England

Between Realism and Romanticism – Thomas Hardy

Between Realism and Romanticism – Thomas Hardy

On June 2, 1840, English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy was born. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism, especially William Wordsworth. Charles Dickens was his other source of influence, and like Dickens he was highly critical of much in Victorian society. “To find beauty in ugliness is the province of the poet.” — Thomas Hardy, Statement (5 August 1888) Thomas…
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Francis Baily and the Baily Beads

Francis Baily and the Baily Beads

On May 15, 1836, English astronomer Francis Baily for the first time observed the so-called ‘Baily’s beads‘ during an eclipse of the Sun. For sure you know the effect, although you might not have seen it with your own eyes in nature. But, numerous photographs, pictures, and videos have been published, where the phenomenon can be watched. So what are Beailey’s beads? The Baily’s beads effect is a feature of total solar eclipses. As the moon…
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Florence Nightingale – The Lady with the Lamp

Florence Nightingale – The Lady with the Lamp

On May 12, 1820, celebrated British social reformer and statistician Florence Nightingale was born. She is best known for being the founder of modern nursing. She came to prominence while serving as a nurse during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers. She was known as “The Lady with the Lamp” after her habit of making rounds at night. Youth and Education It is known that Florence Nightingale was a…
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Thomas Blood and the Crown Jewels of England

Thomas Blood and the Crown Jewels of England

On May 9, 1671, Anglo-Irish officer and desperado Colonel Thomas Blood attempted to steal the Crown Jewels of England from the Tower of London. Not much is known about Thomas Blood’s early life. It is assumed that he was born to a successful blacksmith in Ireland. His father owned some land across the country and his grandfather was a member of the Parliament. Historians believe, that he went to England with the…
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The Passionate Life of Charlotte Brontë

The Passionate Life of Charlotte Brontë

On April 21, 1816, English novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters was born, whose novels are English literature standards. Most notably she wrote Jane Eyre under the pen name Currer Bell. Following the usual stereotype, computer scientists are nerds and the only literature they read – if they read any literature at all – are science fiction stories or fantasy novels. Of course I like science fiction stories –…
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Samuel Johnson and his Famous Dictionary

Samuel Johnson and his Famous Dictionary

On April 15, 1755, after nine years of intensive labor, Samuel Johnson publishes his “Dictionary of the English Language”, sometimes published as Johnson‘s Dictionary. It is among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language. Samuel Johnson showed signs of great intelligence quite early and his parents decided to start his educational program, when he was only three years old. At the age of nine, he was already promoted…
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The Origins of Copyright Law

The Origins of Copyright Law

On April 10, 1710, the Statute of Anne, an act of the Parliament of Great Britain, was introduced. It was the first statute to provide for copyright regulated by the government and courts, rather than by private parties. With the introduction of the printing press to Britain by William Caxton in 1476, printed works became more and more important as an economic asset. As early as 1483, King Richard III recognized the…
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Peter the Great and the Grand Embassy

Peter the Great and the Grand Embassy

On March 10, 1697, Russian Tsar Peter the Great began his diplomatic mission to Western Europe, referred to as the ‘Grand Embassy‘. The goal of this mission was to strengthen and broaden Russia‘s influence in Western Europe and to find allies against the Ottoman Empire. What makes the mission so special is that Peter the Great led the mission himself, but incognito under a wrong name. Becoming Russian Tsar At the age…
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Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots

On February 18, (or February 8 according to the old Julian calendar), 1587,  Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed after having found guilty of plotting to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. In the Western world, we all might have heard about the rivalry of Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. I have learned about the story back at high school in my German lessons, when we were reading Friedrich Schillers ‘Maria Stuart‘,…
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Sir Francis Bacon and the Scientific Method

Sir Francis Bacon and the Scientific Method

On January 22, 1561, English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, essayist, and author Sir Francis Bacon was born. Bacon has been called the creator of empiricism. His works established and popularized inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry. “Knowledge, that tendeth but to satisfaction, is but as a courtesan, which is for pleasure, and not for fruit or generation.” — Francis Bacon, as quoted in Valerius Terminus: Of the Interpretation of Nature (ca. 1603) Scholasticism…
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