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Almanac – April 07

1739 – Dick Turpin executed. English highwayman whose exploits were romanticised following his execution in York for horse theft.

Turpin may have followed his father’s profession as a butcher early in life, but by the early 1730s he had joined a gang of deer thieves, and later became a poacher, burglar, horse thief and murderer. Forget the romantic image, he was just another thug from Essex.

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1836 – William Godwin died.  English journalist, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism, and the first modern proponent of anarchism.

Godwin is most famous for two books that he published within the space of a year: An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, an attack on political institutions, and Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, which attacks aristocratic privilege, but also is the first mystery novel.

Based on the success of both, Godwin featured prominently in the radical circles of London in the 1790s. In the ensuing conservative reaction to British radicalism, he was attacked, in part because of his marriage to the pioneering feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft in 1797 and his candid biography of her after her death.

 Their daughter, Mary Godwin (later Mary Shelley) would go on to write Frankenstein and marry the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

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1915 – Billie Holiday born. American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed “Lady Day” by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing.

Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Critic John Bush wrote that Holiday “changed the art of American pop vocals forever.”

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1920 – Ravi Shankar born.  Indian musician and composer who played the sitar. He has been described as the best-known contemporary Indian musician.

In 1956, he began to tour Europe and the Americas playing Indian classical music and increased its popularity there in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and George Harrison of the Beatles.

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Almanac – July 6th

1685 – The Battle of Sedgemoor, Somerset – the last battle on English soil and the end of the Monmouth Rebellion.

It followed a series of skirmishes around south west England between the forces of James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth and the crown he was trying to take. The royalist forces prevailed and about 500 rebel  troops were captured. Monmouth escaped from the battlefield but was later captured and taken to London for trial and execution. Many of Monmouth’s supporters were tried during the Bloody Assizes.

1887David Kalakaua, monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, was forced at gunpoint, at the hands of the Americans, to sign the Bayonet Constitution giving Americans more power in Hawaii while stripping Hawaiian citizens of their rights.

The Kingdom of Hawaii had been  established in 1810 — after a 15-year war to subjugate the smaller chiefdoms of Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lāai, Kauai and Niihau — by the chiefdom of Hawaii, the “Big Island.” One unified government operated until its overthrow in 1894.

The overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the subsequent annexation by the USA has  been cited as the first major instance of American imperialism.

1892Dadabhai Naoroji was elected as the first Indian Member of Parliament in Britain, as the Liberal MP for Finsbury Central (London).

1957Althea Gibson became the first black player to win a Wimbledon tennis singles title.

1957John Lennon and Paul McCartney  were introduced to each other when Lennon’s band the Quarrymen performs at the St. Peter’s Church Hall fête in Woolton, Liverpool.

 

Mr. Frankenstein

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