Go BackThis page is all about Britain and England in particular, England. the country I was born in and one I am proud to be part of. Britain has a wide a varied history which, if left to 'Microsoft' would cease to have any history.

England

England

Europe - NO !There are many reasons to be proud of Great Britain - The Castles, the Stately Homes, The Highlands of Scotland, the Rolling Hills of the Yorkshire Dales, The Lake District, The Moorland, the Coastline and the History. Europe - NO!

Some of the people who put the 'Great' in Great Britain

Jerusalem

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

-- William Blake

Castle

Saint George's Flag

There are numerous different Encyclopaedia's which when written by Americans, seem to be a little vague about the facts such as:

Alexander Graham Bell, who is always quoted as being American. Bell was born on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland He went to Canada in 1870 - That doesn't make him American.
British scientists Thomas Wedgwood and Sir Humphry Davy began experiments late in the 18th century in the recording of photographic images. But Microsoft will tell you that American George Eastman invented the camera in 1888

It's not just the British that the Americans like to steal their history.

15th-century Italian artist, engineer, and architect Leonardo da Vinci first drew designs for the helicopter. German engineer Heinrich Focke succesfully flew a helicopter in 1936 but the Americans will tell you that the American aeronautical engineer Igor Sikorsky invented it, although he was actually RussianTower Bridge

If you care to read an American Encyclopaedia and look up all the american inventors - take a look at where they were born, you won't be surprised to find how many weren't born in America.

Microsoft will tell you that an American (Mr Otis) invented the 'Elevator' or 'Lift' although lifts operated by human and animal power or by water wheels were in use as early as the 3rd century BC. Traction Lifts were being used in Britain by 1835 but Mr Otis introduced his designed lift in New York, in 1856 after adding a safety feature, six years after electrically powered lifts had first been installed in New York.

They will also tell you that the submarine was an American invention. However, the first successful underwater craft was a leather-encased wooden rowboat, built in England in the 1620s

The first submarine to be used as an instrument of war was in the 1770s which brings me on to some of the things the Americans did invent:

Revolver

Machine Gun

Automatic Rifle

Hydrogen Bomb

What does that tell you ?

It's not only our history that the yanks would like to take from us !
The New Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion
Lennox

Lewis landed 348 of 613 punches for a connection rate of 57 percent.
Holyfield landed 130 of 385 punches for a connection rate of 34 percent.
AND THEY GAVE THE FIGHT A DRAW!!!

Bugger off Europe

 

Some of the people who put the 'Great' in Great Britain
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Charles Babbage
Sir Francis Bacon
Sir Roger Bannister
Trevor Baylis
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Sir Malcolm Campbell
William Caxton
Charlie Chaplin
Geoffrey Chaucer
Sir Winston Churchill
Sir Christopher Cockerell
John Constable
Captain James Cook
Oliver Cromwell
Charles Darwin
Sir Humphry Davy
Sir Geoffrey de Havilland
Charles Dickens
Benjamin Disraeli
Sir Francis Drake
Sir Edward Elgar
Michael Faraday
Sir Norman Foster
Sir Alexander Fleming
Thomas Gainsborough
John Harrison
Stephen Hawking
Henry VIII
Samuel Johnson
Rudyard Kipling
David Livingstone
John Locke
Sir Stanley Matthews
John Milton
Horatio Nelson
Sir Isaac Newton
Florence Nightingale
Sir Walter Raleigh
The Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls
Sir (Frederick) Henry Royce
Captain Scott
William Shakespeare
George Bernard Shaw
George Stephenson
Thomas Telford
Richard Trevithick
James Watt
Sir Frank Whittle
Josiah Wedgwood
The Duke of Wellington
H G Wells
William Wordsworth
Sir Christopher Wren

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm,

this England.

- SHAKESPEARE (Richard 11)

DJ's House

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Charles Babbage
(1792-1871)
Inventor of the Computer

British mathematician and inventor, who designed and built mechanical computing machines on principles that anticipated the modern electronic computer. Babbage was born in Teignmouth, Devonshire, and was educated at the University of Cambridge. He became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1816 and was active in the founding of the Analytical, the Royal Astronomical, and the Statistical societies.

