting in his being fitted with a pacemaker. Sellers returned from his illness to undertake Revenge of the Pink Panther, stating afterwards that "I've honestly had enough of Clouseau—I've got nothing more to give". The return to the Pink Panther films was a move that reinvigorated Sellers' career and made him a millionaire. Steven Bach, the senior vice-president and head of worldwide productions for United Artists who worked with Sellers on Revenge Of The Pink Panther, considered that Sellers was "deeply unbalanced, if not committable: that was the source of his genius and his truly quite terrifying aspects as manipulator and hysteric".

    Sellers would claim that he had no personality and was almost unnoticeable, which meant that he "needed a strongly defined character to play". He would make similar references throughout his life: when he appeared on The Muppet Show he chose not to appear as himself, instead appearing in a variety of costumes and accents. When Kermit the Frog told Sellers he could relax and be "himself," Sellers replied: But that, you see, my dear Kermit, would be altogether impossible. I could never be myself ... You see, there is no me. I do not exist ... There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed. —Peter Sellers, The Muppet Show, February 1978.

    In 1979, Sellers played the role of Chance, a simple-minded gardener addicted to watching TV, in the black comedy Being There, considered by some critics to be the "crowning triumph of Peter Sellers's remarkable career". During a BBC interview in 1971, Sellers said that more than anything else, he wanted to play the role of Chance. Jerzy Kosinski, the book's author, felt that the novel was never meant to be made into a film, but Sellers succeeded in changing his mind, and Kosinski allowed Sellers and director Hal Ashby to make the film, provided he could write the script.

    Sellers's described his experience of working on the film as "so humbling, so powerful" During the filming, in order not to break his character, he refused most interview requests and kept his distance from other actors. He tried to remain in character even after he returned home. Sellers considered Chance's walking and voice the character's most important attributes, and in preparing for the role, Sellers worked alone with a tape recorder, or with his wife, and then with Ashby, to perfect the clear enunciation and flat delivery needed to reveal "the childlike mind behind the words." Co-star Shirley MacLaine found Sellers "a dream" to work with, while the story's author and screenwriter Jerzy Kosinski claimed that "nobody thought Chance was even a character, yet Peter knew that man."

    Sellers's performance was praised by some critics as achieving "the pinpoint-sharp exactitude of nothingness. It is a performance of extraordinary dexterity", and "[making] the film's fantastic premise credible". Critic Frank Rich noted the acting skill required for this sort of role, with a "schismatic personality that Peter had to convey with strenuous vocal and gestural technique ... A lesser actor would have made the character's mental dysfunction flamboyant and drastic ... [His] intelligence was always deeper, his onscreen confidence greater, his technique much more finely honed."
    The film earned Sellers a Best Actor award at the 51st National Board of Review Awards; the Best Actor award at the 45th New York Film Critics Circle Awards; and the Best Actor - Musical or Comedy award at the 37th Golden Globe Awards. Additionally, Sellers was nominated for the Best Actor award at the 52nd Academy Awards and the Best Actor in a Leading Role award at the 34th British Academy Film Awards.

    Sellers' last movie was The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, a comedic reimagining of the classic series of adventure novels by Sax Rohmer. In this new version, Sellers played both "Fu Manchu" and his arch nemesis, police inspector Nayland Smith. Production of the film ran into problems from the start, with Sellers' poor health and mental instability causing long delays and bickering between star and director Piers Haggard. With roughly 60% of the movie shot, Sellers had Haggard sacked and took over direction himself. Haggard later complained that the reshoots Sellers ordered added nothing to the production, and had resulted in the film being incoherent and unfocused.

    Sellers died shortly before Fu Manchu was released, with his very last performance being that of conman "Monty Casino" in a series of adverts for Barclays Bank. In 1982, Sellers returned to the big screen as Inspector Clouseau in Trail of the Pink Panther, which was composed entirely of deleted scenes from his past three Panther movies, in particular The Pink Panther Strikes Again, with a new story written around them. David Niven also reprised his role of Sir Charles Lytton in this movie. Along with what many, notably his widow Lynne Frederick, saw as exploitation of Sellers, the manner in which Niven's cameo was handled has earned the movie a lasting unsavoury reputation. Edwards continued the series with a further instalment called the Curse of the Pink Panther, which was shot back-to-back with the framing footage for Trail, but Sellers was wholly absent from this film.

    After The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, Sellers was scheduled to appear in another Clouseau comedy, The Romance Of The Pink Panther. Its script, written by Peter Moloney and Sellers himself, had Clouseau falling for a brilliant female criminal known as 'The Frog' and aiding her in her heists with the aim to reform her character. Blake Edwards did not participate in the planning of this new Clouseau instalment, as the working relationship between him and Sellers had broken down during the filming of Revenge Of The Pink Panther. The final draft of the script, including a humorous cover letter signed by "Pete Shakespeare", was delivered to United Artists' office less than six hours before Sellers died. Sellers' death ended the project, along with two other planned movies for which Sellers had signed contracts in 1980. The two films—Unfaithfully Yours and Lovesick—were rewritten as vehicles for Dudley Moore; both performed poorly at the box office upon release. Trade papers such as Variety carried an elaborately curlicued advert for the former movie, with Sellers at the top of the cast list, in early June 1980.

    A reunion dinner was scheduled in London with his Goon Show partners, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, for 25 July 1980. But around noon on 22 July, Sellers collapsed from a massive heart attack in his Dorchester Hotel room and fell into a coma. He died in Middlesex Hospital, London just after midnight on 24 July 1980, aged 54. He was survived by his fourth wife, Lynne Frederick, and his three children. At the time of his death, he was scheduled to undergo heart surgery at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles.

    Although Sellers was reportedly in the process of excluding Frederick from his will a week before he died, she inherited almost his entire estate worth an estimated £4.5 million while his children received £800 each. When Frederick died in 1994(aged 39), her mother Iris inherited everything, including all of the income and royalties from Sellers' work. When Iris dies the whole estate will go to Cassie, the daughter Lynne had with her third husband, Barry Unger. Sellers' only son, Michael, died of a heart attack at 52 during surgery on 24 July 2006 (26 years to the day after his father's death). Michael was survived by his second wife, Alison, whom he married in 1986, and their two children.
    In his will, Peter Sellers requested that the Glenn Miller song "In the Mood" be played at his funeral. The request is considered his last touch of humour, as he hated the piece. His body was cremated and he was interred at Golders Green Crematorium in London.

    Notable birthdays this week:-
    21st July – Jean Picard, French astronomer. Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Paul Reuter, German-born British journalist. Ernest Hemingway, American writer, Nobel laureate. Mollie Sugden, British comedic actress. Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), English singer-songwriter. Robin Williams, American comedian/actor.

    22nd July - Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon, 5th Baronet, Scottish fencer, landowner and survivor of RMS Titanic. Gustav Ludwig Hertz, German physicist, Nobel laureate. Terence Stamp, English actor. Danny Glover, American actor. Don Henley, American singer-songwriter and drummer (Eagles). Willem Dafoe, American actor.

    23rd July - Sir Thomas Brisbane, Scottish astronomer, soldier and governor of New South Wales. Michael Foot, English politician. Queen Te Atairangikaahu of the New Zealand Māori. Myra Hindley, English multiple murderer. David Essex, English singer. Martin Gore, English musician and songwriter (Depeche Mode). Woody Harrelson, American actor. Slash, English-born American guitarist (Guns N' Roses). Philip Seymour Hoffman, American actor.

    24th July - Alexandre Dumas, père, French writer. Amelia Earhart, American aviator. Gus Van Sant, American film director. Kristin Chenoweth, American singer and actress. Cafu, Brazilian footballer. Bindi Irwin, Australian entertainer and daughter of Steve Irwin..

    25th July - Arthur Balfour, 33rd Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Estelle Getty, American actress. Rita Marley, Jamaican-Cuban singer (I Threes). Matt LeBlanc, American actor.

    26th July - George Bernard Shaw, Irish writer, Nobel laureate. Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist. Gracie Allen, American actress and comedian. Blake Edwards, American film director. Francesco Cossiga, President of the Italian Republic. Stanley Kubrick, American director. Mick Jagger, English singer (The Rolling Stones). Betty Davis, American singer. Helen Mirren, English actress. Roger Taylor, English drummer and vocalist (Queen). Kevin Spacey, American actor. Gary Cherone, American vocalist (Extreme, Van Halen). Sandra Bullock, American actress. Kate Beckinsale, English actress.

    27th July – Alexandre Dumas, fils, French author. António José de Almeida, President of Portugal. Geoffrey de Havilland, British aircraft designer. Sir Robert George, Governor of South Australia. Jack Higgins, English novelist. Gary Gygax, American game creator. Bobbie Gentry, American singer and songwriter. Robert Rankin, English novelist. Roxanne Hart, American actress. Christopher Dean, English figure skater. Triple H, American wrestler.

    Notable deaths this week in history are:-
    21st July – 1796 – Robert Burns, Scottish poet. 1967 – Basil Rathbone, English actor. 1998 – Alan Shepard, American astronaut. 2005 – Long John Baldry, British blues musician.

    22nd July - 1832 – Napoleon II, Emperor of the French and King of Rome. 1903 – Cassius Clay, American emancipationist. 1908 – William Randal Cremer, English politician and pacifist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate. 1915 – Sir Sandford Fleming, Canadian engineer and inventor. 1934 – John Dillinger, American bank robber. 2004 – Sacha Distel, French singer. 2005 – Eugene Record American songwriter and singer (The Chi-Lites). 2008 – Estelle Getty, American comedic actress.

    23rd July - 1403 – Thomas Percy, 1st Earl of Worcester, English rebel (executed). 1793 – Roger Sherman, American signer of the Declaration of Independence. 1853 – Andries Pretorius, South African Boer leader. 1875 – Isaac Singer, American inventor and entrepreneur. 1885 – Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States. 1916 – Sir William Ramsay, Scottish chemist, Nobel Prize laureate. 1999 – King Hassan II of Morocco. 2007 – Ron Miller, American songwriter and record producer. 2011 – Amy Winehouse, British singer songwriter.

    24th July - 1862 – Martin Van Buren, 8th President of the United States. 1980 – Peter Sellers, English comedian and actor.

    25th July - 1834 – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet. 1973 – Louis Stephen St. Laurent, 12th Prime Minister of Canada. 1986 – Vincente Minnelli, American film director. 1995 – Charlie Rich, American rock/soul/country musician. 2008 – Tracy Hall, American inventor.

    26th July - 1471 – Pope Paul II. 1830 – King George IV of the United Kingdom. 1919 – Sir Edward Poynter, British painter. 1925 – Antonio Ascari, Italian racing driver. 1952 – Eva Perón, Argentine First Lady. 1969 – Frank Loesser, American composer. 1992 – Mary Wells, American singer.

    27th July – 1844 – John Dalton, English physicist and chemist. 1962 – James H. Kindelberger, American aerospace pioneer. 1978 – Bob Heffron, Premier of New South Wales. 1984 – James Mason, English actor. 1988 – Frank Zamboni, American inventor. 2003 – Bob Hope, English-born American entertainer.

    You see, there is no me. I do not exist ... There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed. - Peter Sellers, The Muppet Show, February 1978.

    Hope you find this blog interesting to read. If you have any comments or constructive feedback, please leave a comment by using the comment buttons provided.

    Hope you enjoy!!..... ChefGarfy =D
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  • The Good and The Bad Faces of HumanKind... Info

    Hi everyone and welcome to the blog. This week’s blog is dedicated to two men who personify the good and bad sides of mankind who’s anniversaries are remembered this week Nelson Mandela and Billy the Kid.

    Nelson Mandela belongs to a cadet branch of the Thembu dynasty, which reigns in the Transkei region of South Africa's Eastern Cape Province. He was born Rolihlahla Mandela in Mvezo, a small village located in the district of Umtata. He has Khoisan ancestry on his mother's side. His patrilineal great-grandfather Ngubengcuka (who died in 1832), ruled as the Inkosi Enkhulu, or king, of the Thembu people. One of the king's sons, named Mandela, became Nelson's grandfather and the source of his surname. However, because he was only the Inkosi's child by a wife of the Ixhiba clan (the so-called "Left-Hand House"), the descendants of his branch of the royal family were not eligible to succeed to the Thembu throne.

    Mandela's father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, served as chief of the town of Mvezo. However, upon alienating the colonial authorities, they deprived Mphakanyiswa of his position, and moved his family to Qunu. Despite this, Mphakanyiswa remained a member of the Inkosi's Privy Council, and served an instrumental role in Jongintaba Dalindyebo's ascension to the Thembu throne. Dalindyebo would later return the favour by informally adopting Mandela upon Mphakanyiswa's death. Mandela's father had four wives, with whom he fathered thirteen children (four boys and nine girls). Mandela was born to his third wife ('third' by a complex royal ranking system), Nosekeni Fanny. Fanny was a daughter of Nkedama of the Mpemvu Xhosa clan, the dynastic Right Hand House, in whose umzi or homestead Mandela spent much of his childhood. His given name Rolihlahla means "to pull a branch of a tree", or more colloquially, "troublemaker". Rolihlahla Mandela became the first member of his family to attend a school, where his teacher Miss Mdingane gave him the English name "Nelson".

    When Mandela was nine, his father died of tuberculosis, and the regent, Jongintaba, became his guardian. Mandela attended a Wesleyan mission school located next to the palace of the regent. Following Thembu custom, he was initiated at age sixteen, and attended Clarkebury Boarding Institute. Mandela completed his Junior Certificate in two years, instead of the usual three. Designated to inherit his father's position as a privy councillor, in 1937 Mandela moved to Healdtown, the Wesleyan college in Fort Beaufort which most Thembu royalty attended. At nineteen, he took an interest in boxing and running at the school.

    After enrolling, Mandela began to study for a Bachelor of Arts at the Fort Hare University, where he met Oliver Tambo. Tambo and Mandela became lifelong friends and colleagues. Mandela also became close friends with his kinsman, Kaiser ("K.D.") Matanzima who, as royal scion of the Thembu Right Hand House, was in line for the throne of Transkei, a role that would later lead him to embrace Bantustan policies. His support of these policies would place him and Mandela on opposing political sides. At the end of Nelson's first year, he became involved in a Students' Representative Council boycott against university policies, and was told to leave Fort Hare and not return unless he accepted election to the SRC. Later in his life, while in prison, Mandela studied for a Bachelor of Laws from the University of London External Programme.

    Shortly after leaving Fort Hare, Jongintaba announced to Mandela and Justice (the regent's son and heir to the throne) that he had arranged marriages for both of them. The young men, displeased by the arrangement, elected to relocate to Johannesburg. Upon his arrival, Mandela initially found employment as a guard at a mine. However, the employer quickly terminated Mandela after learning that he was the Regent's runaway ward. Mandela later started work as an articled clerk at a Johannesburg law firm, Witkin, Sidelsky and Edelman, through connections with his friend and mentor, realtor Walter Sisulu. While working at Witkin, Sidelsky and Edelman, Mandela completed his B.A. degree at the University of South Africa via correspondence, after which he began law studies at the University of Witwatersrand, where he first befriended fellow students and future anti-apartheid political activists Joe Slovo, Harry Schwarz and Ruth First. Slovo would eventually become Mandela's Minister of Housing, while Schwarz would become his Ambassador to Washington. During this time, Mandela lived in Alexandra township, north of Johannesburg.

    After the 1948 election victory of the Afrikaner-dominated National Party, which supported the apartheid policy of racial segregation, Mandela began actively participating in politics. He led prominently in the ANC's 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People, whose adoption of the Freedom Charter provided the fundamental basis of the anti-apartheid cause. During this time, Mandela and fellow lawyer Oliver Tambo operated the law firm of Mandela and Tambo, providing free or low-cost legal counsel to many blacks who lacked attorney representation. Mahatma Gandhi influenced Mandela's approach, and subsequently the methods of succeeding generations of South African anti-apartheid activists. (Mandela later took part in the 29–30 January 2007 conference in New Delhi marking the 100th anniversary of Gandhi's introduction of satyagraha (non-violent resistance) in South Africa).

    Initially committed to nonviolent resistance, Mandela and 150 others were arrested on 5 December 1956 and charged with treason. The marathon Treason Trial of 1956–1961 followed, with all defendants receiving acquittals. From 1952–1959, a new class of black activists known as the Africanists disrupted ANC activities in the townships, demanding more drastic steps against the National Party regime. The ANC leadership under Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu felt not only that the Africanists were moving too fast but also that they challenged their leadership. The ANC leadership consequently bolstered their position through alliances with small White, Coloured, and Indian political parties in an attempt to give the appearance of wider appeal than the Africanists. The Africanists ridiculed the 1955 Freedom Charter Kliptown Conference for the concession of the 100,000-strong ANC to just a single vote in a Congressional alliance. Four secretaries-general of the five participating parties secretly belonged to the reconstituted South African Communist Party (SACP). In 2003 Blade Nzimande, the SACP General Secretary, revealed that Walter Sisulu, the ANC Secretary-General, secretly joined the SACP in 1955 which meant all five Secretaries General were SACP and thus explains why Sisulu relegated the ANC from a dominant role to one of five equals.

    Fellow ANC member Wolfie Kodesh explains the bombing campaign led by Mandela: "When we knew that we [sic] going to start on 16 December 1961, to blast the symbolic places of apartheid, like pass offices, native magistrates courts, and things like that ... post offices and ... the government offices. But we were to do it in such a way that nobody would be hurt, nobody would get killed." Mandela said of Wolfie: "His knowledge of warfare and his first hand battle experience were extremely helpful to me." Mandela described the move to armed struggle as a last resort; years of increasing repression and violence from the state convinced him that many years of non-violent protest against apartheid had not and could not achieve any progress.

    In June 1961, Mandela sent a letter to South African newspapers warning the government, that if they did not meet there demands, the Umkhonto we Sizwe would embark on campaign of sabotage. The letter demanded the government accept a call for a national constitutional convention. The demands were not met by the government and beginning on December 16, 1961, the Umkhonto we Sizwe with Mandela as its leader, launched a bombing campaign against government targets with the first action of the campaign being the bombing of an electricity sub-station. In total, over the next eighteen months the Umkhonto we Sizwe would partake dozens more acts of sabotage and bombings. The South African government alleged more acts of sabotage had been carried out and at the Rivonia trial the accused would be charged with 193 acts of sabotage in total. The campaign of sabotage against the government included attacks on government posts, machines, power facilities and crop burning in various places including Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Durban.

    Later, mostly in the 1980s, MK, the organisation co-founded by Mandela, waged a guerrilla war against the apartheid government in which many civilians became casualties. For example, the Church Street bomb in Pretoria killed 19 people and injured 217. After he had become President, Mandela later admitted that the ANC, in its struggle against apartheid, also violated human rights, criticising those in his own party who attempted to remove statements mentioning this from the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Until July 2008 Mandela and ANC party members were barred from entering the United States—except to visit the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan—without a special waiver from the US Secretary of State, because of their South African apartheid-era designation as terrorists.

    On 5 August 1962 Mandela was arrested after living on the run for seventeen months, and was imprisoned in the Johannesburg Fort. A large number of groups have been accused of tipping off the police about Mandela’s whereabouts including the South African Communist Party, Mandela’s host in Durban GR Naidoo, and the CIA, but Mandela himself considers none of these connections to be credible and instead attributes his arrest to his own carelessness in concealing his movements. Of the CIA link in particular, Mandela's official biographer Anthony Sampson believes that “the claim cannot be substantiated.” Three days later, the charges of leading workers to strike in 1961 and leaving the country illegally were read to him during a court appearance. On 25 October 1962, Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison.

    While Mandela was imprisoned, police arrested prominent ANC leaders on 11 July 1963, at Liliesleaf Farm, Rivonia, north of Johannesburg. Mandela was brought in, and at the Rivonia Trial they were charged by the chief prosecutor Dr. Percy Yutar with four charges of the capital crimes of sabotage (which Mandela admitted) and crimes which were equivalent to treason, but easier for the government to prove. The charge sheet at the trail listed 193 acts of sabotage in total. They were charged with the preparation and manufacture of explosives, according to evidence submitted, included 210,000 hand grenades, 48,000 anti-personnel mines, 1,500 time devices, 144 tons of ammonium nitrate, 21.6 tons of aluminium powder and a ton of black powder. They were also charged with plotting a foreign invasion of South Africa, which Mandela denied. The specifics of the charges to which Mandela admitted complicity involved conspiring with the African National Congress and South African Communist Party to the use of explosives to destroy water, electrical, and gas utilities in the Republic of South Africa. Bram Fischer, Vernon Berrange, Joel Joffe, Arthur Chaskalson and George Bizos were part of the defence team that represented the main accused. Harry Schwarz represented Jimmy Kantor, who was not a member of the ANC or MK; Kantor was acquitted long before the end of the trial. Harold Hanson was brought in at the end of the case to plead mitigation.

    In his statement from the dock at the opening of the defence case in the trial on 20 April 1964 at Pretoria Supreme Court, Mandela laid out the reasoning in the ANC's choice to use violence as a tactic. His statement described how the ANC had used peaceful means to resist apartheid for years until the Sharpeville Massacre. That event coupled with the referendum establishing the Republic of South Africa and the declaration of a state of emergency along with the banning of the ANC made it clear to Mandela and his compatriots that their only choice was to resist through acts of sabotage and that doing otherwise would have been tantamount to unconditional surrender. Mandela went on to explain how they developed the Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwe on 16 December 1961 intent on exposing the failure of the National Party's policies after the economy would be threatened by foreigners' unwillingness to risk investing in the country.[58] He closed his statement with these words: "During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

    All except Rusty Bernstein were found guilty, but they escaped the gallows and were sentenced to life imprisonment on 12 June 1964. Although many saw Mandela as a political prisoner, Amnesty International did not consider him as the group "rejects the proposal to recognize as prisoners of conscience people who use or advocate the use of force." However, Amnesty International campaigned against the harsh conditions Mandela experienced while imprisoned.

    Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island where he remained for the next eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison. While in jail, his reputation grew and he became widely known as the most significant black leader in South Africa. On the island, he and others performed hard labour in a lime quarry. Prison conditions were very basic. Prisoners were segregated by race, with black prisoners receiving the fewest rations. Political prisoners were kept separate from ordinary criminals and received fewer privileges. Mandela describes how, as a D-group prisoner (the lowest classification) he was allowed one visitor and one letter every six months, when they came, were often delayed for long periods and made unreadable by the prison censors.

    Whilst in prison Mandela undertook study with the University of London by correspondence through its External Programme and received the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He was subsequently nominated for the position of Chancellor of the University of London in the 1981 election, but lost to Princess Anne.

    In his 1981 memoir Inside BOSS secret agent Gordon Winter describes his involvement in a plot to rescue Mandela from prison in 1969: this plot was infiltrated by Winter on behalf of South African intelligence, who wanted Mandela to escape so they could shoot him during recapture. The plot was foiled by Britain's Secret Intelligence Service.

