T is for Annie Edson Taylor

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 ›››

Sunday Round-up

Discworld: The first annual Flat Earth Conference was held in Raleigh, North Carolina, and was attended by hundreds of people who are convinced that our world is a flat disc with the Arctic in the middle and the Antartic a wall of ice hundreds of feet high on the outside that stops us falling off.

Punching above its weight: Tuesday marked the 131st anniversary of the Papierlocher für Sammelmappen which to you and me would be the office hole puncher. Read more ›››

S is for Clotworthy Skeffington

There can be few people with a more unfortunate name as Clotworthy Skeffington, a cruel trick played on him by his parents, but one he tried hard to live up to.

Born in 1743, he was then the latest in a long line of Clotworthies, the family having adopted the first name from John Clotworthy, the Anglo-Irish politician who became the first Viscount Masserene whose title passed to his son-in-law, Sir John Skeffington. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Life imitating art: A real-life Iron Man broke the world record for the fastest flight in a body controlled jet suit. Inventor and entrepreneur Richard Browning, founder of Gravity Industries, reaching speeds of over 50 kph.

Grin and bear it: M&S unveiled their Christmas tv ad featuring Paddington Bear showing a burglar the true meaning of Yuletide but is the burglar grateful? Not at all if you listen closely. Read more ›››

R is for Gilbert Romme

The French Revolution resulted in many ridiculous ideas, but perhaps the most risible was the French Republican Calendar devised by Gilbert Romme.

The thinking behind the new calendar was twofold. First that it should remove all religious references and second that time itself should embrace decimalisation. The result was a largely unworkable system. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Howling at the moon: An American anthropologist believes he has found evidence that shows that Donald Trump is descended from the infamous 16th-century serial killer Peter Stumpf, also known as the Werewolf of Bedburg.

Loop to send you loopy: I man in Hull has a rare medical condition which means he ‘hears’ God Save the Queen being sung in his head for around 1,700 times a week. Read more ›››

Q is for James Quin

Portrait of James Quin by Hogarth

Acting is fraught with back-biting and bitchiness, but in the 18th century the profession was downright murderous, as illustrated by the life of actor and comedian, James Quin.

Quin was the son of a barrister and though he was born in London in 1693, his Irish parents took him back to Ireland where he spent his early years and attended Trinity College, Dublin, at least for a short time. Read more ›››