In the 1820s Babbage began developing his Difference Engine, a mechanical device that can perform simple mathematical calculations. Babbage started to build his Difference Engine, but was unable to complete it because of a lack of funding. However, in 1991 British scientists, following Babbage's detailed drawings and specifications, constructed the Difference Engine. The machine works flawlessly, calculating up to a precision of 31 digits, proving that Babbage's design was sound. In the 1830s Babbage began developing his Analytical Engine, which was designed to carry out more complicated calculations, but this device was never built. Babbage's book Economy of Machines and Manufactures (1832) initiated the field of study known today as operational research.

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Sir Francis Bacon
(1561 - 1626)
English Philosopher
Francis Bacon is the Chief figure of the English Renaissance. His advocacy of "action science" influenced the culture of the entire English speaking world.

Francis Bacon studied law at Cambridge and became Lord Chancellor in 1618. His 'Essays' has remained the most popular writing, his two greatest scientific works being 'Novum Organum' and 'The Advancement of Learning' in which he pleaded for the recognition of science. He insisted on collecting facts first, and then drawing theories from them - a method which is today called "inductive".

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John Logie Baird
(1888 - 1946)
Scottish Inventor

John Logie Baird is remembered as the inventor of mechanical television, radar and fiber optics. Born in 1888 in Helensburgh, Scotland, Baird learned a Calvinist work ethic from his father, a Presbyterian minister. He successfully tested in a laboratory in late 1925 and unveiled with much fanfare in London in early 1926, mechanical television technology was quickly usurped by electronic television, the basis of modern video technology. Nonetheless, Baird's achievements, including making the first trans-Atlantic television transmission, were singular and critical scientific accomplishments. Baird created a host of television technologies. Among them, phonovision, a forerunner of the video recorder, noctovision, an infra-red spotting system for "seeing" in the dark; open-air television, a theater-projection system; stereoscopic color TV; and the first high definition color TV.

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Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister
(1929- )
English track and field athlete

Bannister was the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. He achieved this feat at Oxford, England, on 6 May 1954, in a time of 3 min 59.4 sec.

Studying at Oxford to be a doctor at the time, Bannister broke the four-minute barrier on one more occasion: at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada, when he was involved with John Landy (1930- ) from Australia, in the `Mile of the Century´, so called because it was a clash between the only two people to have broken the four-minute barrier for the mile at that time. Bannister was Knighted in 1975.

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Trevor Baylis O.B.E.
1937 -
English Inventor
Trevor Baylis was born in Kilburn, London, in 1937. He was always an avid swimmer and by the age of 15 Baylis was swimming competitively for Britain. At 16 he joined the Soil Mechanics Laboratory in Southall and began studying mechanical and structural engineering at the local technical college. At 20 years of age he began his National Service as a physical training instructor, and he swam competitively for the Army and Imperial Services. Upon leaving the army in 1961, he joined Purley Pools as a salesman. He quickly advanced in this firm and was soon involved in research and development. He went on to start his own successful swimming pool company. His love of swimming led led Baylis to work as a stuntman on various television shows performing escape feats underwater. His other passion has been inventing, especially inventing products that might help the physically handicapped.

In 1993, he watched a program about the spread of AIDS in Africa, which observed that in many regions radio was the only available media, but the need for batteries or electricity made them too expensive or too difficult to access. There was a need for an educational tool that did not rely on electricity. By 1996 Trevor Baylis was receiving numerous awards for his 'Clockwork Radio' which was powered by the occasional turn of a handle.

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Isambard Kingdom Brunel
1806 - 1859
English Engineer
Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born in Portsmouth, England. He designed many bridges, tunnels, and viaducts and was one of the first to use compressed-air caissons to sink bridge foundations into deep riverbeds. He was also a railway builder and the designer of London's Paddington Station. His greatest work was the design and construction of three oceangoing steamships, each the first of its type. The paddle-steamer Great Western (1838) was the first transatlantic passenger steamship in regular service; it made the Bristol-New York crossing in a spectacular 15 days. The Great Britain (1845) was the first large screw-driven oceangoing steamship. The Great Eastern (1858), the largest steam vessel of its time, was designed to make the round trip to Australia without recoaling.

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Sir Malcolm Campbell
(1885-1948)

British corporation director and automobile racer, born in Chislehurst, Kent, England, and educated in Uppingham and abroad. He was prominent in the business world of England as a director and officer in a number of corporations, but he is known in the United States chiefly for the world speed records he set, beginning in the 1920s, in his specially constructed racing cars on the flat sands in Daytona Beach, Florida, and on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. He was knighted in 1931. Campbell is the author of Speed (1931), The Romance of Motor-Racing (1936), The Roads and the Problem of Their Safety (1937), and Drifting to War (1937).