    In March 1982 Mandela was transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, along with other senior ANC leaders Walter Sisulu, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Raymond Mhlaba. It was speculated that this was to remove the influence of these senior leaders on the new generation of young black activists imprisoned on Robben Island, the so-called "Mandela University". However, National Party minister Kobie Coetsee says that the move was to enable discreet contact between them and the South African government.

    In February 1985 President P.W. Botha offered Mandela his freedom on condition that he 'unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon'. Coetsee and other ministers had advised Botha against this, saying that Mandela would never commit his organisation to giving up the armed struggle in exchange for personal freedom. Mandela indeed spurned the offer, releasing a statement via his daughter Zindzi saying "What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts." The first meeting between Mandela and the National Party government came in November 1985 when Kobie Coetsee met Mandela in Volks Hospital in Cape Town where Mandela was recovering from prostate surgery. Over the next four years, a series of tentative meetings took place, laying the groundwork for further contact and future negotiations, but little real progress was made.

    In 1988 Mandela was moved to Victor Verster Prison and would remain there until his release. Various restrictions were lifted and people such as Harry Schwarz were able to visit him. Schwarz, a lifelong friend of Mandela, had known him since university when they were in the same law class. He was also a defence barrister at the Rivonia Trial and would become Mandela's ambassador to Washington during his presidency.

    Throughout Mandela's imprisonment, local and international pressure mounted on the South African government to release him, under the resounding slogan Free Nelson Mandela! In 1989, South Africa reached a crossroads when Botha suffered a stroke and was replaced as president by Frederik Willem de Klerk. De Klerk announced Mandela's release in February 1990. Mandela was visited several times by delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross, while at Robben Island and later at Pollsmoor prison. Mandela had this to say about the visits: "to me personally, and those who shared the experience of being political prisoners, the Red Cross was a beacon of humanity within the dark inhumane world of political imprisonment."

    On 2 February 1990, State President F. W. de Klerk reversed the ban on the ANC and other anti-apartheid organisations, and announced that Mandela would shortly be released from prison. Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison in Paarl on 11 February 1990. The event was broadcast live all over the world.

    On the day of his release, Mandela made a speech to the nation. He declared his commitment to peace and reconciliation with the country's white minority, but made it clear that the ANC's armed struggle was not yet over when he said "our resort to the armed struggle in 1960 with the formation of the military wing of the ANC (Umkhonto we Sizwe) was a purely defensive action against the violence of apartheid. The factors which necessitated the armed struggle still exist today. We have no option but to continue. We express the hope that a climate conducive to a negotiated settlement would be created soon, so that there may no longer be the need for the armed struggle." He also said his main focus was to bring peace to the black majority and give them the right to vote in both national and local elections.

    Following his release from prison, Mandela returned to the leadership of the ANC and, between 1990 and 1994, led the party in the multi-party negotiations that led to the country's first multi-racial elections. In 1991, the ANC held its first national conference in South Africa after its unbanning, electing Mandela as President of the organisation. His old friend and colleague Oliver Tambo, who had led the organisation in exile during Mandela's imprisonment, became National Chairperson.

    Mandela's leadership through the negotiations, as well as his relationship with President F. W. de Klerk, was recognised when they were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. However, the relationship was sometimes strained, particularly so in a sharp exchange in 1991 when he furiously referred to De Klerk as the head of "an illegitimate, discredited, minority regime". The talks broke down following the Boipatong massacre in June 1992 when Mandela took the ANC out of the negotiations, accusing De Klerk's government of complicity in the killings. However, talks resumed following the Bisho massacre in September 1992, when the spectre of violent confrontation made it clear that negotiations were the only way forward.

    Following the assassination of ANC leader Chris Hani in April 1993, there were renewed fears that the country would erupt in violence. Mandela addressed the nation appealing for calm, in a speech regarded as 'presidential' even though he was not yet president of the country at that time. Mandela said "tonight I am reaching out to every single South African, black and white, from the very depths of my being. A white man, full of prejudice and hate, came to our country and committed a deed so foul that our whole nation now teeters on the brink of disaster. A white woman, of Afrikaner origin, risked her life so that we may know, and bring to justice, this assassin. The cold-blooded murder of Chris Hani has sent shock waves throughout the country and the world. ...Now is the time for all South Africans to stand together against those who, from any quarter, wish to destroy what Chris Hani gave his life for – the freedom of all of us". While some riots did follow the assassination, the negotiators were galvanised into action, and soon agreed that democratic elections should take place on 27 April 1994, just over a year after Hani's assassination.

    Mandela has been married three times, has fathered six children, has twenty grandchildren, and a growing number of great-grandchildren. He is grandfather to Chief Mandla Mandela. Mandela's first marriage was to Evelyn Ntoko Mase who, like Mandela, was also from what later became the Transkei area of South Africa, although they actually met in Johannesburg. The couple broke up in 1957 after 13 years, divorcing under the multiple strains of his constant absences, devotion to revolutionary agitation, and the fact she was a Jehovah's Witness, a religion which requires political neutrality. Evelyn Mase died in 2004. The couple had two sons, Madiba Thembekile (Thembi) (1946–1969) and Makgatho Mandela (1950–2005), and two daughters, both named Makaziwe Mandela (known as Maki; born 1947 and 1953). Their first daughter died aged nine months, and they named their second daughter in her honour. All their children were educated at the United World College of Waterford Kamhlaba. Thembi was killed in a car crash in 1969 at the age of 23, while Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island, and Mandela was not allowed to attend the funeral. Makgatho died of AIDS in 2005, aged 54.

    Mandela's second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, also came from the Transkei area, although they, too, met in Johannesburg, where she was the city's first black social worker. They had two daughters, Zenani (Zeni), born 4 February 1958, and Zindziswa (Zindzi) Mandela-Hlongwane, born 1960. Zindzi was only 18 months old when her father was sent to Robben island. Later, Winnie would be deeply torn by family discord which mirrored the country's political strife; while her husband was serving a life sentence on the Robben Island prison, her father became the agriculture minister in the Transkei. The marriage ended in separation (April 1992) and divorce (March 1996), fuelled by political estrangement.

    Mandela was still in prison when his daughter Zenani was married to Prince Thumbumuzi Dlamini in 1973, elder brother of King Mswati III of Swaziland. Although she had vivid memories of her father, from the age of four up until sixteen, South African authorities did not permit her to visit him. The Dlamini couple live and run a business in Boston. One of their sons, Prince Cedza Dlamini (born 1976), educated in the United States, has followed in his grandfather's footsteps as an international advocate for human rights and humanitarian aid. In July 2012, Zenani was appointed ambassador to Argentina, becoming the first of Mandela's three remaining children to enter public life. Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane made history worldwide when she read out Mandela's speech refusing his conditional pardon in 1985. She is a businesswoman in South Africa with three children, the eldest of whom is a son, Zondwa Gadaffi Mandela.

    Mandela was remarried, on his 80th birthday in 1998, to Graça Machel née Simbine, widow of Samora Machel, the former Mozambican president and ANC ally who was killed in an air crash 12 years earlier. The wedding followed months of international negotiations to set the unprecedented bride price to be remitted to Machel's clan. Said negotiations were conducted on Mandela's behalf by his traditional sovereign, King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo. The paramount chief's grandfather was the regent Jongintaba Dalindyebo, who had arranged a marriage for Mandela, which he eluded by fleeing to Johannesburg in 1940. Mandela still maintains a home at Qunu in the realm of his royal nephew (second cousin thrice-removed in Western reckoning), whose university expenses he defrayed and whose privy councillor he remains.

    Mandela became the oldest elected President of South Africa when he took office at the age of 75 in 1994. He decided not to stand for a second term and retired in 1999, to be succeeded by Thabo Mbeki.

    After his retirement as President, Mandela went on to become an advocate for a variety of social and human rights organisations. He has expressed his support for the international Make Poverty History movement of which the ONE Campaign is a part. The Nelson Mandela Invitational charity golf tournament, hosted by Gary Player, has raised over twenty million rand for children's charities since its inception in 2000. This annual special event has become South Africa's most successful charitable sports gathering and benefits both the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and Gary Player Foundation equally for various children's causes around the world.

    Mandela is a vocal supporter of SOS Children's Villages, the world's largest organisation dedicated to raising orphaned and abandoned children. Mandela appeared in a televised advertisement for the 2006 Winter Olympics, and was quoted for the International Olympic Committee's Celebrate Humanity campaign:
    For seventeen days, they are roommates. For seventeen days, they are soulmates. And for twenty-two seconds, they are competitors. Seventeen days as equals. Twenty-two seconds as adversaries. What a wonderful world that would be. That's the hope I see in the Olympic Games.

    In July 2001 Mandela was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer. He was treated with a seven-week course of radiation. In 2003 Mandela's death was incorrectly announced by CNN when his pre-written obituary (along with those of several other famous figures) was inadvertently published on CNN's web site due to a fault in password protection. In 2007 a fringe right-wing group distributed hoax email and SMS messages claiming that the authorities had covered up Mandela's death and that white South Africans would be massacred after his funeral. Mandela was on holiday in Mozambique at the time.

    In June 2004, at age 85, Mandela announced that he would be retiring from public life. His health had been declining, and he wanted to enjoy more time with his family. Mandela said that he did not intend to hide away totally from the public, but wanted to be in a position "of calling you to ask whether I would be welcome, rather than being called upon to do things and participate in events. My appeal therefore is: Don't call me, I will call you." Since 2003, he has appeared in public less often and has been less vocal on topical issues. He is white-haired and walks slowly with the support of a stick. There are reports that he may be suffering from age-related dementia.

    Mandela's 90th birthday was marked across the country on 18 July 2008, with the main celebrations held at his home town of Qunu. A concert in his honour was also held in Hyde Park, London. In a speech to mark his birthday, Mandela called for the rich people to help poor people across the world. Despite maintaining a low-profile during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Mandela made a rare public appearance during the closing ceremony, where he received a "rapturous reception."

    In January 2011, he was admitted to the private Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, for what were at the time described as "routine tests" by his foundation, leading to intense media speculation about the health condition of the increasingly frail Mandela. It later emerged that he had been suffering from a respiratory infection, which had responded well to treatment. He was discharged after two and a half days in hospital in a stable condition, and returned to his Houghton, Johannesburg home in an ambulance.

    Billy the Kid or William Henry McCarty, Jr. is believed to have been born on the eve of the Civil War in an Irish neighbourhood in New York City (at 70 Allen Street). If indeed his birthplace was New York, no records that prove that he ever lived there have ever been uncovered. While it's not known for sure who his biological father was, some researchers have theorized that his name was Patrick McCarty, Michael McCarty, William McCarty, or Edward McCarty. His mother's name was Catherine McCarty, although there have been continuing debates about whether McCarty was her maiden or married name. She is believed to have immigrated to New York during the time of the Great Famine.

    In 1868 Catherine McCarty had moved with her two young sons, Henry and Joseph, to Indianapolis, Indiana. There she met William Antrim, who was 12 years her junior. In 1873, after several years of moving around the country, the two were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and settled further south in Silver City. Antrim found work as a bartender and carpenter, but then became involved in prospecting and gambling as a way to make a living, and during that period spent very little time at home with his wife and stepsons. Young William McCarty did not often use the surname "Antrim." Married to a husband who was frequently absent, McCarty's mother reportedly washed clothes, baked pies, and took in boarders in order to provide for herself and her sons. Boarders and neighbours remembered her as a jolly Irish lady, full of life and mischief, but she was already in the final stages of tuberculosis when the family reached Silver City, where on September 16, 1874, Catherine McCarty died.

    At age 14 McCarty was taken in by a neighbouring family who operated a hotel where he worked to pay for his keep. The manager was impressed by the youth, contending that he was the only young man who ever worked for him who did not steal anything. One of McCarty's schoolteachers later recalled that the young orphan was no more of a problem than any other boy, always quite willing to help with chores around the schoolhouse. Biographers sought to explain McCarty's subsequent descent into lawlessness by focusing on his habit of reading dime novels that romanticized crime. Another potential explanation was that his slender physique placed him in precarious situations with bigger and stronger boys.

    Forced to seek new lodgings when his foster family began to experience domestic problems, McCarty moved into a boarding house and pursued odd jobs. In April 1875, McCarty was arrested by Grant County Sheriff Harvey Whitehill for stealing cheese. On September 24, 1875, McCarty was arrested again when found in possession of clothing and firearms that a fellow boarder had stolen from a Chinese laundry owner. Two days after McCarty was placed in jail, the teenager escaped up the jailhouse chimney. From that point on McCarty was more or less a fugitive. According to some accounts, he eventually found work as an itinerant ranch hand and shepherd in southeastern Arizona. In 1876 McCarty settled in the vicinity of the Fort Grant Army Post in Arizona, where he worked on ranches and tested his skills at local gaming houses. Sheriff Whitehill would later say that he liked the boy, and his acts of theft were more due to necessity than wantonness.

    During this time McCarty became acquainted with John R. Mackie, a Scottish-born ex-cavalry private with a criminal bent. The two men supposedly became involved in the risky, but profitable, enterprise of horse thievery. McCarty, who stole from local soldiers, became known by the name of "Kid Antrim". Biographer Robert M. Utley writes that the nickname arose because of McCarty's slight build and beardless countenance, his young years, and his appealing personality. In 1877 McCarty was involved in a conflict with the civilian blacksmith at Fort Grant, an Irish immigrant named Frank "Windy" Cahill, who took pleasure in bullying the young McCarty. On August 17, Cahill reportedly attacked McCarty after a verbal exchange and threw him to the ground. Reliable accounts say that McCarty retaliated by shooting Cahill, who died the next day. The coroner's inquest concluded that McCarty's shooting of Cahill was criminal and unjustifiable. Some of those who witnessed the incident later claimed that McCarty acted in self-defence. Years later, Louis Abraham, who had known McCarty in Silver City but was not a witness, denied that anyone was killed in the altercation.

    In fear of Cahill's friends, McCarty fled the Arizona Territory and entered into New Mexico Territory. He eventually arrived at the former army post of Apache Tejo, where he joined a band of cattle rustlers who raided the sprawling herds of cattle magnate John Chisum. During this period McCarty was spotted by a resident of Silver City, and the teenager's involvement with the notorious gang was mentioned in a local newspaper. McCarty rode for a time with the gang of rustlers known as the Jesse Evans Gang, but then turned up at Heiskell Jones's house in Pecos Valley, New Mexico.

    According to this account, Apaches stole McCarty's horse, forcing him to walk many miles to the nearest settlement, which happened to be Jones's home. When he arrived, the young man was supposedly near death, but Mrs. Jones nursed him back to health. The Jones family developed a strong attachment to McCarty and gave him one of their horses. At some point in 1877, McCarty began to refer to himself as "William H. Bonney".

    In 1877, McCarty (now widely known as William Bonney) moved to Lincoln County, New Mexico, and after a short stint of working in a cheese factory, owned by Doc Scurlock and Charlie Bowdre, he met Frank Coe, George Coe and Ab Saunders, and began working for them on their ranch. Later that year he, along with Brewer, Bowdre, Scurlock, the Coes and the Saunders, was hired as a cattle guard by John Tunstall, an English cattle rancher, banker and merchant, and his partner, Alexander McSween, a prominent lawyer.

    A conflict known today as the Lincoln County War had erupted between the established town merchants, Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan, and competing business interests headed by Tunstall and McSween. Before the arrival of Tunstall and McSween, Murphy and Dolan presided over a monopoly of Lincoln County's cattle and merchant trade; their far-reaching operation was known locally as "The House", after a large mansion in Lincoln that served as Murphy and Dolan's headquarters. There was also an ethnic element to the House's conflict with Tunstall; Murphy and Dolan, both Irish immigrants, were strongly opposed to an Englishman like Tunstall cutting into their business.

    Events turned bloody on February 18, 1878, when Tunstall was spotted while driving a herd of nine horses towards Lincoln and murdered by William Morton, Jesse Evans, Tom Hill, Frank Baker and Sheriff William J. Brady of Lincoln County — all members of a posse serving the House, sent to attack McSween's holdings. After murdering Tunstall, the gunmen shot down his prized bay horse. "As a wry and macabre joke on Tunstall's great affection for horses, the dead bay's head was then pillowed on his hat", writes Frederick Nolan, Tunstall's biographer. Although members of the House sought to frame Tunstall's death as a "justifiable homicide", evidence at the scene suggested that Tunstall attempted to avoid a confrontation before he was shot down. Tunstall's murder enraged McCarty and the other ranch hands.

    McSween, who abhorred violence, took steps to punish Tunstall's murderers through legal means; he obtained warrants for their arrests from the local justice of the peace, John B. Wilson. Tunstall's men formed their own group called the Regulators. After being deputized by Brewer, Tunstall's foreman, who had been appointed a special constable and given the warrant to arrest Tunstall's killers, proceeded to the Murphy-Dolan store. The wanted men, Bill Morton and Frank Baker, attempted to flee, but they were captured on March 6. Upon returning to Lincoln, the Regulators reported that Morton and Baker had been shot on March 9 near Agua Negra during an alleged escape attempt. During their journey to Lincoln, the Regulators killed one of their members, a man named McCloskey, whom they suspected of being a traitor.

    On the day that McCloskey, Morton, and Baker were slain, Governor Samuel Beach Axtell arrived in Lincoln County to investigate the ongoing violence. The governor, accompanied by James Dolan and associate John Riley, proved hostile to the faction now headed by McSween. The Regulators "went from lawmen to outlaws". Axtell refused to acknowledge the so-called "Santa Fe Ring", a group of corrupt politicians and business leaders led by U.S. Attorney Thomas Benton Catron. Catron cooperated closely with the House, which was perceived as part of the notorious "ring".

    The Regulators planned to settle a score with Sheriff William J. Brady, who had arrested McCarty and fellow deputy Fred Waite in the aftermath of Tunstall's murder. At the time Brady arrested them, the two men were trying to serve a warrant on him for his suspected role in looting Tunstall's store after the Englishman's death, as well as against his posse members for the murder of Tunstall. On April 1, the Regulators Jim French, Frank McNab, John Middleton, Fred Waite, Henry Brown and McCarty/Bonney ambushed Sheriff Brady and his deputy, George W. Hindman, killing them both in Lincoln's main street.

    McCarty was shot in the thigh while attempting to retrieve a rifle that Brady had seized from him during an earlier arrest. With this move, the Regulators disillusioned many former supporters, who came to view both sides as "equally nefarious and bloodthirsty". The connection between McSween and the Regulators was ambiguous, however. McCarty was loyal to the memory of Tunstall, though not necessarily to McSween. Jacobsen doubts whether McCarty and McSween were acquainted at the time of Brady's death. According to a contemporary newspaper account, the Regulators disclaimed "all connection or sympathy with McSween and his affairs" and expressed their sole desire was to track down Tunstall's murderers.

    On April 4, in what became known as the Gunfight of Blazer's Mills, the Regulators sought the arrest of Buckshot Roberts, a former buffalo hunter whom they suspected of involvement in the Tunstall murder. Roberts refused to be taken alive, although he suffered a severe bullet wound to the chest. During the gun battle, he shot and killed the Regulators' leader, Dick Brewer. Four other Regulators were wounded in the skirmish. The incident had the effect of further alienating the public, as many local residents "admired the way Roberts put up a gutsy fight against overwhelming odds."

    After Brewer's death, the Regulators elected Frank McNab as captain. For a short period, the Regulators benefited from the appointment of Sheriff John Copeland, who proved sympathetic to their cause. Copeland's authority was undermined by the House, which recruited members from among Brady's former deputies. On April 29, 1878, a posse including the Jesse Evans Gang and the Seven Rivers Warriors, under the direction of former Brady deputy George W. Peppin, engaged McNab, Ab Saunders and Frank Coe in a shootout at the Fritz Ranch. They killed McNab, severely wounded Saunders and captured Coe. Coe escaped custody a short time later.

    The next day the Regulators "iron clad" took up defensive positions in the town of Lincoln, where they traded shots with Dolan's men as well as U.S. cavalrymen. The only casualty was Dutch Charley Kruling, a House gunman wounded by a rifle slug fired by George Coe. By shooting at US government troops, the Regulators gained a new set of enemies. On May 15, the Regulators tracked down Seven Rivers Warriors gang member Manuel Segovia, the suspected murderer of Frank McNab, and killed him. Around the time of Segovia's death, the Regulator "iron clad" gained a new member, a young Texas "cowpoke" named Tom O'Folliard, who became McCarty's close friend and constant companion.

    The Regulators' position worsened when the governor, in a quasi-legal move, removed Copeland and appointed House ally George Peppin as sheriff. Under indictment for the Brady killing, McCarty and the other Regulators spent the next several months in hiding and were trapped, along with McSween, in McSween's home in Lincoln on July 15, by members of the House and some of Brady's men. On July 19, a column of U.S. cavalry soldiers entered the fray. Although the soldiers were ostensibly neutral, their actions favoured the Dolan faction. After a five-day siege, the posse set McSween's house on fire. McCarty and the other Regulators fled. The posse shot McSween when he escaped the fire, essentially marking the end of the Lincoln County War.

    In the Autumn of 1878, the president appointed Lew Wallace, a former Union Army general, as Governor of the New Mexico Territory. In an effort to restore peace to Lincoln County, Wallace proclaimed an amnesty for any man involved in the Lincoln County War who was not already under indictment. McCarty, who had fled to Texas after his escape from McSween's house, was under indictment, but sent Wallace a letter requesting immunity in return for testifying in front of the Grand Jury. In March 1879, Wallace and McCarty met in Lincoln County to discuss the possibility of a deal. McCarty greeted the governor with a revolver in one hand and a Winchester rifle in the other. After taking several days to consider Wallace's offer, McCarty agreed to testify in return for amnesty.

    The arrangement called for McCarty to submit to a token arrest and a short stay in jail until the conclusion of his courtroom testimony. Although McCarty's testimony helped to indict John Dolan, the district attorney—one of the powerful "House" faction leaders—disregarded Wallace's order to set McCarty free after his testimony. After the Dolan trial, McCarty and O'Folliard escaped on horses supplied by friends.

    For the next year-and-a-half, McCarty survived by rustling, gambling, and taking defensive action. In January 1880, he reportedly killed a man named Joe Grant in a Fort Sumner saloon. Grant, who did not realize who his opponent was, boasted that he would kill "Billy the Kid" if he ever encountered him. In those days people loaded their revolvers with only five rounds, with the hammer down on an empty chamber. This was done to prevent an accidental discharge should the hammer be struck. The Kid asked Grant if he could see his ivory-handled revolver and, while looking at the weapon, rotated the cylinder so the hammer would fall on the empty chamber when the trigger was pulled. He told Grant his identity. When Grant fired, nothing happened, and McCarty shot him. When asked about the incident later, he remarked, "It was a game for two, and I got there first."

    Other versions of this story exist. One biographer, Joel Jacobsen, recounts the story as described in Utley, describing Grant as a "drunk" who was "making himself obnoxious in a bar". The Kid is described as rotating the cylinder "so an empty chamber was beneath the hammer". In Jacobsen's recounting of the incident, Grant tried to shoot McCarty in the back. "As [McCarty] was leaving the saloon, his back turned to Grant, he heard a distinct click. He spun around before Grant could reach a loaded chamber. Always a good marksman, he shot Grant in the chin."

