Tag Archives: Bessie Smith

Almanac – April 15

1452 – Leonardo da Vinci born.  Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer.

His genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination“.

 He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.

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1802 – William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy saw a “long belt” of daffodils, on a walk around Glencoyne Bay, Ullswater, in the Lake District,  inspiring the former to pen I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud a couple of years later, inspired by Dorothy’s journal entry describing the walk –

When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side, we fancied that the lake had floated the seed ashore & that the little colony had so sprung up — But as we went along there were more & yet more & at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about & about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed and reeled and danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever dancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here & there a little knot & a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity & unity & life of that one busy highway — We rested again & again. The Bays were stormy & we heard the waves at different distances & in the middle of the water like the Sea.

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1894 – Bessie Smith born. American blues singer. Nicknamed The Empress of the Blues, she was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s, and is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and, along with Louis Armstrong, a major influence on other jazz vocalists.

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1912 – The British passenger liner RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic at 2:20 a.m., two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg. Only 710 of 2,227 passengers and crew on board survived.

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1980 – Jean-Paul Sartre died. French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic.

He was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism, and one of the leading figures in 20th-century French philosophy and Marxism.

His work has also influenced sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory, and literary studies, and continues to influence these disciplines.

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Almanac – September 26

1449 – An unusual battle took place near Little Cornard, Suffolk. In a marshy field on the Suffolk/Essex border, two Dragons engaged in an hour-long combat. One was black and lived on Kedington Hill, the other “reddish and spotted”, came from Ballingdon Hill.The Red & spotted Dragon won, after which both creatures returned to their respective hills “to the admiration of many beholding them”.

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1774 – Johnny Appleseed born (as Jonathan Chapman).  American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. He became an American legend while still alive, largely because of his kind and generous ways, his great leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples.

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1888 – T. S. Eliot born. Publisher, playwright, literary and social critic and “arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century.” Although  born an American, he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 (at age 25) and was naturalised as a British subject in 1927.
The poem that made his name, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock—started in 1910 and published in Chicago in 1915—is seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement, and was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including Gerontion (1920), The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930), and Four Quartets (1945). He is also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935).

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1937 – Bessie Smith died. American blues singer, probably  the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s and, along with Louis Armstrong, a major influence on subsequent jazz vocalists. She  was critically injured in a car accident while traveling along U.S. Route 61 between Memphis, Tennessee, and Clarksdale, Mississippi, the day before.

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1950 – Blue Moon  over Britain. A pale blue Harvest Moon shone over places as far apart as Bristol, London, Bridlington and Scotland [which also had a Blue Sun that afternoon]. An RAF plane investigated and found a thin dust layer at 43,000 feet, with a layer of ice particles in cyrrhus cloud at 20,000 to 30,000 feet.The dust was probably from an American sandstorm a few days earlier.

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