The French military has an undeserved reputation for its lack of martial ardour, from the infamous ‘French military victories’ Google Bomb to the ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ epithet from The Simpsons that has entered the language.
This is a slur on the many brave French servicemen and women who gave their lives in the cause of freedom and one of those was René Mouchotte who became a hero of the Battle of Britain. Read more ›››
You may not have heard of Audrey Munson, but if you live in or have visited New York, she is all around you as the most familiar person you've never seen.
Munson was born in Rochester, New York, in 1891, but moved to Rhode island in 1897 after her mother and father divorced. However, they returned to New York so Munson could pursue an acting career. Read more ›››
In the 19th century there was a tropical Eden in Central America called Poyais, a land rich in culture and natural resources crying out for settlement.
The problem was, it didn't exist. It was the invention of Gregor MacGregor, the soldier, adventurer and revolutionary who ranks alongside the likes of Bernie Madoff as one of history's most audacious fraudsters. Read more ›››
Those ever so smart comedians are quick to poke fun at famous Belgians, or rather the lack of them - conveniently overlooking the likes of Eddie Merckx, Audrey Hepburn, Hergé and Rubens -
But my own personal favourite Belgian is the inventor, horologist and father of the roller skate Jean-Joseph Merlin... Read more ›››
In the last round of of ABC Wednesday I wrote about the War Magician, Jasper Maskelyne, mentioning that he was the grandson of the pre-eminent Victorian magician and inventor of the pay toilet, John Nevil Maskelyne, and it felt only right that I should complete his story.
The Maskelyne family liked to suggest that they were descended from Nevil Maskelyne, the famous astronomer royal under George III, but they weren't... Read more ›››
Jasper Maskelyne came from a long line of stage magicians. Born in in 1902, he was the son of Nevil Maskelyne and the grandson on John Nevil Maskelyne, perhaps the preeminent magician of the Victorian age and inventor of the pay toilet - but that, as they say, is another story.
While Jasper Maskelyne followed in their footsteps through a successful stage career and the publication of his Book of Magic which describes a range of magic tricks, seemingly his greatest contribution to history was as the War Magician of WWII. Read more ›››
William Moulton Marston was a psychiatrist, inventor and feminist theorist who under the pen name of Charles Moulton put his ideas into practice by creating the comic character Wonder Woman.
Born in Massachusetts in 1893, Marston was educated at Harvard and received his PhD in psychology in 1921 before going on to teach at universities in Washington and Medford... Read more ›››
One of the things that any boy had to budget his pocket money for in the 1950s was his weekly threepence for a copy of the Eagle comic, vehicle for Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future. Little did we know that Dan had started life as a vicar.
The Eagle was the brainchild of the Anglican priest and former RAF pilot, Marcus Morris. In 1949 he had written a newspaper article condemning the import of horror comics from America. Read more ›››