Filed: ABC Wednesday

This week’s ABC Wednesday subject is Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Magie, the woman responsible for countless family squabbles by creating the game that became known as Monopoly.

Magie was born in Macomb, Illinois, in 1866, the daughter of newspaper publisher and abolitionist James Magie who accompanied Lincoln when he travelled around the state in the late 1850s. Read more ›››

L is for John Law

A figure from way back for this week’s ABC Wednesday offering – financier, adventurer, duellist and gambler John Law who single-handedly bankrupted France in the 18th century.

Law was born in Edinburgh in 1671, the son of a Scottish moneylender. He joined the family business at the age of fourteen and studied banking until his father died in 1688 when he took himself off to London to live the life of ‘Dandy’. Read more ›››

K is for Fred Karno

Fred Karno’s name has entered the English language to describe any situation that is a comically chaotic, but as a music hall impresario he discovered the likes of Charlie Chaplain and Stan Laurel and is credited with inventing the custard-pie-in-the-face gag.

Karno was born Frederick John Westcott in Exeter in 1866 but his family moved to Nottingham soon afterwards which is where he grew up. Read more ›››

J is for Hubert Julian

Nicknamed the Black Eagle, the flamboyant Hubert Fauntleroy Julian was one of the early pioneers of aviation and parachuting and promoter of black civil rights.

Julian was born in 1897 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, the son of an affluent cocoa plantation manager. He emigrated to Canada in 1914 where he claimed to have learned to pilot an aeroplane and served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Read more ›››

I is for George Ives

The term ‘old soldier’ would suit no-one better than George Ives who, when he died in 1993 at the age of 111, was the last surviving veteran of the Boer Wars.

Ives was born in Brighton in 1881 although the family moved to Bristol to work for the Tidmarsh family. As a boy, Ives trained to be a jockey but then worked in his father’s workshop. Read more ›››

We tend to think of abstract art as a relatively recent phenomenon, something sprung from the psychedelia of the 1960s and yet one woman was a hundred years ahead of her time, the spiritualist artist Georgiana Houghton.

Houghton was born in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, in 1814, the seventh of twelve children of the merchant George Houghton and the family variously lived in London and Madeira, as well as the Canary Islands. Read more ›››

G is for Ken Gatward

There are many who have risked their lives in war for the sake of freedom, but few have done what Ken Gatward did in 1942 – to put his neck on the line for the sake of a propaganda stunt.

Gatward was born in 1914 in Hornsey, London, the son of the local Chief Inspector of police. He joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1937 and when war broke out in 1939 he joined No 53 Squadron specialising in low-level raids. Read more ›››

F is for Klaus Fuchs

When America initiated the Manhattan Project it relied on the talents of many brilliant scientists who were often eccentric and some of them politically compromised, none more so that the atomic spy Klaus Fuchs.

Fuchs was born in Germany in 1911, the third of four children of Lutheran pastor Emil Fuchs. His father held strong left wing views as a member Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and heavily influenced the younger Fuchs‘ political views. Read more ›››

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