Was Karen Silkwood Murdered?

Who was Karen Silkwood? Many people believe that she was murdered. Let’s look at her background first. She began working at an Oklahoma chemical plant in 1972.  The facility was responsible for producing plutonium pellets for use in nuclear reactors. Yes, frightening. As did her colleagues, she joined the union and became concerned about the levels of safety for the workers employed in the factory who were exposed to dangerous...

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Franklin D. Roosevelt: Assassination Attempt

FDR saved in Miami. When Franklin D Roosevelt was elected to office  he planned to relax a little before his inauguration. That was to take place in March 1933 so the month before, he accepted an invitation to go on a fishing trip to South Florida. Eleven days into the trip the yacht he was on, the Nourmahal, docked in pier one at Miami harbour. Roosevelt planned to speak briefly in Bayfront Park to which he travelled in an open car....

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British Money Before Decimalisation

British money before decimalisation In a strange British perverse way, those of us who remember the ‘old money’ took a secret delight in its complexity. Today, it’s easy. Like dollars and cents, there are one hundred pennies to the pound. Arithmetic is simple. Foreign visitors are no longer baffled. The old system, which evolved relatively naturally sounds quite bonkers, but even the most innumerate people (such as...

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Who’s Flying Your Plane?

Meet Kate McWilliams and Luke Elsworth I remember many years ago hearing a strange story about a commercial flight – the passengers refused to fly because the pilot was a woman. In preparing to write this article, I went to Google to determine just when that was.  I couldn’t find that information. But what I did find was something even more weird. In 2014, a passenger left a sexist message for the female pilot who had just...

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Lunch with Hitler

Traudl Junge was only twenty two years old when she became one of Adolf Hitler’s private secretaries. This was in 1942. The secretaries had little work to do and one of their duties was to dine with Hitler to keep him amused, keep his mind off the war for a short while and of course, to supply him with an audience. Initially Traudl found her boss to be rather charming and pleasant company. This was to change as the war...

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The Busby Babes & the Munich Air Disaster

The Busby Babes & the Munich Air Disaster. A plane accident in 1958 took the lives of eight football players from the Manchester United team.Two others were so badly injured that they never played  again. Staff from the football club died too, as did several respected sports journalists. The football players in the Manchester United team who were killed were all in their twenties, the youngest being twenty-one. The team were known...

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The Prince & the Showgirl: Gisèle Pascal, Prince Rainier & Marilyn Monroe

Gisèle Pascal, Prince Rainier and Marilyn Monroe In the early 1950s,Prince Rainier of Monaco was the perfect age to marry – he had been born in 1923. He was wealthy, handsome and the ruler of a magical principality. However, he was a shy and retiring man. For several years he had been living with a French actress, Gisèle Pascal and the time was approaching when he needed to marry to produce heirs to his principality. However,...

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Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez

Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Many race fans will be familiar with this circuit and in 2015, the Formula One series returned to Mexico. But what do you know about the brothers after which the circuit is named? Theirs is a story that shouldn’t be forgotten. Pedro Rodríguez was born in 1940 in Mexico City. He had three brothers and a sister. However, the other brother who is also commemorated in the name of this circuit was his...

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History of Valentine’s Day

Shared by Stacey J Nelson Ph.D. From an anonymous author. Valentine’s Day – the popular festival of love and romances traces its origin to ancient Roman festival and has not been created by card companies as some people believe it to be. There are various legends associated with the festival along with the belief that birds began to mate from this day. Popularity of the Valentine’s Day festival stems from the...

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Katie Hopkins: British Broadcaster Hates Fat People

Katie Hopkins fights obesity I have to admit that I have a sneaking admiration for people who  speak their minds on public platforms. In today’s politically correct world, it’s refreshing (and even more so if I tend to agree with their opinions). Katie, and I have to admit that I had never heard of her until this furore, spoke her mind very clearly about the obese. She declared that they were lazy and that she deplores the...

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Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day What do you think about Valentine’s Day? Do you look forward to chocolates, gifts and romance? Or do you think is a commercialised holiday? Whatever your opinion, you’ll find plenty to do, read, watch (and eat) right here. We have some lovely recipes that are perfect for any time of year, not just for Valentine’s Day. How about some travel ideas or romantic books to read? Scroll down and see...

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The Murder of Sal Mineo

Who was Sal Mineo? Twenty years before he was murdered, Sal Mineo had been a Hollywood heartthrob. He specialised in playing young toughs such as his part in the James Dean movie, Rebel Without a Cause. But by the time of his murder in February 1976 his career had spent some years in decline. But he wasn’t depressed about his situation. True, he had sold his palatial home and was living in a $75 a month rented apartment but he...

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Gladys Deacon

The curious life of Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough. Perhaps it became evident to Gladys that hers would be an unusual life when her father fatally shot  her mother’s lover.   Her parents were American and rich. They were in Paris in 1881 when Gladys, one of their four daughters, was born. The Deacons moved in the best social circles and their children were largely brought up and educated in France, mostly in Paris itself....

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Who Was Isabella Beeton?

Who was Isabella Beeton? The ‘Isabella’ part of the name might not be familiar but many people have heard of ‘Mrs Beeton’, the Victorian lady who compiled the then best-selling book of  household management advice. But who was Mrs Beeton? It’s easy to have the impression that she was a rosy-cheeked, suitable plump, grandmotherly old lady who shared her years of experience  of cooking and managing a home....

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The Kidnapping of Jean Paul Getty III

So that there would be no confusion between him, his father and his enormously wealthy grandfather, Jean Paul Getty III was generally known as Paul. In 1973, when he was only sixteen years of age, Paul was kidnapped by a ruthless Italian gang – but yet many people at the time believed it was a hoax. The Golden Hippie Paul lived in Rome where he became known for his hippie lifestyle. Being a Getty, it was not necessary for him to...

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The Secret Life of Charles Lindberg

Charles Lindbergh’s secret life. Charles Lindbergh became a hero in 1927 when he flew nonstop from New York to Paris. Five years later he gained the sympathy of the public when his young child was kidnapped and murdered. Yet he fell from grace during the Second World War and after his death, his secret private life was discovered. Lindbergh had not one but three secret families. In 1941, before the United States joined the war,...

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Clark Gable’s Secret Daughter

The secret daughter of Clark Gable. In the nineteen thirties, actor Clark Gable was known as the King of Hollywood. Tall, dark and handsome, he was considered to be every woman’s dream man. Although he was married four times, for many years it was thought that he had only one child – a boy who was born four months after Clark’s death. But for many years, Hollywood insiders kept a secret – Clark Gable had...

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Frank Stranahan

Fort Lauderdale history: Frank Stranahan. It’s generally accepted that Frank Stranahan from Ohio was the first permanent resident in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When he arrived, Fort Lauderdale didn’t actually exist. It was a settlement of just handful of people on the New River. Seminole Indians lived in the Everglades nearby but in general, the are was inhospitable with a stifling climate, dangerous wildlife and lots and...

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Who Was Carrie Buck?

Who was Carrie Buck? Carrie Buck was a victim of a curious belief that was sweeping the United States in the nineteen twenties. Various powerful men were becoming increasingly concerned about the health of the general population. Strange though it seems to us these days, many people thought that the answer was the sterilisation of people who were mentally or physically imperfect. The USA had previously had an open door policy when it...

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The Nuremberg Trials and the Jewish interpreter

The Nuremberg Trials and the Jewish interpreter. These trials began in November 1945 and were held to bring Nazi war criminals to justice.  It was a huge undertaking and interpreters were employed to translate – live in court – the testimonies of witnesses and the defence and comments of the most notorious and inhuman war criminals and their persecution of the Jews. Armand Jacoubovitch Imagine that you are a thirty year...

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Apollo One Spacecraft Fire

Apollo 1: Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. In summer 1966, NASA chose the crew for the first manned Apollo space mission – a mission that was to end in disaster. Gus was the oldest of the team at forty years old. He had been the second American to fly in space. Ed was thirty six and he had the distinction of being the first US astronaut to walk in space. The youngest crew member was Roger Chaffee who at thirty one was...

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Who Was Bessie Coleman?

Who was Bessie Coleman? Bessie Coleman was a pilot. When she was born in January 1892, it was several years before the Wright brothers even began to explore the possibility of flight. For Bessie, as a child, human flight was simply an unknown. And yet she became a well-known pilot – the first woman of African-American descent to do so. When she was older, and when flying was in its infancy, Bessie knew that this was what she...

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The Murder of Lord Errol

Who murdered Josslyn Hay? Joss Hay, Lord Errol, enjoyed living. He enjoyed loving too so when he was found shot in the head, most people presumed he had been murdered by a jealous husband or a spurned mistress. But which? At the time of his murder, he was involved in a curious love triangle. He was having an affair with the rather beautiful Diana – a young woman who was married to the much older Jock Delves Broughton. The trio...

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The Queen’s Cousins: Scandal?

Queen Elizabeth II’s cousins. In 1987 the media uncovered what seemed to be a huge scandal. Newspapers reported that two sisters had been discovered in what they called an ‘asylum for mental defectives’ and what’s more, they were cousins of the queen, Elizabeth II. It was said that the two women were living in the most basic conditions and that they had no visitors. It seemed that this was a case of the royal...

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The Last Victorian

Ethel Lang – born in the reign of Queen Victoria On 16th January, 2015, Ethel Lang passed away. She was the oldest living person in the UK, having been born in 1900, when Queen Victoria was still on the throne. Can you imagine that? Mrs Lang lived through six monarchs, twenty-two prime ministers … and let’s not forget two world wars. She had lived through a period of amazing advances. When she was born, public...