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William Caxton
(1422-91)

First English printer, born probably in Tenterden, Kent. He opened his own textile business and also translated into English a popular French romance, which he printed in Brugge as The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye. It is famous as the first book printed in English. Caxton set up a printing press at Westminster Abbey. During his career Caxton printed nearly 100 publications, about 20 of which he also translated from French and Dutch. Among the more notable books from his press are The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde by the English poet Goeffrey Chaucer and Confessio Amantis by the English poet John Gower. Caxton also wrote prefaces and epilogues to many of the works he published, notably the preface to the prose epic Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory

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Charlie Chaplin
(1889-1977)

English film actor, director, producer, and composer, one of the most creative artists in film history, who first achieved worldwide fame through his performances in silent films. His full name was Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin.

Born in London, as a child Chaplin appeared in music hall and pantomime performances. In 1910 he toured the United States with a pantomime troupe and decided to remain in the country. Chaplin first appeared on the screen in 1914 with the Keystone Film Company of American director Mack Sennett. In Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914), wearing baggy pants, enormous shoes, and a bowler hat and carrying a bamboo cane, he originated his world-famous character, the Tramp. He played this classic role in more than 70 films during his career. He was associated later with the Essanay Film Company, the Mutual Film Company, and the First National Film Company. In 1918 his own studio in Hollywood, California, was completed. During these years Chaplin gradually developed the tramp character from a jaunty, slapstick stereotype into the compassionate human figure that came to be loved by audiences throughout the world. In 1919 he helped found the United Artists Corporation, with which he was associated until 1952. He also composed background music for most of his films.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s Chaplin was criticized for his leftist political views. As a result, he left the United States in 1952 and established permanent residence in Switzerland. In 1972 he briefly returned to the United States to receive several tributes, among them a special Academy Award for his contributions to the film industry. He was knighted in 1975.

Chaplin perfected an individual style of performing, derived from the circus clown and the mime, combining acrobatic elegance, expressive gesture, facial eloquence, and impeccable timing. His portrayal of the little tramp, a universally recognized symbol of indestructible individuality triumphing over adversity and persecution, both human and mechanical, won him critical renown as a tragicomedian

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Geoffrey Chaucer
(1343-1400)

The son of a prosperous London wine merchant and one of the greatest English poets, whose masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, was one of the most important influences on the development of English literature. Chaucer greatly increased the prestige of English as a literary language and extended the range of its poetic vocabulary. His life is known primarily through records pertaining to his career as a courtier and civil servant under the English kings Edward III and Richard II.

After his death, he was buried in Westminster Abbey (an honor for a commoner), in what has since become the Poets' Corner.

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Sir Winston (Leonard Spencer) Churchill
(1874 - 1965)
English Statesman

Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, the elder son of Lord Randolph Churchill. Educated at Harrow and Sandhurst, he joined the army in 1895. In the dual role of soldier and military correspondent he served in the Spanish-American War in Cuba, and then in India, Egypt, and South Africa, where he made a dramatic escape from imprisonment in Pretoria.

A British Conservative politician, prime minister from 1940-45 and 1951-55. In Parliament from 1900, as a Liberal until 1923, he held a number of ministerial offices, including First Lord of the Admiralty, 1911-15 and chancellor of the Exchequer, 1924-29. Absent from the cabinet in the 1930's, he returned in Sept 1939 to lead a coalition government from 1940-45, negotiating with Allied leaders in World War II to achieve the unconditional surrender of Germany in 1945; he led a Conservative government from 1951-55. Churchill received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953. He was a member of Parliament for more than 60 years and tried to prevent the dissolution of the British Empire, but his fierce opposition to the ambitions of Nazi Germany transformed him into a war leader, who personified resistance to tyranny. Churchill played a considerable role in the eventual allied victory over Germany.

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Sir Christopher Sydney Cockerell CBE FRS

Inventor of the Hovercraft

Christopher Sydney Cockerell was born in 1910 at Cherry Hinton near Cambridge, the son of Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, sometime private secretary to Sir William Morris and from 1908 to 1937 Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. The Cockerells were a talented family. The sons of Sydney John Cockerell, a London coal merchant, and Alice nee Bennett, the daughter of a City Watchmaker, Sir Sydney’s elder brother, Theodore, was a biologist, his younger brother, Douglas, and eminent bookbinder; while Douglas’s son Sydney Maurice, two years Christopher’s senior and also a bookbinder, was a celebrated and innovative designer of marbled papers.

