Titus Oates was one of the most odious figures from history – a self-serving liar, bully, coward and fantasist whose vindictive conspiracy theories brought death and vilification to countless Catholics.
Oates was born in 1649, the son of a Church of England clergyman and even as a child he was hard to like. He was sickly with a permanently runny nose and dribbling mouth and as he grew he developed an annoying manner of speech, somewhere between a bark and a whine. Read more ›››
In 1854, the vessel Bella disappeared at sea when bound for New York. On board was Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne, heir to the Tichborne estates and baronetcy, who was declared dead – lost at sea.
And yet his mother never gave up hope that he might have survived. She placed advertisements in newspapers around the world seeking information about her son’s fate, and it seemed her faith was rewarded when she received news from Australia. Read more ›››
Having been to the premiere of Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old last night – a film I thoroughly recommend – it seemed appropriate that my offering this week should have a connection to World War One.
You may not know the name Phoebe Ann Moses, but you will recognise her by her stage name – Annie Oakley, sharpshooter and star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Read more ›››
A revolutionary this week in the shape of Italian nationalist Felice Orsini whose attempt to assassinate Napolean III had political repercussions throughout Europe.
Orsini was born in the small city-state of Meldola but from the age of nine, he was put in the care of his uncle, Orso Orsini, in whose care he received a strict religious education. Read more ›››
Whenever I write about the misdeeds of others, I generally focus on the villain of the piece but this week is different as I take a look at the victim – the foully murdered Sir Harry Oakes.
Oakes was born in Maine in America in 1874, one of five children of a successful lawyer. He studied medicine at Syracuse University but left before graduating to join the many thousands of hopeful prospectors in the Klondike Gold Rush to Alaska. Read more ›››
Sonya Olschanezky is another of those ordinary brave men and women who risked and gave their lives in resisting the German occupation of Europe during the Second World War.
Olschanezky was born in Chemnitz, Germany, in 1923. Her parents were secular Jews, her father a Russian-born chemical engineer and her mother from a moneyed German family. Read more ›››
Much has been made of the athletes who cheat by using drugs to enhance their performance, but there are all sorts of cheat and one such is the Olympian Boris Onishchenko.
Onishchenko was a modern pentathlete who had already won medals at the Mexico and Munich Olympic Games before the events that brought about his disgrace took place at the 1976 games in Montreal. Read more ›››
The idea of Japanese soldiers continuing the fight long after World War Two ended is something of an obvious cliché, but it did happen and one of the best known of those post-war warriors is Hiroo Onada who carried on his one-man campaign until 1974.
Onoda was born to a family of the samurai warrior class in 1922. His father was a sergeant with the 4th Cavalry Brigade until he was killed in China in 1943. Read more ›››