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Diana Barnato Walker

Who was Diana Barnato Walker? Diana was an English pilot who worked extensively during the Second World War transporting aircraft to the Royal Air Force. By the time she reached twenty two years of age, she had delivered  240 planes that were vital to the war effort. She was the first British woman to break the sound barrier. Before the war, few people would have imagined the socialite Diana would have been involved in such dangerous...

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Lady Iris Mountbatten: Royal Black Sheep

Who was Iris Mountbatten? When she was fourteen years old,she was a train-bearer at the wedding of the Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece. Two years later, she performed the same function at the coronation of George VI. She grew up to have sultry film star looks. She was a direct descendant of Queen Victoria and at one time was fourteenth in line to the throne. She was one of the most photographed debutantes of her time. Yet...

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Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary Sir Edmund Hillary is best known for being the first person to scale Mount Everest, along with his Sherpa guide, Norgay Tenzing. Tenzing was more than just his guide and companion though – he provided the inspiration for Sir Edmund to devote much of his life trying to improve the lot and the lifestyle of the Nepal Sherpas. Hillary undertook many expeditions -going to both the North and South Poles, and Everest...

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Scandal in the Graveyard – L’Affaire Victor Noir

Scandal in the Graveyard – L’Affaire Victor Noir. Andy Royston tells the story of the most scandalous gravestone in Paris and the story of Victor Noir. After having outraged each of my relations, you insult me with the pen of one of your menials. My turn had to come. I therefore ask you whether your inkpot is guaranteed by your breast… I live, not in a palace, but at 59, rue d’Auteuil. I promise to you that if...

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Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel: Naughtier than you might think. What do you know about Coco Chanel? Possibly most people today think of her as a couturier and the person who was responsible for iconic fashion designs – and of course, the famous Chanel N0 5 perfume. But who was she really? Her name instantly conjures up style and sophistication for most of us but she came from humble beginnings. Not only that, she had a string of fascinating...

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The Duchess of Cambridge

The Duchess of Cambridge. On 19th July, 1981, Carole and Mike Middleton sat down in front of their television – as did millions throughout the world – to watch the wedding of Diana Spencer to Prince Charles. Little did they know that thirty years later, they would see their as yet unborn daughter marrying the son of the happy couple. At the time Charles married Diana, Carole Middleton was in the early stages of pregnancy...

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Rosemary: The Forgotten Kennedy

Rose Kennedy already had two children – Joe Jr. and John – when she gave birth to her first daughter on Friday 13th September 1918. The nurse who had been employed to attend her was in a quandary. She had sent for Mrs Kennedy’s doctor but labour was now advanced and Dr Good hadn’t yet arrived. In those days, nurses were trained to deliver babies but, inexplicably, they were not permitted to do so. Nor were they...

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Why Did Henry VIII Marry Six Times?

Why did Henry VIII marry six times? There was a very good reason indeed. But I was talking to someone recently who truly believed that Henry VIII married six women because he was a horny old goat who just liked to trade wives in for a newer model. Henry had a much greater goal and one that was, in those times, incredibly important to the country. In 1524, King Henry was in his early thirties. He was incredibly tall and good looking,...

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The Mystery of Amy Johnson

The mystery of Amy Johnson. As a pioneer aviator, Amy Johnson from Yorkshire had broken several flying records by the time the Second World War started in 1939. But once the war had begun, the Royal Air Force had no use for female pilots. So the only opportunity for her to use her flying skills to help the war effort was to join the ATA – the Air Transport Auxiliary. This organisation, as the name suggests, used female pilots to...

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Keep Fighting Michael

 Michael Schumacher #KeepFightingMichael Safety in the world of motorsport has made huge strides in the last few decades. And yet Michael Schumacher, the most successful racing driver of the modern era, is fighting for his life. But not due to an accident on the track. On 29 December 2013, having retired from racing, Schumacher was enjoyed one of his favourite sports and was skiing in the French Alps. He fell and received a serious...

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Kanga: Camilla’s Rival, Lady Dale Tryon

Prince Charles’ other mistress, Kanga If you look up Dale Tryon in Wikipedia, you will read that she was a ‘close friend of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales’. That is not strictly speaking true.  Dale, known by the nickname of Kanga, was actually Charles’ mistress prior to his marriage and as such, a rival for his affections. Her story is tragic. Charles loved women who were blonde, attractive and...

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Who Was Blanche Barrow?

Who was Blanche Barrow? The image you see below gives the game away. As you can see, in 1933 Blanche Barrow was in police custody.  The mugshot also shows that she was twenty two years old and charged with murder. Blanche had been born as Blanche Caldwell on 1st January, 1911. Her mother was just sixteen. When Blanche was only seventeen years old, she was married off to a much older man but left him shortly afterwards. She then met...

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Mitford Marriages: Pamela Mitford and Derek Jackson

Mitford Marriages: Pamela Mitford and Derek Jackson. Pamela Mitford is probably the least known of the six sisters.  She’s often thought of as ‘the quiet one’ and certainly she was less scandalous than most of her sisters but nevertheless  she married a man who was not just a millionaire, he was also a war hero and a brilliant scientist. Pam had not been without admirers. She had been briefly engaged to Oliver...

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Who Was Evelyn Nesbit?

Who was Evelyn Nesbit? When Evelyn Nesbit died at the ripe old age of eighty two, she had been in obscurity for years. But at one time, her name was well-known on Broadway and in the theatres of Europe. She became even more well known in 1906 when,openly and in public, her husband shot her lover dead in a glittering supper club in Manhattan. Evelyn was only twenty at the time and had met her much older lover, Stanford White, when she...

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The Curious Life and Death of Empress Elisabeth

 Who was Empress Elisabeth? The Curious Life and Death of Empress Elisabeth. Elisabeth, or Sisi as she was known, wasn’t destined to be the Empress of Austria but that became her role, nevertheless. She was born into the royal family of Bavaria – her parents were both related to the upper-crust of Europe. It was the fact that her mother, Ludovika, was the sister of Sophie, the mother of Emperor Franz Joseph that sealed her...

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The Murder of Sir Harry Oakes

Sir Harry Oakes: A true life murder mystery. This story of a brutal murder has all the ingredients required to make an excellent thriller or film – but these events actually happened. The victim was a hugely wealthy businessman, we also have a Nazi spy, a beautiful socialite, the Mafia, exiled royalty and more fascinating characters and the scene is set in the beautiful Bahamas during the Second World War. The murder took place...

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Maud Gonne

Maud Gonne: English Eccentric For those who have heard the name of Maud Gonne, they probably have an idea that she was an Irish political activist. It’s true that she was pretty vocal in Irish politics but she was actually English, born in Surrey. She had a curious career but she is probably remembered most for being: The woman who had sex by her baby’s grave She had the child in 1889 in Paris. The father was her older...

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Prince George – The Forgotten Royal

Who was Prince George? Prince George was a member of the British royal family but his name is little-known today. He was a good looking prince – he was rather dashing and loved fast airplanes, fast cars and, as you might imagine, fast women too. There are still stories coming to light about his life – we may still find out more about this somewhat mysterious character. His life was a short one and we were left with three...

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Lord Lucan

Who was Lord Lucan? And even more importantly, what happened to him? What was the eventual fate of this member of the British aristocracy who, it’s claimed, murdered his children’s nanny mistaking her for his estranged wife? These strange events took place on November 7th, 1974 and Lord Lucan, nicknamed Lucky by his friends, was never seen again. Did he kill himself in remorse after murdering his children’s nanny?...

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Thinking of Others This Christmas

Thinking of Others This Christmas Every year it seems we all rush around shopping, decorating, baking, in the full swing of the Christmas Season. Do you stop to think how many are unable to do the same this year? If I’m honest, it’s too easy to look past the faces of those in need. Thankfully there is still time for me to have an attitude adjustment. Christmas is all about giving. It is my goal to share that fact with those who...

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Thelma Todd

Who Killed Thelma Todd? On a Monday morning December  1935, Thelma Todd’s body was found. She was in a car that was parked in the garage of her lover, Roland West. It was the exhaust fumes from the Packard convertible that had caused her death. Police rushed to the scene above the Pacific Highway between Malibu an Santa Monica. They took photographs, questioned locals and discovered that Thelma had bruises and that her face was...

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Man mailed himself from England to Australia

Man mailed himself from England to Australia. In 1964, Australian athlete, Reg Spiers, was stuck in the UK. He desperately wanted to get home to Australia but couldn’t afford the fare. So his solution was to have himself mailed home as freight. The system allowed freight to be sent cash-on-delivery, so no up-front payment was required. Reg reckoned that he’d find a way to pay for his flight (in a box in the cargo hold)...

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The Mystery of the Saddleworth Moor Body

The mystery of the body found on Saddleworth Moor. One morning a cyclist found the dead body of an elderly man in a remote spot on a moor with a grisly history. At first, the cyclist thought the man was sleeping or resting, but no. When the police arrived it was discovered that the man had no identification, no cellphone — and it seemed that he had taken his own life. But who was he? The body was discovered on December 12th,...

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Elvis and Hawaii

Two years ago, my mother, sister and I were headed off to Hawaii. It was a dream trip that I never in my whole life expected to make. But it was a time of healing and renewing our shrinking family’s bonds, that made this trip what it was. My brother had passed away earlier that year. During the many site seeing expeditions along the way, I can remember thinking to myself, that these islands truly are paradise on earth. Everything was...

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The Winecoff Fire of 1946

The Winecoff Fire Disaster of 1946. During the early hours of 7th December, 1946, Arnold Hardy took an iconic and award-winning photograph that was to become a symbol of the worst hotel disaster in the United States. Arnold was only twenty four years old and had just relocated to Atlanta. His great hobby was photography and to make ends meet, he was trying to get part-time work as a newspaper photographer. His camera was not...

