As the saying goes: ‘nobody ever got rich by spending money’ which is advice that Hetty Green took very much to heart giving her a reputation for both wealth and miserliness.
She was born Henrietta Howland Robinson in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1834. The family were Quakers and the richest in the city making their money through their large fleet of whalers. Read more ›››
Those few of you who regularly read my ABC Wednesday posts will know that there is nothing I like better than an eccentric rogue and this week I give you one of the greatest – Maurice Flitcroft the Phantom of the Open.
Here was a man who took up golf at the age of forty-six and believing that he had mastered the game in a matter of months he posed as a professional to enter the most prestigious tournament in golf and carding a never to be equalled score of 121. Read more ›››
Gertrude ‘Trudy’ Ederle was an American competition swimmer who earned the nickname of Queen of the Waves when in 1926 she became the first woman to swim the English Channel.
Ederle was born in New York in 1905 the daughter of German immigrants who ran a butcher’s shop in Manhattan. It was her father who first taught to swim in New Jersey where the family owned a summer cottage. Read more ›››
Bertrand Dawson was a renowned physician, a peer of the realm, a pioneer the National Health Service and also the last person to commit regicide in the UK – or at least the last one that we know of.
Dawson was born in Croydon in 1864, the son of an architect, and graduated with a medical degree from the Royal London Hospital in 1893. Read more ›››
Despite discovering photography late in life, Julia Margaret Cameron became the very first celebrity photographer and arguably also the first to treat photography as an art form rather than a science.
Cameron was born Julia Margaret Pattle in Calcutta in 1815 where her father was an official with the East India Company. Her mother was French and her early education took place in France. Read more ›››
Sarah Forbes Bonetta was the princess, born into the Egbado royal family of south-western Nigeria, who became a favourite of Queen Victoria and a regular visitor to Windsor Castle.
Bonetta was captured in 1848 during a slave-hunt war by the infamous King Ghezo of Dahomey when she was just eight years old. Her tribe was massacred and she was intended as a human sacrifice. Read more ›››
The name Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov may not mean much to you, but you have a lot to thank him for because he has also been called the man who saved the world.
Arkhipov was born to a peasant family near Moscow in 1926. He was educated at the Pacific Higher Naval School and served on board a minesweeper in the war with Japan in 1945. Read more ›››
Wartime can throw up some strange heroes, but the strangest was Eddie Chapman, audacious safe-cracker, womaniser and conman who became the most extraordinary spy of Word War Two, better known as Agent Zigzag.
Born in County Durham in 1914, Chapman was a bright, but unruly child who often skipped school and by the time he was seventeen, he had become bored by life in the north east and took himself off to London. Read more ›››