Not many people have heard of Mary Ann Cotton, but when she was hung in 1873 she had gained infamy as Britain’s first recognised serial killer having murdered as many as 21 people.
She was born in County Durham in 1832, the daughter of a miner who was ardently religious and a fierce disciplinarian. He died in a mining accident and her mother married again, but her daughter did not get on with her step-father… Read more ›››
Sarah Forbes Bonetta was the princess, born into the Egbado royal family of south-western Nigeria, who became a favourite of Queen Victoria and a regular visitor to Windsor Castle.
Bonetta was captured in 1848 during a slave-hunt war by the infamous King Ghezo of Dahomey when she was just eight years old. Her tribe was massacred and she was intended as a human sacrifice… Read more ›››
Not everyone I write about is well-known outside their own country, but the thing they are well-known for doing sometimes is, as is the case with Eamonn Andrews.
This is Your Life was the popular biographical programme that appeared on tv in America, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden and it it is the UK version that Andrews is best remembered… Read more ›››
It’s always good to get feedback through comments – it makes it feel less like you’re just whistling in the dark.
It is especially nice when you hear from the people you’ve written about, as when the author, Stephen Leather, left a thank you after my review of his book Nightmare.
I can only assume they have themselves set up on a Google Alert. Read more ›››
One of the most iconic and infamous images of the communication age is the amateur film that records the assassination of John Kennedy taken by Abraham Zapruder.
Now known as the Zapruder Film, he almost didn’t take his camera that fateful day. Although he had planned to watch the motorcade pass on Dealey Plaza, it was his assistant’s idea that he should collect his camera from home. Read more ›››
It may come as a surprise, but the 1958 cult classic sci-fi movie, The Blob, was directed by Presbyterian minister, Irvin Yeaworth, owner of Christian production company, Good News Productions.
Yeaworth was born in Berlin in 1926 and began his show business career at the age of ten, singing on KDKA in Pittsburgh, the world’s first commercial radio station. Read more ›››
The soldier and philosopher, Xenophon, wrote seven books, the most famous of which is Anabasis which tells the story of one of the great Greek military adventures.
The action took place in 480BC when Xenophon joined the 10,000 strong army of Greek mercenaries hired by Cyrus the Younger who planned to seize the throne of Persia from his brother, Artaxerxes II, after the death of their father, Darius II. Read more ›››
When Gustav Eiffel unveiled his famous tower in 1889, Edward Watkin decided that London should go one better by building an even taller tower in Wembley.
Watkin was an MP and chairman of the Metropolitan Railway and his vision was to create the tower as the centrepiece of a pleasure park just 12 minutes from Baker Street station. Read more ›››