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Agnes Moorehead

Do you recognise those eyes? If you know your television history you might, especially if you were watching in the 1960s or 70s. This shows Agnes Moorehead who played the witch Endora in the TV show Bewitched. You’ll remember that the comedy series was about a beautiful young witch (Samantha) who had married a mere mortal and live a normal suburban domestic life. Endora, her mother, deemed that Samantha had married so far...

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The Disappearance of the Mary Celeste

What was the fate of the Mary Celeste? The Mary Celeste became the world’s most famous ship in 1872. She had been found drifting in the North Atlantic Ocean – she was completely seaworthy and orderly but her entire crew had vanished into thin air. They were never seen again. You can read more about that here. Ever since that day, experts, the authorities and members of the general public have been speculating about the...

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Who Was Mr Simpson?

For anyone who is familiar with the history of the twentieth century, the name of Mrs Simpson is well known. She was the American divorcée who captivated the then king of England, Edward VIII. Famously he abdicated from the throne in order to marry her whereupon they became known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Their story, somewhat erroneously referred to as the ‘love affair of the century’, has been recreated in...

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The Berners Street Hoax

Theodore Hook, Berners Street and the Sanderson Hotel. For two hundred years the Berners Street Hoax has been thought of as one of the most bizarre – and certainly chaotic -practical jokes in history. If you’ve ever seen the Marx Brothers film, A Night at the Opera, this event is said to have been the inspiration for one of the funniest scenes. Theodore Hook, the man you see on the right,was the person responsible. He wasn...

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Grace Darling

Grace Darling and the sinking of the Forfarshire. The story of Grace Darling is well known. It’s often published in magazines that cater to young girls, possibly being thought to be inspirational. But why did she achieve such fame? Are the stories about her true? It’s certainly the case that she helped her father – a lighthouse keeper – to rescue nine people from a wrecked ship of the coast of Northumberland in...

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November 22, 1963

November 22, 1963 – An event that changed everyone’s life. Arriving in Dallas, Texas – November 22, 1963   John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas Texas. Kennedy was fatally shot by a sniper while traveling with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Mrs Nellie...

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Behind the Scenes: Royal Wedding 1947

The wedding of Princess Elizabeth & Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The 20th November, 1947 was a day that the population had been looking forward to. The recent war was still fresh in everyone’s memory. Rationing was still enforced. Towns and cities still showed the battle scars inflicted by the German bombs. So everyone was looking forward to the royal wedding – a happy occasion full of pageantry and romance -to bring...

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The Tragic Story of Princess Cecilie

The royal tragedy of Princess Cecilie. There have been so many tragedies that have befallen royal families. This was especially the case in the twentieth century. The story of Princess Cecilie and her family must be one of the saddest of all. It was 1937 – just  couple of years before the Second World Way broke out. Celilie was a beautiful young woman married to handsome Georg Donatus, the Grand Duke of Hesse. They had two small...

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Florida Murder – The Sea Waif

The date was November 12th, 1963.  A crew member aboard the Gulf Lion, a tanker, spotted a small boat in the distance. In it was a man, waving frantically. The ship changed course and headed to the tiny boat and saw its single live occupant, a middle-aged man. Also in the dinghy was a seven year old girl – not alive, sadly. The man told his rescuers that his name was Julian Harvey. He had been the captain of a sixty foot...

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Ivy Benson

Who was Ivy Benson? Have you heard of Ivy Benson? I doubt you have but her story is fascinating. Unusually, she was the leader of a swing band in England during the Second World War – and it was an all-girls band. They were incredibly popular. Women came into their own during World War Two. They drove trucks and buses, flew planes, worked as machinists and engineers, worked decoding messages and in general, took over the jobs of...

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Queen Senna of England

Queen Senna of England: A New Zealand Maori. It does take a bit of a stretch of the imagination but in theory at least, it is possible (although improbable) that England could have a queen named Senna. What’s more, the small girl who bears that name is a New Zealand Maori. How is this? Well firstly, quite a lot of the existing members of the royal family would have to be wiped out before Senna could take the throne. She is...

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My old friend Malcolm X

A teenage Andy Royston picked up a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X and it made a huge impression. Almost 40 years later, and now living in Florida, he revisits the book to figure out if it still impresses. “Malcolm X’s autobiography seemed to offer something different. His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me; the blunt poetry of his words, his unadorned insistence on respect, promised a new and uncompromising...

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The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis. The USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine just after midnight. The blast was so powerful it split the ship and sunk it in about 12 minutes; there were 1,196 men on board. The ship went down halfway between Guam and Leyte Gulf in shark infested waters. There were 300 men trapped inside who never made it out, 900 men made it into the water, but only 317 men survived. Help did not...

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SS City of Cairo

The sinking and discovery of the SS City of Cairo In 1942, the SS City of Cairo was steaming from Bombay towards England. It was carrying a cargo of 1000 tonnes of silver. The money was headed to His Majesty’s Treasury to bolster up the war effort. But on November 6th, it was spotted by a German U-boat. As a result, the ship was torpedoed and sank to the ocean floor – complete with the silver. Almost seventy years later,...

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Did You Know? Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II: A few facts you may not know. Do you know how the queen starts her day? At 8 am her dresser enters the royal bedroom and places a tray with Earl Grey tea by the bedside. At the same time, the corgis rush into the bedroom. Then the dresser opens the heavy curtains wide to ensure that the light streams in. At 9 am the queen walks through her sitting room and into her dining room and enjoys a comparatively frugal...

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Tragic Truth Behind Sheffield’s Famous Graffiti

The story behind the ‘I love you’ bridge. In 2001 local residents in the Park Hill area of Sheffield saw a rather amazing piece of graffiti. It wasn’t just that it was an ‘aww’ moment, it was also remarkable because of its location. It was written on the side of a walkway bridge one hundred and thirty feet off the ground. It read ‘Clare Middleton I Love You Will U Marry Me’. Everyone who saw...

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The Red Cross

There isn’t a symbol more recognizable in the world than that of the Red Cross. Today we have the Red Cross and the Red Crescent but both of these formidable institutions all started out under the banner of the Red Cross. In 1864, Jean-Henry Dunant, a Swiss national, and humanitarian began what would become the Red Cross. But the start of the Red Cross was much earlier than that. Dunant was a business man and he travelled throughout...

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Queen Elizabeth II & Marilyn Monroe

The day Queen Elizabeth met Marilyn Monroe. In very different ways, the two women were destined to become icons. What many of us don’t realise is that Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe were born only ten days apart. (April 21st and Jun 1st respectively – in 1926). And they met on October 29th, 1956. The occasion was the London premiere of The Battle of the River Plate in Leicester Square. It was the only time the two...

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Will we ever know the truth about Wallis Simpson?

It’s a famous story, of course. In the 1930s the King of England was the unmarried Edward VIII. When he ascended to the throne, he had a long-time mistress, Wallis Simpson. Although many members of the public believed that the king should be able to marry whoever he wished, the establishment were horrified at the possibility of their monarch marrying an American divorceé. Famously, the king announced his abdication, declaring...

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The Charge of the Light Brigade – an eyewitness account

On the 25th October 1854, during the Crimean War, a brigade of British officers and cavalrymen, commanded by the Earl of Cardigan, rode into a Balaclava valley, seemingly to reclaim artillery cannon captured by their Russian enemies. However, because of a miscommunication, they rode into the wrong valley – and into slaughtering cannon and musket fire on three sides. Of the five regiments involved, making a total of 670 officers...

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The Aberfan Disaster

The Aberfan disaster of 1966. Aberfan is a small mining village in Wales. On the misty morning of October 21st, 1966, the village’s children had just entered the classrooms of the small local school. It was just after nine o’clock. Suddenly, a loud roaring noise was heard. One teacher was sure that it was an aeroplane that was about to crash and she ordered the children to get under their desks. It was in fact, tens of...

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The Mysterious Porthole Murder

A shipboard romance – and murder: True story. They were an unlikely couple but it’s hardly surprising that they got together. In October 1947, the liner Durban Castle was making its way on a voyage between Cape Town and Southampton. Eileen Gibson (known as Gay) was a twenty one year old actress and a first class passenger aboard the ship. James Camb was also on board but the thirty one year old was an employee; he was a...

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The Love Life of the Eleventh Duke of Marlborough

The love life of the eleventh Duke of Marlborough. The eleventh Duke of Marlborough died on October 16th, 2014. The chances are that few people – apart from his family and friends – noticed it in the news. I mean after all, wasn’t he just some boring English aristocrat? Well, I suppose the answer is yes, but his life – and his love life – was really quite fascinating.   The story of his life –...

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Reginald Warneford: Reckless Rex

Reginald Warneford: War hero. Known as Reckless Rex because of his devil-may-care attitude, Reginald was a First World War fighter pilot. He was the first pilot for bring down one of the fearsome Zeppelins that the Germans unleashed upon Britain in 1915. And just ten days later, an air crash took Reginald’s life. He had been born in India where his father was a railway engineer. It’s said that he received no formal...

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The Russell Baby: A virgin birth?

A virgin birth? You decide. In the nineteen twenties, a married woman – Christobel Russell – became pregnant. That’s hardly remarkable in itself but there was a huge scandal. This is because that the rather posh Mrs Russell claimed that her husband had not been responsible for the pregnancy, and neither had another man. She said it was due to the ‘injudicious use of a sponge’. This is a great story. The...

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Sheila Chisholm

Sheila Chisholm: An ingenue’s introduction to high society. Words by Lyndsy Spence In a distant corner of the Empire, in the “Land of the Wattle and the Gum”, Sheila Chisholm, a sensitive and imaginative girl with large hazel eyes and a pale, heart-shaped face would take London society by storm. But that would have to wait for two decades; in the meantime she was busy growing up on Wollogoron, the family’s sheep farm where...