The theory behind one of the most successful inventions of the 20th century, the Hovercraft, was originally tested in 1955 using an empty KiteKat cat food tin inside a coffee tin, an industrial air blower and a pair of kitchen scales.

Christopher Cockerell was initially testing out the idea that it was possible to produce a cushion of air between the bottom of the tins and the surface of the scales. Once he had established that this was possible he decided to experiment with more sophisticated models. Although his first tests were carried out on dry land his main aim was to prove that drag or friction between boats and water could be substantially reduced if the ‘craft’ floated on an air cushion. And so the ‘hovercraft’ came in to being. Indeed Cockerell came up with the word too.
Despite an interest in the arts, Cockerell read Engineering at Peterhouse, Cambridge. After Cambridge he worked for the Radio Research Company until 1935 and then for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company from 1935 until 1951.

During the war years Cockerell worked with an elite team at Marconi to develop radar, a development which Churchill believed had a significant effect on the outcome of the Second World War, and Cockerell believed to be one of his greatest achievements. Whilst at Marconi Cockerell patented 36 of his ideas.

In these early days Cockerell’s idea was patented and immediately put on the secret list. Nothing happened and Cockerell became increasingly agitated. Eventually, in 1958, after declassification, the National Research Development Council (NRDC) funded the design and construction of SR.N1, the world’s first man-carrying amphibious hovercraft.

On 25th July 1959, she made a crossing of the English Channel, from Calais to Dover, with Cockerell aboard as human ballast, on the 50th anniversary of the first aeroplane crossing of the Channel. Cockerell’s dream had become a reality. Since then hovercraft have carried over 80 million people and 12 million cars across the Channel and have been in continuous service for over 30 years.

Besides hovercraft he is attributed with the invention of wave power in the late 1970s, hovertrains and sidewall hovercraft (catamarans).

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John Constable
(1776-1837)

English painter, who was a master of landscape painting in the romantic style. His works, done directly from nature, influenced French painters of the Barbizon School and the impressionist movement.

Constable was born June 11, 1776, in East Bergholt, Suffolk. He worked in his father's flour mill before going to London in 1799 to study at the Royal Academy schools. He exhibited his first landscape paintings in 1802 and thereafter studied painting and English rural life on his own, developing a distinctly individual style. His paintings, executed entirely in the open air rather than in a studio, as was customary, were an innovation in English art.

He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1829.

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Captain James Cook
(1728 - 1779)
James Cook was born on the 27th October 1728 in the small Yorkshire town of Marton. Unlike the majority of Naval officers of the time he was not the son of rich or noble parents. In fact he was the son of a Scottish farm labourer and a Yorkshire girl. He was intelligent enough to impress his father's employer who paid for the young James Cook's schooling.

After he finished school his parents apprenticed him to a grocer in Whitby, where he was not especially happy. It was there, however, that he got a taste for life on the sea. In those days the port of Whitby was a bustling place, always busy with all kinds of ships: fishing vessels, navy ships, and colliers. It was on a collier that Cook served first.

In 1755, the year before the Seven Years War broke out between England and France, Cook left his ship and signed up with the Royal Navy. In the Navy James Cook worked his way up through the ranks, eventually rising to command his own vessel, unusual for an enlisted man. His first mission was to map the estuary of the St. Lawrence River prior to a naval assault on Quebec. It was those surveys that made Cook's name, along with the information he obtained from observing and recording an eclipse of the sun in 1766. The surveys were so accurate that they remained in use until the beginning of the Twentieth Century.

His surveys and scientific observations, coupled with his own scientific ability and his being in the right place at the right time led to his being chosen to captain the Endeavour in 1768 on a mission to explore the great unknown of the Pacific Ocean and scientifically record everything that was encountered. It was the first of the three great voyages of discovery he led in the South Pacific.

James Cook died near the end of the third voyage. He was killed by Hawaiian islanders possibly because of an incident in which one of his lieutenants shot and killed one of the island's chiefs. He died in February 1779.

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Oliver Cromwell
1599 - 1658
English Statesman
Oliver Cromwell was born in Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire. He studied at Cambridge, and in 1628 he was first elected to Parliament.

Cromwell opposed the absolute power of the crown, and when war broke out he became a military organizer for the Parliamentary forces. Realizing the inferior quality of the rebel troops, he organized a 'godly' regiment - the 'Ironsides'. The Ironsides were men of strong convictions who fought with religious enthusiasm.