    In November 1880, a posse pursued and trapped McCarty's gang inside a ranch house owned by his friend James Greathouse at Anton Chico in the White Oaks area. James Carlyle of the posse entered the house under a white flag, in an effort to negotiate the group's surrender. Greathouse was sent out to act as a hostage for the posse. At some point in the evening, Carlyle evidently decided the outlaws were stalling. According to one version, Carlyle heard a shot that had been fired accidentally outside. Concluding that the posse had shot down Greathouse, he chose escape, crashed through a window and was fired upon and killed. Recognizing their mistake, the posse became demoralized and scattered, enabling McCarty and his gang to slip away. McCarty vehemently denied shooting Carlyle, and later wrote to Governor Wallace, claiming to be innocent of this crime and others attributed to him.

    During this time, McCarty became acquainted with an ambitious local bartender and former buffalo hunter named Pat Garrett. While popular accounts often depict McCarty and Garrett as "bosom buddies", there is no evidence that they were friends. Running on a pledge to rid the area of rustlers, Garrett was elected as sheriff of Lincoln County in November 1880; in early December, he assembled a posse and set out to arrest McCarty, at that time known almost exclusively as "Billy the Kid." The Kid then carried a $500 bounty on his head that had been authorized by Governor Lew Wallace.

    The posse led by Garrett fared well, and his men closed in quickly. On December 19, McCarty barely escaped a midnight ambush in Fort Sumner, which left one member of the gang, Tom O'Folliard, dead. On December 23, the Kid was tracked to an abandoned stone building located in a remote location known as Stinking Springs (near present-day Taiban, New Mexico). While McCarty and his gang were asleep inside, Garrett's posse surrounded the building and waited for sunrise. The next morning, a cattle rustler named Charlie Bowdre stepped outside to feed his horse. Mistaken for McCarty, he was shot down by the posse. Soon afterward, somebody from within the building reached for the horse's halter rope, but Garrett shot and killed the horse, whose body blocked the building's only exit. As the lawmen began to cook breakfast over an open fire, Garrett and McCarty engaged in a friendly exchange, with Garrett inviting McCarty outside to eat, and McCarty inviting Garrett to "go to hell." Realizing that they had no hope of escape, the besieged and hungry outlaws finally surrendered and were allowed to join in the meal.

    McCarty was transported from Fort Sumner to Las Vegas, where he gave an interview to a reporter from the Las Vegas Gazette. Next, the prisoner was transferred to Santa Fe, where he sent four separate letters over the next three months to Governor Wallace seeking clemency. Wallace, however, refused to intervene, and the Kid's trial was held in April 1881 in Mesilla. On April 9, after two days of testimony, McCarty was found guilty of the murder of Sheriff Brady, the only conviction ever secured against any of the combatants in the Lincoln County War. On April 13, he was sentenced by Judge Warren Bristol to hang.

    With his execution scheduled for May 13, McCarty was removed to Lincoln, where he was held under guard by two of Garrett's deputies, James Bell and Robert Ollinger, on the top floor of the town courthouse. On April 28, while Garrett was out of town, McCarty stunned the territory by killing both of his guards and escaping. The details of the escape are unclear. Some researchers believe that a sympathizer placed a pistol in a nearby privy that McCarty was permitted to use, under escort, each day. McCarty retrieved the gun, and turned it on Bell when the pair had reached the top of a flight of stairs in the courthouse. Another theory holds that McCarty slipped off his manacles at the top of the stairs, struck Bell over the head with them, grabbed Bell's own gun, and shot him with it.

    Bell staggered into the street and collapsed, mortally wounded. McCarty scooped up Ollinger's 10-gauge double-barrel shotgun. Both barrels had been fully loaded with buckshot earlier by Ollinger himself. The Kid waited at the upstairs window for his second guard, who had been across the street with some other prisoners, to respond to the gunshot and come to Bell's aid. As Ollinger came running into view, McCarty levelled the shotgun at him, called out "Hello Bob!" and killed him. The Kid's escape was delayed for an hour while he worked free of his leg irons with a pickaxe and then the young outlaw mounted a horse and rode out of town, reportedly singing. The horse returned two days later.

    Sheriff Pat Garrett responded to rumours that McCarty was lurking in the vicinity of Fort Sumner almost three months after his escape. Garrett and two deputies set out on July 14, 1881, to question one of the town's residents, a friend of McCarty's named Pete Maxwell (son of the land baron Lucien Maxwell). Close to midnight, as Garrett and Maxwell sat talking in Maxwell's darkened bedroom, McCarty unexpectedly entered the room.

    There are at least two versions of what happened next. One version suggests that as the Kid entered, he failed to recognize Garrett in the poor light. McCarty drew his pistol and backed away, asking "¿Quién es? ¿Quién es?" (Spanish for "Who is it? Who is it?"). Recognizing McCarty's voice, Garrett drew his own pistol and fired twice, the first bullet striking McCarty in the chest just above his heart, although the second one missed and struck the mantle behind him; McCarty fell to the floor and gasped for a minute and died. In a second version, McCarty entered carrying a knife, evidently headed to a kitchen area. He noticed someone in the darkness, and uttered the words, "¿Quién es? ¿Quién es?" at which point he was shot and killed. Although the popularity of the first story persists, and portrays Garrett in a better light, some historians contend that the second version is probably the accurate one. A markedly different theory, in which Garrett and his posse set a trap for McCarty, has also been suggested. Most recently explored in the 2004 Discovery Channel documentary, Billy the Kid: Unmasked, this version says that Garrett went to the bedroom of Pedro Maxwell's sister, Paulita, and bound and gagged her in her bed. When McCarty arrived, Garrett was waiting behind Paulita's bed and shot the Kid.

    Garrett allowed the Kid’s friends to take his body across the plaza to the carpenter’s shop to give him a wake. The next morning, Justice of the Peace, Milnor Rudulph, viewed the body and made out the death certificate, but Garrett rejected the first one and demanded another one be written more in his favor. The Kid’s body was then prepared for burial, and at noon was buried at the Fort Sumner cemetery between his two friends, Tom O'Folliard and Charlie Bowdre.

    In his book, Billy the Kid: A Short and Violent Life, Robert Utley told the story of Pat Garrett's book effort. In the weeks following Garrett's execution of the Kid, he felt the need to tell his side of the story. Many people had begun to talk about the unfairness of the encounter, so Garrett called upon his friend, Marshall Ashmun (Ash) Upson, to ghostwrite a book with him. Upson was a roving journalist who had a gift for graphic prose. Their collaboration led to a book entitled The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid, which was first published in April 1882. The book originally sold few copies; however, it eventually proved to be an important reference for historians who would later write about the Kid's life.

    According to Garrett, McCarty was buried the day after he was killed in Fort Sumner's old military cemetery, between his fallen companions Tom O'Folliard and Charlie Bowdre. After Billy's burial, someone took a plain board, stencilled letters on it, and jammed it into the soft earth at the head of his grave to mark it. This marker remained until at least until the early part of 1882 before it was stolen or shot to pieces.

    Pete Maxwell then placed the next marker and used a four-foot-long, wooden slat removed from the parade-ground picket fence near his home. A one-foot length was cut off and hammered onto the longer piece to form a cross, and the words "Billy The Kid (Bonney) July 14, 1881" were placed on the horizontal crosspiece. After Maxwell sold the old fort to the New England Livestock Company, one of the Board of Directors (a fellow named Chauncey from Boston), that visited Fort Sumner in the late 1880s took the marker claiming he was taking it back east to a museum. It was never recovered.

    In 1889 and 1904 the Pecos River floods over took the cemetery and all the markers were washed away. The latter flood inundated the cemetery under four feet of muddy water until the cemetery had no grave markers left of any kind. For over two decades Billy's grave remained unmarked. The exact location of Billy's grave in the small one-acre cemetery is unknown, however relying on old timers who had once lived nearby to pick the walls, corner, and cemetery entrance, they were able to approximate Billy's grave location.

    In 1932, Charles W. Foor, the unofficial tour guide of the cemetery, spearheaded the drive to raise funds for a marker. Although the edges are damaged, this large white marker has never been stolen. It serves as a memorial monument noting three individuals buried in the cemetery, Tom O'Folliard, Charlie Bowdre, and William H. Bonney.

    Eight years later, Warner Bros. used a Billy The Kid grave marker as a prop in the movie The Outlaw. James N. Warner of Salida, Colorado, donated this marker to the cemetery when it was no longer required for the movie. This individual grave marker was placed as a footstone with a pointed top. This is the marker which has been stolen and recovered twice. The first time the tombstone was stolen, it was not found for over 25 years. It was stolen in August, 1950, but not until May 1976 was it found in a field on a ranch near Granbury, Texas. Local resident Joe Bowlin brought it back, and it was ceremoniously reinstalled that June.

    It was stolen again in February 8, 1981, but recovered days later in Huntington Beach, California. New Mexico Governor Bruce King arranged for Sheriff of the county seat to fly to California to take possession of the marker and return it to Fort Sumner, it was reinstalled in May, 1981. A short time later, the village, which currently owned the cemetery, erected the steel cage to protect the gravesites, preserve the chipped-away white headstone and placed Billy's individual footstone in shackles, to discourage further vandalism and theft.

    Notable birthdays this week:-
    14th July – James Abbott McNeill Whistler, American painter. Emmeline Pankhurst, English suffragette. Gustav Klimt, Austrian painter and graphic artist. William Hanna, American animator. Woody Guthrie, American folk musician. Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States. Harry Dean Stanton, American actor. Navin Ramgoolam, Mauritius politician, 3rd and 6th Prime Minister of Mauritius. Joel Silver, American film producer. Matthew Fox, American actor. Howard Webb, English football referee. David Mitchell, English comedian and actor.

    15th July - Inigo Jones, English architect. Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, Dutch painter. Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov, Russian publisher and politician. Rudolf Uhlenhaut, England-born German automotive engineer and test driver (Mercedes Benz). Edward Shackleton, English explorer. Leopoldo Galtieri, Argentine dictator. Linda Ronstadt, American singer. Trevor Horn, British music producer. Ian Curtis, British singer and songwriter (Joy Division). Forest Whitaker, American actor.

    16th July - Joseph Wilton, English sculptor. Samuel Huntington, American statesman, signer of the Declaration of Independence, 3rd Governor of Connecticut and 7th President of the Continental Congress. Roald Amundsen, Norwegian polar explorer. Barbara Stanwyck, American actress. Ginger Rogers, American actress and dancer. Choi Kyu-hah, South Korean politician, 4th President of South Korea. Desmond Dekker, Jamaican ska and reggae singer-songwriter. Margaret Court, Australian tennis player. Stewart Copeland, American drummer (The Police). Michael Flatley, American dancer. Miguel Indurain, Spanish cyclist. Will Ferrell, American comedian. Larry Sanger, American co-founder of Wikipedia and founder of Citizendium. Corey Feldman, American actor. Bryan Budd, British soldier, Victoria Cross recipient.

    17th July - John Jacob Astor, American businessman. James Cagney, American actor. Kenneth Wolstenholme, English sports commentator. Gordon Gould, inventor of the laser. Louis Lachenal, French alpinist, one of the first two mountaineers to climb a summit of more than 8,000 metres. Donald Sutherland, Canadian actor. Spencer Davis, British singer and guitarist (Spencer Davis Group). Tim Brooke-Taylor, English comedian. David Hasselhoff, American actor and musician. Jeremy Hardy, British comedian. Alex Winter, English actor & film director. Gino D'Acampo, Italian celebrity chef. Tom Fletcher, British singer (McFly).

    18th July - William Makepeace Thackeray, English author. W. G. Grace, English cricketer. Margaret Brown, American activist, philanthropist, and RMS Titanic passenger. Frank Forde, 15th Prime Minister of Australia. Mohammed Daoud Khan, President of Afghanistan. Nelson Mandela, South African politician, President (1994-1999); Nobel Peace Prize laureate. James Brolin, American actor. Martha Reeves, American singer. Sir Richard Branson, British entrepreneur. Sir Nick Faldo, English golfer. Vin Diesel, American actor.

    19th July - Samuel Colt, American firearms inventor. Edgar Degas, French painter. Ilie Năstase, Romanian tennis player. Brian May, English guitarist (Queen). Evelyn Glennie, Scottish percussionist. Vitali Klitschko, Ukrainian boxer. Benedict Cumberbatch, British actor.

    20th July - King George II of Greece. George Llewelyn-Davies, English Peter Pan character model. Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer and explorer. Dame Diana Rigg, English actress. Natalie Wood, American actress. Wendy Richard, English actress. John Lodge, English musician (The Moody Blues). Carlos Santana, Mexican-born American guitarist. Courtney Taylor-Taylor, American musician (The Dandy Warhols).

    Notable deaths this week in history are:-
    14th July – 1881 – Billy the Kid, American outlaw. 1904 – Paul Kruger, South African Boer resistance leader, 5th President of the South African Republic. 1966 – Julie Manet, French painter. 1968 – Ilias Tsirimokos, Greek politician, 164th Prime Minister of Greece. 1998 – Richard McDonald, American fast food pioneer. 2002 – Joaquín Balaguer, Dominican politician, 41st, 45th and 49th President of the Dominican Republic.

    15th July - 1789 – Jacques Duphly, French composer. 1828 – Jean Antoine Houdon, French sculptor. 1830 – King George IV of the United Kingdom. 1904 – Anton Chekhov, Russian writer. 1940 – Robert Wadlow, American; at 8 ft. 11.1 in, the tallest person ever known. 1948 – John J. Pershing, U.S. general. 1990 – Margaret Lockwood, British actress. 1997 – Gianni Versace, Italian fashion designer. 2011 – Googie Withers, British actress.

    16th July - 1557 – Anne of Cleves, German-born fourth wife of King Henry VIII of England. 1594 – Thomas Kyd, English playwright. 1976 – Carmelo Soria, Spanish diplomat (assassinated). 1981 – Harry Chapin, American singer-songwriter. 1999 – John F. Kennedy, Jr., American publisher.

    17th July - 1790 – Adam Smith, Scottish economist and philosopher. 1794 – John Roebuck, British inventor. 1845 – Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 1918 – Family of Emperor Nicholas II Alexandrovich. (Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna. Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaevna. Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna. Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna. Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich). 1935 – George William Russell, Irish nationalist, poet and artist. 1959 – Billie Holiday, American singer. 1967 – John Coltrane, American musician. 1995 – Juan Manuel Fangio, Argentinian race car driver. 2003 – David Kelly, Welsh UN weapons inspector. 2004 – Pat Roach, British professional wrestler and actor. 2005 – Edward Heath, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 2006 – Mickey Spillane, American author. 2009 – Walter Cronkite, American broadcast journalist.

    18th July - 1610 – Caravaggio, Italian artist. 1817 – Jane Austen, English novelist. 1892 – Thomas Cook, English travel agent. 1973 – Jack Hawkins, English film actor. 1990 – Yoon Boseon, President of South Korea.

    19th July - 1692 – Sarah Good & Susannah Martin, American Salem witch trials figures. 1965 – Syngman Rhee, first President of South Korea. 2004 – Zenko Suzuki, Prime Minister of Japan.

    20th July - 1704 – Peregrine White, first English child born to the Pilgrims in the New World. 1923 – Francisco "Pancho" Villa, Mexican rebel. 1937 – Guglielmo Marconi, Italian inventor, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics. 1953 – Dumarsaid Estime, President of Haiti. 1973 – Bruce Lee, American actor and martial artist.

    “For seventeen days, they are roommates. For seventeen days, they are soulmates. And for twenty-two seconds, they are competitors. Seventeen days as equals. Twenty-two seconds as adversaries. What a wonderful world that would be. That's the hope I see in the Olympic Games.” - Nelson Mandela

    Hope you find this blog interesting to read. If you have any comments or constructive feedback, please leave a comment by using the comment buttons provided.

    Hope you enjoy!!..... ChefGarfy =D
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  • Anna and The Two Kings... Info

    Hi everyone and welcome to the blog. This week’s blog is dedicated to two famous “kings” who birthdays are remembered this week, the “King of Siam” Yul Brynner and the King of “china” Josiah Wedgwood.

    Yul Brynner was born Yuliy Borisovich Bryner in 1920. He exaggerated his background and early life for the press, claiming that he was born Taidje Khan of part-Mongol parentage, on the Russian island of Sakhalin. In reality, he was born at home in a four-storey residence at 15 Aleutskaya Street, Vladivostok, in the Far Eastern Republic (present-day Primorsky Krai, Russia). He also occasionally referred to himself as Julius Briner, Jules Bryner, or Youl Bryner. A biography written by his son, Rock Brynner, in 1989 clarified these issues.

    His father, Boris Yuliyevich Bryner, was a mining engineer whose father, Jules Bryner, was Swiss, and whose mother, Natalya Iosifovna Kurkutova, was a native of Irkutsk and was partly of Buryat ancestry. His mother, Marousia Dimitrievna (née Blagovidova), came from the intelligentsia and studied to be an actress and singer. He was also part Romani on his mother's side, and in 1977, he was named Honorary President of the International Romani Union, an office that he kept until his death.

    After Boris Bryner abandoned his family, his mother took Yul and his sister, Vera Bryner, to Harbin, China, where they attended a school run by the YMCA. In 1934 she took them to Paris. By 1940, Brynner had returned to China and he emigrated from Dairen aboard the S.S. President Cleveland, arriving in the U.S. October 25, 1940. During World War II, Brynner worked as a French-speaking radio announcer and commentator for the U.S. Office of War Information, broadcasting propaganda to occupied France.

    Yul Brynner began acting and modeling in his twenties and early in his career he was photographed nude by George Platt Lynes. After his radio work during World War II Brynner moved into the nascent television industry, directing and acting in live productions in New York. In 1949 Brynner made his film debut in Port of New York, his only film with his natural head of hair.

    His best-known role remains that of King Mongkut of Siam in the Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical The King and I which he played 4,525 times on stage over the span of his career. He appeared in the original production and later touring productions as well as a 1977 Broadway revival, London Production in 1979 and another Broadway revival in 1985. He also appeared in the film version for which he won an Academy Award as Best Actor and in a short-lived TV version (Anna and the King) on CBS in 1972. Brynner is one of only nine people who have won both a Tony Award and an Academy Award for the same role. His connection to the story and the role of King Mongkut is so deep he was mentioned in the song "One Night in Bangkok" from the 1984 musical Chess whose second act is set in Bangkok.

    In 1951 Brynner shaved his head for his role in The King and I. Following the huge success of the Broadway production and subsequent film, Brynner continued to shave his head for the rest of his life though he would sometimes wear a wig for certain roles. Brynner's shaved head was very unusual at the time and his striking appearance helped to give him an iconic appeal. Some fans shaved off their hair to emulate him, and a shaved head was often referred to as the "Yul Brynner look".

    Brynner made an immediate impact upon launching his mainstream film career in 1956 and quickly gained superstar status after appearing not only in The King and I that year but also in starring roles in The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston which remains one of the top five highest grossing films in history when adjusted for inflation and Anastasia with Ingrid Bergman. Brynner, at 5'10", was reportedly concerned about being overshadowed by Heston's height and physical presence in The Ten Commandments and prepared his impressive physique seen in the film with an intensive weight-lifting program.

    He later starred in films such as the epic Solomon and Sheba (1959), The Magnificent Seven (1960), Taras Bulba (1962) and Kings of the Sun (1963). He co-starred with Marlon Brando in Morituri (1965), Katharine Hepburn in The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) and William Shatner in a film version of The Brothers Karamazov (1958). He played the titular role of The Ultimate Warrior (1975) and starred with Barbara Bouchet in Death Rage (1976). Among his final feature film appearances were in Michael Crichton's Westworld (1973) and its sequel Futureworld (1976). Brynner also appeared in drag (as a torch singer) in an unbilled role in the Peter Sellers comedy The Magic Christian (1969).

    In addition to his work as a performer, Brynner was an active photographer and wrote two books. His daughter Victoria put together Yul Brynner: Photographer a collection of his photographs of family, friends, and fellow actors, as well as those he took while serving as a UN special consultant on refugees. Brynner wrote Bring Forth the Children: A Journey to the Forgotten People of Europe and the Middle East (1960) with photographs by himself and Magnum photographer Inge Morath and also The Yul Brynner Cookbook: Food Fit for the King and You.

    A student of music from childhood, Brynner was an accomplished guitarist and singer. In his early period in Europe he often played and sang gypsy songs in Parisian nightclubs with Aliosha Dimitrievitch. He sang some of those same songs in the film The Brothers Karamazov. In 1967 he and Dimitrievitch released a record album The Gypsy and I: Yul Brynner Sings Gypsy Songs.

    Brynner was married four times, the first three ending in divorce. He fathered three children and adopted two. He and his first wife, actress Virginia Gilmore (1944–1960), had one child, Yul Brynner II, who was born on December 23, 1946. His father nicknamed him "Rock" when he was six in honor of boxer Rocky Graziano, who won the middleweight title in 1947. Rock is a historian, novelist, and university history lecturer at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York and Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut. In 2006, Rock wrote a book about his father and his family history titled Empire and Odyssey: The Brynners in Far East Russia and Beyond. Rock regularly returns to Vladivostok, the city of his father's birth, for the "Pacific Meridian" Film Festival.

    His daughter Lark Brynner (born 1959) was born out of wedlock and raised by her mother, Frankie Tilden, who was 20 years old when her daughter was born. Brynner supported her financially. His second wife, from 1960 to 1967, Doris Kleiner, was a Chilean model whom he married on the set during shooting of The Magnificent Seven in 1960. They had one child, Victoria Brynner (born November 1962), whose godmother was Audrey Hepburn.

    His third wife, Jacqueline Thion de la Chaume (1971–1981), was a French socialite, the widow of Philippe de Croisset (the victim of a car accident; he was the son of French playwright Francis de Croisset and a publishing executive). Brynner and Jacqueline adopted two Vietnamese children: Mia (1974), and Melody (1975). The first house that he ever owned was the Manoir de Cricqueboeuf, a sixteenth-century manor house that he and Jacqueline purchased.

    At the age of 63, he married his fourth wife, Kathy Lee, a 24-year-old ballerina from a small town in Malaysia whom he had met in a production of The King and I in which she had a small dancing role. They remained married for the last 2 years (1983–1985)of Brynner's life. According to Marlene Dietrich's daughter Maria Riva (as she wrote in her memoir Marlene Dietrich, 1994), he had a passionate affair with the famous actress during the first production of The King and I.

    Brynner, a Russian-born citizen, renounced his naturalized US citizenship in June 1965 at the US Embassy in Berne, Switzerland for tax reasons. He had lost his tax exemption as an American resident abroad by working too long in the U.S. and would have been bankrupted by his tax and penalty debt.