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Edward Guillaume – the murderous clown

Edward Guillaume – the murderous clown. On 9th October, Edward Guillaume, known as Polidor the Clown, could stand it no longer. He was sixty nine years old and his forty nine year old girlfriend claimed that he was too old for her. He took and ax and buried it in her throat. He then stabbed her repeatedly with kitchen knives.I guess he was upset. Once a famous clown, he had reached the end of his tether. In the 1930s he had...

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R101: Disaster in the air

R101: The disaster that ended the British airship programme After the First World War, it was clear to see that despite Germany’s losses, one of their strengths had been the dirigible or airship. Their Zeppelins, virtually silent monsters, had been able to fly unseen over British land and drop bombs in places which were otherwise inaccessible. This technology was embraced by other countries. Air travel had many advantages but in...

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Who Was John Bindon?

John Bindon: A true story of murder, scandal, gangsters, sex and …. royalty. Who was John Bindon and what was his connection to the aristocracy, the criminal underworld, film stars, gangsters and even members of the British royal family? It sounds like a plot for a highly fictional movie but John Bindon was a real person and he is the common denominator between the shady world of gangland England and the highest members of the...

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What Really Happened to the Mary Celeste?

In 1872 a Canadian ship, the Dei Gratia, spotted another ship close by in the North Atlantic Ocean. The crew thought that there was something odd about the ship so they approached and boarded. They found a mystery that still endures. Although the ship, the Mary Celeste, was fully seaworthy, there was no-one on board. There were no signs of a struggle or attack, no damage and very little was missing from the craft except its lifeboat...

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Who Was Violet Sharp?

Violet Sharp and the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. It was a famous and horrific crime. In 1932, the twenty month old son of one of the most famous men in American was kidnapped and an enormous ransom was demanded. The father of the infant, Charles Lindbergh, had come to the attention of the American public due to his exploits an an aviation pioneer. The baby had been taken from his crib during the evening – while Charles and...

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Richard III: The Final Battle

Richard III: The Final Battle. In 2012 the battle scarred bones of Richard III were unearthed. Three years later the sealed tomb has finally been unveiled at Leicester Cathedral. This event followed a week long funeral-fest which included a procession from Bosworth Field to Leicester Cathedral for a ceremony with everything from speeches to songs to second cousins 16 times removed and ending with an eye roll from Ashdown-Hill –...

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Bonnie and Clyde: Myths and and Legends

The real Bonnie and Clyde. In 1967, a film was made called Bonnie and Clyde. Although it’s based somewhat on fact, it has coloured a generation’s views about this outlaw couple. Gorgeous Faye Dunaway and handsome Warren Beatty inaccurately portrayed the couple. They were not the cunning and intelligent criminals they appeared to be. They were also youngsters. When they were ambushed and killed,  Clyde was only twenty five...

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Christine Granville

The strange story of Krystyna Skarbek. On June 15th, 1952, a woman’s body was found in the Shelbourne Hotel in London.  She had been murdered, stabbed in the heart. The authorities believed her to be a thirty-seven year old married woman who worked as a stewardess on ocean liners. This was only partially true. Christine Granville was forty four year old Krystyna Skarbek, the daughter of a Polish nobleman. Yes she had been...

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Monaco: The Prince and the Cabaret Singer

Princess Charlotte of Monaco: the illegitimate heiress to the Grimaldi family The Grimaldi family, who have ruled the tiny principality of Monaco for hundreds of years, have a chequered past. But one of the most interesting characters is Princess Charlotte. In the 1890s, the ruler of Monaco was Prince Albert I. He was a fascinating chap and his particular interest was the emerging study of oceanography. He was very much a pacifist but...

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What Happened to the Von Trapp Family Children?

The von Trapp family from ‘The Sound of Music‘. Like many people, I was just a kid when I first saw this classic movie. It’s true that it’s a sickly-sweet film – the oldies loved it – but nevertheless it had its own charm for kids. It was the idea of Mary Poppins coming to rescue a gaggle of kids from their overbearing father that did it. Now of course, we know that the story was only very loosely...

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Mrs Miniver

Mrs Miniver: The woman who won the war. Well, not literally but Winston Churchill said that her contribution to the war was worth more than six ‘divisions of war effort’ and that she had done more for the war effort than a ‘flotilla of battleships’. So who was she? Even more surprising than Churchill’s praise was the fact that she was a fictional character. But it’s said that she affected the...

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Woolf Barnato

Who was Woolf Barnato? When Woolf was just two years old, he became the heir to a vast fortune. His father had been a Jewish shopkeeper made good – he made a fortune from South African diamonds and gold. Unfortunately Barnato Senior did not enjoy his wealth for long as in 1897, he was lost overboard off the coast of Madeira at the age of forty six. Just what happened will never be known but foul play was suspected, as was...

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Who Killed Elsie Frost: Man Arrested

Fourteen year old Elsie Frost was murdered on October 9th, 1965. Almost fifty one years later, on September 27th,2016, police announced that they had made an arrest. Elsie’s brother and sister had contacted the BBC in 2014 asking them to help them to have the unsolved case re-opened. BBC journalist and broadcaster Jon Manel took up the cause. The West Yorkshire Police re-opened the case and assigned fourteen officers to...

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Why Airbnb is not Illegal

Airbnb is not illegal – anywhere. It seems that everyone has been writing about Airbnb for some years now. And because the company is often in the news, it’s certainly a good way to get hits to your website. But that’s not why I’m writing this…. The reason for this article is that, because I am an Airbnb host, I’m often hearing statements such as ‘Airbnb is illegal where I live’ or...

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Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer

Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer. Christopher Wilder was rich. His friends described him as charming and gallant. He lived a playboy life in South Florida, living well and racing sports cars. He was particularly fond of beautiful young women. In the nineteen eighties he was still in his thirties and living in Boynton Beach in Florida. Murder at the 1984 Miami Grand Prix This was the second motor racing event...

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Princess Viktoria’s Disastrous Marriage

Princess Viktoria of Prussia: Ruined by her young lover She was born into a privileged and wealthy royal position. And yet when Princess Viktoria died at the age of  sixty three she was penniless and disgraced – thanks to her choosing the wrong man. Her grandmother was Queen Victoria. Her mother was Victoria’s eldest daughter and had married Frederick III, the German Emperor and King of Prussia. Her brother was Wilhelm II,...

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Deborah Mitford: The Duchess of Devonshire

Deborah Mitford: The Duchess of Devonshire. The famous Mitford sisters, born in the earlier part of the twentieth century, are endlessly fascinating. You may have read about Unity Mitford and how it’s said that she gave birth to Hitler’s illegitimate child. The other sisters were equally fascinating and, in some cases, equally scandalous. Deborah however,was the youngest of the sisters and although she didn’t totally...

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Victoria Woodhull

Victoria Woodhull: The first woman to run for the US presidency. Her father was a con-man and an arsonist. He mother was illegitimate and illiterate. But that didn’t stop Victoria Woodhull from deciding that she wanted to be the president of the United States. She only went to school for three years. She was enchanted by clairvoyants and spiritualists. She was married when she was fifteen, had two children then was quickly...

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Sophia Loren and Cary Grant

 Sophia Loren and Cary Grant. The gorgeous Sophia Loren met Carlo Ponti, the man who was to become her husband, when she was seventeen and he was thirty nine. That was in September, 1951. She was at his bedside when he died aged ninety four in 2007. But Carlo was a married man when the couple met and by the time Sophia made her first film with Cary Grant, in 1957, he was still married and it wasn’t certain where their...

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Pirates: Myths and and legends

What were pirates really like? ‘Pirate’ – what do you see in your mind’s eye when you read the word? Do you imagine a chap like the one on the right? The wooden leg, the obligatory parrot perched on one shoulder, the cutlass, the hook hand, the cutlass, – were pirates really like that? (I prefer the Johnny Depp look myself, but never mind that….) For many of us,our idea of what pirates were like...

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Who Was Monica Proietti?

Monica Proietti: Machine Gun Molly Monica Proietti was the mother of two children and old twenty seven years old when she died. This young mother was killed in a gun battle with the law. I know that sounds like a story from the Wild West but this took place  in Montreal in 1967. Monica was known as Machine Gun Molly  and was a known criminal – with a curious background. She’d been married when she was only seventeen,...

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Margaret Lockwood

Margaret Lockwood. A Modern Woman from a Bygone Age by Lyndsy Spence At the height of her fame as Britain’s ‘queen of the silver screen’, Margaret Lockwood exuded brains, beauty, and a bawdiness which threatened to undermine the censorship board across the Atlantic. Yet, despite her exotic pairing of dark hair, light eyes, and a strategically placed beauty spot on her cheekbone, she was lamented as having...

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Isadora Duncan

Who was Isadora Duncan? Although she was American, Isadora Duncan was virtually unknown in the States during her short and rather scandalous lifetime. A free-spirited dancer, she found her fame in Europe. When she first appeared on the stage in Victorian New York, the public was scandalised. One critic wrote: “This woman is an outrage, scandalous and a threat to all decent societies. She should be locked up at the earliest...

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The Bombing of Buckingham Palace in WW2

The Second World War: The Bombing of Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace was hit by bombs seven times during the Second World War. It was just a matter of sheer luck that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (know to most of us as the Queen Mother) weren’t killed or very badly injured when the third raid took place on September 13th, 1940.. Two German bombs fell in the quadrangle – the centre courtyard – and in...

