Tag Archives: Dracula

Almanac – May 26

1647 – Alse Young, hanged in Hartford, Connecticut, became the first known  person to be  executed as a witch in the British American colonies.

Very little is recorded of Alse Young; her existence is only known through her reputation as a witch. She is believed to have been the wife of John Young, who bought a small parcel of land in Windsor in 1641, sold it in 1649, and then disappeared from the town records.

There is no further record of Young’s trial or the specifics of the charge, only that Alse Young was a woman. Early historical record hints at the possibility that there may have been some sort of epidemic in the town of Windsor in early 1647.

She had a daughter, Alice Young Beamon, who would be accused of witchcraft in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts, some 30 years later.

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1828 – Celebrated feral child Kaspar Hauser was discovered wandering the streets of Nuremberg.

At first it was assumed that he was raised half-wild in forests, but during conversations with officials, Hauser told a different version of his past life, which he later also wrote down in more detail. According to this story, for as long as he could remember he spent his life totally alone in a darkened cell about two metres long, one metre wide and one and a half high with only a straw bed to sleep on and a horse carved out of wood for a toy.

He claimed that he found bread and water next to his bed each morning. Periodically the water would taste bitter and drinking it would cause him to sleep more heavily than usual. On such occasions, when he awakened, his straw was changed and his hair and nails were cut.

Hauser claimed that the first human being with whom he ever had contact was a mysterious man who visited him not long before his release, always taking great care not to reveal his face to him.

This man, Hauser said, taught him to write his name by leading his hand. After learning to stand and walk, he was brought to Nuremberg. Furthermore, the stranger allegedly taught him to say the phrase “I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was” (in Bavarian dialect), but Hauser claimed that he did not understand what these words meant.

This tale aroused great curiosity and made Hauser an object of international attention. Rumours arose that he was of princely parentage, possibly of Baden origin, but there were also claims that he was an impostor.

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1897 – Dracula,  by  Bram Stoker, was published.

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1916 – Moondog born. Blind American composer, musician, poet and inventor of several musical instruments.
 
Moving to New York as a young man, Moondog made a deliberate decision to make his home on the streets there, where he spent approximately twenty of the thirty years he lived in the city.

Most days he could be found in his chosen part of town wearing clothes he had created based on his own interpretation of the Norse god Odin.[citation needed] Thanks to his unconventional outfits and lifestyle, he was known for much of his life as “The Viking of 6th Avenue”.

Native American music, along with contemporary jazz and classical, mixed with the ambient sounds from his environment (city traffic, ocean waves, babies crying, etc.)  created the foundation of Moondog’s music.

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1926 – Miles Davis born. American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer.

 Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century,  Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, and jazz fusion.

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Almanac – April 20

1912 – Bram Stoker died.  Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula.

During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.

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1939 – Billie Holiday recorded “Strange Fruit“, considered by some to be the first Civil Rights song.

Written by Abel Meeropol, a white Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx, and a member of the Communist Party, it exposed American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans.

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1943 – Edie Sedgwick born. American actress, socialite, fashion model and heiress. She is best known for being one of Andy Warhol‘s superstars.

Sedgwick became known as “The Girl of the Year” in 1965 after starring in several of Warhol’s short films.

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Almanac – February 07

1102 – Empress Matilda, Princess of England born.  Daughter and heir of King Henry I of England.  Upon the death of her father in 1135, the throne was usurped by her cousin, Stephen of Blois, who moved quickly and successfully to claim the throne whilst Matilda was in Normandy, pregnant with her third child. Their rivalry for the throne led to years of unrest and civil war in England that have been called the Anarchy.

Matilda was the first female ruler of the Kingdom of England, though the length of her effective rule was brief: a few months in 1141. She was never crowned and failed to consolidate her rule (legally and politically). For this reason, she is normally excluded from lists of English monarchs, and her rival Stephen is usually listed as monarch for the period 1135–1154.

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1873 – Sheridan Le Fanu died.  Irish writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and was central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. His best known works include  Uncle Silas, Carmilla and The House by the Churchyard.

His vampire novel Carmilla predated Bram Stoker’s Dracula by 25 years.

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Almanac – December 14

1476 – Vlad Tepes died. Vlad III, The Impaler,  Prince of Wallachia, member of the House of Drăculesti. His Romanian patronymic Dragwlya (or Dragkwlya), Dragulea, Dragolea, Drăculea is a diminutive of the epithet Dracul “the Devil” carried by his father Vlad II. He might be better known in the west (with a little help from Bram Stoker) as Dracula.

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1503 – Nostradamus born. Michel de Nostredame, French apothecary and reputed seer who published collections of prophecies that have since become famous worldwide. He is best known for his book Les Propheties (The Prophecies), the first edition of which appeared in 1555.