    Brynner died of lung cancer on October 10, 1985 in New York City, the same day as his Battle of Neretva co-star Orson Welles. Knowing he was dying of cancer, Brynner starred in a run of farewell performances of his most famous role, The King and I, on Broadway from January 7 to June 30, 1985, with Mary Beth Peil as Anna Leonowens. His last performance marked the 4,633rd time he had played the role of the King.

    Throughout his life Brynner was often seen with a cigarette in his hand. In January 1985, nine months before his death, he gave an interview on Good Morning America, expressing his desire to make an anti-smoking commercial. A clip from that interview was made into a public service announcement by the American Cancer Society and released after his death. It includes the warning "Now that I'm gone, I tell you don't smoke. Whatever you do, just don't smoke. If I could take back that smoking, we wouldn't be talking about any cancer. I'm convinced of that." This advertisement is now featured in the Body Worlds exhibition. His remains are interred in France on the grounds of the Saint-Michel-de-Bois-Aubry Russian Orthodox monastery near Luzé between Tours and Poitiers.

    Josiah Wedgwood was born in Burslem, Staffordshire, England, the twelfth and last child of Thomas and Margret Wedgwood, Josiah was raised within a family of English Dissenters. By the age of nine, he was proving himself to be a skilled potter. He survived a childhood bout of smallpox to serve as an apprentice potter under his eldest brother Thomas Wedgwood IV. Smallpox left Josiah with a permanently weakened knee, which made him unable to work the foot pedal of a potter's wheel. As a result, he concentrated from an early age on designing pottery and then making it etc.

    In his early twenties, Wedgwood began working with the most renowned English pottery-maker of his day, Thomas Whieldon, who eventually became his business partner in 1754. He began experimenting with a wide variety of techniques, an experimentation that coincided with the burgeoning of the nearby industrial city of Manchester. Inspired, Wedgwood leased the Ivy Works in the town of Burslem. Over the course of the next decade, his experimentation (and a considerable injection of capital from his marriage to a richly-endowed distant cousin) transformed the sleepy artisan works into the first true pottery factory.

    He married Sarah Wedgwood, his third cousin, in January 1764, and had seven children: Susannah Wedgwood (married Robert Darwin, parents of the English naturalist Charles Darwin), John Wedgwood, Josiah Wedgwood II (father of Emma Darwin, cousin and wife of the English naturalist Charles Darwin), Thomas Wedgwood, Catherine Wedgwood, Sarah Wedgwood (no children, very active in the slavery abolition movement) and Mary Anne Wedgwood.

    Josiah Wedgwood was keenly interested in the scientific advances of his day and it was this interest that underpinned his adoption of its approach and methods to revolutionize the quality of his pottery. His unique glazes began to distinguish his wares from anything else on the market. He was perhaps the most famous potter of all time.

    By 1763, he was receiving orders from the highest levels of the British nobility, including Queen Charlotte. Wedgwood convinced her to let him name the line of pottery she had purchased "Queen's Ware", and trumpeted the royal association in his paperwork and stationery. In 1773, Empress Catherine of Russia ordered the Green Frog Service from Wedgwood; it can still be seen in the Hermitage Museum. An even earlier commission from Catherine was the Husk Service (1770), now on exhibit in Petergof.

    As a leading industrialist, Wedgwood was a major backer of the Trent and Mersey Canal dug between the River Trent and River Mersey, during which time he became friends with Erasmus Darwin. Later that decade, his burgeoning business caused him to move from the smaller Ivy Works to the newly-built Etruria Works (evidence of which still exists), which would run for 180 years. The factory was so-named after the Etruria district of Italy, where black porcelain dating to Etruscan times was being excavated. Wedgwood found this porcelain inspiring, and his first major commercial success was its duplication with what he called "Black Basalt". He combined experiments in his art and in the technique of mass production with an interest in improved roads, canals, schools and living conditions. At Etruria, he even built a village for his workers.

    Not long after the new works opened, continuing trouble with his smallpox-afflicted knee made necessary the amputation of his right leg. In 1780, his long-time business partner Thomas Bentley died, and Wedgwood turned to Darwin for help in running the business. As a result of the close association that grew up between the Wedgwood and Darwin families, Josiah's eldest daughter would later marry Erasmus' son. One of the children of that marriage, Charles Darwin, would also marry a Wedgwood — Emma, Josiah's granddaughter. This double-barrelled inheritance of Wedgwood's money gave Charles Darwin the leisure time to formulate his theory of evolution.

    In the latter part of his life, Wedgwood's obsession was to duplicate the Portland Vase, a blue and white glass vase dating to the first century BC. For three years he worked on the project, eventually producing what he considered a satisfactory copy in 1789. He belonged to the fourth generation of a family of potters whose traditional occupation continued through another five generations. Wedgwood's company is still a famous name in pottery today (although in partial decline), and "Wedgwood China" is sometimes used as a term for his Jasperware, the coloured stoneware with applied relief decoration (usually white), still common throughout the world.

    Wedgwood was a prominent slavery abolitionist. His friendship with Thomas Clarkson – abolitionist campaigner and the first historian of the British abolition movement – aroused his interest in slavery. Wedgwood mass produced cameos depicting the seal for the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and had them widely distributed, which thereby became a popular and celebrated image. The Wedgwood medallion was the most famous image of a black person in all of 18th-century art. The actual design of the cameo was probably done by either William Hackwood or Henry Webber who were modellers in his Stoke-on-Trent factory. From 1787 until his death in 1795, Wedgwood actively participated in the abolition of slavery cause, and his Slave Medallion, which brought public attention to abolition. Wedgwood reproduced the design in a cameo with the black figure against a white background and donated hundreds of these to the society for distribution. Thomas Clarkson wrote; "ladies wore them in bracelets, and others had them fitted up in an ornamental manner as pins for their hair. At length the taste for wearing them became general, and thus fashion, which usually confines itself to worthless things, was seen for once in the honourable office of promoting the cause of justice, humanity and freedom". The design on the medallion became popular and was used elsewhere: large-scale copies were painted to hang on walls and it was used on clay tobacco pipes.

    After passing on his company to his sons, Wedgwood died at home, probably of cancer of the jaw, in 1795. He was buried three days later in the parish church of Stoke-on-Trent. Seven years later a marble memorial tablet commissioned by his sons was installed there.

    Notable birthdays this week:-
    7th July – Joseph Marie Jacquard, French inventor. Gustav Mahler, Austrian composer. Jon Pertwee, English actor. Pierre Cardin, French fashion designer. David Eddings, American fantasy novelist. Ringo Starr, English drummer and singer (The Beatles). Bill Oddie, English comedian and ornithologist. Tony Jacklin, English golfer. Jeremy Kyle, English television presenter. Kirsten Vangsness, American actress.

    8th July – John Stith Pemberton, American druggist and inventor of Coca-Cola. Ferdinand von Zeppelin, German inventor. John D. Rockefeller, American industrialist and philanthropist. Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, Danish industrialist (Lego Group). Marty Feldman, English comedian and actor. Anjelica Huston, American actress. Kevin Bacon, American actor. Andrew Fletcher, English vocalist and synth and bass player (Depeche Mode). Joan Osborne, American singer and songwriter. Robbie Keane, Irish footballer.

    9th July – Elias Howe, American inventor. Dame Barbara Cartland, English novelist. Edward Heath, British statesman. King Hassan II of Morocco. Richard Wilson, Scottish actor and director. Dean R. Koontz, American novelist. Bon Scott, Australian singer (AC/DC). O.J. Simpson, American football player and actor. Tom Hanks, American actor. Marc Almond, British singer. Kelly McGillis, American actress. Jim Kerr, Scottish singer (Simple Minds). Gianluca Vialli, Italian football player and coach. Scott Grimes, American voice actor (American Dad!). Scott Grimes, American voice actor (American Dad!).

    10th July – King James III of Scotland. Camille Pissarro, French painter. Adolphus Busch, German-born brewer. John Wyndham, British author. Harvey Ball, American inventor. Fred Gwynne, American actor. Alejandro de Tomaso, Argentine-Italian racing driver and car manufacturer. Arthur Ashe, American tennis player. John Motson, British sports (football) commentator. Virginia Wade, British tennis player. Neil Tennant, British musician (Pet Shop Boys). Jason Orange, UK pop singer and dancer (Take That). John Simm, British actor.

    11th July – John Quincy Adams, American politician, 8th United States Secretary of State & 6th President of the United States. Annie Armstrong, American missionary leader. Jim White, discoverer of Carlsbad Caverns. Sidney Franklin, American bullfighter. Reg Varney, English actor. Gough Whitlam, 21st Prime Minister of Australia. Venetia Burney, namer of the dwarf planet Pluto. Yul Brynner, Russian-born actor. Giorgio Armani, Italian fashion designer. Bonnie Pointer, American singer (Pointer Sisters). Leon Spinks, American former boxer. Richie Sambora, American musician (Bon Jovi). Craig Charles, English actor. Caroline Wozniacki, Danish tennis player.

    12th July – Josiah Wedgwood, English potter. Eugène Boudin, French painter. Hipólito Yrigoyen, Argentinian politician, 19th and 21st President of Argentina. George Eastman, American inventor. Oscar Hammerstein II, American lyricist. Milton Berle, American comedian. René Favaloro, Argentine cardiac surgeon who created the technique for coronary bypass surgery. Roger Smith, American automotive executive. Bill Cosby, American comedian and actor. Lionel Jospin, French politician, 165th Prime Minister of France. Christine McVie, British singer, musician, and songwriter (Fleetwood Mac). Gareth Edwards, Welsh rugby union player. Eric Carr, American drummer (Kiss). Cheryl Ladd, American actress.

    13th July – John Jacob Astor IV, American entrepreneur. Anker Jørgensen, Danish politician, 16th Prime Minister of Denmark. Patrick Stewart, English actor. Harrison Ford, American actor. Michael Spinks, American boxer.

    Notable deaths this week in history are:-
    7th July – 1307 – King Edward I of England. 1865 – Mary Surratt, American conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the first woman ever executed in the USA. Lewis Payne, David Herold, American conspirators & George Atzerodt, German-born conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. 1890 – Henri Nestlé, German confectioner and founder of Nestlé S.A.. 1930 – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Scottish writer. 1965 – Moshe Sharett, Ukraine-born 2nd Prime Minister of Israel. 1972 – King Talal of Jordan. 1973 – Veronica Lake, American actress.

    8th July – 1721 – Elihu Yale, American university benefactor. 1822 – Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet. 1855 – Sir William Edward Parry, English Arctic explorer. 1930 – Sir Joseph Ward, Prime Minister of New Zealand. 1961 – Konstantinos Logothetopoulos, Prime Minister of Greece. 1994 – Dick Sargent, American actor. 2005 – Luther Vandross, American singer-songwriter. 2011 – Betty Ford, First Lady of the United States.

    9th July – 1850 – Zachary Taylor, 12th President of the United States. 1932 – King C. Gillette, American inventor. 1977 – Alice Paul, American suffragist figure. 1985 – Jimmy Kinnon, Scottish-born American founder of Narcotics Anonymous.

    10th July – 1584 – William I of Orange. 1851 – Louis-Jacques Daguerre, French inventor and photographer. 1978 – John D Rockefeller III, American businessman. 1985 – Fernando Pereira, Portuguese-Dutch photographer and victim of the Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. 1989 – Mel Blanc, American voice actor.

    11th July – 1774 – Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet, Irish-born New York pioneer. 1806 – James Smith, American signer of the Declaration of Independence. 1937 – George Gershwin, American composer. 1989 – Lord Laurence Olivier, acclaimed English stage and screen actor. 2000 – Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury. 2007 – Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady of the United States. 2007 – Alfonso López Michelsen, 32nd Colombian President.

    12th July – 1892 – Alexander Cartwright, American fireman and inventor of baseball. 1910 – Charles Stewart Rolls, British engineer and aviator. 1973 – Lon Chaney, Jr., American actor. 1982 – Kenneth More, English actor.

    13th July – 1628 – Robert Shirley, English adventurer. 1705 – Titus Oates, English Protestant conspirator. 1954 – Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter. 1980 – Seretse Khama, Botswana statesman, the first President of Botswana. 1995 – Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, Danish toy manufacturer (Lego Group). 2004 – Arthur Kane, American bassist (New York Dolls).

    When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. Leonardo Da Vinci

    Hope you find this blog interesting to read. If you have any comments or constructive feedback, please leave a comment by using the comment buttons provided.

    Hope you enjoy!!..... ChefGarfy =D
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  • Flights of Fancy .. Info

    Hi everyone and welcome to the blog. This week’s blog is dedicated to two pioneers in the field of aviation whose birthdays are commemorated this week Louis Blériot and Amy Johnson.

    Louis Blériot was born Louis Charles Joseph Blériot, at No.17 rue de l'Arbre à Poires (now rue Sadi-Carnot) in Cambrai, the first of five children born to Clémance and Charles Blériot. At the age of 10, Blériot was sent as a boarder to the Institut Notre Dame in Cambrai, where he frequently won class prizes, including one for drawing. When he was 15 he moved on to the Lycée at Amiens, where he lived with an aunt. After passing the exams for his Bacclaureat in Science and German, he determined to try to enter the prestigious École Centrale Paris. Entrance was by a demanding exam for which special tuition was necessary, consequently, Blériot spent a year the Collège Sainte-Barbe in Paris. He passed the entrance exam, being placed 74th in the list of 243 successful candidates, and doing especially well in the tests of drawing ability. After three years of demanding study at the École Centrale, Blériot graduated. He then had to perform a term of compulsory military service, and spent a year as a sub-lieutenant in the 24th Artillery Regiment stationed in Tarbes in the Pyrenees. He was then employed at Baguès, an electrical engineering company in Paris. He left the company after developing the world's first practical headlamp for automobiles, using a compact integral acetylene generator. In 1897, Blériot opened a showroom at 41 rue de Richlieu in Paris. The business was successful, and soon he was supplying his lamps to both Renault and Panhard-Levassor, two of the foremost automobile manufacturers of the day. In October 1900, Blériot was eating lunch in his usual restaurant near his showroom when his eye was caught by a young woman lunching with her parents, being so struck that the same evening, he told his mother, "I saw a young woman today. I will marry her, or I will marry no one." A bribe to a waiter secured details of her identity; she was Alice Védères, the daughter of a retired army officer. Blériot set about courting her with the same determination that he would later bring to his aviation experiments, and on 21 February, the couple were married.

    Blériot had become interested in aviation while at the Ecole Centrale, but his serious experimentation was probably sparked by seeing Clément Ader's Avion III at the 1900 Exposition Universelle. By then his business was doing well enough for Blériot to be able to devote both time and money to experimentation. His first experiments were with a series of ornithopters, which were unsuccessful. In April 1905, Blériot met Gabriel Voisin, then employed by Ernest Archdeacon to assist with his experimental gliders. Blériot was a spectator at Voisin's first trials of the floatplane glider he had built on 8 June 1905. Cine photography was among Blériot's hobbies, and the film footage of this flight was shot by him. The success of these trials prompted him to commission a similar machine from Voisin, the Blériot II glider. On 18 July an attempt to fly this aircraft was made, ending in a crash in which Voisin nearly drowned, but this did not deter Blériot. Indeed, he suggested that Voisin should stop working for Archdeacon and enter into partnership with him. Voisin accepted the proposal, and the two men established the Ateliers d' Aviation Edouard Surcouf, Blériot et Voisin. Active between 1905 and 1906, the company built two unsuccessful powered aircraft, the Blériot III and the Blériot IV, largely a rebuild of its predecessor. Both these aircraft were powered with the lightweight Antoinette engines being developed by Léon Levavasseur. Blériot became a shareholder in the company, and in May 1906, joined the board of directors.

    The Blériot IV was damaged in a taxiing accident at Bagatelle on 12 November 1906. The disappointment of the failure of his aircraft was compounded by the success of Alberto Santos Dumont later that day, when he managed to fly his 14-bis a distance of 220 metres (720 ft), winning the Aéro Club de France prize for the first flight of over 100 metres. This also took place at Bagatelle, and was witnessed by Blériot. The partnership with Voisin was dissolved and Blériot established his own business, Recherches Aéronautiques Louis Blériot, where he started creating his own aircraft, experimenting with various configurations and eventually creating the world's first successful powered monoplane.

    The first of these, the canard configuration Blériot V, was first tried on 21 March 1907, when Blériot limited his experiments to ground runs, which resulted in damage to the undercarriage. Two further ground trials, also damaging the aircraft, were undertaken, followed by another attempt on 5 April. The flight was only of around 6 m (20 ft), after which he cut his engine and landed, slightly damaging the undercarriage. More trials followed, the last on 19 April when, travelling at a speed of around 50 kph (30 mph), the aircraft left the ground, Blériot over-responded when the nose began to rise, and the machine hit the ground nose–first, and somersaulted. The aircraft was largely destroyed, but Blériot was unhurt, with the engine of the aircraft immediately behind his seat, he was lucky not to have been crushed by it.

    Later that year, Blériot flew the more successful Blériot VII, a monoplane with tail surfaces arranged in what has become, apart from its use of differential elevator movement for lateral control, the modern conventional layout. This aircraft, which first flew on 16 November 1907, has been recognised as the first successful monoplane. On 6 December Blériot managed two flights of over 500 metres, including a successful U-turn. This was the most impressive achievement to date of any of the French pioneer aviators, causing Patrick Alexander to write to Major Baden Baden-Powell, president of the Royal Aeronautical Society, "I got back from Paris last night. I think Blériot with his new machine is leading the way". Two more successful flights were made on 18 December, but the undercarriage collapsed after the second flight; the aircraft overturned and was wrecked. Blériot's next aircraft, the Blériot VIII was shown to the Press in February 1908. This was a failure in its first form, but after modifications it proved successful, and on 31 October 1908 he succeeded in making a cross-country flight, making a round trip from Toury to Arteny and back, a total distance of 28 km (17 mi). This was not the first cross-country flight by a narrow margin, since Henri Farman had flown from Bouy to Rheims, the preceding day. Four days later. the aircraft was destroyed in a taxiing accident.

    Three different aircraft were displayed at the first Paris Aero Salon, held at the end of December: the Blériot IX monoplane, the Blériot X, a three-seat pusher biplane and the Blériot XI. The first two of the designs, which used Antoinette engines, never flew, possibly because at this time, Blériot severed his connection with the Antoinette company, because the company had began to design and construct aircraft as well as engines, presenting Blériot with a conflict of interests. The Type XI was initially powered by a REP engine and was first flown with this engine on 18 January 1909, but although the aircraft flew well, after a very short time in the air, the engine began to overheat, leading Blériot to get in contact with Alessandro Anzani, who had developed a successful motorcycle engine and had subsequently entered the aero-engine market. Importantly, Anzani was associated with Lucien Chauviere, who had designed a sophisticated laminated walnut propeller. The combination of a reliable engine and an efficient propeller would contribute greatly to the success of the Type XI.

    This was shortly followed by the Blériot XII, a high-wing two-seater monoplane first flown on 21 May, and for a while Blériot concentrated on flying this machine, flying it with a passenger on 2 July, and on 12 July making the world's first flight with two passengers, Bleriot and Santos Dumont. A few days later the crankshaft of the E.N.V. engine broke, and Blériot resumed trials of the Type XI. On 25 June he made a flight lasting 15 minutes and 30 seconds, his longest to date, and the following day increased this personal record to over 36 minutes. At the end of July he took part in an aviation meet at Douai, where he made a flight lasting over 47 minutes in the Type XII on 3 July: the following day he flew the Type XI for 50 minutes at another meet at Juvisy, and on 13 July, he made a cross-country flight of 41 km (25 mi) from Etampes to Orléans. Blériot's determination is shown by the fact that during the flight at Douai made on 2 July part of the asbestos insulation worked loose from the exhaust pipe after 15 minutes in the air. After half an hour, one of his shoes had been burnt through and he was in considerable pain, but nevertheless continued his flight until engine failure ended the flight. Blériot suffered third-degree burns, and his injuries took over two months to heal.

    On 16 June 1909, Blériot and Voisin were jointly awarded the Prix Osiris, awarded by the Institut de France every three years to the Frenchman who had made the greatest contribution to science. Three days later, on 19 July, he informed the Daily Mail of his intention to make an attempt to win the thousand-pound prize offered by the paper for a successful crossing of the English Channel in a heavier-than-air aircraft.
    The Daily Mail Prize was first announced in October 1908, with £500 being offered for a flight made before the end of the year. When 1908 passed with no serious attempt being made, the prize money was doubled to £1,000 and the offer extended to the end of 1909. Like some of the other prizes offered by the paper, it was widely seen as nothing more than a way to gain cheap publicity: the Paris newspaper Le Matin commenting that there was no chance of the prize being won. The English Channel had been crossed by an unmanned hydrogen balloon in 1784 and a manned crossing by Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries followed in 1785.

    Blériot had three rivals for the prize, the most serious being Hubert Latham, a French national of English extraction flying an Antoinette IV monoplane. He was favoured by both the UK and France to win. The others were Charles de Lambert, a Russian aristocrat with French ancestry, and one of Wilbur Wright's pupils, and Arthur Seymour, an Englishman who reputedly owned a Voisin biplane. De Lambert got as far as establishing a base at Wissant, near Calais, but Seymour did nothing beyond submitting his entry to the Daily Mail.

    Latham arrived in Calais in early July, and set up his base at Sangatte in the semi-derelict buildings which had been constructed for an early attempt to dig a tunnel under the Channel. The event was the subject of great public interest: it was reported that there were 10,000 visitors at Calais, and a similar crowd gathered at Dover, and the Marconi Company set up a special radio link for the occasion, with one station on Cap Blanc Nez at Sangatte and the other on the roof of the Lord Warden Hotel in Dover. The crowds were in for a wait: the weather was windy, and Latham did not make an attempt until 19 July, but 6 miles (9.7 km) from his destination his aircraft developed engine trouble and was forced to make the world's first landing of an aircraft on the sea. Latham was rescued by the French destroyer Harpon, and taken back to France, where he was met by the news telling him that Blériot had entered the competition. Blériot, accompanied by two mechanics and his friend Alfred Leblanc arrived in Calais on Wednesday 21 July and set up their base at a farm near the beach at Les Baraques, between Calais and Sangatte. The following day a replacement aircraft for Latham was delivered from the Antoinette factory. The wind was too strong for an attempted crossing on Friday and Saturday, but on Saturday evening it began to drop, raising hopes in both camps.