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Royal Feud: York and Lancaster

Queen Elizabeth and Wallis Simpson: The Houses of York and Lancaster. In the fifteenth century, as all good students of Yorkshire history know, there were battles in England for the throne. The combatants were the House of York and the House of Lancaster. These were known as the Wars of the Roses as each house used a rose as its emblem; white for York, red for Lancaster. But in the twentieth century there was another ‘war of the...

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Who Was Norman Bacchiocchi?

Luca Brasi’s killer: Murdered by the mob. Who hasn’t seen The Godfather? There were some pretty gruesome scenes, that’s for sure, and one of those was the murder of Luca Brasi. Fictional Brasi was the bodyguard of Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando. When Brasi was murdered in the movie, a bit player was the killer and he, Norman Bacchiocchi, was later killed by the mob — in real life. ‘He sleeps with...

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Queen Elizabeth II: The longest serving monarch

Queen Elizabeth II: Longest serving monarch On 9th September 2015, Queen Elizabeth II  became the longest-reigning monarch in British history. On the date, she had been on the throne for almost sixty four years. At that time, she was eighty nine years old. She surpassed the current record holder, her great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who was on the throne for 63 years 216 days. You might admire the royal family or it may be that you...

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Seymour Worsley, The Lady in Red

The Scandalous Lady Worsley. In the eighteenth century, England was rocked by the scandalous story of Lord and Lady Worsley and her lover, George Bisset. There were many scandals amongst the aristocracy in those days but the case Seymour Worsley was seen to be one of the worst – certainly the most entertaining. Born as Seymour Fleming to a wealthy family, she married Sir Richard Worsley when she was only seventeen. The couple...

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Eyam Village and the Great Plague

Eyam Village and the Great Plague. Eyam is a small and picturesque village in Derbyshire. If you visit, at first there is nothing to immediately distinguish it from other English villages but you’ll soon find history surrounds you. Three hundred and fifty years ago, the great plague came to the village. And the villagers decided to quarantine themselves to stop this horrible and fatal disease spreading to the rest of the north...

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Who was Sarah Winchester?

The mysterious Winchester House. When Sarah Winchester was widowed, she started to create one of the most bizarre homes ever seen in America. Why? It’s quite simple, it was to keep evil spirits away. Obviously really, isn’t it? No? Well, it was to Sarah. Sarah’s late husband was William Winchester, the man who made rage rifles ‘that won the West’. The distraught widow, who had discovered spiritualism some...

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The Racing Driver and the Titanic

Washington Augustus Roebling II. Washington Roebling was named after his well-known uncle who had played a part in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and as a boy, like others in his family, he had a huge interest in engineering. But for Washington, that had nothing to do with civil engineering but with cars and racing. He co-created the Roebling-Planche car which he drove successfully in several races in the USA. But late in 1911 he...

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Who Was MaVynee Betsch??

Who was MaVynee Betsch, the Beach Lady? She was born into high society. Her great grandfather had been the first black millionaire in Florida. He founded the Afro-American Insurance Company in Jacksonville and the famous black American Beach resort in the days of segregation. MaVynee was exquisitely educated, as were her brother and sister. They were taught the piano, for example, at a very early age. MaVynee went onto study voice and...

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Steve Fossett

Steve Fossett: Mystery. In late September 2008, a hiker was out in the Sierra Nevada in California with his wife and a couple of friends. The hiker had heard that there was an abandoned mine nearby so left the rest of the party to see if he could locate it. He didn’t – but he found something far more remarkable, although he didn’t realise it at the time. He found a pilot’s license and some banknotes. The...

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The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935

In the mid nineteen fifties a contractor on Islamorada, one of the Florida Keys, was digging fill from a rock pit. He unearthed a gruesome discovery. He found three intact cars. Their out-of-state licence plates showed that they had been there since 1935. The skeletons of the occupants were still inside the vehicles. It was easy to explain what had happened to those vehicles twenty years before. They must have been visiting the...

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Princess Gabriella, Countess of Carladès

Who is Princess Gabriella? You see, the thing is this. I have decided who Prince George ought to marry. OK, I know that he was born in 2013 so marriage is hardly on his list of priorities right now.  So yes, I’m a bit premature. Marriage might not be on the cards for another twenty five or thirty years by which time I might no longer be around (I’ll be amazed if I am) so I’m going to get my selection in now. I know...

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Today in history: September

What happened on this day in September? 1st Edgar Rice Burroughs born 1875 Titanic found by Robert Ballard 1985 Lily Tomlin born 1939 Germany invaded Poland 1939 Lady Iris Mountbatten died 1982 Princess Anne announced divorce 1989 2nd George Harrison married Olivia Arias 1978 Labor Day Hurricane 1935 Jean Spangler born 1923 3rd Steve Fossett disappeared 2007 Britain declared war on Germany 1939 Denby Dale Pie 1988 4th Robert Dudley...

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The Best Royal Wedding Dress – Ever!

I don’t know about you but royal wedding dresses are usually a disappointment for me. They are either remarkably plain (apologies to the Duchess of Cambridge but hers was boring) or they compete in fluffiness with the wedding cake (the eighties was a bad time for this – Princess Diana’s and The Duchess of York’s are good examples). But there was a royal wedding in 2011 when the dress was simply perfect. In...

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Songs For New Orleans : Katrina

New Orleans is my essence, my soul, my muse, and I can only dream that one day she will recapture her glory – Harry Connick Jr.   All the songs - Spotify playlist A catastrophe like Katrina changes everything. The harsh and painful realities are so hard to bear. The experience losing your home and possessions, of enforced exile, of desperate choices forced on families, on entire communities can be a massive challenge to...

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Lady Anne Savile

Who was Lady Anne Savile? Actually, she was Princess Anne of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg but Anne Savile, her maiden name, is considerably less effort to type. She was a rather eccentric aviator in the times when flying was still new and extremely dangerous – as she discovered. Lady Anne was born into a wealthy and titled British family. Her father was the Earl of Mexborough. When she married Prince Ludwig of...

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The Angels of Mons

The Angels of Mons: Did they save British soldiers in the First World War? Many people believed so at the time. The First World War – and the following years – saw a huge increase in the belief of spiritualism and the supernatural. We can understand this. So many young men were killed in the conflict and it was comforting for their loved ones to believe that they had gone to’a better place’ — and that...

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The Short and Sad Life of Lady Catherine Grey

The short and sad life of Lady Catherine Grey. Catherine Grey was born in 1540 and was in direct line to the English throne. When she was born, King Henry VIII was still alive and ruling the country. When the throne passed to his son, Edward VI, the young king named his cousin, Lady Jane Grey – Catherine’s older sister – as his heir. Queen Jane’s reign only lasted for a couple of weeks before Henry’s...

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What Was Squidgygate?

What was Squidgygate? On 23rd August, 1992, the Sun – a British tabloid newspaper – published the transcript of  phone call between Diana,Princess of Wales and her then-lover, James Gilbey. The call lasted for thirty minutes and during that time, Gilbey called Diana ‘Squidgy’ or ‘Squidge’ fifty three times and ‘darling’ fourteen times. Therefore, latching onto the Nixon Watergate...

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Who Was Ellen Church?

Ellen Church: The first air hostess. In 1930, Ellen was ideally qualified to become the first air hostess. She was a registered pilot and a qualified nurse. In those days, airlines wouldn’t employ female pilots (for reasons known only to them) but Ellen persuaded them that cabin crew should be trained in nursing. Flying was a rather hazardous business in those days — you only have to think of the large number of...

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Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Who was Lady Mary Wortley Montagu? In the eighteenth century, Lady Mary was known for her sharp satiric writing about prominent personalities. Not all this work survives however, because of her daughter. Her daughter was scandalised by her mother – who she considered to be extremely eccentric –  so when Lady Mary died, her papers were destroyed. Lady Mary was renown for her wit and her beauty but there was another side to...

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The Great Train Robbery: Roy James

Roy James: Racing driver & train robber. In the early nineteen sixties, Roy James was a promising young racing driver. He was also a criminal*. In 1963 he was the getaway driver for what was referred to as ‘the crime of the century’- the Great Train Robbery that took place on August 8th, 1963. He was a good racing driver and therefore an excellent getaway driver. When he took part in the Great Train Robbery, his...

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Princess Margaret and Group Captain Peter Townsend

Princess Margaret’s married lover Peter Townsend. Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II, when thirteen when she first saw Group Captain Peter Townsend. He had arrived at Buckingham Palace to be interviewed for the position of equerry to her father, the king. He was twenty-nine, a war hero, good-looking … and married. He had married a woman called Rosemary – a woman who was attractive, fun-loving and...

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John Wesley Hardin: Bad or Misunderstood?

John Wesley Hardin: Bad or Misunderstood? John Wesley Hardin was born near Bonham, Texas on May 26, 1853 to parents James “Gip” Hardin and Mary Elizabeth Dixson. Hardin’s father was a Methodist preacher, and in those days, preachers often had huge territories to cover to save souls, so they were known as a “circuit rider.” He describes his mother as being “highly cultured.” In 1859 the family...

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‘Freaks’ in Victorian times

‘Freaks’ in Victorian times. Of all the many and varied ‘facts’ we know about the Victorian era, one is that they loved freak shows. They would queue to see conjoined twins, bearded ladies, midgets, fat ladies and other ‘freaks’ who deviated from the norm. That’s one of the things we tend to dislike about the Victorian era in today’s politically-correct world. But were those people who...

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Princess Anne

Princess Anne: Forgotten royal. These days, we are more aware of the more ‘glamourous’ members of the royal family. In particular, this applies to the younger generation, royal babies, fashions and lifestyle. But one of the older members of the family, Princess Anne, has had an interesting life, a touch of scandal and yet is known for being one of (if not the) hardest working of the British royals today. Born in 1950, she...

