Publication Day in 1925 for The Great Gatsby

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 great gatsby
imaBy Musée Annam [Public domain or CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commonsge credit:
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 great gatsby
image credit: By Paramount Pictures (Beineke Library, Yale University) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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.

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti died on this day in 1882


image credit: Dante Gabriel Rossetti [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
image credit: Dante Gabriel Rossetti [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons

image credit: Dante Gabriel Rossetti [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Aren’t they glorious?

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I hope you’ve enjoyed these Dante Gabriel Rossetti paintings as much as I have.

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Beautiful portraits of actress Ellen Terry born On This Day in 1847.

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Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova born #OnThisDay in 1937

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.

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Sweets came off ration #OnThisDay in 1953

Sweets were rationed during World War II but finally de-rationed on this day in 1953.

Sweets were first de-rationed in April 1949 but demand far outstripped supply and, after four months, they were put back on ration.

Sweets and chocolate rationing started on 26 July 1942.

The amount of sugar which you were allowed fluctuated during the war, ranging from 16oz a month down to 8oz (227g) a month. (That seems quite a lot to me!)

This clip from 1949 surely sets the bar for childhood greediness at an all time high!

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Edward Lear died #OnThisDay in 1888

Artist, illustrator, musician, author and poet, Edward Lear died on 29th January 1888.

Edward Lear is probably now best known for his literary nonsense in poetry and prose and especially his limericks.

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!’

There was a Young Lady of Hull,
Who was chased by a virulent bull;
But she seized on a spade,
And called out, ‘Who’s afraid?’
Which distracted that virulent bull.

There was an Old Person of Ewell,
Who chiefly subsisted on gruel;
But to make it more nice
He inserted some mice,
Which refreshed that Old Person of Ewell.

There was an Old Person of Dover,
Who rushed through a field of blue Clover;
But some very large bees,
Stung his nose and his knees,
So he very soon went back to Dover.

There was a Young Lady whose bonnet,
Came untied when the birds sat upon it;
But she said: ‘I don’t care!
All the birds in the air
Are welcome to sit on my bonnet!’

And of course, The Owl and The Pussycat.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat…

They dined on mince, and slices of quince
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.

The Owl and the Pussycat
image credit: Edward Lear [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Amy Johnson died #OnThisDay in 1941

Aged only twenty seven years, Amy Johnson became a celebrity after her exciting solo flight to Australia in 1930.

When Amy landed at Port Darwin she was described as looking sunburnt and tired but smiling. Wearing khaki shorts and a green sun helmet she was soon flying on to Sidney. From Sidney, Amy flew to Brisbane where she had a mishap on descent as her plane side-slipped, struck a fence and crashed.

Amy’s flight to Australia was only the first of many other record breaking flights she undertook both alone and with her flying partner, Jim Mollison.

And the crash in Brisbane was only one of many reports about Amy to be printed in the newspapers.

On one occasion an admirer pushed through the crowds who’d turned out to greet Amy and stole a kiss from her. Immediately Amy slapped the man’s face and gave him a bloody nose.

Another kiss that achieved notoriety occurred when Amy landed at Achikawa aerodrome in Japan after completing her record breaking flight from London to Tokyo via Moscow and Siberia. She was embraced enthusiastically by General Gaishi Nagaoka the man with reputedly the longest moustache in the world and the newspapers had a field day.

Amy Johnson was born in Hull and her fish-merchant-ship-broking family supported her through university and into her flying career. Amy gained her pilot’s licence in 1929.

Amy was married to Jim Mollinson in 1932 but they divorced after a few years. Amy’s attempts to work in commercial flying didn’t lead to much but on the outbreak of WW2 she signed up for the Air Transport Auxiliary. The work involved flying aircraft for the Royal Air Force from one base to another.

It was on one such flight on January 5th 1941 that Amy crash landed into the Thames Estuary and was killed.

Because of the terrible weather conditions, Amy had been advised against flying that day but had bravely said she’d take the aircraft above the clouds and could manage.

The plane had sufficient fuel for four and three quarter hours flying. It was reported that exactly at that time from her departure Amy was seen bailing out of her plane over the sea.

Her scheduled flight was supposed to have been entirely within Oxfordshire so there was some speculation as to how Amy had ended up so far off course over the Thames estuary.

Attempts were made to rescue Amy to no avail.

In the process a naval officer, Lt – Commander Fletcher, also lost his life in a valiant attempt to save her.

Amy’s body was never found and subsequently there was some speculation that she became caught up in the propellers of the ship that was attempting her rescue.

As a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary with no known grave, Amy Johnson is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede.

Amy Johnson
image credit: By liz west from Boxborough, MA (Amy Johnson, pilot) [CC BY 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was released #OnThisDay in 1982.

If you’re in a rush today but want to celebrate the launch of “Thriller” back in 1982, this three minute shortened version is a great little reminder of this fantastic music video.

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