After the Civil War and the execution of king Charles I, Cromwell became first chairman of the the new republic. He suppressed an insurrection in Ireland (1650) with a severity remembered by the Irish Catholics with bitterness. In the same year he defeated a Royalist army in Scotland, and he fought the Dutch in several naval battles.

In 1653 Cromwell dissolved Parliament and he became Lord protector of the new puritanical republic. As Lord protector he concluded the Anglo-Dutch War, sent an expeditionary force to the Spanish West Indies and destroyed the Spanish fleet at Teneriffe.

In the fall of 1658 Cromwell died, and England fell away from his attempt to realize a puritanical commonwealth of free men.

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Charles Darwin
1809 - 1882
English Naturalist
Darwin is known as the discoverer of natural selection.

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England. He studied medicine at Edinburgh, then biology at Cambridge. In 1831 he became the naturalist on HMS Beagle, which was to make a scientific survey of South American waters, and returned in 1836. By 1846 he had published several works on his geological and zoological discoveries, but he devoted most of his time to his major work 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection' (1859). He postulated that natural selection was the agent for the transmutation of organism during evolution.

He then worked on a series of supplemental treatises, including 'The Descent of Man' (1871), which postulated the descent of the human race from the anthropoid group. At first Darwin was attacked as an infidel atheist declaring the Bible a lie, but he replied that it increased God's grandeur to believe that the universe had been created with evolution built in.

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Sir Humphry Davy
(1778-1829)

Renowned British chemist, best known for his experiments in electrochemistry and for his invention of a miner's safety lamp.

Davy was born on December 17, 1778, in Penzance, Cornwall, England. In 1798 he began experiments on the medicinal properties of gases, during which he discovered the anesthetic effects of nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Davy was appointed assistant lecturer in chemistry at the newly founded Royal Institution in London in 1801 and the following year became professor of chemistry there.

During his early years at the Royal Institution, Davy started his investigations of the effects of electricity on chemical compounds. In 1807 he received the Napoleon Prize from the Institut de France for the theoretical and practical work begun the year before. He then constructed the largest battery ever built, with over 250 cells, and passed a strong electric current through solutions of various compounds suspected of containing undiscovered elements. Davy quickly isolated the elements, potassium and sodium by this electrolytic method. He also prepared calcium by the same method. In later, unrelated experiments, he discovered boron and proved that the diamond is composed of carbon. Davy also showed that the so-called rare earths are oxides of metals rather than elements. His experiments with acids indicated that hydrogen, not oxygen, causes the characteristics of acids. Davy also made notable discoveries in heat.

In the field of applied science, Davy invented a safety lamp for miners in 1815. For this and for related research, he received the gold and the silver Rumford medals from the Royal Society. In 1823 he suggested a method of preventing the corrosion of the copper bottoms of ships by means of zinc and iron sheathing. He was knighted in 1812 and raised to a baronetcy in 1818. In 1820 he became president of the Royal Society. Davy died on May 29, 1829, in Geneva.

Among his writings are Elements of Chemical Philosophy (1812) and Elements of Agricultural Chemistry (1813).

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Sir Geoffrey de Havilland
(1882-1965)

Born the son of a clergyman, de Havilland was one of the most successful of all British aviation pioneers. Before his twentieth birthday he designed a motorcycle and after graduating from the Crystal Palace Engineering School began a short-lived career in the automotive industry. By 1908, he persuaded his grandfather to loan him one thousand pounds from which he could fund the construction of an aeroplane. Along with his assistant Frank Herle, de Havilland built an engine and a bi-plane, which were ready to test by 1909. The success of this machine, in which de Havilland taught himself to fly, brought him to the attention of the British military which bought his plane for four hundred pounds and offered him a job at HM Balloon Factory. He test-flew all of his own designs until 1918.
In September 1920, de Havilland founded his own company and decided to target the commercial market and reject, for the most part, the military one. His factory, first at Stag Lane, Edgeware and later at Hatfield, produced a steady stream of well-designed biplanes for the civil and commercial markets.

To conserve vital materials during World War II, de Havilland's company designed the Mosquito fighter bomber, using less important wood for it's structure. The 'Mossie' is considered by some to have been the best all-round aircraft of World War II. Not only was it twice as fast as any other bomber, it was even faster than the fastest British fighter.