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A Few Yards — And Three Feet

Three human feet found. Subtitle: What’s afoot in Bath? Yes, I have to report even more bizarre news from the UK, this time concerning severed feet. That’s right. Well, it’s not because the first two were left. Oh I’m confusing myself already so let’s start at the beginning. Foot number one In February 2016, a couple of blokes were out dog-walking in the rather gorgeous southern English town of Bath. They...

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The Last Men Hanged in Britain

Gwynne Evans & Peter Allen: The last people to be hanged in the UK. A double hanging for murder. The men you see here both have the dubious distinction of being the last person to be hanged in the UK. Why? Because they were both hanged for murder at exactly the same time – eight o’clock on the morning of 13th August 1964. Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans had committed a senseless and brutal murder and despite the fact that...

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Joe Kennedy Junior

The love life of Joe Kennedy Jr. This is the story of two members of the Kennedy family who both had tragic love affairs in England. Coincidentally both of them, Joe Junior and Kathleen, were to die at an early age in aircraft. They were the brother and sister of John Fitzgerald Kennedy who became president of the United States. Both Joe and Kathleen had relationships when in the UK with people who their strict Catholic parents...

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Diana Mitford

Diana Mitford and Oswald Mosley. The true story of Diana Mitford is wonderfully scandalous and took place during an eventful period in history. The ingredients in her story include the British aristocracy, millionaires, the upper echelons of society, affairs, Hitler, royalty and more – mostly set in wartime Britain. But it is also the story of two people in love who were vilified by the general public – to some extent,...

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Who Was Grace O’Malley?

Who was Grace O’Malley? What were women like in the sixteenth century? Well, not many were like Grace O’Malley but nevertheless, her life shows that women in those days certainly had spirit. She was an Irish queen, a chieftain and also a pirate. Yet she was presented to Queen Elizabeth I as the image here shows. She was born on the west coast of Ireland. Her exact date of birth isn’t known but the year is believed to...

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Who Was Jackie Cochran?

Jackie Cochran: The mystery. Jackie Cochran isn’t as well known as her counterpart and contemporary, Amelia Earhart.  But nevertheless she was the first woman – and in some cases, the first person – to achieve an enormous number of aviation feats and challenges. But who was she and what was her background? For many years, this was the accepted story. She did not know exactly when she was born, or where. She had no...

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The Great Train Robbery

How the Great Train Robbers gave themselves away. On August 8th, 1963, a gang of masked men robbed a high-speed mail train. They got away with £2.6 million. That would be the equivalent of almost fifty million pounds today. The robbery had been well-planned. The self-appointed leader, Bruce Reynolds, had planned the robbery meticulously. The train was attacked when it was in open countryside, far away from any towns or villages. The...

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About the Queen Mother

Ten things you didn’t know about the Queen Mother. Elizabeth Bowes Lyons was the mother of England’s Queen Elizabeth II. She was one of the most popular members of the royal family until her death in 2002 at the age of one hundred and one. Even though 2002 doesn’t seem too long ago, it seems that she is largely forgotten these days but she was a very popular and influential woman in the twentieth century. She is, in...

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The Adventures of Enid Lindeman

The Adventures of Enid Lindeman by Lyndsy Spence. Standing at six-feet tall with handsome features and platinum hair, Enid Lindeman was never going to be a wallflower. As she gallivanted through life she accumulated four husbands, numerous lovers, and during the inter-war years her high-jinx dominated the gossip columns. Evelyn Waugh satirized her set in Vile Bodies, but the workings of his menacing imagination paled in comparison to...

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Today in history: August

What happened on this day in August? 1st Riot Act established 1714 Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen 1774 Niki Lauda crash 1976 2nd First skating rink opened in the UK 1875 Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany 1934 Star Dust disappeared 1947 Cilla Black died 2015 3rd Record high temperatures in the UK 1990 Enid Lindeman married Lord Furness 1933 4th Elizabeth Bowes Lyon born 1900 Jeanne Calment died 1997 Dennis Lehane born 1965...

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Plane Lost in the Andes for Fifty Years

What happened to the British South American Airways Avro Lancastrian Star Dust? In 1947, an aircraft flying over the treacherous Andes Mountains, and all the passengers and crew aboard, disappeared into thin air. The radio operator sent a strange message which has not been deciphered to this day and the aircraft wasn’t seen again – for over fifty years. The plane, Star Dust, was a converted World War 2 bomber. The crew...

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Reading The Riot Act: What Does This Mean?

What is the origin of the phrase ‘reading the riot act’? Just about everyone in the English-speaking world has either said or used this phrase. But where did it come from?  For example, someone might say ‘her behaviour is terrible – I need to read her the riot act’. The phrase has its origins in 1714 in England. Those were turbulent times in the British Isles. There were riots and revolts for several...

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Why Airbnb is Good for Local Businesses

Does Airbnb (or similar) help the local community? We all know that the Airbnb website (and its copycat sites) are causing controversy because of the impact of ‘the sharing economy’. But can such services actually help local communities? In my experience – and thanks to various statistics – I can say ‘yes’. Before we start looking at facts and figures, let’s take a look at the average Airbnb...

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Save the Jolly Fisherman!

Skegness and the Jolly Fisherman. Skegness, a seaside resort in England, doesn’t really have too much to commend it. (Others may argue). But it has a wonderful history when it comes to graphics and promotion. The Jolly Fisherman, pictured here, was created in 1908 by an artist named John Hassall to promote the resort. And ever since, the fisherman has been doing a jolly good job too. But in July 2015, PETA (which is an American...

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The Empire State Building

Empire State Building: Trivia. What do you know about the Empire State Building? Here’s a series of weird and wonderful facts. Bore Fascinate your friends with Empire State Building trivia 🙂 For the golden anniversary of the building’s opening in 1981, workmen opened the time-capsule that had been buried in its cornerstone. The contents hadn’t stood the test of time. The items within it had rotted away during their...

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Who Was Louis Strange ?

Airman Louis A Strange: Daring exploits. Louis Strange was an exceptionally brave and talented pilot and served in both the First and the Second World Wars. He also is the subject of one one the most bizarre stories in this history of wartime aviation. He took his pilot training before the start of the First World War and soon proved his skills. He joined the Royal Flying Corps and when war was declared in 1914 he developed various...

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The Mystery of Dr James Barry

Dr James Barry James Barry, born in the eighteenth century, had a long and successful career as a medical surgeon in the British army. He fought and practised medicine all over the British Empire with distinction. He achieved the rank of medical superintendent general and eventually retired to London after and exciting career that even included duels of honour. A confirmed bachelor, he died in 1965. Of course, this isn’t a very...

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The Life of Margaret Whigham

The Grit in the Pearl: The Life of Margaret Whigham. Words by Lyndsy Spence She was always a headstrong woman, always used to getting her own way. This character trait, or flaw (depending if one were a friend or a foe), was apparent in girlhood. Born Ethel Margaret Whigman in 1912 in Newton Mearns near Glasgow, she dropped her parents’ choice of Ethel and insisted on being known as Margaret. Margaret was the only child of Helen...

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Dr. Frances Kelsey

It was the 1950’s and everything was becoming safer and easier in many areas of our lives. The end of the Second World War saw a prosperity that hasn’t been matched since. While life was getting easier, the after effects of the war were still being felt. Many people who lived through terrible bombings, night raids and such were having trouble falling asleep and getting a good night’s rest. Drug companies were doing a great business...

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Alcock and Brown

 Who were Alcock and Brown? If you asked people to name pioneers of aviation, which names do you think you’d hear? Charles Lindbergh would be one. Amelia Earhart would probably get a mention too, as would the Wright brothers. But Alcock and Brown were the first to fly across the Atlantic non-stop. Sadly, they are largely forgotten now. Many people believe that this distinction should go to Charles Lindbergh but he was the first...

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Lettice Curtis

Who was Lettice Curtis? During the Second World War the Air Transport Auxiliary was formed to move new, damaged or repaired aircraft to where they were needed by the Royal Air Force. Civilian pilots were used so that the trained fighter pilots could concentrate on winning the war. One hundred and sixty six of the pilots employed by the ATA were women and Lettice Curtis was one of the first to join up. By the time the war was over, she...

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The Curious Life of Rosemary Leveson-Gower

The tragic story of the girl who almost changed the course of British history. In fact, had circumstances turned out differently, Rosemary Leveson-Gower could have changed the course of world history. But it was not to be. The story has its true beginnings in the First World War. It is a love story that involves tragedy and includes the people who were the main players in what was called ‘The Love Affair of the Century’....

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To the Moon

To the Moon. When you mention the date: July 20, 1969, most people in North America will remember right away that this date had a significance that made the world stop and take notice. The late 50’s and early 60’s were possibly one of the most prosperous times in the century and because the world was currently at peace, the attention of our scientists, physicists and engineers (of all stripes) had turned to the prospect of harnessing...

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A Failed Assassination Attempt on Adolf Hitler

A bomb planted inside Wolf’s Lair field headquarters exploded killing 4 others, but leaving Hitler alive. A brief case containing a bomb planted by Claus von Stauffenberg a German army officer under a conference room table. The brief case was moved out of the way by a German General, to get a better look at the maps on the table, moving the brief case out of the way spared Hitler. Stauffenberg and others planned the attempt in an...

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British Prince Charles Edward: Nazi

The British prince who was a Nazi official. The grandson of Queen Victoria who was a top Nazi. Born in 1884, Prince Edward Charles was a member of the British royal family. His father, Prince Leopold, had been Victoria’s youngest son. Nevertheless, during the Second World War he was a top-ranking member of the Nazi Party. Because of this, you’re unlikely to find details of him in most history books, especially those...