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1895 – Paul Eluard born.  French poet and one of the founders of the Surrealist movement.

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1911 – Roald Amundsen’s team, comprising himself, Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel, and Oscar Wisting, became the first to reach the South Pole. Amundsen’s expedition benefited from careful preparation, good equipment, appropriate clothing, a simple primary task (Amundsen did no surveying on his route south and is known to have taken only two photographs), an understanding of dogs and their handling, and the effective use of skis. In contrast to the misfortunes of Scott’s team, Amundsen’s trek proved rather smooth and uneventful.

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1946 – Jane Birkin born. English actress and singer. She had a passionate and creative relationship with Serge Gainsbourg which, amongst other things, produced this…

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Almanac – November 08

1308 – John  Duns Scotus died. Probably Scottish born and generally reckoned to be one of the three most important philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages, Scotus has had considerable influence on both Catholic and secular thought.

The doctrines for which he is best known are the “univocity of being,” that existence is the most abstract concept we have, applicable to everything that exists; the formal distinction, a way of distinguishing between different aspects of the same thing; and the idea of haecceity, the property supposed to be in each individual thing that makes it an individual.

Scotus also developed a complex argument for the existence of God, and argued for the Immaculate conception of Mary.

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1656 – Edmond Halley born. English astronomer, geophysicist, mathematician, meteorologist, and physicist who is best known for computing the orbit of the eponymous Halley’s Comet.

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1847 – Bram Stoker born.  Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula.

During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.

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1887 – Doc Holliday died.  American gambler, gunfighter and dentist of the American Old West, who is usually remembered for his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his involvement in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

In an 1896 article, Wyatt Earp said that “Doc was a dentist, not a lawman or an assassin, whom necessity had made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease had made a frontier vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit; a long lean ash-blond fellow nearly dead with consumption, and at the same time the most skillful gambler and the nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a six-gun that I ever knew.”

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1965 – The Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965 is given Royal Assent, formally abolishing the death penalty in the United Kingdom.

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2011 – The potentially hazardous asteroid 2005 YU55 passed 0.85 lunar distances from Earth (about 324,600 kilometres or 201,700 miles), the closest known approach by an asteroid of its brightness since 2010 XC15 in 1976.

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Almanac – October 20

1854 – Arthur Rimbaud born.  French poet. Born in Charleville, Ardennes, he produced his works while still in his late teens—Victor Hugo described him at the time as “an infant Shakespeare”—and he gave up creative writing altogether before the age of 20. As part of the decadent movement, Rimbaud influenced modern literature, music, and arts, and prefigured surrealism.

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1882 – Bela Lugosi born.  Hungarian actor, who is best known for playing the character “Dracula” in the 1931 film and for his roles in various other horror films. Through the 1930s, he occupied an important niche in popular horror films, with their East European setting, but his Hungarian accent limited his repertoire, and he tried unsuccessfully to avoid typecasting.

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1937 – Wanda Jackson born. American singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist who had success in the mid-1950s and 1960s as one of the first popular female rockabilly singers and a pioneering rock and roll artist. She is known to many as the Queen (or First Lady) of Rockabilly.

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1947 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of Hollywood, resulting in a blacklist that prevents some from working in the industry for years.

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1967 – A purported Bigfoot is filmed by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin in the Six Rivers National Forest outside of Crescent City, California.

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Almanac – October 06

1854 –  The Great fire of Newcastle and Gateshead started shortly after midnight, leading to 53 deaths and hundreds injured.

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1914 – Thor Heyerdahl born. Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer with a background in zoology and geography. He’s best known  for his Kon-Tiki expedition, in which he sailed 8,000 km (5,000 mi) across the Pacific Ocean in a self-built raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands in 1947. The expedition was designed to demonstrate that ancient people could have made long sea voyages, creating contacts between apparently separate cultures.

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1946 – Millie Small born.  Jamaican singer-songwriter, probably best known for her 1964 cover version of “My Boy Lollipop”, (originally  by Barbie Gaye in late 1956.) Released in March 1964,  Small’s cover was a massive hit, reaching number two both in the UK  and US Singles Charts.

“My Boy Lollipop” was doubly significant in British pop music history, as it was the first major hit for Island Records, although it was actually released via Fontana Records because Chris Blackwell, Island’s owner, did not want to overextend the label’s then-meagre resources; and Small was the first artist to have a UK hit that was recorded in the bluebeat style. 

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1962 – Tod Browning died. American motion picture actor, director and screenwriter, his  career spanned the silent and talkie eras. Best known as the director of the now- lost early vampire film London After Midnight (1927),  Dracula (1931), the cult classic Freaks (1932), and classic silent film collaborations with Lon Chaney, Browning directed many movies in a wide range of genres. His  final film was the murder mystery Miracles For Sale (1939).

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