    Leblanc went to bed at around midnight but was too keyed up to sleep well; at two o'clock, he was up, and judging that the weather was ideal woke Blériot who, unusually, was pessimistic and had to be persuaded to eat breakfast. His spirits revived, however, and by half past three, his wife Alice had been put on board the destroyer Escopette, which was to escort the flight. At 4.15, watched by an excited crowd, Blériot made a short trial flight and then, on a signal that the sun had risen (the competition rules required a flight between sunrise and sunset), he took off at 4.41 for the attempted crossing. Flying at approximately 45 mph (72 km/h) and an altitude of about 250 ft (76 m), he set off across the Channel. Not having a compass, Blériot took his course from the Escopette, which was heading for Dover, but he soon overtook the ship. The visibility had deteriorated, he later said, “for more than 10 minutes I was alone, isolated, lost in the midst of the immense sea, and I did not see anything on the horizon or a single ship”. The grey line of the English coast, however, came into sight in his left; the wind had increased, and had blown him to the east of his intended course. Altering course, he followed the line of the coast about a mile offshore until he spotted Charles Fontaine, the correspondent from Le Matin waving a large Tricolour as a signal. Unlike Latham, Blériot had not visited Dover to find a suitable spot to land, and the choice had been made by Fontaine, who had selected a patch of gently sloping land called Northfall Meadow, close to Dover Castle, where there was a low point in the cliffs. Once over land, he circled twice to lose height, and cut his engine at an altitude of about 20 m (66 ft), making a heavy landing due to the gusty wind conditions; the undercarriage was damaged and one blade of the propeller was shattered, but Blériot was unhurt. The flight had taken 36 minutes and 30 seconds.

    News of his departure had been sent by radio to Dover, but it was generally expected that he would attempt to land on the beach to the west of the town. The Daily Mail correspondent, realising that Blériot had landed near the castle, set off at speed in a car, and brought Blériot back to the harbour, where he was reunited with his wife. The couple, surrounded by cheering people and photographers, was then taken to the Lord Warden Hotel at the foot of the Admiralty Pier. Blériot had become an instant celebrity.

    Blériot's success brought about an immediate transformation of the status of Recherches Aéronautiques Louis Blériot. By the time of the Channel flight, he had spent at least 780,000 francs on his aviation experiments. (To put this figure into context, one of Blériot's skilled mechanics was paid 250 francs a month.) Now this investment began to pay off: orders for copies of the Type XI quickly came, and by the end of the year, orders for over a 100 aircraft had been received, each selling for 10,000 francs.

    At the end of August, Blériot was one of the flyers at the Grande Semaine d'Aviation held at Reims, where he was narrowly beaten by Glenn Curtiss in the first Gordon Bennett Trophy. Blériot did, however, succeed in winning the prize for the fastest lap of the circuit, establishing a new world speed record for aircraft.

    Blériot followed his flights at Reims with appearances at other aviation meetings in Brescia, Budapest, Bucharest (making the first airplane flight in both Hungary and Romania. Up to this time he had had great good luck in walking away from accidents that had destroyed the aircraft, but his luck deserted him in December 1910 at an aviation meeting in Istanbul. Flying in gusty conditions to placate an impatient and restive crowd, he crashed on top of a house, breaking several ribs and suffering internal injuries: he was hospitalized for three weeks.

    Between 1909 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Blériot produced about 900 aircraft, most of them variations of the Type XI model. Blériot monoplanes and Voisin-type biplanes, with the latter's Farman derivatives dominated the pre-war aviation market. There were concerns about the safety of monoplanes in general, both in France and the UK. The French government grounded all monoplanes in the French Army from February 1912 after accidents to four Blériots, but lifted it after trials in May supported Blériot's analysis of the problem and led to a strengthening of the landing wires. The brief but influential ban on the use of monoplanes by the Military Wing (though not the Naval Wing) in the UK was triggered by accidents to other manufacturer's aircraft; Blériots were not involved.

    Along with five other European aircraft builders, from 1910, Blériot was involved in a five-year legal struggle with the Wright Brothers over the latter's wing warping patents. The Wrights' claim was dismissed in the French and the German courts. From 1913 or earlier, Blériot's aviation activities were handled by Blériot Aéronautique, based at Suresnes, which continued to design and produce aircraft up to the nationalisation of most of the French aircraft industry in 1937, when it was absorbed into SNCASO.

    In 1913, a consortium led by Blériot bought the Société pour les Appareils Deperdussin aircraft manufacturer and he became the president of the company in 1914. He renamed it the Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD); this company produced World War I fighter aircraft such as the SPAD S.XIII.

    Before World War I, Blériot had opened British flying schools at Brooklands, in Surrey and at Hendon Aerodrome. Realising that a British company would have more chance to sell his models to the British government, in 1915, he set up the Blériot Manufacturing Aircraft Company Ltd. The hoped for orders did not follow, as the Blériot design was seen as outdated. Following an unresolved conflict over control of the company, it was wound up on 24 July 1916. Even before the closure of this company Blériot was planning a new venture in the UK. Initially named Blériot and SPAD Ltd and based in Addlestone, it became the Air Navigation and Engineering Company (ANEC) in May 1918. ANEC survived in a difficult aviation climate until late 1926, producing Blériot Whippet cars as well as several light aircraft.

    In 1927, Blériot, long retired from flying, was present to welcome Charles Lindbergh when he landed at Le Bourget field completing his transatlantic flight. The two men, separated in age by 30 years, had each made history by crossing famous bodies of water. In 1934, Blériot visited Newark Airport in New Jersey and predicted commercial overseas flights by 1938. Blériot remained active in the aviation business until his death on 1 August 1936 in Paris of a heart attack. After a funeral with full military honours at Les Invalides he was buried in the Cimetière des Gonards in Versailles.

    Amy Johnson was born in Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, and was educated at Boulevard Municipal Secondary School (later Kingston High School), and the University of Sheffield, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics. She then worked in London as secretary to the solicitor, William Charles Crocker. She was introduced to flying as a hobby, gaining a pilot's "A" Licence, No. 1979 on 6 July 1929 at the London Aeroplane Club under the tutelage of Captain Valentine Baker. In that same year, she became the first British woman to obtain a ground engineer's "C" licence.

    Her father, always one of her strongest supporters, offered to help her buy an aircraft. With funds from her father and Lord Wakefield she purchased G-AAAH, a second-hand de Havilland Gipsy Moth she named "Jason", not after the voyager of Greek legend, but after her father's trade mark.
    Amy achieved worldwide recognition when, in 1930, she became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia. Flying her "Jason" Gipsy Moth, she left Croydon, south of London, on 5 May of that year and landed in Darwin, Northern Territory on 24 May after flying 11,000 miles (18,000 km). Her aircraft for this flight can still be seen in the Science Museum in London. She received the Harmon Trophy as well as a CBE in recognition of this achievement, and was also honoured with the No. 1 civil pilot's licence under Australia's 1921 Air Navigation Regulations.

    In July 1931, Johnson and her co-pilot Jack Humphreys, became the first pilots to fly from London to Moscow in one day, completing the 1,760 miles (2,830 km) journey in approximately 21 hours. From there, they continued across Siberia and on to Tokyo, setting a record time for flying from Britain to Japan. The flight was completed in a de Havilland Puss Moth.

    In 1932, Johnson married famous Scottish pilot Jim Mollison, who had, during a flight together, proposed to her only eight hours after they had met. In July 1932, Johnson set a solo record for the flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa in a Puss Moth, breaking her new husband's record. Her next flights were as a duo, flying with Mollison, she flew G-ACCV "Seafarer," a de Havilland Dragon Rapide nonstop from Pendine Sands, South Wales, to the United States in 1933. However, their aircraft ran out of fuel and crash-landed in Bridgeport, Connecticut; both were injured. After recuperating, the pair were feted by New York society and received a ticker tape parade down Wall Street.

    The Mollisons also flew in record time from Britain to India in 1934 in a de Havilland DH.88 Comet as part of the Britain to Australia MacRobertson Air Race. They were forced to retire from the race at Allahabad because of engine trouble. In May 1936, Johnson made her last record-breaking flight, regaining her Britain to South Africa record in G-ADZO, a Percival Gull Six.

    In 1940, during the Second World War, Johnson joined the newly formed ATA, whose job was to transport Royal Air Force aircraft around the country – and rose to First Officer. (Her ex-husband Jim Mollison (they divorced in 1938) also flew for the ATA throughout the war.)

    On 5 January 1941, while flying an Airspeed Oxford for the Air Transport Auxiliary from Blackpool to RAF Kidlington near Oxford, Johnson went off course in adverse weather conditions. Reportedly out of fuel, she drowned after bailing out into the Thames Estuary. Although she was seen alive in the water, a rescue attempt failed and her body was never recovered. The incident also led to the death of her would-be rescuer, Lt Cmdr Walter Fletcher of HMS Haslemere. A memorial service was held in the church of St. Martin in the Fields on 14 January 1941.

    There is still some mystery about the accident, as the exact reason for the flight is still a government secret and there is some evidence that besides Johnson and Fletcher a third person (possibly someone she was supposed to ferry somewhere) was also seen in the water and also drowned. Who the third party was is still unknown. Johnson was the first member of the Air Transport Auxiliary to die in service. Her death in an Oxford aircraft was ironic, as she had been one of the original subscribers to the share offer for Airspeed.

    However, in 1999 it was reported that Tom Mitchell, from Crowborough, Sussex, claimed to have shot the heroine down when she twice failed to give the correct identification code during the flight. He said: "The reason Amy was shot down was because she gave the wrong colour of the day [a signal to identify aircraft known by all British forces] over radio." Mr. Mitchell explained how the aircraft was sighted and contacted by radio. A request was made for the signal. She gave the wrong one twice. "Sixteen rounds of shells were fired and the plane dived into the Thames Estuary. We all thought it was an enemy plane until the next day when we read the papers and discovered it was Amy. The officers told us never to tell anyone what happened."

    Notable birthdays this week:-
    30th June – Horace Vernet, French painter and graphic artist. Thomas Lovell Beddoes, English poet. Georges Duhamel, French author. Lena Horne, American singer and actress. Robert Ballard, American oceanographer. Florence Ballard, American singer (The Supremes). Andy Scott, British guitarist and singer (Sweet). Serzh Sargsyan, President of Armenia. Mike Tyson, American boxer. James Martin, English celebrity chef. Ralf Schumacher, German Formula One driver. Cheryl Cole, British singer (Girls Aloud). Michael Phelps, American swimmer.

    1st July – George Sand, French writer. Louis Blériot, French aviator. Thomas A. Dorsey, American composer. Amy Johnson, English pilot. Estée Lauder, American entrepreneur. Olivia de Havilland, British-born actress. Sydney Pollack, American film director. Jeff Wayne, American pianist, keyboardist and composer. Debbie Harry, American singer (Blondie). John Farnham, English-born Australian singer. Dan Aykroyd, Canadian actor. Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Charles's ex wife. Pamela Anderson, Canadian model. Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dutch footballer.

    2nd July – Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. Charles Tupper, 6th Prime Minister of Canada. Alec Douglas-Home, 66th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. King Olav V of Norway. René Lacoste, French tennis player and businessman. Arthur Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington, Italy-born British peer. Murry Wilson, American songwriter and record producer (The Beach Boys). Imelda Marcos, Filipino First Lady, wife of Ferdinand Marcos. Carlos Menem, Argentine politician, 50th President of Argentina. Vicente Fox, Mexican politician, 35th President of Mexico. Gene McFadden, American songwriter. Jerry Hall, American actress. Peter Kay, British comedian.

    3rd July – Ken Russell, British director. Tom Stoppard, Czech-born, British playwright. Johnnie Wilder, Jr., American singer (Heatwave). Richard Hadlee, New Zealand cricketer. Montel Williams, American talk show host. Laura Branigan, American singer. Vince Clarke, British songwriter (Depeche Mode, Yazoo, and Erasure). Tom Cruise, American actor. Thomas Gibson, American actor. Kevin Hearn, Canadian musician (Barenaked Ladies). Shane Lynch, Boyzone singer.

    4th July – George Everest, Welsh surveyor. Thomas Barnardo, Irish humanitarian. Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States. Louis B. Mayer, American film producer. Gina Lollobrigida, Italian actress. Bill Withers, American singer and songwriter. René Arnoux, French race car driver. David Jensen, Canadian-born British radio DJ. Roland Ratzenberger, Austrian racing driver. Pam Shriver, American former tennis player. Henri Leconte, French former tennis player. Jo Whiley, English radio DJ.

    5th July – P.T. Barnum, American circus owner. Cecil Rhodes, British founder of Rhodesia. Jean Cocteau, French writer. Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., American diplomat. Georges Pompidou, French politician. Huey Lewis, American singer (Huey Lewis and the News). Gianfranco Zola, Italian football player and coach. Shane Filan, Irish singer (Westlife). Adam Young, American musician, main project (Owl City).

    6th July – Sir Stamford Raffles, British statesman. Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Maximilian I of Mexico, Mexican emperor. Frederica Sagor Maas, American playwright and supercentenarian. Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter. George Stanley, Canadian politician and designer of the flag of Canada. Nancy Reagan, First Lady of the United States. Bill Haley, American singer (Bill Haley & His Comets). Alan Freeman, Australian-born British DJ and radio personality. Janet Leigh, American actress. Jet Harris, English bassist (The Shadows). George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States. Sylvester Stallone, American actor. Geoffrey Rush, Australian actor.

    Notable deaths this week in history are:-
    30th June – 1785 – James Oglethorpe, English general and founder of the U.S. state of Georgia. 1882 – Charles J. Guiteau, American assassin of President James A. Garfield. 1934 – Gustav Ritter von Kahr, Prime Minister of Bavaria. 1953 – Charles William Miller, Brazilian sportsman, the "father of football in Brazil". 1966 – Giuseppe Farina, Italian Formula One driver, the winner of the first Formula One championship. 1971 – Viktor Patsayev Soviet astronaut. Georgi Dobrovolski Soviet astronaut . Vladislav Volkov Soviet astronaut. 1973 – Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky C.Ss.R, Ukrainian-born Canadian Greek-Catholic bishop and martyr.

    1st July – 1681 – Oliver Plunkett, Irish Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and saint. 1860 – Charles Goodyear, American inventor. 1894 – Allan Pinkerton, American private detective. 1896 – Harriet Beecher Stowe, American abolitionist and writer. 1965 – Wally Hammond, English cricketer. 1974 – Juan Perón, 29th and 41st President of Argentina. 1991 – Michael Landon, American actor. 1996 – Margaux Hemingway, American actress and model. 1997 – Robert Mitchum, American actor. Walter Matthau, American actor. 2004 – Marlon Brando, American actor. 2005 – Luther Vandross, American singer. 2006 – Fred Trueman, English cricketer. 2009 – Mollie Sugden, English actress.

    2nd July – 1566 – Nostradamus, French astrologer. 1743 – Spencer Compton, 1st Earl of Wilmington, 2nd Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 1850 – Robert Peel, British politician, 28th and 30th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. 1915 – Porfirio Díaz, Mexican general and politician, 19th, 21st and 23rd President of Mexico. 1961 – Ernest Hemingway, American writer, Nobel laureate. 1973 – Betty Grable, American actress. 1985 – David Purley, British Formula 1 driver. 1993 – Fred Gwynne, American actor. 2000 – Joey Dunlop, Irish motorcycle racer.

    3rd July – 1933 – Hipólito Yrigoyen, President of Argentina. 1935 – André Citroën, French automobile pioneer. 1965 – Trigger, Roy Rogers' horse. 1969 – Brian Jones, English musician (The Rolling Stones). 1971 – Jim Morrison, American singer (The Doors).

    4th July – 1826 – John Adams, 2nd President of the United States. 1826 – Thomas Jefferson 3rd President of the United States. 1831 – James Monroe, 5th President of the United States. 1918 – Tsar Nicholas II, last Emperor of Russia before the 1917 Russian Revolution. 1970 – Harold Stirling Vanderbilt, American industrialist. 1982 – Terry Higgins, British AIDS victim. 2003 – Barry White, American singer.

    5th July – 1819 – William Cornwallis, Royal Navy admiral. 1826 – Sir Stamford Raffles, British statesman. 1945 – John Curtin, 14th Prime Minister of Australia. 2004 – Hugh Shearer, Jamaican politician, the 3rd Prime Minister of Jamaica.

    6th July – 1189 – King Henry II of England. 1535 – Sir Thomas More, English philosopher. 1553 – King Edward VI of England. 1762 – Tsar Peter III of Russia. 1971 – Louis Armstrong, American jazz trumpeter. 1998 – Roy Rogers, American actor. 2004 – Thomas Klestil, Austrian politician, 10th President of Austria.

    When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. Leonardo Da Vinci

    Hope you find this blog interesting to read. If you have any comments or constructive feedback, please leave a comment by using the comment buttons provided.

    Hope you enjoy!!..... ChefGarfy =D
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  • Game, Set and Match... Info

    Hi everyone and welcome to the blog. This week?s blog is dedicated to the annual British spectacular better known as The Wimbledon Championships.

    The Wimbledon Championships, or simply Wimbledon (25 June ? 8 July in 2012), is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, considered by many to be the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London since 1877. It is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the other three Majors being the Australian Open, French Open and US Open. Wimbledon is the only Major still played on grass, the game's original surface, which gave the game of lawn tennis its name.

    The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is a private club founded in 1868, originally as 'The All England Croquet Club'. Its first ground was situated off Worple Road, Wimbledon. In 1876, lawn tennis, a game devised by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield a year or so earlier and originally called 'Sphairistike', was added to the activities of the club. In the spring of 1877, the club was re-titled 'The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club' and signalled its change of name by instituting the first Lawn Tennis Championship. A new code of laws (replacing the code until then administered by the Marylebone Cricket Club) was drawn up for the event. Today's rules are similar except for details such as the height of the net and posts and the distance of the service line from the net.

    The only event held in 1877 was the Gentlemen's Singles, which was won by Spencer Gore, an old Harrovian rackets player, from a field of 22. About 200 spectators paid one shilling each to watch the final. The lawns at the ground were arranged so that the principal court was located in the middle with the others arranged around it; hence the title 'Centre Court', which was retained when the Club moved in 1922 to the present site in Church Road, although not a true description of its location. However, in 1980 four new courts were brought into commission on the north side of the ground, which meant the Centre Court was once more correctly defined. The opening of the new No. 1 Court in 1997 emphasised the description.

    By 1882, activity at the club was almost exclusively confined to lawn tennis and that year the word 'croquet' was dropped from the title. However, for sentimental reasons, it was restored in 1899 and since then the title has remained The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. In 1884, the All England Club added Ladies' Singles and Gentlemen's Doubles. Ladies' Doubles and Mixed Doubles were added in 1913. Until 1922, the reigning champion had to play only in the final, against who ever had won through to challenge him/her. As with the other three Grand Slam events, Wimbledon was contested by top-ranked amateur players until the advent of the open era in tennis in 1968. No British man has won the singles event at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936 and no British woman has won the Ladies Singles since Virginia Wade in 1977, although Annabel Croft and Laura Robson won the Girls' Championship in 1984 and 2008, respectively. The Championship was first televised in 1937.

    Wimbledon is widely considered to be the premier tennis tournament in the world and the priority of The All England Lawn Tennis Club, which hosts The Championships, is to maintain its leadership. To that end a long-term plan was unveiled in 1993, intended to improve the quality of the event for spectators, players, officials and neighbours.
    Stage one (1994?1997) of the plan was completed for the 1997 championships and involved building in Aorangi Park the new No. 1 Court, a broadcast centre, two extra grass courts and a tunnel under the hill linking Church Road and Somerset Road.
    Stage two (1997?2009) involved the removal of the old No. 1 Court complex to make way for the new Millennium Building, providing extensive facilities for the players, press, officials and members, and the extension of the West Stand of the Centre Court with 728 extra seats.
    Stage three (2000?2011) has been completed with the construction of an entrance building, club staff housing, museum, bank and ticket office.

    A new retractable roof was built in time for the 2009 championships, marking the first time in the tournament's history that rain will not stop play for a lengthy time on Centre Court. The roof is designed to close/open in about 10 minutes and will be closed primarily to protect play from inclement (and, if necessary, extremely hot) weather during The Championships. The All England Club tested the new roof at an event called A Centre Court Celebration on Sunday, 17 May 2009, which featured exhibition matches involving Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Kim Clijsters and Tim Henman. The first Championship match to take place under the roof was the completion of the fourth round women's singles match between Dinara Safina and Amelie Mauresmo. The first match to be played in its entirety under the new roof was between Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka on 29 June 2009, which Murray won 2?6, 6?3, 6?3, 5?7, 6?3. The match in which Novak Djokovic defeated Olivier Rochus at Centre Court in the first round of the 2010 Championships recorded the latest ever finish at The Championships, concluding at 10.58pm. A new 4000-seat No. 2 Court was built on the site of the old No. 13 Court in time for the 2009 Championships. A new 2000-seat No. 3 Court was built on the site of the old No. 2 Court and the old No. 3 Court.

    Each year, Wimbledon is scheduled for 13 days, beginning on the Monday falling between the 20 and the 26 June and ending on a Sunday. The five main events span both weeks, but the youth and invitational events are held mainly during the second week. Traditionally, there is no play on the "Middle Sunday", which is considered a rest day. However, rain has forced play on the Middle Sunday three times in the Championship's history: in 1991, 1997, and 2004. On each of these occasions, Wimbledon has staged a "People's Sunday", with unreserved seating and readily available, inexpensive tickets, allowing those with more limited means to sit on the show courts. Additionally, if the tournament is not completed by the end of the second Sunday, all remaining matches are postponed until "People's Monday". The grounds open at 10.30am on each day of playing. On the Centre Court, play starts at 1pm, with exception of the final two days of the competition (Ladies' and Gentlemen's Finals). On both of these days, play on these courts begins at 2pm. On courts 2-19, play begins at noon for at least the first eight days of the competition. It then starts at 11am for the Junior matches on the middle Saturday and during the second week.

    A total of 128 players feature in each singles event, 64 pairs in each single-sex doubles event, and 48 pairs in Mixed Doubles. Players and doubles pairs are admitted to the main events on the basis of their international rankings, with consideration also given to their previous performances at grasscourt events. Since the 2001 tournament 32 male and female players are given seedings in the Gentlemen's and Ladies' singles while 16 teams are seeded in the doubles events.

    The Committee of Management and the Referee evaluate all applications for entry, and determine which players may be admitted to the tournament directly. The committee may admit a player without a high enough ranking as a wild card. Usually, wild cards are players who have performed well during previous tournaments, or would stimulate public interest in Wimbledon by participating. The only wild card to win the Gentlemen's Singles Championship was Goran Ivanisevic in 2001. Players and pairs who neither have high enough rankings nor receive wild cards may participate in a qualifying tournament held one week before Wimbledon at the Bank of England Sports Ground in Roehampton. The singles qualifying competitions are three-round events; the same-sex doubles competitions last for only one round. There is no qualifying tournament for Mixed Doubles. No qualifier has won either the Gentlemen's Singles or the Ladies' Singles tournaments. The furthest that any qualifier has progressed in the main draw of a Singles tournament is the semi-final round: John McEnroe in 1977 (Gentlemen's Singles), Vladimir Voltchkov in 2000 (Gentlemen's Singles), and Alexandra Stevenson in 1999 (Ladies' Singles).

