Filed: ABC Wednesday

Adrian Carton de Wiart is known as the unkillable soldier who served in the Boer War and World Wars One and Two.

Along the way he was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; survived two plane crashes; tunnelled out of a prisoner-of-war camp and; tore off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. Read more ›››

Unusually my post this week is not about an individual, but rather a group of people who together became known as the Veronica Mutineers.

The Veronica in question was a three-masted wooden barque built in 1879 and by 1902 it was still being used as a cargo ship despite the competition from the much faster steamships. Read more ›››

U is for Donald Unger

Donald L Unger

‘Mother, I know you can hear me. Mother, you were wrong! And now that I have your attention, can I stop eating my broccoli, please?’

Those are the words of Donald L Unger after he proved that his mother was wrong – that continually cracking your knuckles does not cause arthritis in later life as she so often warned him when he was a child. Read more ›››

Annie Edson Taylor was a remarkable woman. At an age when most people would think about putting their feet up and taking it easy, she decided that she would become the very first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

She was born Annie Edson in Auburn, New York, in 1838, one of the eight children of flour mill owner Merrick Edson. He died when she was eight but the money he left meant supported the family. Read more ›››

There can be few people with a more unfortunate name as Clotworthy Skeffington, a cruel trick played on him by his parents, but one he tried hard to live up to.

Born in 1743, he was then the latest in a long line of Clotworthies, the family having adopted the first name from John Clotworthy, the Anglo-Irish politician who became the first Viscount Masserene whose title passed to his son-in-law, Sir John Skeffington. Read more ›››

Gilbert Romme

The French Revolution resulted in many ridiculous ideas, but perhaps the most risible was the French Republican Calendar devised by Gilbert Romme.

The thinking behind the new calendar was twofold. First that it should remove all religious references and second that time itself should embrace decimalisation. The result was a largely unworkable system. Read more ›››

Q is for James Quin

Portrait of James Quin by Hogarth

Acting is fraught with back-biting and bitchiness, but in the 18th century the profession was downright murderous, as illustrated by the life of actor and comedian, James Quin.

Quin was the son of a barrister and though he was born in London in 1693, his Irish parents took him back to Ireland where he spent his early years and attended Trinity College, Dublin, at least for a short time. Read more ›››

P is for Alf Price

Alf Price

The gates of history turns on small hinges, at least if you believe that great events have their roots in trivial incidents. So did a punch on the nose lead to the massacre of a generation in World War One?

The year is 1878 and a nineteen-year-old Prince Wilhelm was misbehaving himself by throwing stones at beach huts on Rapparee Beach in Ilfracombe, Devon. Read more ›››

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