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Who was Georgia Tann?

Who was Georgia Tann? Georgia Tann was the seemingly benevolent organiser of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, starting in the nineteen twenties. However, the society was little more than a front for her black-market dealings. Georgia Tann sold babies. Back in those days, treatment for couples who couldn’t conceive,or for women who couldn’t carry a baby to term, was very primitive compared to today’s...

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Will Camilla be Queen?

Will Camilla be Queen? In 2005, it was announced that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker -Bowles would be married. They had been living together for quite some time. The queen and the practically-minded royal family approved wholeheartedly. Princes William and Harry had come to know her well and were delighted. And yet a poll showed that only seven percent of British people wanted her to eventually be queen. Yet ten years later, as the...

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Who Was Julia Stanley?

Julia Stanley: Which version do you believe? Julia Stanley will go down in history. But her life is surrounded by myths and legends. What is the truth? Let’s look at the facts. She was born as one of five sisters in Liverpool in 1914. She wasn’t from a wealthy family but they were not poor either.  After the death of the girls’ mother, the father ruled over the household with an iron fist. When Julia was fourteen,...

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The Bobbed Haired Bandit

The Bobbed Haired Bandit. In 1989 it was clear to Ed Cooney Jr that his mother, now aged eighty five, was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Ed had been a computer programmer and had moved to Florida when he retired. His mother Celia, having no other family except Ed and his brother, had also moved from New Jersey to the Floridian sunshine. Ed didn’t realised that his mother had lived in Florida before – or anything...

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Did Ruth Ellis Really Shoot her Lover?

Did Ruth Ellis really shoot David Blakely? The world certainly thought so in 1955. It’s said that on Easter Sunday of that year, she had followed David Blakely – a racing driver – to outside a London pub. When she confronted him – their relationship had been stormy of late – she took a revolver from her handbag and shot him repeatedly. He died at once. Ruth did not run away or try to hide. She was...

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Prince John: The Hidden Royal

What is the truth about Prince John? For many years, few members of the public had even heard about Prince John. And a lot of the ‘information’ that exists about him is actually incorrect. The story that many people have heard about Prince John has often been used to ‘demonstrate’ that the British royal family are a heartless, unfeeling bunch. The myth is that John, who was the youngest of George V’s...

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Who is Helmut Marko?

 Who is Helmut Marko? In recent years, Formula One fans grew accustomed to the sight of Austrian Helmut Marko looking proudly on as his protege, Sebastian Vettel, was on the podium when he drove for Red Bull Racing. But who is he? What’s his background? He qualified as a lawyer but did you know that he was once a Formula One driver himself? His record comes nowhere close to that of ‘his boy’ Vettel- he scored no...

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Amelia Earhart

The making of Amelia Earhart. Amelia Earhart became world famous for flying planes. Lots of other women were flying at the time, but Amelia became the  female pilot. Today, she is known for her mysterious disappearance but during her lifetime, her popularity was largely due to the skilled promotion and public relations created by her husband, George Putnam. Amelia was always an adventurer and was a tomboy as a child. She’d...

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Nicholas Winton: The British Schindler

Nicholas Winton: War hero. In the winter of 1938, Nicholas Winton was a twenty eight year old banker living in London. He heard about the Jewish refugees in  Czechoslovakia so instead of going on his planned skiing holiday, he went to Prague and in the months to follow personally arranged for 669 Jewish children to be transported to the safety of England. And yet at the time, he told no-one about what he was doing.It was only...

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Derek Bentley & Christopher Craig

Derek Bentley & Christopher Craig. True and tragic story. Derek Bentley was hanged in England on 28th. January, 1953. Derek, who had learning difficulties, was nineteen when he was hanged – and he was innocent of the crime. What’s just as bad is that everyone knew he was innocent – and that included the jury who had found him guilty and the judge who sentenced him to death also knew. This was due to the...

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Occupied by the Germans in WW2: The ChanneI Islands

Under Nazi rule: Jersey, Alderney, Sark and Guernsey The scene that you see above is a typical one and shows the British  island of Jersey before the Second World War. What a peaceful scene it is. The castle overlooks the calm, blue sea. Jersey cows are contentedly grazing. There is rolling countryside and a man and boy sit enjoying the scenery and the peace of the island. But this traditional and sleepy, rural way of life was to...

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Who Was Charles Blondin?

Who was Charles Blondin? During Victorian times, tightrope walkers – or high wire performers as we would probably call them today – were often referred to by the generic name ‘blondin’. This was thanks to Frenchman Charles Blondin. Blondin was without doubt the most skillful and daring tightrope performer in the world at that time. His name became synonymous with the craft. Victorian society craved sensation....

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ISIS Flag at London Gay Parade

US reporter gets it wrong ….. again. Oh dear. Poor Lucy Pawle. This CNN reporter happened to come across the Gay Pride Parade in London and saw an ISIS flag. Horrified, she immediately reported this to one of the parade’s officials and to a police officer. To her dismay, they were unconcerned. Shock, horror. The inept London police are unconcerned about ISIS. So she took photographs, called CNN where she and an anchor...

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Queen Victoria’s Daughters

Queen Victoria’s daughters Queen Victoria had nine children and understandably, the one who is the most well-known was Albert Edward, her eldest son who became King Edward VII when Victoria died in 1901. Little is generally known about her daughters however. In most cases,they married into European royalty. Queen Victoria wanted her daughters to marry for love – as she had done herself – but that didn’t mean...

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Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley

Robert Dudley, the lover of the Virgin Queen Queen Elizabeth the First went down in history as the Virgin Queen, simply because she didn’t marry. But if we’re talking about virginity as a physical state, rather than a euphemism for ‘unmarried’ then it’s highly unlikely that it was the case. Elizabeth was strong minded – even as a girl. She inherited this to some extent from her father – King...

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Wilson B. Hickox

Wilson B. Hickox: Poisoned by the government. There’s no doubt that Wilson Hickox died a gruesome death. On 23rd June, 1927, he booked into the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Wilson was a prosperous businessman from Cleveland, Ohio. He had spent the evening out on the town and settled down in his hotel room  and poured himself a nightcap. Soon, he was struck by some unpleasant symptoms. His throat and chest began to tighten...

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Royal proposal: William and Catherine

How did Prince William propose to Kate Middleton? William and Catherine were secure in their relationship. It had survived a great deal and William was not sure that Catherine was the girl for him. But before he proposed, there were two important issues to sort out first. The first was, like all members of the royal family, he had to get permission to marry from his granny – or as we know her, Queen Elizabeth II. She queen had...

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The Murder of Kitty Genovese

Kitty Genovese and the apathetic bystanders. Catherine Genovese, an attractive twenty-eight year old, was murdered as she walked through the streets of Kew Gardens, NY, in March 1964. Her murder became well-known not just because of its brutality but because of allegations that almost forty bystanders saw her being attacked but did nothing to prevent her death. Her murderer did not know her. The attack wasn’t premeditated....

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Stephanie Hoffnung

Stephanie Hoffnung: Just one Jew. June 1942: Every evening, German SS officers would hammer on the door of the Hoffnung family’s home in Rue Riffault, Poitiers. This was occupied France and the Hoffnungs were Jewish. Led by Adjutant Wilhelm Hipp, the officers would visit Jewish homes to ensure that they were complying with the various rules and curfews that had been imposed. Any deviation from these rules and regulations could...

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Prince Philip’s letter: After Diana

Prince Philip’s letter: After Diana. In February, 2015, a letter was sold at auction. This was highly significant in the history of the British royal family.It was written by Prince Philip, five days after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Eighteen years previously, Diana had been killed in a car crash in Paris. Prince Philip,pictured on the left with Queen Elizabeth II, wrote the letter to his niece expressing his feelings...

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Who Was Ottoline Morrell?

The curious life of Ottoline Morrell. When Ottoline Morrell grew to womanhood, she was six feet tall. She had striking, flowing red hair and a strongly-featured face. Knowing that she would turn heads, she dressed flamboyantly. She also led a flamboyant and somewhat scandalous life. She was also the sort of woman that was often caricatured – even by her several lovers. She was born in 1873 into an aristocratic English family of...

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Fordlandia: Henry Ford’s Forgotten Amazon City

Fordlandia: Henry Ford’s Forgotten Amazon City Henry Ford was without doubt a great industrialist. But he had several unusual passions and two of them converge, rather ironically, in the story of Fordlandia. Ford liked his automotive business to be as self-reliant as possible. He disliked being dependant on outside suppliers. He always feared that he was at their mercy. They could put up their prices or take advantage of him in...

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Florida’s German Invasion

In early summer 1942 a German submarine, U-584, lay off the coast of Florida close to Jacksonville. On June 16th it surfaced and a small rubber inflatable dinghy was launched. Four men hastily climbed into the tiny craft. They wore swimming trunks and woollen caps. They each had a suitcase containing a variety of American made clothing. Also, they loaded four wooden crates into the dinghy – these contained explosives. They also...

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The Mystery of Flight 19

What happened to Flight 19? True life Second World War mystery from the Bermuda Triangle. The now famous phrase ‘the Bermuda Triangle’ hadn’t been coined on that day in December 1946 when, just before three o’clock in the afternoon, five planes took off on a routine training flight from Fort Lauderdale Naval Air Station. The aircraft, and their young occupants, were never seen again. This is a truly fascinating...

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The Liberation of Auschwitz

 The liberation of Auschwitz On 27th January 2015, hundreds of survivors of the Holocaust met at the Auschwitz concentration camp to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of its liberation. There were three hundred in total, mostly in their eighties and nineties. The very fact that there are still three hundred survivors of that terrible experience who are still fit and well enough to travel there shows just how huge the...