    Players are admitted to the junior tournaments upon the recommendations of their national tennis associations, on their International Tennis Federation world rankings and, in the case of the singles events, on the basis of a qualifying competition. The Committee of Management determines which players may enter the four invitational events. They seed the top players and pairs on the basis of their rankings. However, the Committee can opt to change the seedings based on a player's previous grass court performance. A majority of the entrants are unseeded. Only two unseeded players have ever won the Gentlemen's Singles Championship: Boris Becker in 1985 and Goran Ivanisevic in 2001. In 1985 there were only 16 seeds and Becker was ranked 20th at the time; Ivanisevic, however, was ranked 125th when he won as a Wild Card entrant - although he had previously been a finalist three times, and been ranked no. 2 in the world: his low ranking was due to having been hampered by a persistent shoulder injury for three years, which had only just cleared up. Also, in 1996, the title was won by Richard Krajicek, who was originally unseeded (ranked 17th, and only 16 players were seeded) but was promoted to a seeded position (still with the number 17) when Thomas Muster withdrew before the tournament. No unseeded player has captured the Ladies' Singles title; the lowest seeded female champion was Venus Williams, who won in 2007 as the twenty-third seed (the only time anyone outside the top 16 has won), beating her own record from 2005, when she won as the fourteenth seed. In both cases, Williams was returning from an injury that had either hampered or prevented her playing in previous tournaments, giving her a lower ranking than she would normally have had. Unseeded pairs have won the doubles titles on numerous occasions.

    Since 2001 the courts used for Wimbledon are sown with 100% Perennial Ryegrass. Previous to 2001 a combination of 70% Ryegrass and 30% Creeping Red Fescue was used. The change was made to improve durability and strengthen the sward to better withstand the increasing wear of the modern game.

    The main show courts, Centre Court and No. 1 Court, are normally used only for two weeks a year, during the Championships, but play can extend into a third week in exceptional circumstances. The remaining seventeen courts are regularly used for other events hosted by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The show courts will, however, be pressed into action for the second time in three months in 2012 as Wimbledon will host the tennis events of the 2012 Olympic Games. One of the show courts is also used for home ties of the GB teams in the Davis Cup on occasions.

    Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam event played on grass courts. At one time, all the Majors, except the French Open, were played on grass. The US Open abandoned grass in 1975 and the Australian Open in 1988. The principal court, Centre Court, was opened in 1922 when the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club moved from Worple Road to Church Road. The Church Road venue was larger and was needed to meet the ever-growing public demand. The court has a capacity of 15,000. At its south end is the Royal Box, from which members of the Royal Family and other dignitaries watch matches. Centre Court usually hosts the finals and semifinals of the main events, as well as many matches in the earlier rounds involving top-seeded players or local favourites.

    The second most important court is No. 1 Court. The court was constructed in 1997 to replace the old No. 1 Court, which was adjacent to Centre Court. The old No. 1 Court was demolished because its capacity for spectators was too low. The court was said to have had a unique, more intimate atmosphere and was a favourite of many players. The new No. 1 Court has a capacity of approximately 11,000.

    From 2009, a new No. 2 Court is being used at Wimbledon with a capacity for 4,000 people. To obtain planning permission, the playing surface is around 3.5m below ground level, ensuring that the single-storey structure is only about 3.5m above ground level, and thus not affecting local views. Plans to build on the current site of Court 13 were dismissed due to the high capacity of games that will be played at the 2012 Olympic Games. The old No. 2 Court has been renamed as No. 3 Court. The old No. 2 Court was known as the "Graveyard of Champions" because many highly seeded players were eliminated there during early rounds over the years, including Ilie Nastase, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Martina Hingis, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams. The court has a capacity of 2,192 + 770 standing. In 2011 a new No. 3 Court and a new Court 4 have been unveiled on the sites of the old No. 2 and 3 courts.

    At the northern end of the grounds is a giant television screen on which important matches are broadcast. Fans watch from an area of grass officially known as the Aorangi Terrace. When British players do well at Wimbledon, the hill attracts fans for them, and is often renamed by the press for them: Greg Rusedski's followers convened at "Rusedski Ridge", and Tim Henman has had the hill nicknamed Henman Hill. As both of them have now retired and Andy Murray is the number 1 British player, the hill is occasionally referred to as "Murray Mound" or "Murrayfield", as a reference to his Scottish heritage and the Scottish ground of the same name, but this has largely failed to catch on - the area is still usually referred to as Henman Hill. None of these nicknames are official.

    Prior to 2009 female players were referred to by the title "Miss" or "Mrs" on scoreboards. As dictated by strict rule of etiquette, married female players are referred to by their husbands' names: for example, Chris Evert-Lloyd appeared on scoreboards as "Mrs. J. M. Lloyd" during her marriage to John Lloyd, since "Mrs. X" essentially designates the wife of X. This tradition has continued at least to some extent. For the first time during the 2009 tournament, players were referred to on scoreboards by both their first and last names. For example "Andy Murray", not "A. Murray".

    The title "Mr" is not used for male players who are professionals on scoreboards but the prefix is retained for amateurs, although chair umpires refer to players as "Mr" when they use the replay challenge. The chair umpire will say "Mr (surname) is challenging the call..." and "Mr (surname) has X challenges remaining." However, the umpires still say Miss (surname) when announcing the score of the Ladies' matches. If a match is being played with two competitors of the same surname (e.g. Venus and Serena Williams, Bob and Mike Bryan), the chair umpire will specify to whom they are referring by stating the player's first name and surname during announcements (e.g. "Game, Miss Serena Williams", "Advantage, Mike Bryan").

    For over 70 years, the BBC has broadcast the tournament on television in the UK, starting in 1937. The matches covered are split between its two main terrestrial channels, BBC One and BBC Two. The BBC holds the broadcast rights for Wimbledon until 2014 and it distributes its commercial-free feed to outlets worldwide. During the days of British Satellite Broadcasting, its sports channel carried extra coverage of Wimbledon for subscribers. One of the most notable British commentators was Dan Maskell, who was known as the BBC's "voice of tennis" until his retirement in 1991. Other regular commentators on UK television include British ex-players Greg Rusedski, Andrew Castle, Tim Henman and Annabel Croft; and guest veterans such as Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Tracy Austin. The coverage is presented by Sue Barker and highlights with John Inverdale. Previous BBC presenters include Des Lynam, David Vine and Harry Carpenter.

    The Wimbledon Finals are obliged to be shown live and in full on terrestrial television (BBC, ITV, Channel 4, or Channel 5) by government mandate. Highlights of the rest of the tournament must be provided by terrestrial stations; live coverage (excepting the finals) may be sought by satellite or cable TV. Americans have made a tradition of NBC's "Breakfast at Wimbledon" specials at weekends. During Breakfast at Wimbledon, strawberry with cream is the typical food that is served. Live coverage starts early in the morning (the US being a minimum of 5 hours behind the UK) and continues well into the afternoon, interspersed with commentary and interviews from Bud Collins, whose tennis acumen and infamous patterned trousers are well-known to tennis fans in the USA. Collins was sacked by NBC in 2007, but was promptly hired by ESPN, the cable home for The Championships in the States. For many years NBC's primary Wimbledon host was veteran broadcaster Dick Enberg. From 1975 to 1999, premium channel HBO carried weekday coverage of Wimbledon. Hosts included Jim Lampley, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, John Lloyd and Barry MacKay among others. Presently, weekday coverage in the United States is exclusively handled by ESPN2 during the tournament's first week. During the tournament's second week it is split between ESPN2 and NBC. ESPN's online service ESPN3 provides full coverage of courts not televised using BBC graphics and commentary. Effective the 2012 tournament, all live coverage, including the Finals, will be exclusively on ESPN and ESPN2, marking the second major tennis championship (after the Australian Open) available in the United States exclusively on pay television (although taped highlights from the tournament will be presented at weekend afternoons on sister network ABC).

    Wimbledon was also involved, unintentionally, in a piece of television history, on 1 July 1967. That was when the first official colour television broadcast took place in the UK. Four hours live coverage of Wimbledon was shown on BBC Two (then the only colour channel in the UK), and although footage of that historic match no longer survives, the Gentlemen's Final that year is still held in the BBC archives because it was the first Gentlemen's Final transmitted in colour. Since 2007, the most anticipated Wimbledon matches have been transmitted in High Definition, on the BBC's free-to-air channel BBC HD, with continual live coverage during the tournament of Centre Court and Court No. 1 as well as an evening highlights show Today at Wimbledon.

    In Ireland RTÉ broadcast the tournament during the 1980s and 1990s on their second channel RTÉ Two, they also provided highlights of the games in the evening. RTÉ made the decision in 1998 to discontinue broadcasting the tournament due to falling viewing figures and the large number of viewers watching on the BBC. Since 2005 TG4 Ireland's Irish-language broadcaster has provided coverage of the tournament. Live coverage is provided in the Irish language while they broadcast highlights in English at night.

    The BBC's opening theme music for Wimbledon was composed by Keith Mansfield and is titled "Light and Tuneful". A piece titled "A Sporting Occasion" is the traditional closing theme, though nowadays coverage typically ends either with a montage set to a popular song or with no music at all.

    In Australia, the free-to-air Nine Network covered Wimbledon for almost 40 years but decided to drop their broadcast following the 2010 tournament, citing declining ratings and desire to use money saved to bid on other sports coverage. In April 2011, it was announced that the Seven Network, the host broadcaster of the Australian Open, along with its sister channel 7Two would broadcast the event from 2011.

    The Gentlemen's Singles champion receives a silver gilt cup 18.5 inches (about 47 cm) in height and 7.5 inches (about 19 cm) in diameter. The trophy has been awarded since 1887 and bears the inscription: "All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Championship of the World." The Ladies' Singles champion receives a sterling silver salver commonly known as the "Venus Rosewater Dish", or simply the "Rosewater Dish". The salver, which is 18.75 inches (about 48 cm) in diameter, is decorated with figures from mythology. The winners of the Gentlemen's Doubles, Ladies' Doubles, and Mixed Doubles events receive silver cups. The runner-up in each event receives an inscribed silver plate. The trophies are usually presented by the President of the All England Club, The Duke of Kent.
    Prize money was first awarded in 1968, the first year that professional players were allowed to compete in the Championships. Prior to 2007, among grand slam tournaments, Wimbledon and the French Open awarded more prize money in men's events than in women's events. In 2007, Wimbledon changed this policy, giving the same money for both events. The decision has been controversial as women spend approximately half the amount of time on court as men during the tournament due to them playing only three sets, therefore earning considerably more per hour than their male counterparts.

    In 2009, a total of £12,500,000 in prize money was awarded with the singles champions receiving £850,000 each, an increase of 13.3 percent on 2008. For the 2010 Championships, the total prize money increased to £13,725,000, and the singles champions received £1,000,000 each. For the 2011 Wimbledon Championships it has been announced that the total prize money will be £14,600,000 an increase of 6.4% from 2010. Both male and female singles champions? prize money will also increase to £1,100,000, a rise of 10% on the previous year.

    Notable birthdays this week:-
    23rd June ? King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom. Len Hutton, English cricketer. June Carter Cash, American singer. Adam Faith, English singer and actor. Stuart Sutcliffe, English painter and bassist (The Beatles). Randy Jackson, American music producer. Colin Montgomerie, Scottish golfer. Zinedine Zidane, French footballer. KT Tunstall, Scottish singer and songwriter. Jason Mraz, American singer and songwriter.

    24th June ? Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna of Russia. Roy O. Disney, American businessman. Jack Dempsey, American boxer. Sir Fred Hoyle, English astronomer. Jeff Beck, English guitarist (The Yardbirds). Arthur Brown, English singer. Mick Fleetwood, English drummer (Fleetwood Mac). Curt Smith, English musician and songwriter (Tears for Fears).

    25th June ?Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, English statesman. George Orwell, British writer. Cyril Fletcher, British comedian. Eddie Floyd, American soul singer. Harold Melvin, American singer (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes). Carly Simon, American singer and songwriter. Alan Green, Northern Irish TV & BBC Radio sports commentator. Ricky Gervais, English comedian, actor and writer. Phill Jupitus, English comedian and broadcaster. George Michael, English singer and songwriter.

    26th June ? Georg Brandt, Swedish chemist and mineralogist. Branwell Bronte, British painter and poet. George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, English financier of Egyptian excavations. Willy Messerschmitt, German aircraft designer. Peter Lorre, Hungarian actor. Maurice Wilkes, British computer scientist. Laurie Lee, British writer. Chris Isaak, American singer.

    27th June ? Konrad Kujau, German illustrator and forger of the Hitler Diaries. Bruce Johnston, American musician (The Beach Boys). Mary McAleese, President of Ireland since 1997. J. J. Abrams, American television writer and producer. Kevin Pietersen, English cricketer. Nico Rosberg, German race car driver.

    28th June ? Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish painter. John Wesley, English founder of Methodism. Charles Cruft, English business man. Richard Rodgers, American composer. Willie Whitelaw, British politician. Mel Brooks, American filmmaker. Cyril Smith, English Liberal politician. John Inman, English actor. Clarissa Dickson Wright, English celebrity chef. Kathy Bates, American actress. John Cusack, American actor. Aileen Quinn, American actress. Mark Stoermer, American bass player (The Killers).

    29th June ? Josef Ressel, Czech-Austrian inventor. George Ellery Hale, American astronomer. Nelson Eddy, American singer and actor. Frank Loesser, American composer. Ray Harryhausen, American filmmaker. Giorgio Napolitano, Italian politician, 11th President of the Republic. Little Eva, American singer. Gary Busey, American actor. Júnior, Brazilian footballer. Nicole Scherzinger, American singer (Pussycat Dolls) and actress. Katherine Jenkins, Welsh mezzo soprano.

    Notable deaths this week in history are:-
    23rd June ? 1980 ? Sanjay Gandhi, Indian politician; son of Indira Gandhi. 1999 ? Buster Merryfield, British actor. 2006 ? Aaron Spelling, American television producer. 2011 ? Peter Falk, American actor.

    24th June ?1519 ? Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara. 1908 ? Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President of the United States. 1968 ? Tony Hancock, British comedian. 1987 ? Jackie Gleason, American actor and musician. 2007 ? Chris Benoit, Canadian wrestler.

    25th June ? 1218 ? Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, French crusader. 1533 ? Mary Tudor, English-born French noblewoman. 1876 ? George Armstrong Custer, American Army officer. 1997 ? Jacques-Yves Cousteau, French explorer. 2009 ? Farrah Fawcett, American actress & Michael Jackson, American entertainer and pop icon.

    26th June ? 1784 ? Caesar Rodney, American signer of the Declaration of Independence. 1810 ? Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, French inventor. 1836 ? Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, French composer (La Marseillaise). 1947 ? Richard Bedford Bennett, eleventh Prime Minister of Canada. 2003 ? Sir Denis Thatcher MBE, husband of Margaret Thatcher. 2005 ? Richard Whiteley, British television game show host.

    27th June ? 1844 ? Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of Latter Day Saint movement. 1935 ? Eugene Augustin Lauste, French inventor. 1996 ? Albert R. Broccoli, American film producer. 2001 ? Jack Lemmon, American actor. 2002 ? John Entwistle, English bassist (The Who). 2004 ? George Patton IV, American general. 2009 ? Fayette Pinkney, African American singer (The Three Degrees).

    28th June ? 1598 ? Abraham Ortelius, Flemish cartographer. 1914 ? Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria. 1976 ? Stanley Baker, Welsh actor and producer. 2001 ? Joan Sims, English actress.

    29th June ? 1861 ? Elizabeth Barrett Browning, English poet. 1933 ? Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, American actor. 1995 ? Lana Turner, American actress. 2003 ? Katharine Hepburn, American actress.

    'If' by Rudyard Kipling.

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
    And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
    If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
    And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

    Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

    Hope you find this blog interesting to read. If you have any comments or constructive feedback, please leave a comment by using the comment buttons provided.

    Hope you enjoy!!..... ChefGarfy =D
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  • The Animal Magic of a Former Beatle... Info

    Hi everyone and welcome to the blog. This week’s blog is dedicated to the genius of two men Johnny Morris and Sir Paul Mc Cartney.

    Johnny Morris was born Ernest John "Johnny" Morris in Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales, the son of a postmaster. He learned to play the violin as a child and toured the valleys of South Wales, performing with his cello-playing father. Morris attended Hatherleigh School, Newport and worked as a solicitor's clerk, a timekeeper on a building site, a salesman and managing a 2,000-acre farm in Wiltshire for thirteen years.

    Morris was discovered telling stories in a pub by the then BBC Home Service West Regional producer Desmond Hawkins. Morris made his radio debut in 1946, and featured in a number of Regional series throughout the 1950s often employed on light and entertainment programmes as a storyteller, such as in Pass the Salt, or as a commentator on local events. A natural mimic and impersonator, Morris first appeared on television as The Hot Chestnut Man, a short slot in which he was shown sitting roasting the chestnuts, he would tell a humorous yarn in a West Country accent, often ending with a moral.

    In 1960 he narrated the imported, Canadian-produced Tales of the Riverbank series of stories about Hammy the Hamster, Roderick the Rat, GP the Guinea Pig, and their assorted animal friends along a riverbank. The show used slowed-down footage of real animals filmed doing humanised things such as driving a car or boat, and living in houses. In the 1960s Morris also narrated books 1 - 11 of The Railway Stories, recordings of the Railway Series books by the Rev. W. Awdry. The recordings of the first eight books were rereleased in LP format in the '70s but the other three sets of recordings were never reissued and in the end rerecorded by Willie Rushton.

    Morris's ability to create a world which children could relate to through his mimicry led to his best-known role, that of the presenter, narrator and 'zoo keeper' for Animal Magic. For more than 400 editions, from 1962 until 1983, and with inserts shot at Bristol Zoo Gardens, Morris would carry out a comic dialogue with the animals, whom he also voiced. His regular companion on the show was Dotty the Ring-tailed Lemur. When the idea of imposing human qualities and voices upon animals fell out of favour the series was discontinued.

    Morris carried over his comedic commentary technique into other programmes, such as Follow the Rhine, a BBC2 travelogue which included a witty Morris commentary featuring his companion Tubby Foster – actually his producer Brian Patten. Follow the Rhine was based on Morris' earlier BBC Radio 4 series Johnny's Jaunts. These series chronicled not only the Rhine journey but other worldwide journeys and were broadcast between 1957 and 1976. Included in this series were tales based upon his visits to such places as Austria (a skiing misadventure!), Spain, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, South America, South Sea Islands, France; and even a cruise on the River Thames.

    Morris was also Vice President of the Bluebell Railway in Sussex from its early days in the 1960s until the late 1980s, attending several anniversaries and landmark events over the first few decades of the railway's existence. He also made two promotional LP's for the Railway in the 1970s. In the 1970s, Morris read children's bedtime stories for the Post Office to be heard via the telephone. Children could dial 150 and hear a different story over the telephone each week. He was also a presenter on BBC School Radio's Singing Together and wrote and read stories on BBC School Radio's A Service for Schools which was later renamed Together.

    In a nod to his role with Animal Magic, Morris also added his voice to the award-winning Creature Comforts series of electricity advertisements, created by Aardman Animations. These advertisements featured animated claymation animals speaking about their life and conditions in a way comparable to the dialogues that Morris has created in the earlier television show.

    Although latterly criticised in the 1990s for his anthropomorphic technique of introducing television viewers to animals, Morris was active in environmentalism, and in his eighties demonstrated against the building of the Newbury Bypass near his home. In June 2004, Morris and Bill Oddie were jointly profiled in the first of a three part BBC Two series, The Way We Went Wild, about television wildlife presenters.

    A diabetic, Morris collapsed at his home in Hungerford, Berkshire in March 1999 when he was about to star in new animal series Wild Thing on ITV. Admitted to the Princess Margaret Hospital, Swindon for tests, he was discharged to a nursing home in the Devizes and Marlborough district, where he died on 6 May 1999. His wife, Eileen, had died ten years previously, but he had two stepsons. He bequeathed his house to his co-host on Animal Magic, Terry Nutkins, and cut his family out of his will. Morris also left a large sum of cash to his housekeeper, Rita Offer, and smaller sums to his gardener and his builder. He left nothing to his stepsons, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was awarded the OBE in 1984 and his autobiography, There's Lovely, was first published in 1989.

    Sir Paul McCartney was born James Paul McCartney in Walton Hospital in Liverpool, England, where his mother, Mary (née Mohin), had twelve years earlier qualified to practise as a nurse. His father, James ("Jim") McCartney, was absent from his son's birth due to his work as a volunteer firefighter during World War II. Paul has one brother, Michael, born 7 January 1944, and though they were baptised in their mother's Roman Catholic faith, religion was not emphasised in their household, as Jim was a Protestant turned agnostic, who felt Catholic schools sacrificed the education of their students for religion.

    In 1947 McCartney began attending Stockton Wood Road Primary School. By 1952, he was at Joseph Williams Junior School; the following year, he passed the 11-plus exam with three others out of ninety examinees and gained admission to the Liverpool Institute. In 1954, while taking the bus from his home in the suburb of Speke to the Institute, he met George Harrison, who had also passed the exam, meaning they could both go to a grammar school rather than a secondary modern school, which the majority of pupils attended until they were eligible to work.

    Mary was the family's primary wage earner, and her job as a midwife allowed them to move into 20 Forthlin Road in Allerton, where they lived through 1964. Paul was the first member of his family to own a car and his mother rode a bicycle to homes where she worked; he describes an early memory of her leaving at "about three in the morning [the] streets ... thick with snow". On 31 October 1956, when he was fourteen, his mother died of an embolism after a mastectomy operation to stop the spread of her breast cancer, diagnosed several years prior. The loss of his mother was later a point of relation with John Lennon, whose mother, Julia, died when he was seventeen.

    McCartney's father was a trumpet player and pianist who had led Jim Mac's Jazz Band in the 1920s and encouraged his son to be musical. He kept an upright piano, purchased from Harry Epstein's North End Music Stores, in the front room. His father, Joe McCartney, played an E-flat tuba. Jim used to point out the bass parts in songs on the radio, and often took his sons to local brass band concerts. Jim gave Paul a nickel-plated trumpet for his fourteenth birthday, but when rock and roll became popular on Radio Luxembourg, Paul traded it for a £15 Framus Zenith (model 17) acoustic guitar, realising it would be too difficult to sing "with a trumpet stuck in your mouth." Being left-handed, he found right-handed guitars difficult to play, but when he saw a poster advertising a Slim Whitman concert, he realised that Whitman played left-handed with his right-handed guitar strung the opposite way. He then restrung his guitar and, after some adjustments, found it easier to play. McCartney wrote his first song, "I Lost My Little Girl", on the Zenith, and an early tune which became "When I'm Sixty-Four" on the piano; despite his father's advice, he took only a couple of piano lessons, preferring instead to learn by ear. He was heavily influenced by American rhythm and blues music, and has stated that Little Richard was his idol when he was in school. The first song he ever performed in public was "Long Tall Sally", at a Butlins holiday camp talent competition.

