Celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with these lovely illustrations.

Arthur Rackham

To celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday, three more fabulous Arthur Rackham illustrations from the 1909 Charles and Mary Lamb “Tales of Shakespeare”.

Romeo and Juliet

Arthur Rackham
image credit: Arthur Rackham [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Arthur Rackham was born in Lewisham in 1867. At the age of 17, he was sent on an ocean voyage to Australia to improve his fragile health, accompanied by two aunts. At the age of 18, he worked as a clerk at the Westminster Fire Office and began studying part-time at the Lambeth School of Art. In 1892, he started working for the ‘Westminster Budget’ as a reporter and illustrator. His first book illustrations were published in 1893 in ‘To the Other Side’ by Thomas Rhodes, but his first serious commission was in 1894 for ‘The Dolly Dialogues’, the collected sketches of Anthony Hope. Book illustrating then became Rackham’s career for the rest of his life.

Ophelia from Hamlet

Arthur Rackham
image credit: Arthur Rackham [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Arthur Rackham is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the ‘Golden Age’ of British book illustration which roughly encompassed the years from 1890 until the end of the First World War. During that period, there was a strong market for high quality illustrated books which typically were given as Christmas gifts. Many of Rackham’s books were produced in a de luxe limited edition, often vellum bound and usually signed, as well as a smaller, less ornately bound quarto ‘trade’ edition. This was sometimes followed by a more modestly presented octavo edition in subsequent years for particularly popular books. The onset of the war in 1914 curtailed the market for such quality books, and the public’s taste for fantasy and fairies also declined in the 1920s.

Cordelia from King Lear

image credit: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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Book Promotion

Leefdale by Michael Murray http://amzn.eu/dhYOHmW


#OnThisDay in 1934 Maggie Smith was born.

happy birthday

Margaret Natalie Smith

was born in Ilford, Essex on 28 December 1934.

Now, eighty three years later, Maggie Smith is one of Britain’s most well known actors.

Appearing in over fifty films, innumerable TV productions and countless stage performances, Dame Maggie Smith has dominated British drama for six decades.

Maggie Smith first appeared on stage in 1952

in an Oxford Playhouse production of  Twelfth Night. Her first TV role in 1955 was an episode of the BBC Sunday Night Theatre and her first film role was as a party guest in Child in the House in 1956.

Fast forward and Maggie Smith’s most recent stage performance was in 2007:

The Lady from Dubuque by Edward Albee. Her most recent TV was Downton Abbey (2010 – 2015) as Lady Crawley and The Lady in The Van (2015) was her most recent film.

I enjoyed Maggie Smith’s Oscar winning performance in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969.

By then Maggie Smith was a well established stage, TV and film actress with a formidable reputation.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was a fantastic film with a brilliant script based on the novel by Muriel Spark. Maggie Smith played the role brilliantly and the novel is still worth reading.

A few quotes:

For those who like that sort of thing,” said Miss Brodie in her best Edinburgh voice, “That is the sort of thing they like.

It is well, when in difficulties, to say never a word, neither black nor white. Speech is silver but silence is golden.

These years are still the years of my prime. It is important to recognise the years of one’s prime, always remember that.

I was about to start teacher training when I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and saw Maggie Smith in the film. This quote stayed with me during training and throughout my career.

To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul.

Maggie Smith continues to perform.

A TV documentary Nothing Like a Dame is in post-production. And Sherlock Gnomes, an animated film in which Maggie Smith is the voice of Lady Bluebury, the leader of the blue gnomes and Gnomeo’s widowed mother, is scheduled for release in 2018.

Happy Birthday Dame Maggie Smith!

happy birthday
image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/birthday-background-happy-937520/

Thanks for reading my blog today.

You might also like to read Celebrate the birth of Hermione Gingold #OnThisDay in 1897

or check out my book of the day at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/











#OnThisDay Frank Sinatra Sings For You!

Frank Sinatra


in 1915

Francis Albert Sinatra

was born.

Of all the many Frank Sinatra Youtube videos, I think this is one of the best.

For You

Thanks for reading my blog today.

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Please check out the Christmas Book of the Day at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/

Celebrate the birth of Hermione Gingold #OnThisDay in 1897

Hermione Gingold

Hermione Gingold

was an English actress whose distinctive drawling, deep voice was a result of the nodes on her vocal cords she developed in the 1920s and early 1930s.

