History can often turn on the simplest of mistakes and there is probably no finer example than Geoffrey Tandy who was accidentally in the right place to help crack the Enigma Code and so bring about the end of World War Two.
When the British were casting around to create a team of appropriately qualified experts for the super-secret Bletchley Park, someone recruited Tandy. Read more ›››
Annie Edson Taylor was a remarkable woman. At an age when most people would think about putting their feet up and taking it easy, she decided that she would become the very first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
She was born Annie Edson in Auburn, New York, in 1838, one of the eight children of flour mill owner Merrick Edson. He died when she was eight but the money he left meant supported the family. Read more ›››
George Francis Train was an American entrepreneur, political activist and as an eccentric globetrotter possibly the inspiration for Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days.
Train was born in Boston in 1829, the son of Oliver Train, but both his parents and his three sisters died in a yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans when he was just four years old. Read more ›››
Wars often bring about social change, or at least mark the start of a change in attitudes, and the First World War brought many, including the first black officer in the British army – Walter Daniel John Tull.
Tull was born in Folkestone, Kent, in 1888, the son of Daniel Tull, a Barbadian carpenter, and English-born Alice Palmer. His grandfather had been a slave in Barbados. Read more ›››
Susan Travers was an Englishwoman from a wealthy, privileged background who became a heroine of World War Two and the only woman to join the famed French Foreign Legion.
Travers was born in London in 1909, the daughter of Francis Eaton Travers, an admiral in the Royal Navy and wealthy heiress Eleanor Catherine Turnbull. Read more ›››
Gerald Tyrwhitt-Wilson was an accomplished composer, artist and writer, but for the purposes of my ABC Wednesday post, he was also an inveterate practical joker and eccentric.
Born in 1883 to a privileged background (he was to become the 14th Baron Berners), he displayed his peculiar take on life at an early age.
Having heard that you could teach a dog to swim by throwing it into water, Tyrwhitt decided to throw his mother’s dog out of a window to teach it to fly… Read more ›››
Before the rise and fall of cigarettes, the most common way of partaking of tobacco was in its powdered form as snuff and there was no more devoted sniffer of snuff than Margaret Thompson of Burlington Gardens on old London town.
In truth we know little of Thompson’s life, but are in doubt about her fondness for snuff from the instructions she left in her will when she died in 1776… Read more ›››
Ignaz Trebitsch-Lincoln was one of the most remarkable adventurers, scoundrels and fraudsters of the 20th century, or any other century come to that.
At times in his life he was an actor, arms dealers, oil speculator, British Liberal MP, vicar and German spy. At prayer he moved from Judaism to Presbyterianism, ending up as a Buddhist abbot monk. And along the way he possibly saved the life of Adolf Hitler. Read more ›››