    At the age of fifteen, McCartney met Lennon and his skiffle band, the Quarrymen, at the St. Peter's Church Hall fête in Woolton on 6 July 1957. He joined the group soon thereafter, and formed a close working relationship with Lennon. Harrison joined in 1958 as lead guitarist, followed in 1960 by Lennon's art school friend Stuart Sutcliffe on bass. By May 1960 they had tried several new names, including "Johnny and the Moondogs" and "the Silver Beetles", touring Scotland under the latter name as a supporting act for Johnny Gentle. The name of the group was changed to "the Beatles" in mid-August 1960, and drummer Pete Best was recruited prior to the first of what would be five engagements in Hamburg, Germany.

    From August 1960 the Beatles were booked by Allan Williams to perform in Hamburg. During their extended stays there over the next two years they performed as the resident group at two of Bruno Koschmider's clubs, the Indra, then the Kaiserkeller, and upon returns to Liverpool at the Cavern Club. In 1961 Sutcliffe left the band and McCartney reluctantly became their bass player. The Beatles recorded professionally for the first time in Hamburg, performing as the backing band for Tony Sheridan on the single "My Bonnie". The recording would later bring them to the attention of a key figure in their subsequent development and commercial success, Brian Epstein, who became their manager in January 1962. Epstein negotiated a record contract for the group with Parlophone that May. After replacing Best with Ringo Starr in August, they became increasingly popular in the UK during 1963 and in the US in 1964. Their fans' frenzied adulation became known as "Beatlemania", and McCartney was dubbed the cute Beatle. In 1965 the four band members were appointed Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

    In 1965 the Beatles recorded "Yesterday", featuring a string quartet; it was the group's first recorded use of classical music elements in their music. After the song's recording McCartney contacted the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in Maida Vale, London, to ask if they would record an electronic version of the song, but he never followed up. When visiting artist John Dunbar's flat in London, he would bring along tapes he had compiled at then girlfriend Jane Asher's home, mixes of various songs, musical pieces and comments made by McCartney that Dick James made into a demo for him. Heavily influenced by American avant-garde musician John Cage, he made tape loops by recording voices, guitars and bongos on a Brenell tape recorder and splicing the various loops together. He reversed the tapes, sped them up and slowed them down to create the effects he wanted, some of which were later used on Beatles recordings, such as "Tomorrow Never Knows" (1966). He referred to the tapes as "electronic symphonies". Gould describes McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby", which included a string octet, as "a neoclassical tour de force", "a true hybrid, conforming to no recognizable style or genre of song." With the exception of some backing vocals the song included only McCartney's lead vocal and the double-quartet arranged by Martin.

    McCartney's contributions to the band's early hits include: "Can't Buy Me Love" (1964), "Yesterday" (1965), Paperback Writer" and "Eleanor Rigby" (1966). After touring almost non-stop for a period of nearly four years, and giving more than 1,400 live performances internationally, the group gave their final commercial concert at the end of their 1966 US tour.

    Following the 1967 death of Epstein, the group was left disorientated and fearful about their future. Lennon comments, "We collapsed. I knew that we were in trouble then. I didn't really have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music, and I was scared. I thought, we've had it now." McCartney, stepping in to fill the void left by Epstein's death, gradually became the de facto leader and business manager of the group Lennon had once led. They continued to work in the recording studio and before their break-up in 1970 produced what some critics consider to be their finest material, including the innovative and widely influential albums Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), The Beatles (1968) and Abbey Road (1969). Between 1963 and 1970 the group released twenty-two UK singles and twelve LPs, of which seventeen of the singles and eleven of the LPs became number ones. The band topped the US Billboard Hot 100 twenty times, and recorded fourteen number one albums. Lennon and McCartney became one of the most celebrated songwriting partnerships of the 20th century. McCartney was the primary writer of five of their last six US number ones, which were: "Hello, Goodbye" (1967), "Hey Jude" (1968), "Get Back (1969)", "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road" (1970).

    In March 1969 he married Linda Eastman, whom he first met in May 1967. The couple had their first child together, Mary, named after Paul's late mother, in August 1969. In October 1969 a rumour surfaced that McCartney had died in a car crash, but it was quickly proven false when a November Life magazine cover featured him and his family with the caption, "Paul is Still With Us."

    For Abbey Road, which was to become band's last recorded LP, producer George Martin had suggested "a continuously moving piece of music", urging the group to think symphonically. McCartney agreed, but Lennon did not. They eventually compromised, agreeing to individual songs on side A with side B including a long medley; McCartney's suggested compromise. He eventually found himself pitted against his bandmates, leading him to announce his departure from the group on 20 April 1970. He filed suit for their dissolution on 31 December 1970. More legal disputes followed, as McCartney's representation, his in-laws the Eastmans, fought Lennon, Harrison, and Starr's business manager Allen Klein over royalties and creative control of musical projects. The band was formally dissolved on 9 January 1975, though lawsuits against their record company EMI, Klein, and each other persisted until 1989. when the Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, 1988, McCartney did not attend, stating that unresolved "business differences" would make him "feel like a complete hypocrite waving and smiling with them at a fake reunion."

    After the Beatles' break-up in 1970 McCartney continued his musical career, releasing his first solo album, McCartney, in 1970, which contained the stand-out track "Maybe I'm Amazed", written for Linda. With the exception of some vocal contributions from her, it is a self-performed album, Paul providing all the instrumentation himself. In 1971 Paul collaborated with Linda on a second album, Ram, a UK number one which included the co-written US number one hit single, "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey". Later that year, the pair were joined by ex-Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine and drummer Denny Seiwell to form the group Wings, and release their first album together, Wild Life. On the band's formation McCartney comments: "Wings was always a difficult idea ... any group having to follow the Beatles' success would have a hard job ... I found myself in that very position. However, it was a choice between going on or finishing, and I loved music too much to think of stopping." In September 1971 the McCartney family added a second child, Stella, named in honour of Linda's grandmothers.

    In 1973 McCartney wrote Wings' first US number one, "My Love", included on their second LP, Red Rose Speedway, and his collaboration with Linda and former Beatles producer George Martin resulted in the James Bond theme song and Wings hit, "Live and Let Die". The song was nominated for an Oscar, and it earned Martin a Grammy for his orchestral arrangement. A top-ten UK hit for the band in 1973, music professor and author Vincent Benitez describes the track as "symphonic rock at its best".

    In 1974 Wings achieved a second US number one, "Band on the Run"; the acclaimed album of the same name, their third, was a massive success that became Wings' first platinum LP. They followed with the chart topping LPs, Venus and Mars (1975) and Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976). In September 1977 a third child was born to the McCartneys, a son they named James, and in November, the Wings song "Mull of Kintyre", co-written with Laine, was fast becoming one of the best-selling singles in UK chart history. The most successful single of his solo career; achieving double the sales of the previous record holder "She Loves You", the track would go on to sell 2.5 million copies, and hold the UK sales record until the 1984 charity single, "Do They Know It's Christmas?". In 1977 he released Thrillington, an orchestral arrangement of Ram, under the pseudonym Percy "Thrills" Thrillington, with a cover designed by Hipgnosis.

    While the albums London Town (1978) and Back to the Egg (1979) passed with little critical or commercial notice, the latter involved McCartney's collaboration with a rock supergroup dubbed "the Rockestra", though credited to Wings, that included Pete Townshend, David Gilmour, Gary Brooker, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham. Active through 1981, Wings produced seven studio albums, five of which topped the US charts, as well as their live triple LP, Wings over America, one of few live albums ever to achieve the top spot in America. They also recorded six US number one singles including, "Listen to What the Man Said", "Silly Love Songs, "With a Little Luck", and "Coming Up". Wings was formally disbanded in 1981, and Laine claimed shortly after that a significant cause of their dissolution was McCartney's reluctance to tour, fearing for his personal safety after the 1980 murder of Lennon.

    In 1980 he released his second solo LP, the self-produced McCartney II, and as with his first, he composed all the music and performed the instrumentation himself. The album contained the hit song "Coming Up", as well as; "Waterfalls", "Temporary Secretary", and "One of These Days". In 1982, following the dissolution of Wings, he collaborated with Stevie Wonder on the Martin-produced number one hit, "Ebony and Ivory", included on McCartney's Tug of War LP, and with Michael Jackson on "The Girl Is Mine" from Thriller. The following year he worked with Jackson on the US number one, "Say Say Say", and he earned a UK number one with the title track of his LP release that year, "Pipes of Peace".

    In 1984 McCartney wrote, produced, and starred in the feature film Give My Regards to Broad Street, a musical which included Starr, and "was savagely panned by the critics" according to Beatles biographer Bill Harry; and described by Variety as: "Characterless, bloodless, and pointless." Roger Ebert awarded the film a single star and wrote, "you can safely skip the movie and proceed directly to the sound track", which fared much better, reaching number one in the UK, and producing the hit single, "No More Lonely Nights", featuring Gilmour on lead guitar.

    He collaborated with Eric Stewart on Press to Play (1986), who co-wrote more than half the songs on the LP, and in 1988, McCartney released Снова в СССР, a Russia-only album that contained eighteen covers which he recorded over the course of two days. In 1989 he joined forces with fellow Merseysiders including Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers and Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes to Hollywood to record an updated version of "Ferry Cross the Mersey", originally recorded twenty-five years earlier by Gerry and the Pacemakers, to generate money for the appeal fund of the Hillsborough disaster, which occurred in April that year when ninety-five Liverpool F.C. fans died as a result of their injuries. The recording was a number one hit in the UK. In 1989 he released Flowers in the Dirt, a collaborative effort with Elvis Costello which included musical contributions from Gilmour and Nicky Hopkins.

    In 1990 McCartney released the triple LP, Tripping the Live Fantastic, which contained select performances from the Paul McCartney World Tour, his first in over a decade. The following year he ventured into orchestral music, when the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society commissioned a musical piece by him to celebrate its sesquicentennial. He collaborated with Carl Davis to release Liverpool Oratorio; involving opera singers Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sally Burgess, Jerry Hadley and Willard White, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the choir of Liverpool Cathedral. Reviews were generally poor, The Guardian was especially critical of the work describing the music as "afraid of anything approaching a fast tempo", and stating that the piece has "little awareness of the need for recurrent ideas that will bind the work into a whole". In response, McCartney wrote a defensive letter to the paper, which they published, where he states: "Happily, history shows that many good pieces of music were not liked by the critics of the time so I am content to ... let people judge for themselves the merits of the work." The New York Times was slightly more generous stating, "There are moments of beauty and pleasure in this dramatic miscellany ... The music's innocent sincerity makes it difficult to be put off by its ambitions."

    During the 1990s he twice collaborated with Youth of Killing Joke as the musical duo dubbed "the Fireman", releasing the electronica albums: Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest (1993) and Rushes (1998). Released in 1993, the rock album Off the Ground was supported by "the New World Tour", which produced the album, Paul Is Live later that year. Starting in 1994 he took a four-year hiatus from his solo career to work on Apple's the Beatles Anthology project with Harrison, Starr and Martin. He recorded a radio series called "Oobu Joobu" in 1995, for the American network Westwood One, which he described as "wide-screen radio". Also in 1995 Prince Charles presented him with an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Music, "kind of amazing for somebody who doesn't read a note of music", commented McCartney, and in December 1996 he was informed that he was to be named in the 1997 New Year Honours and knighted for services to music; his ceremony took place in March 1997.

    In 1997 he released the rock album Flaming Pie, and the classical work Standing Stone. In 1998 Rushes, the second electronica album by the Fireman, was released. Run Devil Run (1999), featuring Ian Paice and David Gilmour, was primarily an album of covers with three McCartney originals, something he said he had "wanted to do for years", having been previously encouraged to do so by Linda, who had died in April 1998 after losing a seventeen-month battle with cancer. He contributed a song, "Nova", to a tribute album of classical choral music dedicated to her called, A Garland for Linda (2000). He continued his experimentation with orchestral music on Working Classical (1999), and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in March of the same year. In May 2000 he was awarded a Fellowship by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, and in August he released the electronica album, Liverpool Sound Collage with Super Furry Animals and Youth, utilising the sound collage and musique concrète techniques that fascinated him in the mid-1960s.

    In 2001 McCartney released a live album of acoustic-only performances called, Unplugged (The Official Bootleg). Having witnessed the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks from the JFK airport tarmac, he was inspired to take a lead role in organising the Concert for New York City, and his studio album release that year Driving Rain included the song "Freedom", written for the event as a response to the tragedy. He toured in support of Driving Rain and in 2002 released the double live album Back in the U.S. (released internationally in 2003 as Back in the World. In November 2002, on the first anniversary of Harrison's death, McCartney performed at the Concert for George. He has also participated in the National Football League's Super Bowl, performing "Freedom" in the pre-game show for Super Bowl XXXVI and headlining the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXIX.

    In 2005 he released the rock album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, and the electronica offering, Twin Freaks; a collaborative project with bootleg producer and remixer Freelance Hellraiser, consisting of remixed versions of songs from throughout his solo career. In 2006 he released the classical work Ecce Cor Meum; the rock album Memory Almost Full followed in 2007, and in 2008, his third Fireman release, Electric Arguments. In 2008 he performed at a concert in Liverpool to celebrate the city's year as European Capital of Culture. In 2009, more than forty-five years after the Beatles first appeared on American television during the Ed Sullivan Show, he returned to the same New York theatre to perform on Late Show with David Letterman. In 2010 he was honoured by President Barack Obama with the Gershwin Prize for his contributions to popular music in a live show for the White House with performances by Stevie Wonder, Lang Lang and others. He returned to the White House later that year as a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honours.

    McCartney's enduring fame has made him a popular choice to open new venues. In 2009 he played three sold out concerts at the newly built Citi Field in Queens, New York, constructed to replace Shea Stadium, and he released a double live album culled from those performances called, Good Evening New York City later that year. In 2010 he opened the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in 2011 he performed the first concerts at the new Yankee Stadium, and released the classical work, "Ocean's Kingdom". He has been touring since 2001 with guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, Paul "Wix" Wickens on keyboards and drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr. An upcoming tribute album is expected in June 2012, to coincide with his 70th birthday, featuring recordings of his songs by Kiss, Garth Brooks, Billy Joel, Brian Wilson, Willie Nelson, Steve Miller, B.B. King and others. Kisses on the Bottom, a collection of standards, was released in February 2012, that same month he was honoured as MusiCares Person of the Year, two days prior to his performance at the 54th Grammy Awards. On 4 June 2012, McCartney closed the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert held outside Buckingham Palace, performing a repertoire including "Let It Be" and "Live and Let Die". On 5 June, McCartney confirmed that he will close the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London on 27 July.

    His earliest musical influences include Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. When asked why Presley was not included on the Beatles Sgt. Pepper cover, McCartney replied: "Elvis was too important and too far above the rest even to mention. I think we all assumed everyone felt that way, so we didn't put him on the list because he was more than merely a fave rave fab gear pop singer, he was Elvis the King." McCartney has stated that his bassline for "I Saw Her Standing There" was "taken", as MacDonald writes, from Berry's "I'm Talking About You". Along with Perkins, McCartney calls Little Richard an "idol", and "happily" admits that his own penchant for the falsetto vocalization known as "woos", was inspired by him. McCartney says he wrote "I'm Down" as a vehicle for his Little Richard impersonation.

    Despite a strained relationship with Lennon, they briefly became close again in 1974, and played music together on two occasions, the only times since the Beatles break-up in 1970. In later years however, the two grew apart. While McCartney would often phone, he was apprehensive about the reception he would receive, as during one call when he was told, "You're all pizza and fairytales!" In McCartney's effort to avoid talking with him only about business, they often spoke of cats, baking bread, or babies.

    On 24 April 1976, the two were watching an episode of Saturday Night Live together at Lennon's home in New York City, during which Lorne Michaels made a $3,000 cash offer for the Beatles to reunite, and while they seriously considered going to the SNL studio just a few blocks away, they decided it was "too late" and according to Lennon, this was the last time he and McCartney ever spent time together. This event was fictionalised in the 2000 television film Two of Us. His last telephone call to Lennon, just days before Lennon and Ono released Double Fantasy, was friendly, he said this about the phone call: " It is a consoling factor for me, because I do feel it was sad that we never actually sat down and straightened our differences out. But fortunately for me, the last phone conversation I ever had with him was really great, and we didn't have any kind of blow-up."

    On the morning of 9 December 1980, he awoke to the news that Lennon had been murdered the previous night, his death creating a media frenzy around the surviving members of the band. During the evening of 9 December, as he was leaving an Oxford Street recording studio, he was surrounded by reporters and asked for a reaction. He was later criticised for what appeared, when published, to be a superficial response: "It's a drag". He later explained, "When John was killed somebody stuck a microphone at me and said: 'What do you think about it?' I said, 'It's a dra-a-ag' and meant it with every inch of melancholy I could muster. When you put that in print it says, 'McCartney in London today when asked for a comment on his dead friend said, "It's a drag."' It seemed a very flippant comment to make." He describes his first exchange with Ono after the murder, and his last conversation with Lennon: I talked to Yoko the day after he was killed and the first thing she said was, "John was really fond of you." The last telephone conversation I had with him we were still the best of mates. He was always a very warm guy, John. His bluff was all on the surface. He used to take his glasses down, those granny glasses, and say, "It's only me." They were like a wall, you know? A shield. Those are the moments I treasure.

    In 1983 he said: "I would not have been as typically human and standoffish as I was if I knew John was going to die. I would have made more of an effort to try and get behind his "mask" and have a better relationship with him." He said that he went home that night and watched the news on television – while sitting with his children – crying most of the evening. In 1997, he admitted the ex-Beatles were nervous at the time that they might be the "next" one murdered. In 2002 he told Mojo magazine that Lennon was his greatest "hero". In June 1981, six months after the murder, McCartney sang backup on Harrison's tribute to their ex-bandmate, "All Those Years Ago", which also featured Starr on drums. In 1982 McCartney released "Here Today", a song Everett describes as "a haunting tribute" to their friendship.

    Harrison said this about working with McCartney: "Paul would always help along when you'd done his ten songs—then when he got 'round to doing one of my songs, he would help. It was silly. It was very selfish, actually ... There were a lot of tracks, though, where I played bass ... because what Paul would do—if he'd written a song, he'd learn all the parts for Paul and then come in the studio and say (sometimes he was very difficult): "Do this." He'd never give you the opportunity to come out with something."

    In late 2001 McCartney learned that Harrison was losing his battle with cancer, and upon his death in November 2001, McCartney issued a statement outside his home in St. John's Wood, calling him "a lovely guy and a very brave man who had a wonderful sense of humour", "We grew up together and we just had so many beautiful times together – that's what I am going to remember. I'll always love him, he's my baby brother." Harrison spent his last days in a Hollywood Hills mansion that was once leased by McCartney. On the first anniversary of his death, McCartney played Harrison's "Something" on a ukulele at the Concert for George. He also performed "For You Blue" and "All Things Must Pass", as well as playing the piano on Eric Clapton's rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".

    According to sources, Ringo Starr once described McCartney as "pleasantly insincere", though the two generally enjoy each other's company, and at least once vacationed together in Greece, including stops in Athens and on the islands Corfu and Rhodes. Starr recalls: "We couldn't understand a word of the songs the hotel band were playing, so on the last night Paul and I did a few rockers like "What'd I Say". There was at times discord between them as well, particularly during Beatles' sessions for "The White Album", as Apple's Peter Brown recalls, "It was a poorly kept secret among Beatle intimates that after Ringo left the studio Paul would often dub in the drum tracks himself ... Ringo would pretend not to notice". In August 1968 the two got into an argument over McCartney's critique of Starr's drum part for "Back in the USSR", which contributed to Starr temporarily leaving the band. He returned in September to find bouquets of flowers on his drum kit. Ringo commented on working with McCartney: "Paul is the greatest bass player in the world. But he is also very determined ... to get his own way ... thus musical disagreements inevitably arose from time to time."

    McCartney has been described by Guinness World Records as "The Most Successful Composer and Recording Artist of All Time", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100 million albums, 100 million singles, and a writer's credit on forty-three songs that have sold over one million copies each. According to Guinness, he is "the most successful songwriter" in UK singles chart history, and has written or co-written "188 charted records, of which 129 are different songs. Of these records, 91 reached the Top 10 and 33 made it to No.1. In total, the songs have spent 1,662 weeks on the chart (up to the beginning of 2007)." In 1986 he received acclaim from the Guinness Book of Records Hall of Fame, who presented him with a rhodium disk to commemorate his standing "as the most successful musician of all-time."

    In the US, as a songwriter or co-writer, he is included on thirty-one number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100; including twenty with the Beatles and nine solo and/or with Wings, one as a co-writer on Elton John's cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", and one as a co-writer of "A World Without Love", a number one single for Peter and Gordon. As of 2012, he has sold 15.5 million RIAA certified units in the United States.

    Although Elvis Presley has achieved the most UK number-ones as a solo artist with eighteen, McCartney has been involved in more number-ones in the UK than any other artist under a variety of credits, totalling twenty-four singles: including seventeen with the Beatles, one solo, and one each with Wings, Stevie Wonder, Ferry Aid, Band Aid, Band Aid 20 and one with "The Christians et all". He is the only artist to reach the UK number one as a soloist ("Pipes of Peace"), duo ("Ebony and Ivory" with Wonder), trio ("Mull of Kintyre", Wings), quartet ("She Loves You", the Beatles), quintet ("Get Back", the Beatles with Billy Preston), and as part of a musical ensemble for charity (Ferry Aid).

    His song "Yesterday" is thought to be the most covered in history with more than 2,200 recorded versions, and according to the BBC, "The track is the only one by a UK writer to have been aired more than seven million times on American TV and radio and is third in the all-time list ... [and] is the most played song by a British writer this century in the US." His 1968 Beatles composition, "Hey Jude", is also a career highlight. It achieved the highest sales in the UK that year, and topped the US charts for nine weeks, longer than any other Beatles' single. It was also the longest single ever released by the band, and at seven minutes fifteen seconds was the longest of any number one to that point. It has been covered by several notable artists, including Presley, Bing Crosby, Count Basie, and Wilson Pickett. It is the best-selling Beatles' single of all-time, with sales of over five million copies achieved soon after its release.

    He played for the largest stadium audience in history when 184,000 people paid to see him perform at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 21 April 1990, that year the minor planet 4148, was named "McCartney" in his honour. In July 2005 he was involved with the fastest-released single in history, when his performance of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" with U2 at Live 8 was released before the concert was over. The single reached number six on the Billboard charts, just hours after the single's release, and hit number one on numerous online download charts across the world.

    On 18 June 2006, McCartney celebrated his 64th birthday, a milestone that was the subject of a tune he wrote at the age of sixteen, which would later become the Beatles' song "When I'm Sixty-Four". In 2008 he received a BRIT award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, as well as an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Yale University. In 2012 he became the last of the "Fab Four" to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    McCartney is one of the UK's wealthiest people, with an estimated fortune of £475 million in 2010. In addition to an interest in Apple Corps, MPL Communications, an umbrella company for his business interests, owns a significant music publishing catalogue, with access to over 25,000 copyrights, including the publishing rights to the musicals Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, and Grease. He earned £40 million in 2003, making him Britain's highest media earner. This rose to £48.5 million by 2005. In 2006 the Trademarks Registry reported that MPL had started a process to secure the protections associated with registering the name "Paul McCartney" as a trademark.