A successful child actress,

Hermione Gingold

went on to act in comedy, drama and experimental theatre as well as broadcasting on the radio. Her greatest success came in revues during the 1930s to the 1950s.

In later life she played formidable elderly characters in such films and stage musicals as Gigi (1958), Bell, Book and Candle (1958), The Music Man (1962) and A Little Night Music (1973).

She became well known as a guest on television talk shows and continued to appear in revues, plays and musicals until an accident ended her performing career in 1977.

Hermione Gingold

had two children with her first husband, publisher Michael Joseph. Her younger son was Stephen Joseph the pioneer of theatre-in-the round who established the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.

Thanks for reading my blog today.

You might also like The longest running British stage play opened in London #OnThisDay in 1952.

Please check out the Christmas Book of the Day at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/


5 Portraits of Octavia Hill born #OnThisDay in 1838.

Octavia Hill

Octavia Hill was born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire on 3rd December 1838.

the eighth daughter of James Hill, a prosperous corn merchant and former banker.

Read more about Octavia’s early life here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: Charles Edmund Maurice [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

After her father was declared bankrupt and suffered mental health problems,

Octavia, her mother and siblings re-located to Finchley, London.

Read more about Octavia’s social influencers here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: Charles Edmund Maurice [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In 1864, Octavia became involved in social housing

when she persuaded John Ruskin to buy three houses in Paradise Place in one of London’s most notorious slums. Octavia was to manage the houses with the intention of making “lives noble, homes happy and family life good”.

Read more about Octavia’s plans here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In addition  to her work in social housing, Octavia was also involved with local amenity societies, citizenship, the army cadet movement, conservation and the founding of the National Trust.

Read more about the history of the National Trust here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: John Singer Sargent [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Octavia Hill died from cancer on 13th August 1912.

She was celebrated in her day, but after her death her reputation declined and she has been largely forgotten until recently.

Her legacy was at odds with later social thinking which saw the role of the State enlarge. Octavia argued strongly against government involvement in rectifying social problems: she resisted any participation of the State in providing welfare services and objected to council housing, school dinners and free health care. (Of course, this attitude was fully in keeping with the ideology of the era as it remains in some quarters to this day.)

Octavia had a home on the edge of Crockham Hill Common in the Kent / Surrey borders. She’s remembered with this tomb near the altar of Holy Trinity Church.

Octavia Hill
image credit: By Glen (http://www.flickr.com/photos/l2f1/4946701090) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Read more about Octavia Hill’s connection to The Borough in Southwark, London here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: Stephen Craven [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

And read more about English Heritage’s Blue Plaque at 2 Garbutt Place, Marylebone, London here.

Octavia Hill
image credit: By Simon Harriyott from Uckfield, England (Octavia Hill Uploaded by Oxyman) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks for reading my blog today.

You might also like 5 websites about Ada Lovelace who died #OnThisDay in 1852.

Please check out the Book of the Day at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/


On This Day in 1928 Micky Mouse was born. #OnThisDay

The stock market crashed just 20 days before Mickey Mouse was born on November 18th 1928.

A cute little mouse, that could bring smiles to the faces of children and adults alike, was probably just what was needed at such at uncertain time.

If you’ve got half an hour to spare, join over 11 million viewers and watch these Micky Mouse shorts  with Minnie, Pluto and all the rest of the gang.

Happy Birthday, Micky Mouse!

Thanks for reading my blog today.

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Please check out my Book of the Day.

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!

William Shakespeare

Historians believe Shakespeare was born on 23rd April in 1564.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

explains why April 23rd is deemed to be Shakespeare’s birthday.

The town of Stratford upon Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace, has celebrated his birthday for over two hundred years on the nearest Saturday to 23rd April.

Did Shakespeare have a birthday cake?

Maybe he had a slice of

Elizabethan Honey Cake

or an old Elizabethan Sugar Cake.

There’s no way that today’s 453 candles will fit on a cake, is there? Shakespeare was actually fifty two years old when he died on April 23rd 1616. And he’s buried inside Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.

April 23rd is also St George’s Day.

And if you want to join some celebrations the English Heritage  website is packed with ideas.

Thanks for visiting 3sixtyfiveblog today.

Happy St George’s Day!

Today’s book promo is: 


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