Filed: ABC Wednesday

Q is for Qiu Jin

My subject this week is Qiu Jin, feminist, poet and revolutionary who became a martyr known as the Chinese Joan of Arc.

Qiu was born in 1875 in Xiamen in the south-east of China. She endured an unhappy marriage and came into contact with new ideas, in particular, the Tongmenghui secret society which advocated the overthrow of the Qing, the last imperial dynasty. Read more ›››

P is for Marina Popovich

Marina Popovich held over one hundred aviation records in forty different aircraft and yet she is probably the greatest pilot that the west has never heard of.

She was born Marina Lavrentievna Vasiliyeva in 1831 in the Smolensk Oblast in the west of Russia and was evacuated to Novosibirsk in south-central Russia during World War Two. Read more ›››

O is for Felice Orsini

A revolutionary this week in the shape of Italian nationalist Felice Orsini whose attempt to assassinate Napolean III had political repercussions throughout Europe.

Orsini was born in the small city-state of Meldola but from the age of nine, he was put in the care of his uncle, Orso Orsini, in whose care he received a strict religious education. Read more ›››

N is for Nicolas Notovitch

Nicolas Notovitch

One of the essential elements of a successful hoax, apart from a credulous public, is to create a story that just might be true.

In 1894, the Russian journalist Nicolas Notovitch published La vie inconnue de Jesus Christ which purported to reveal that Jesus has spent many years as both teacher and scholar at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. Read more ›››

M is for William Chester Minor

This week’s subject is William Chester Minor, the man who made the greatest contribution of quotations for the Oxford English Dictionary from his cell in Broadmoor Lunatic Asylum where he was serving a life sentence for murder.

Minor was born in Ceylon in 1834, the son of missionaries from New England. At the age of fourteen, he returned to America and later studied at Yale Medical School, graduating in 1863. Read more ›››

L is for Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr was one of the great Hollywood stars of the 1930s and 1940s but behind the glamour, she led a secret life as the inventor of the technology that we now use in wi-fi and Bluetooth.

Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna in 1914, the daughter of a successful bank director. Read more ›››

K is for Alvin ‘Shipwreck’ Kelly

Every decade has its own peculiar obsessions and the subject of this week’s ABC Wednesday post was responsible for one of the strangest – the fad for flagpole-sitting in the 1920s and 1930s.

Alvin ‘Shipwreck’ Kelly was born Aloysius Anthony Kelly in 1893 in the Hell’s Kitchen district of New York. His father died before he was born and his mother died in childbirth so he was effectively alone from the moment he was born. Read more ›››

J is for Sophia Jex-Blake

Sophia Jex-Blake was a feminist and physician who with six others became known as the Edinburgh Seven who campaigned for the right of women to study medicine.

Jex-Blake was born in Hastings on England’s south coast in 1840 the daughter of a retired lawyer. She was home-educated until the age of eight and then attended various private schools. Read more ›››

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