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Charles John Huffam Dickens
(1812-1870)

English novelist and one of the most popular writers in the history of literature. In his enormous body of works, Dickens combined masterly storytelling, humor, pathos, and irony with sharp social criticism and acute observation of people and places, both real and imagined.

Dickens was born February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth and spent most of his childhood in London and Kent, both of which appear frequently in his novels. He started school at the age of nine, but his education was interrupted when his father, an amiable but careless minor civil servant, was imprisoned for debt in 1824. The boy was then forced to support himself by working in a shoe-polish factory. A resulting sense of humiliation and abandonment haunted him for life, and he later described this experience, only slightly altered, in his novel David Copperfield. From 1824 to 1826, Dickens again attended school. For the most part, however, he was self-educated.

The success of his first novel made Dickens famous. At the same time it influenced the publishing industry in Great Britain, being issued in a rather unusual form, that of inexpensive monthly installments; this method of publication quickly became popular among Dickens's contemporaries.

Dickens subsequently maintained his fame with a constant stream of novels. A man of enormous energy and wide talents, he also engaged in many other activities. In 1843 he published A Christmas Carol, an ever-popular children's story. As Dickens matured artistically, his novels developed from comic tales based on the adventures of a central character, like The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby (1837-1838), to works of great social relevance, psychological insight, and narrative and symbolic complexity. Among his fine works are Bleak House (1852-1853), Little Dorritt (1855-1857), Great Expectations (1860-1861), and Our Mutual Friend (1864-1865). Dickens's major writings include Oliver Twist (1837-1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-1841), Barnaby Rudge (1841), Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-1844), Dombey and Son (1846-1848), Hard Times (1854), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (unfinished, 1870).

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Benjamin Disraeli
1804 -1881
British Statesman
Disraeli was born in London, son of an Anglicized Jew, baptized in 1817. He made his early reputation as a novelist, and later became leader of the 'Young England' movement. He opposed Peel's free trade policies, especially after the later repealed the Corn Laws in order to relieve the famine in Ireland.

Leader of the Conservatives, after Peel's followers left the Party, Disraeli became Chancellor of the Exchequer in Derby's minority governments. He became prime minister on Derby's resignation in 1868, but was defeated soon afterwards in the general election.

For seventeen years public attention was concentrated on the rivalry between Disraeli and the Liberal leader Gladstone when the nation was governed by these two men. Generally, Disraeli supported reform at home and imperialism abroad.

During his 2nd administration (1874--80) Britain became half-owner of the Suez Canal, and the queen assumed the title Empress of India (1876). Disraeli's diplomacy at the Congress of Berlin (1878) helped to preserve European peace after the conflict between Russia and Turkey in the Balkans. Defeated in 1880 by Gladstone and the Liberals, he then retired.

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Sir Francis Drake
(1540-96)
English navigator and explorer

Born near Tavistock. He served an apprenticeship as a mariner, and in 1567 he was given his first command. In 1570 and 1571 Drake made two profitable trading voyages to the West Indies. In 1572 he commanded two vessels in a marauding expedition against Spanish ports in the Caribbean Sea. During this voyage, Drake first saw the Pacific Ocean; he captured the port of Nombre de Díos on the Isthmus of Panama and destroyed the nearby town of Portobelo. He returned to England with a cargo of Spanish silver and a reputation as a brilliant privateer.

On July 23, 1579, Drake set sail again and was hailed as the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world. Seven months later he was knighted aboard the Golden Hind by Queen Elizabeth. He became mayor of Plymouth in 1581 and served as a member of Parliament in 1584 and 1585.

Later in 1585 Drake sailed again with a large fleet for the West Indies. Drake introduced tobacco to England as a result of his visits to North America.

In 1587 war with Spain was recognized as imminent, and Drake was dispatched by the queen to destroy the fleet being assembled by the Spanish in the harbor of Cádiz. He accomplished most of his purpose and in the following year served as vice admiral of the English fleet that defeated the rebuilt Spanish Armada.

He is admired by many for his English spirit, when told that the Spanish Armada had been sighted in 1588, he completed his game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe before setting sail to defeat them.

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Sir Edward William Elgar
(1857-1934)

The first modern English composer to write important choral and orchestral music.