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The Honesty Shop Burglary

Canna, Inner Hebrides: Honesty shop burgled. Have you ever lived in a community where there’s no need to look your doors? There are still communities like that on the remote Scottish Hebrides islands. One of them is the island of Canna which at time of writing has a population of twenty six. But their neighbourly way of life is now under threat. The island runs an honesty shop which was burgled in June 2015. It is the first...

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The Monsanto House of the Future

A glimpse into the future in the nineteen fifties. I know that this sounds like something Doc Emmett Brown would say but it’s interesting to go back and see what ideas people had about the future. In 1957 the idea of the future was something that fascinated the Disney organisation and also a firm called the Monsanto Company. They thought, in common with Mr. Robinson from The Graduate, that the future could be summed up in one...

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34 Shambles Street, Barnsley

Yorkshire: 34 Shambles Street, Barnsley. Regular readers – all three of you 😉 – know that I was brought up in Barnsley in South Yorkshire. I’ve recently been looking into the history of a certain address, the reason being that in the 1950s my dad used that address as part of his business. Here’s a photograph from those days. That’s my old man’s business on the right of the picture – Service...

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Prince Philip

Ten facts you might not know about Prince Philip. Prince Philip married Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) in 1947. Few marriages have lasted as long. The prince has been hugely misunderstood in the press during all his public life but he is quite a character and there are many misconceptions about him. Here’s a selection of interesting facts that you might now know. Amaze your friends with your knowledge of royal...

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Rehabilitating Brian Jones

Review: Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones. One a summer’s night in 1969 in the wilds of East Sussex, Brian Jones was found motionless at the bottom of his swimming pool. No one knows for sure what happened to the Rolling Stones founder and guitarist. This was just 3 weeks after being fired from the band, and instantly he was at the center of outlandish conspiracy theories. Jones, just 27, drowned while under the...

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Maida Vale Tube Station

Maida Vale: The tube station with an all-female staff. When the Maida Vale tube station opened in London on June 6th 1915, it was less than a year after the outbreak of the First World War. This meant that because of the lack of available men, who were all either fighting in the forces or working towards the war effort, it was staffed entirely by women. There were 17,000 workers from London Transport who were now overseas fighting in...

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The D-Day Crossword Mystery

WW2: Were coded messages sent to the enemy via crossword puzzles? In the spring of 1944, Allied forces were preparing for the largest ever seaborne invasion in history. This top secret mission, which we now know as D-Day, was vital to the war.  It took months of planning and secrecy was vital. As with all military operations, code words were used for the locations, various equipment and the operation itself. As preparations continued...

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Who Killed Amy Dudley?

Did Queen Elizabeth I murder her lover’s wife? Queen Elizabeth the First was known as ‘the virgin queen’  but it’s unlikely this was the case. It’s true that she never married by most historians believe that she had a long-time affair with Sir Robert Dudley. Elizabeth and Robert had known each other since childhood and were the very best of friends.When she became queen she appointed him to her court and...

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RMS Titanic: The band

The musicians of the Titanic It’s over a hundred years ago that the Titanic sank with such an appalling loss of life but we’re still fascinated by the fate of this ‘unsinkable’ ship and its passengers and crew. All the band members went down with the ship. Who were these men? And what is the truth about the last song they played as the ship went down?   Those of us whose first movie exposure to the story...

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Today in history: June

What happened on this day in June? 1st Sgt Pepper album released 1967 Nissan Motor Company founded 1934 Crete falls to Germany 1941 Helen Keller died 1968 Marilyn Monroe born 1926 Germany launched the first Zeppelin raid against England 1915 She’s Leaving Home released 1967 2nd: The Ways of the World published 2015 Reg Spiers sentenced to death 1987 Queen Elizabeth II crowned 1953 Peter Sutcliffe born 1946 Wallace Hartley born...

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After Queen Elizabeth II: What will happen?

After Queen Elizabeth II: What will happen? The last time a monarch died was in 1952.  That is more than a lifetime ago for many of us and the world is a very different place now. Although many believe in the line from the National Anthem ‘long to reign over us’, we have to admit that, having been born in 1926, she may be coming to the end of her time as monarch. No, I don’t believe she will abdicate and it may be...

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Wallis Simpson’s Wedding Dress

Wallis Simpson’s wedding dress. Not a fashion success. In the nineteen thirties, when King Edward VIII gave up the throne of England for Mrs Wallis Simpson, many people just couldn’t understand what this highly eligible bachelor saw in her. Many  still don’t understand the attraction. In those days, and ever since, she has been described as a ‘fashion icon’. There is little photographic evidence to...

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The Sad Story of Prince Friedrich

The sad story of Prince Friedrich of Hesse. Who was the prince? He was a grandchild of Queen Victoria – the son of her daughter Alice. Princess Alice married Grand Duke Louis, a member of the German royal family. Friedrich was their fifth child. When just a toddler, he was diagnosed as having haemophilia which, as we know, was hereditary  and passed down from Queen Victoria herself. Although Friedrich’s parents were...

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William Grover Williams: Racing Driver and Spy

The curious life and death of Grand Prix driver, William Grover Williams. Yes, William Grover was a racing driver and some motorsport historians will probably know his name because he was the winner of the inaugural Monte Carlo Grand Prix in 1929. But his life was much more fascinating than that last sentences implies.   He was British, having had an English father and a British mother. It was evident that he had a huge interest...

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Detective Sergeant Stanley ‘Steve’ Moore

Great Train Robbery Detective, Steve Moore. Stanley Moore, always known as Steve, was one of the members of the Flying Squad team who were responsible for the capture of the men who had undertaken the Great Train Robbery of 1963. The robbers became famous – folk heroes – and many members of the British public secretly hoped that they’d get away with their haul of £2.6 million that they’d stolen from the Glasgow...

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Is Hitler’s son alive and living in England?

Hitler and Unity Mitford. Did Adolf Hitler have a child with an English girl? And could that child still be alive? It sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? But there are many historians who believe that this is the case and there is some evidence to show that the possibility exists. Unity Mitford was from an aristocratic English family. She and her sisters were the most colourful characters around in the pre-war era. They were fun...

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The Dionne Quintuplets

Who were the Dionne quintuplets? When Elzire Dionne discovered that she was pregnant in 1933, she already had five children. By May the following year, she had doubled the size of her family. And she was only twenty five She and her husband Oliva lived in a farming neighbourhood in a French-speaking area of Canada. During the early part of her pregnancy, Elzire thought she might have had a miscarriage (I won’t go into details)...

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The Dreamland Fire of 1911

Coney Island: The Dreamland Fire, 1911. Have you ever thought, like me, that places such as fairgrounds, circuses and amusement parks have a vaguely creepy side to them? At these places, much of what we see is illusion. Nothing is as it appears to be. This was especially the case in the early nineteenth century and in Victorian days. Dreamland, a huge amusement park on Coney Island, was the perfect example.In many ways, it was...

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The Montrose Ghost

The Irish Apparition. On 27th May 1913 Irishman Desmond Arthur was killed when his plane was flying over Montrose in Scotland. Three years later, his spirit returned to the scene to haunt it. The ghost disappeared in January 1917 and was never seen again. But why? First, let’s look at the fatal accident. Arthur was an experience flier and on his last flight he had taken his BE2 biplane to a height of 2,500 feet. People on the...

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Zoran Music: Dachau Artist

Who was Zoran Mušic? There are hardly the words to describe what happened at the Nazi concentration camps. But Zoran Music, an artist from Austria, was incarcerated in Dachau and secretly drew the horrors of life there. After graduating after studying art, he decided to travel. He was arrested by the Nazis when he was making sketches of buildings. They assumed he was a spy. Story has it that he was tortured and then interrogated by an...

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Morrissey: Militant Vegetarian

I don’t eat meat. For various reasons. But my question is, does that give me the right to insist that others don’t eat meat too? My diet is my life choice and my own business, wouldn’t you say? After all, I wouldn’t want militant carnivores insisting that I eat meat. But Morrissey (pictured) doesn’t think that way. He believes he has the right to be as militant as he wants regarding vegetarianism....

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Michael Llewelyn Davies: The Real Peter Pan

Who was Michael Llewelyn Davies? There can’t be many people who aren’t familiar with the story of Peter Pan. But did you know that the inspiration for the book was a young boy called Michael Llewelyn Davies? And Davies, pictured on the right, suffered a mysterious death when he was only twenty years old. Michael was one of five Llewellyn brothers – he was the fourth son – and the boys first met the Peter Pan...

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The Curious Love Life of Fabulous Fanny Cradock

The curious love life of bigamist Fanny Cradock Fanny Cradock was known as the first TV celebrity chef. She appeared on her show along with her ‘husband’, Johnny. Although he was her real-life partner, they were not married – a fact that could have scandalised some viewers when their show started in 1955. In fact, Fanny had first been married at the age of seventeen – to an RAF pilot. Accounts vary regarding...

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Abraham Zapruder

Who was Abraham Zapruder? Abraham Zapruder filmed a 26.6 second movie clip on a nineteen sixties 8mm camera. That piece of film has probably been analysed more than any other in the world – ever. That is because it was the only live footage of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But who was the man who captured this tragedy on film?  Why was he there on that day and what happened to his short movie clip?...

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Alice de Janze & Raymund de Trafford

The day Alice de Janzé shot her lover. It was March 25th, 1927 and Alice had a date to meet her lover, Raymund de Trafford for lunch in Paris. Actually it would be more accurate to describe him as her ex-lover. This meeting, at the Maison Lapérouse restaurant overlooking the River Seine ended at the Gare du Nord, with a detour to Monsieur Guinon’s gun shop on the Avenue de l’Opera. When they arrived at the station, Alice...

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