Geoffrey Chaucer narrated The Canterbury Tales for the first time to the court of Richard II.
Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour Of which vertu engendred is the flour, Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne, And smale foweles maken melodye, That slepen al the nyght with open ye (so priketh hem Nature in hir corages), Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; And specially from every shires ende Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende, The hooly blisful martir for to seke, That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
For A level English Literature my year group studied The Prologue, The Pardoner’s Tale and The Prioress’s Tale.
Fortunately, a paperback translation was available!
I can’t say that I enjoyed studying The Canterbury Tales when at school in the 1960s. I was more interested in The Valley of the Dolls.
First published by Scribner’s in April 1925, The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald received mixed reviews and sold poorly; in its first year, the book sold only 20,000 copies.
Fitzgerald died in 1940, believing himself to be a failure and his work forgotten.
However, the novel experienced a revival during World War II, and became a part of American high school curricula. It is now widely considered to be a literary classic and a contender for the title “Great American Novel.”
The cover of the first printing of The Great Gatsby is among the most celebrated pieces of art in American literature. A little-known artist named Francis Cugat was commissioned to illustrate the book while Fitzgerald was in the midst of writing it.
The cover was completed before the novel; Fitzgerald was so enamored with it that he told his publisher he had “written it into” the novel.
Fitzgerald’s remarks about incorporating the painting into the novel led to the interpretation that the eyes are reminiscent of those of fictional optometrist Dr. T. J. Eckleburg (depicted on a faded commercial billboard near George Wilson’s auto repair shop) which Fitzgerald described as “blue and gigantic – their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face, but instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a non-existent nose.”
Although this passage has some resemblance to the painting, a closer explanation can be found in the description of Daisy Buchanan as the “girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs.”
The 1926 American silent drama film directed by Herbert Brenon was the first of many film and stage adaptations of the novel.
Warner Baxter played Jay Gatsby and Lois Wilson was Daisy Buchanan.
The film was produced by Famous Players-Lasky, and distributed by Paramount Pictures. Unfortunately this version of The Great Gatsby is now considered lost.
In the 1949 film of The Great Gatsby, Alan Ladd played Jay Gatsby and Betty Field was Daisy Buchanan.
The 1974 film had Robert Redford as Jay and Mia Farrow as Daisy.
And the 2013 version starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay and Carey Mulligan as Daisy.
Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is a retired Russian cosmonaut, engineer, and politician.
She is the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than 400 applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963.
Before her recruitment as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile-factory assembly worker and an amateur skydiver.
She became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is regarded as a hero in post-Soviet Russia and much of the world.
Having orbited Earth 48 times, Tereshkova remains the only woman ever to have been on a solo space mission.
In 2013, she offered to go on a one-way trip to Mars if the opportunity arose. At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, she was a carrier of the Olympic flag.
Happy 81st Birthday Valentina! You inspired lots of little girls back in 1963 who until then had thought that space exploration was strictly for the boys.
was an English conductor best known for his association with London’s annual series of promenade concerts known as The Proms.
Henry Wood conducted The Proms for nearly half a century, introducing hundreds of new works to British audiences.
After his death in 1944, the concerts were officially renamed in his honour as The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts, although they continued to be generally referred to as The Proms.
In the summer of 1965 (when I was about fourteen) my dad decided we should go to The Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.
We had a day ticket and caught the train from Peterborough railway station on August 19th and were in the capital a couple of hours later. We did some tourist stuff and then after a Lyons Corner House for something to eat we headed to South Kensington for the concert.
We were overawed by the vastness of the Albert Hall and by the size of the audience, which was far greater than anything we’d experienced before.
The programme started with Neville Marriner directing the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in a Handel concerto while he played the violin. Impressive!
This was followed by the premiere of Michael Tippett’s piano concerto conducted by the composer himself. The soloist was John Ogden and the music was execrable.
After the interval Malcolm Sargent conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Singers in a performance of “The Planets”.
We’d been listening to this on a gramophone record for weeks and loved every minute.
Thanks very much, Sir Henry Wood, for a wonderful experience and a very Happy 149th Birthday.
This is the only clip I can find of Sir Henry actually conducting. It’s the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performing Vaughan William’s Serenade to Music in 1938.
Phyllis Nan Sortain Pechey, better known as Fanny Cradock, was born on 26th February 1909.
Fanny Cradock found fame as an English restaurant critic, television celebrity cook and cookery writer. She made frequent appearances on television, at cookery demonstrations and in print with Major Johnnie Cradock who played the part of a slightly bumbling hen-pecked husband.
This video of a 1960 ‘Cockney’ themed party filmed in Fanny and Johnny’s home to promote a new book is a jaw-dropping insight into the bizarre habits of the entertaining class of the time!
In November 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain placed Sir John Anderson in charge of Air Raid Precautions.
Anderson immediately commissioned the engineer, William Patterson, to design a small and cheap shelter that could be erected in people’s gardens.
The first ‘Anderson’ shelter was erected in a garden in Islington, London on 25 February 1939.
Between then and the outbreak of the war in September, around 1.5 million shelters were distributed to people living in areas expected to be bombed by the Luftwaffe.
During the war a further 2.1 million Anderson shelters were erected.
An estimated 50,000 lives were saved by use of the Anderson shelters although critics think there were better alternatives and only 27% of Londoners actually had their own shelter. 9% of the capital’s residents used public shelters and 4% went down the underground while the majority were either involved in night work or just stayed indoors.
The Anderson shelters were uncomfortable especially in cold weather prompting the government to issue advice to improve the situation.