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 ›››
Solomon Linda is responsible for one of the most instantly recognised songs heard across the world and yet despite this, he earned little from the composition and was to die unrecognised and in poverty.
Linda was born in 1909 on a labour reserve near Ladysmith in Natal, South Africa. He grew up in the traditions of amahubo and izingoma zomshado music, or wedding songs. Read more ›››
This week we have another of those pioneers of aviation, the aviatrix Clara Livingston, the 200th woman to gain a pilot’s licence and only the 11th to fly a helicopter.
Livingston was born in Chautauqua, New York, in 1900, the daughter the physician, Alfred Livingston, who retired a few years later and took his family across the globe to establish a coconut and citrus plantation in Dorado, Puerto Rico. Read more ›››
If you click the photo on the left you will see a remarkable image of one man refusing to conform in a crowd of hundreds performing the Nazi salute in 1936.
It was taken at the launch of the naval training vessel Horst Wessel and the one-man protestor is August Landmesser who had run foul of the Nazi party on account of his relationship with a Jewish woman. Read more ›››
If you’ve read my ABC posts before, you’ll know that I’m fond of eccentrics because people who kick against the system tend to lead more interesting lives.
But two who considered themselves ‘unexciting’ were Eleanor Charlotte Butler and Sarah Ponsonby who became known as the Ladies of Llangollen… Read more ›››
Tuesday Lobsang Rampa launched himself into the public consciousness in 1956 as the Lama from Lhasa with the publication of The Third Eye, his account of growing up in Tibet, which despite being an obvious hoax became an international best seller.
Among other things, Lobsang claimed to have had a splinter inserted into his pineal gland to activate his ‘Third Eye’ when he was eight in order to ‘see people as they really are and not what they pretend to be’… Read more ›››
Pioneering aviator, Bill Lancaster, lived the sort of life that you might read about in the pages of Boy’s Own, Mills & Boon, True Crimes or even a Greek tragedy.
Born in Birmingham, England, in 1898, Lancaster emigrated to Australia in the summer of 1914 to live with his uncle and in 1916 he joined the Australian Cavalry, and later the Australian Flying Corps, serving in World War I. Read more ›››
A story emerged earlier this year of an amazing feat of extreme auto engineering by Frenchman, Emile Leray, that allowed him to escape being stranded in a Moroccan desert in 1993.
Leray had been driving from the city of Tan-Tan in his battered Citroën CV when he was stopped at a military outpost and told he could go no further because of the conflict between Morocco and Western Sahara, in the area beyond Tilemsem… Read more ›››