Wednesday, 28 May marks the 33rd anniversary of Mary Lou William’s death. Mary Lou Williams, an African-American keyboardist, composer, arranger, and contemporary of both Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne, is often overlooked as a key contributor to the jazz movement of the 20th century.
By Susan Ware
In 1928 Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean, a feat which made her an instant celebrity even though she was only a passenger, or in her self-deprecating description, “a sack of potatoes.”
Today, 11 May, marks the anniversary of the founding of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927. It wouldn’t be until 1928 until the award selection and nomination process was established, but this elite group of actors, directors, writers, technicians, and producers were leaders in the early film industry.
By Christopher Wiley
The 8th May marks the seventieth anniversary of the death of Dame Ethel Smyth, the pioneering composer and writer, at her home in Hook Heath, near Woking. In the course of her long and varied career, she composed six operas and an array of chamber, orchestral, and vocal works, challenging traditional notions of the place of women within music composition.
By Ronald Schechter
Let me begin with a confession. I used to be a snob when it came to comics. I learned to read circa 1970 and even though my first books were illustrated, there was something about the comic format – the words confined to speech and thought bubbles and the scenes subdivided into frames – that felt less than serious. The only time I remember being allowed to buy comic books was when I had just been to the doctor’s office.
By Liz Clarke
The illustration of a graphic history begins with the author’s script. There are two aspects to turning that script into artwork. It’s both a story, calling for decisions to be made about the best way to present the narrative visually, and a history, rooted in fact and raising questions about what the places and people (and their furniture and transportation and utensils) would actually have looked like.
On 31 March 1855 – Easter Sunday – Charlotte Brontë died at Haworth Parsonage. She was 38 years old, and the last surviving Brontë child. In this deeply moving letter to her literary advisor W. S. Williams, written on 4 June 1849, she reflects on the deaths of her sisters Anne and Emily.
By Michael Gerhardt
John Tyler remains one of the most interesting, active, and constitutionally significant presidents we have ever had. To begin with, he is the first vice president to be elevated to the presidency because of the death of the incumbent, William Henry Harrison. Harrison died 31 days after his inauguration in 1841.
By Tim Allen
Josephine Baker, the mid-20th century performance artist, provocatrix, and muse, led a fascinating transatlantic life. I recently had the opportunity to pose a few questions to Anne A. Cheng, Professor of English and African American Literature at Princeton University and author of the book Second Skin: Josephine Baker & the Modern Surface, about her research into Baker’s life, work, influence, and legacy.
This March we celebrate Women’s History Month, commemorating the lives, legacies, and contributions of women around the world. We’ve compiled a brief reading list that demonstrates the diversity of women’s lives and achievements.
By Jad Adams
Tony Benn has left as an enduring monument: one of the great diaries of the twentieth century, lasting from 1940, when he was fifteen, to 2009 when illness forced him to stop.
Women musicians push societal boundaries around the world, while hitting all the right notes. In honor of Women’s History Month, Oxford University Press is testing your knowledge about women musicians. Take the quiz and see if you’re a shower singer or an international composer!
By Philip Carter
Way back in 2007, when Twittering truly was for the birds, a far-sighted editor at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography piped up: maybe people would like to listen as well as read? So was devised the Oxford DNB‘s biography podcast which this week released its 200th episode—the waggerly tale of Charles Cruft (1852-1938), founder of the eponymous dog show held annually in early March.
From politicians to psychiatrists, novelists to biologists, and actors to entrepreneurs, the January 2014 update of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography adds a further 219 biographies of men and women who’ve made their mark on British history.
By Jared Orsi
Somewhere in the middle of the Great Plains in November 1806, the explorer Zebulon Pike worried that the lateness of the season jeopardized the completion of his expedition. A contemporary of Lewis and Clark, Pike commanded a US military party that was exploring the southwestern reaches of the Louisiana Purchase.
Hugh Trevor-Roper was born 100 years ago today on 15 January 1914. The following is a letter from Hugh Trevor-Roper to Xandra Howard-Johnston from One Hundred Letters From Hugh Trevor-Roper, edited by Richard Davenport-Hines and Adam Sisman.