Elgar was born June 2, 1857, near Worcester. As a young man he filled several musical posts before succeeding his father as organist at Saint George's Roman Catholic Church, Worcester, in 1885. In 1889 he married and resigned his position to devote himself to composing. The 1890 performance of his overture Froissart brought Elgar some recognition, but he did not become well known until 1899, when the Hungarian conductor Hans Richter performed Elgar's Variations on an Original Theme in London. That composition, better known as the Enigma Variations because the central theme is suggested but never overtly stated, is one of his most highly regarded and popular works. The Dreams of Gerontius, based on a poem by the British churchman John Henry Newman, and generally considered Elgar's masterpiece, firmly established the reputation of the composer. Elgar's work, a late example of romanticism, is notable for its wit, lyrical beauty, and distinctive form. Elgar also wrote the cantatas The Black Knight (1893) and Caractacus (1898); the oratorios The Apostles (1903) and The Kingdom (1906); a concerto for violin (1910) and one for cello (1919); and the five popular Pomp and Circumstance marches (1901-7, 1930). His orchestral works include the overture Cockaigne (1902); the symphonic study Falstaff (1913); and two symphonies, in A-flat (1908) and in E-flat (1911).

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Michael Faraday
(1791-1867)

British physicist and chemist, best known for his discoveries of electromagnetic induction and of the laws of electrolysis.
Faraday was born on September 22, 1791, in Newington, Surrey, England. He was the son of a blacksmith and received little formal education. While apprenticed to a bookbinder in London, he read books on scientific subjects and experimented with electricity. In 1812 he attended a series of lectures given by the British chemist Sir Humphry Davy and forwarded the notes he took at these lectures to Davy, together with a request for employment. Davy employed Faraday as an assistant in his chemical laboratory at the Royal Institution and in 1813 took Faraday with him on an extended tour of Europe. Faraday was elected to the Royal Society in 1824 and the following year was appointed director of the laboratory of the Royal Institution. In 1833 he succeeded Davy as professor of chemistry at the institution. Two years later he was given a pension of 300 pounds per year for life. Faraday was the recipient of many scientific honors, including the Royal and Rumford medals of the Royal Society; he was also offered the presidency of the society but declined the honor. He died on August 25, 1867, near Hampton Court, Surrey.
Faraday's earliest researches were in the field of chemistry, following the lead of Davy. A study of chlorine, which Faraday included in his researches, led to the discovery of two new chlorides of carbon. He also discovered benzene. Faraday investigated a number of new varieties of optical glass. In a series of experiments he was successful in liquefying a number of common gases.
The research that established Faraday as the foremost experimental scientist of his day was, however, in the fields of electricity and magnetism. In 1821 he plotted the magnetic field around a conductor carrying an electric current. In 1831 Faraday followed this accomplishment with the discovery of electromagnetic induction and in the same year demonstrated the induction of one electric current by another. During this same period of research he investigated the phenomena of electrolysis and discovered two fundamental laws: that the amount of chemical action produced by an electrical current in an electrolyte is proportional to the amount of electricity passing through the electrolyte; and that the amount of a substance deposited from an electrolyte by the action of a current is proportional to the chemical equivalent weight of the substance.In experimenting with magnetism, Faraday made two discoveries of great importance; one was the existence of diamagnetism, and the other was the fact that a magnetic field has the power to rotate the plane of polarized light passing through certain types of glass.
In addition to a number of papers for learned journals, Faraday wrote Chemical Manipulation (1827), Experimental Researches in Electricity (1844-55), and Experimental Researches in Chemistry and Physics (1859).

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 Sir Alexander Fleming
(1881-1955)

British bacteriologist and Nobel laureate, best known for his discovery of penicillin. Born near Darvel, Scotland, and educated at Saint Mary's Hospital Medical School of the University of London, he served as professor of bacteriology at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School from 1928 to 1948, when he became professor emeritus.
Fleming conducted outstanding research in bacteriology, chemotherapy, and immunology. In 1922 he discovered lysozyme, an antiseptic found in tears, body secretions, albumen, and certain fish plants. His discovery of penicillin came about accidentally in 1928 in the course of research on influenza. His observation that the mold contaminating one of his culture plates had destroyed the bacteria laid the basis for the development of penicillin therapy (see Antibiotic).
Fleming was knighted in 1944. In 1945 he shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with the British scientists Howard Walter Florey and Ernst Boris Chain for their contributions to the development of penicillin.

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Sir Norman Foster
(b. Manchester, England 1935)

Sir Norman Foster was born in Manchester, England in 1935.
He has designed some of the highest profile buildings in the World often winning projects against fierce competition from local architects.
His work includes the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, the New German Parliament, the Chek Lap Kok International Airport, Daewoo HQ in South Korea, the Sainsbury Centre for visual arts in the U.K and Century Tower in Japan.