    Northern Songs was established in 1963 by Dick James to publish the songs of Lennon–McCartney. The Beatles' partnership was replaced in 1968 by a jointly held company, Apple Corps, which continues to control Apple's commercial interests. Northern Songs was purchased by Associated Television (ATV) in 1969, and was sold in 1985 to Michael Jackson. For many years McCartney was unhappy about Jackson's purchase and handling of Northern Songs.

    Despite the lack of publishing rights to most of his Beatles' songs, he continues to receive his respective share of the writers' royalties, which together are 33⅓% of total commercial proceeds in the US and which vary elsewhere around the world between 50 and 55%. Two of the Beatles' earliest songs—"Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You"—were published by an EMI subsidiary, Ardmore & Beechwood, before signing with James. McCartney acquired their publishing rights from Ardmore in the mid 1980s, and they are the only two Beatles songs owned by MPL Communications.

    Notable birthdays this week:-
    16th June – Adam Smith, Scottish philosopher and economist. Edward Davy, English physician, chemist and inventor. Geronimo, Apache leader. Stan Laurel, English actor and comedian. Enoch Powell, British politician. José López Portillo, 31st President of Mexico. Giacomo Agostini, Italian motorcyclist. Eddie Levert, American singer (The O'Jays). Roberto Durán, Panamanian boxer. Tupac Shakur, American rapper and actor.

    17th June - John Kay, English inventor. Igor Stravinsky, Russian composer. Ken Loach, British film director. Barry Manilow, American musician. George S. Clinton, American composer and musician. James Corden, English actor and comedian. Venus Williams, American tennis player.

    18th June - Manuela Fernández-Fojaco, Spanish supercentenarian. Sammy Cahn, American lyricis. Red Adair, American firefighter. Ian Carmichael, English actor. Paul Eddington, English actor. Delia Smith, English cook and television presenter. Paul McCartney, British singer, songwriter and musician (The Beatles, Wings). Alison Moyet, English pop singer. Richard Gasquet, French tennis player.

    19th June - King James I of England and VI of Scotland. Blaise Pascal, French mathematician and philosopher. Barry Took, English comedy writer. Jimmy Greenhoff, English footballer. Salman Rushdie, Indian author. Paula Abdul, American singer and choreographer. Boris Johnson, British politician.

    20th June - Jacques Offenbach, German-born French composer. Errol Flynn, Australian actor. Johnny Morris, British children's presenter. Olympia Dukakis, American actress. Stephen Frears, English film director. Brian Wilson, American musician (The Beach Boys). Lionel Richie, American musician (The Commodores). John Taylor, English musician (Duran Duran). Example, British rapper.

    21st June - Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, German composer. Robert Napier, British engineer. Daniel Carter Beard, founder of the Boy Scouts of America. Josiah Stamp, 1st Baron Stamp, British civil servant, industrialist, and banker. Jean-Paul Sartre, French philosopher and writer, Nobel laureate (declined). Joseph Cyril Bamford, English inventor and industrialist. Jane Russell, American actress. Ray Davies, English singer and songwriter (The Kinks). Michel Platini, French footballer. Sonique, British DJ.

    22nd June – Lord John Sackville, English cricketer. John Dillinger, American bank robber. Billy Wilder, Austrian-born American film director. Prunella Scales, English actress. Kris Kristofferson, American singer and actor. Meryl Streep, American actress. Alan Osmond, American singer (The Osmonds). Cyndi Lauper, American singer. Erin Brockovich, American environmentalist. Jimmy Somerville, Scottish singer (Bronski Beat, Communards).

    Notable deaths this week in history are:-

    16th June – 1977 – Wernher von Braun, German-born rocket scientist.

    17th June - 1999 – Basil Hume, English Roman Catholic Cardinal, Archbishop of Westminster. 2008 – Cyd Charisse, American dancer and actress.

    18th June - 1928 – Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer. 1936 – Maxim Gorky, Russian author. 1974 – Georgy Zhukov, Marshal of the Soviet Union. 1986 – Frances Scott Fitzgerald, American writer. 2007 – Bernard Manning, British comedian. 2011 – Clarence Clemons, American saxophonist.

    19th June - 1937 – J. M. Barrie, Scottish author. 1953 – Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, American convicted spies. 1977 – Lady Olave Baden-Powell, English founder of the Girl Guide. 1993 – Sir William Golding, English writer; Nobel laureate.

    20th June - 1837 – King William IV of the United Kingdom. 1947 – Bugsy Siegel, American crime figure. 1997 – Lawrence Payton, American singer (The Four Tops).

    21st June - 1377 – King Edward III of England. 1652 – Inigo Jones, English architect. 1876 – Antonio López de Santa Anna, President of Mexico. 1893 – Leland Stanford, American business tycoon and founder of Stanford University. 1969 – Maureen Connolly, American tennis player. 1970 – Sukarno, President of Indonesia. 1992 – Li Xiannian, President of the People's Republic of China. 2001 – John Lee Hooker, American musician.

    22nd June – 1931 – Armand Fallières, French politician, President of France. 1969 – Judy Garland, American singer and actress. 1987 – Fred Astaire, American dancer and actor.

    In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

    Hope you find this blog interesting to read. If you have any comments or constructive feedback, please leave a comment by using the comment buttons provided.

    Hope you enjoy!!..... ChefGarfy =D
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  • Hail and Farewell to the Sound of Steam and Thunder ... Info

    Hi everyone and welcome to the blog. This week’s blog is dedicated to Reverend W. Awdry who’s birthday is remembered this week and to the memory of Ray Bradbury who sadly passed away last week.

    Reverend W. Awdry was born, Wilbert Vere Awdry, at Ampfield vicarage near Romsey, Hampshire in 1911. His father was the Rev Vere Awdry, the vicar of Ampfield, and his mother was Lucy Awdry, née Bury. His younger brother, George, was born in 1916. All three of Awdry's older half-siblings from his father's first marriage died young. In 1917 the family moved to Box, in Wiltshire, moving again in 1919, and 1920, still in Box, the third house being Journey's End (renamed from Lorne Villa), which remained the family home until August 1928.

    Journey's End was only 200 yards (180mtrs) from the western end of Box Tunnel. There the Great Western Railway main line climbs at a gradient of 1:100 for two miles, and a banking engine was kept there to assist freight trains up the hill. These trains usually ran at night and the young Wilbert could hear them from his bed, listening to the coded whistle signals between the train engine and the banker, and the sharp bark from the locomotive exhausts as they fought their way up the incline. Awdry related: "There was no doubt in my mind that steam engines all had definite personalities. I would hear them snorting up the grade and little imagination was needed to hear in the puffings and pantings of the two engines the conversation they were having with one another: 'I can't do it! I can't do it! I can't do it!' 'Yes, you can! Yes, you can! Yes, you can!'" Here was the inspiration for the story of Edward helping Gordon's train up the hill, a story that Wilbert first told his son Christopher some 25 years later, and which appeared in the first of the Railway Series books.

    He was educated at Marlborough House School, Sussex (1919–24), Dauntseys School, West Lavington, Wiltshire; St Peter's Hall, Oxford, and at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, where he gained his diploma in theology in 1933. He taught for three years from 1933 to 1936 at St. George's School, Jerusalem. He was ordained into the Anglican priesthood in 1936. In 1938 he married Margaret Wale. Remembering the death of his brother in the First World War, Awdry adopted a pacifist ideology when the Second World War started. His bishop told him to find another parish. In 1940 he took a curacy in St. Nicholas' Church, Kings Norton, Birmingham where he lived until 1946. He subsequently moved to Cambridgeshire, serving as Rector of Elsworth with Knapwell, 1946–53, and Vicar of Emneth, 1953–65. He retired from full-time ministry in 1965, and moved to Stroud, Gloucestershire.

    The characters that would make Awdry famous, and the first stories featuring them, were invented in 1943 to amuse his son Christopher during a bout of measles. After Awdry wrote The Three Railway Engines, he built Christopher a model of Edward, and some wagons and coaches, out of a broomstick and scraps of wood. Christopher also wanted a model of Gordon; however, as that was too difficult he made a model of a little 0-6-0 tank engine. Awdry said: "The natural name was Thomas – Thomas the Tank Engine". Then Christopher requested stories about Thomas and these duly followed and were published in the famous book Thomas the Tank Engine, released in 1946.

    The first book (The Three Railway Engines) was published in 1945, and by the time Awdry stopped writing in 1972, The Railway Series numbered 26 books. Christopher subsequently added further books to the series. In 1952, he volunteered as a guard on the Talyllyn Railway in Wales, then in its second year of preservation. The railway inspired Awdry to create the Skarloey Railway, based on the Talyllyn, with some of his exploits being written into the stories.

    His enthusiasm for railways did not stop at his publications. He was involved in railway preservation, and built model railways, which he took to exhibitions around the country. He wrote other books besides those of The Railway Series, both fiction and non-fiction. The story Belinda the Beetle was about a red car (it became a Volkswagen Beetle only in the illustrations to the paperback editions).

    Wilbert Awdry was awarded an OBE in the 1996 New Year’s Honours List, but by that time his health had deteriorated and he was unable to travel to London. He died peacefully in Stroud, Gloucestershire, on 21 March 1997, at the age of 85. His ashes are interred at Gloucester Crematorium.

    Ray Bradbury was born Ray Douglas Bradbury in 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois, to Esther (Moberg) Bradbury, a Swedish immigrant and Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, a power and telephone lineman. Bradbury was related to the American Shakespeare scholar Douglas Spaulding. He was also descended from Mary Bradbury, who was tried at Salem witch trials in 1692. She was married to Captain Thomas Bradbury of Salisbury, Massachusetts.

    Ray was a reader and writer throughout his youth, and was greatly influenced by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. He was especially impressed with Poe's ability to draw readers into his works. In his youth, he spent much time in the Carnegie library in Waukegan, reading such authors as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and his favourite author, Edgar Rice Burroughs, who wrote novels such as Tarzan of the Apes and The Warlord of Mars. The latter title he loved so much that at the age of 12 he wrote his own sequel. An aunt read him short stories when he was a child. He used this library as a setting for much of his novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, and depicted Waukegan as "Green Town" in some of his other semi-autobiographical novels — Dandelion Wine, Farewell Summer — as well as in many of his short stories.

    He attributed to two incidents his lifelong habit of writing every day. The first of these, occurring when he was three years old, was his mother's taking him to see Lon Chaney's performance in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The second incident occurred in 1932, when a carnival entertainer, one Mr. Electrico, touched the young man on the nose with an electrified sword, made his hair stand on end, and shouted, "Live forever!" Bradbury remarked, "I felt that something strange and wonderful had happened to me because of my encounter with Mr. Electrico... gave me a future...I began to write, full-time. I have written every single day of my life since that day 69 years ago." It was at that age that Bradbury first started to do magic, which was his first great love. If he had not discovered writing, he would have become a magician.

    The Bradbury family lived in Tucson, Arizona, in 1926–1927 and 1932–1933 as the father pursued employment, each time returning to Waukegan, but eventually settled in Los Angeles in 1934, when Bradbury was 13. Bradbury graduated from Los Angeles High School, where he took poetry and short story writing courses that furthered his interest in writing, but he did not attend college. Instead, he sold newspapers at the corner of South Norton Avenue and Olympic Boulevard In regard to his education, Bradbury said:
    Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.

    It was in UCLA's Powell Library, in a study room with typewriters for rent, that Bradbury wrote his classic story of a book-burning future, The Fireman, which was about 25,000 words long. It was later published at about 50,000 words under the name, Fahrenheit 451, for a total cost of $9.80, due to the library's typewriter-rental fees of ten cents per half-hour.

    Ray Bradbury was free to start a career in writing when, owing to his bad eye sight he was rejected admission into the military during World War II. Having been inspired by science fiction heroes like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, Bradbury began to publish science fiction stories in fanzines in 1938. Bradbury was invited by Forrest J. Ackerman to attend the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, which at the time met at Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. This was where he met the writers Robert A. Heinlein, Emil Petaja, Fredric Brown, Henry Kuttner, Leigh Brackett, and Jack Williamson. His first published story was "Hollerbochen's Dilemma", which appeared in the fanzine Imagination! , in January, 1938. In July 1939, along with Ackerman and others, he attended the First World Science Fiction Convention in New York City. Bradbury launched his own fanzine in 1939, titled Futuria Fantasia; he wrote most of its four issues, each limited to under 100 copies. Between 1941 and 1947, he was a contributor to Rob Wagner's film magazine, Script.

    Bradbury's first paid piece, "Pendulum", written with Henry Hasse, was published in the pulp magazine Super Science Stories in November 1941, for which he earned $15. He became a full-time writer by the end of 1942. His first collection of short stories, Dark Carnival, was published in 1947 by Arkham House, a small press in Sauk City, Wisconsin, owned by writer August Derleth. A chance encounter in an LA bookstore with the British expatriate writer Christopher Isherwood gave Bradbury the opportunity to put The Martian Chronicles into the hands of a respected critic. Isherwood's glowing review followed.
    Once described as a "Midwest surrealist", he is generally labelled a science fiction writer. Bradbury resisted that categorization, however:
    First of all, I don't write science fiction. I've only done one science fiction book and that's Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. It was named so to represent the temperature at which paper ignites. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it's fantasy. It couldn't happen, you see? That's the reason it's going to be around a long time — because it's a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.

    On another occasion, Bradbury observed that the novel touches on the alienation of people by media:
    In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap opera cries, sleep walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction.

    Besides his fiction work, Bradbury wrote many short essays on the arts and culture, attracting the attention of critics in this field. Bradbury also hosted "The Ray Bradbury Theatre" which was based on his short stories. Bradbury was a consultant for the American Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair and the original exhibit housed in Epcot's Spaceship Earth geosphere at Walt Disney World. In the 1980s, Bradbury concentrated on detective fiction.

    Several comic book writers have adapted Bradbury's stories. Particularly noted among these were EC Comics' line of horror and science-fiction comics, which often featured Bradbury's name on the cover announcing that one story in that issue would be an adaptation of his work. The comics featuring Bradbury's stories included Tales from the Crypt, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Crime Suspense stories, Haunt of Fear and others.

    Ray Bradbury was married to Marguerite McClure from 1947 until her death in November 2003; they had four daughters. Despite his years Ray Bradbury never obtained a driver's license.

    Bradbury was a close friend of Charles Addams, and Addams illustrated the first of Bradbury's stories about the Elliotts, a family that would resemble Addams' own Addams Family placed in rural Illinois. Bradbury's first story about them was "Homecoming," published in the 1946 Halloween issue of Mademoiselle, with Addams illustrations. He and Addams planned a larger collaborative work that would tell the family's complete history, but it never materialized, and according to a 2001 interview, they went their separate ways. In October 2001, Bradbury published all the Family stories he had written in one book with a connecting narrative, From the Dust Returned, featuring a wraparound Addams cover of the original "Homecoming" illustration.

    Another close friend was animator Ray Harryhausen. During a BAFTA 2010 awards tribute in honour of Ray Harryhausen's 90th birthday, Bradbury spoke of his first meeting Harryhausen at Forrest J Ackerman's house when they were both 18 years old. Their shared love for science fiction, King Kong, and the King Vidor-directed film The Fountainhead, written by Ayn Rand, was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. These early influences inspired the pair to believe in themselves and affirm their career choices. Since their first meeting, they kept in touch at least once a month, spanning over 70 years of friendship.

    He suffered a stroke in 1999 that left him partially dependent on a wheelchair for mobility. Despite this Bradbury continued to write, and had even written an essay on his inspiration for writing for the New Yorker published only a week prior to his death. Bradbury made regular appearances at science fiction conventions until 2009, when he retired from the circuit.

    Bradbury was a strong supporter of public library systems, and helped to raise money to prevent the closure of several in California due to budgetary cuts. He iterated from his past that "libraries raised me", and shunned colleges and universities, comparing his own lack of funds during the Depression with poor contemporary students. He exhibited scepticism with regard to modern technology by resisting the conversion of his work into e-books and stating that
    "We have too many cell-phones. We've got too many internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now."

    When the publishing rights for Fahrenheit 451 came up for renewal in December 2011, Bradbury conceded that the work could be published in an electronic form - provided that the publisher, Simon & Schuster, allowed the e-book to be digitally downloaded by any library patron. The title remains the only book in the Simon & Schuster catalogue where this is possible.

    Bradbury died in Los Angeles, California, on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91, after a "lengthy illness", coincidentally during a rare transit of Venus. The New York Times' obituary stated that Bradbury was "the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream." The Los Angeles Times credited Bradbury with the ability "to write lyrically and evocatively of lands an imagination away, worlds he anchored in the here and now with a sense of visual clarity and small-town familiarity". Bradbury's grandson, Danny Karapetian, stated that Bradbury's works had "influenced so many artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and it's always really touching and comforting to hear their stories". The Washington Post hallmarked several modern day technologies that Bradbury had envisioned much earlier in his writing, such as the idea of banking ATMs and ear-buds and Bluetooth headsets from Fahrenheit 451, and the concepts of artificial intelligence within I Sing the Body Electric!.

    Several celebrity fans of Bradbury paid tribute to the author by stating the influence of his works on their own careers and creations. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg stated that Bradbury was "muse for the better part of his sci-fi career.... On the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal". Writer Neil Gaiman felt that "the landscape of the world we live in would have been diminished if we had not had him in our world". Author Stephen King released a statement on his website saying, "Ray Bradbury wrote three great novels and three hundred great stories. One of the latter was called 'A Sound of Thunder.' The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant's footsteps fading away. But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty."

    On Wednesday, June 6, 2012, in an official public statement from the White House Press Office, American President Barack Obama said, "For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury's death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age. His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

    Ray Bradbury chose a burial place at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles with a headstone that reads "Author of Fahrenheit 451".

    Notable birthdays this week:-
    9th June - George Stephenson, English mechanical engineer. Cole Porter, American composer and lyricist. Les Paul, American guitarist and inventor. Jackie Wilson, American singer. Charles Saatchi, British-Iraqi businessman. Michael J. Fox, Canadian-born actor. Johnny Depp, American actor. James Dean Bradfield, British musician, guitar & vocals for Manic Street Preachers. Natalie Portman, Israeli-born actress.

    10th - James Francis Edward Stuart (“The Old Pretender”), English-born claimant to the British throne. Frederick Albert Cook, American explorer and physician, claimed to have reached the North Pole in 1908. Terence Rattigan, British playwright. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, consort of Queen Elizabeth II. Judy Garland, American musical actress. Robert Maxwell, Slovakian-born British media proprietor and Member of Parliament. Lionel Jeffries, British actor. Carlo Ancelotti, Italian football player and manager. Maxi Priest, English reggae vocalist. Faith Evans, American singer.

    11th June - Joseph Warren, American doctor and soldier. John Constable, English painter. Richard Strauss, German composer and conductor. Gene Wilder, American actor. Sir Jackie Stewart, Scottish race car driver. Frank Beard, American drummer (ZZ Top). Joe Montana. American football player. Shia LaBeouf, American actor.

    12th June - John A. Roebling, German-American civil engineer (Brooklyn Bridge). Sir Oliver Lodge, English physicist and writer. Anthony Eden, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. David Rockefeller, American banker. George H. W. Bush, 41st President of the United States. Anne Frank, German-born Dutch Jewish diarist and Holocaust victim. Reg Presley, English singer/songwriter (The Troggs). Pat Jennings, Northern Irish footballer. Andranik Margaryan, 14th Prime Minister of Armenia. Jervis Johnson, Games Designer for Games Workshop, Nottingham.

    13th June - Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, English fashion designer. William Butler Yeats, Irish writer, Nobel laureate. Basil Rathbone, English actor. Dorothy L. Sayers, English author. Tage Erlander, Prime Minister of Sweden. Mary Whitehouse, British campaigner. Malcolm McDowell, English actor. Ban Ki-moon, South Korean United Nations Secretary-General. Dennis Locorriere, American singer and guitarist (Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show).

    14th June - Harriet Beecher Stowe, American novelist and abolitionist. Alois Alzheimer, German physician. Sophia of Prussia, Prussian-born consort of Constantine I of Greece. Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Argentine Cuban revolution figure. Junior Walker, American saxophonist and singer (Jr. Walker & the All Stars). Donald Trump, American businessman and entrepreneur. Boy George, British singer (Culture Club). Steffi Graf, German tennis player.

    15th June - Georg Joseph Vogler, German composer, organist, teacher and theorist. Edvard Grieg, Norwegian composer. W.V. Awdry, British children's writer. Yuri Andropov, Soviet politician. Waylon Jennings, American singer. Harry Nilsson, American singer and composer. Noddy Holder, British singer (Slade). Simon Callow, British actor. James Belushi, American actor. Courteney Cox, American actress. Ice Cube, American rapper and actor. Neil Patrick Harris, American actor.

    Notable deaths this week in history are:-

    9th June - 1870 – Charles Dickens, English author.

    10th June - 323BC – Alexander the Great, Macedonian king. 1692 – Bridget Bishop, English-born American alleged witch, the first person to be convicted and executed during the Salem witch trials. 1967 – Spencer Tracy, American actor. 1993 – Les Dawson, English comedian. 2004 – Ray Charles, American musician.

    11th June - 1727 – King George I of Great Britain. 1796 – Samuel Whitbread, English brewer (Whitbread Group PLC) and politician. 1937 – R. J. (Reginald Joseph) Mitchell, British aircraft designer. 1979 – John Wayne, American actor. 1998 – Catherine Cookson, British novelist. 1999 – DeForest Kelley, American actor.

    12th June - 1778 – Philip Livingston, American signer of the Declaration of Independence. 1957 – Jimmy Dorsey, American musician. 1980 – Billy Butlin, Founder of the brand of holiday venues known as Butlins. 2003 – Gregory Peck, American actor. 2006 – Anna Lee Aldred, American first licenced female jockey.

    13th June - 1977 – Matthew Garber, British child actor (Mary Poppins).

    14th June - 1801 – Benedict Arnold, general and traitor in the American Revolution. 1908 – Frederick Arthur Stanley, British Governor general of Canada. 1927 – Jerome K. Jerome, British author. 1928 – Emmeline Pankhurst, British feminist. 1946 – John Logie Baird, Scottish television pioneer. 1986 – Alan Jay Lerner, American composer. 1991 – Dame Peggy Ashcroft, British actress. 1994 – Henry Mancini, American composer. 2000 – Attilio Bertolucci, Italian poet and writer.

    15th June - 1849 – James Knox Polk, 11th President of the United States. 1993 – James Hunt, English racing driver and 1976 Formula One world champion. 1996 – Ella Fitzgerald, American singer.

    “The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant's footsteps fading away. But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty." – Stephen King talking about Ray Bradbury

    Hope you find this blog interesting to read. If you have any comments or constructive feedback, please leave a comment by using the comment buttons provided.

    Hope you enjoy!!..... ChefGarfy =D
    Follow me on Twitter www.twitter.com/theRealTonyc
    www.garfysplace.blog.co.uk
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