Foster was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 1983, and in 1990 the RIBA Trustees Medal was made for the Willis Faber Dumas building. He was knighted in 1990, and recieved the Gold Medal of the AIA in 1994. On June 7, 1999, Sir Norman received the Pritzer Architecture Prize.

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Thomas Gainsborough
(1727-1788)
English painter, considered one of the great masters of portraiture and landscape painting. Gainsborough was born in Sudbury, Suffolk. He showed artistic ability at an early age, and when he was 15 years old he studied drawing and etching in London. In 1768 he was elected one of the original members of the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1774 he painted, by royal invitation, portraits of King George III and the queen consort, Charlotte Sophia. Gainsborough executed more than 500 paintings, of which more than 200 are portraits. The effect of poetic melancholy induced by faint lighting characterizes Gainsborough's paintings. Forest scenes, or rough and broken country, are the usual subjects of his landscapes, most notably Cornard Wood and The Watering Place, both in the National Gallery, London.

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John Harrison
(1693-1776)
English horologist and instrumentmaker

Harrison made the first chronometers that were accurate enough to allow the precise determination of longitude at sea, and so permit reliable (and safe) navigation over long distances.

Harrison was born in Foulky, Yorkshire, and learned his father's trades of carpentry and mechanics. In 1726, he made a compensated clock pendulum, which remained the same length at any temperature, making use of the different coefficients of expansion of two different metals.
In 1714, the British government's Board of Longitude announced a prize of up to £20,000 for anyone who could make an instrument to determine longitude at sea to an accuracy of 30 minutes (half a degree). Between 1735 and 1760, Harrison submitted four instruments for the award. When his fourth marine chronometer was tested at sea, it kept accurate time to within 5 seconds over the duration of two voyages to the West Indies, equivalent to just over one minute of longitude. Harrison was eventually awarded the prize money.

A unique feature that contributed to the chronometer's accuracy was a device that enabled it to be rewound without temporarily stopping the mechanism. This was subsequently incorporated into other chronometers. His marine instruments are now exhibited at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

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Stephen (William) Hawking
(1942 -)
English physicist

Hawking was born in Oxford, studied at Oxford and Cambridge, and became professor of mathematics at Cambridge in 1979. He is confined to a wheelchair because of a rare and progressive neuromotor disease. His work in general relativity - particularly gravitational field theory - led to a search for a quantum theory of gravity to explain black holes and the Big Bang, singularities that classical relativity theory does not adequately explain. His book A Brief History of Time 1988 gives a popular account of cosmology and became an international bestseller. Hawking's objective of producing an overall synthesis of quantum mechanics and relativity theory began around the time of the publication in 1973 of his seminal book The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, written with G F R Ellis. His most remarkable result, published in 1974, was that black holes could in fact emit particles in the form of thermal radiation - the so-called Hawking radiation.

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Henry VIII
(1491 - 1547)
King of England
Henry was born in Greenwich, London, the second son of Henry VII. Henry VIII was one of the strongest of English monarchs who helped England become one of the great naval powers, but who spent a large part of his fortune on foreign wars. After the Pope refused to nullify his marriage with Catherine of Aragon Henry withdrew from the Roman Church and created the Anglican Church of England. The clergy was then forced to recognize the king as the supreme head of the Church and the suppression of monasteries began.

Henry VIII then married in succession Anne Boleyn (1533),who was later executed on the grounds of infidelity; Jane Seymour, who died leaving a son (afterwards Edward VI); Anne of Cleves, who was promptly divorced; Catherine Howard, also executed for infidelity ; and finally Catherine Parr, who survived him. His later years saw further war with France and Scotland, before peace was concluded with France in 1546. He was succeeded by his son as Edward VI.

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Samuel Johnson
(1709-1784)
English lexicographer, author, and critic

Dr Johnson was a brilliant conversationalist and the dominant figure in 18th-century London literary society. His Dictionary, published 1755, remained authoritative for over a century, and is still remarkable for the vigour of its definitions. In 1764 he founded the Literary Club, whose members included the painter Joshua Reynolds, the political philosopher Edmund Burke, the dramatist Oliver Goldsmith, the actor David Garrick, and James Boswell, Johnson's biographer.

Born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, the son of a bookseller, Johnson was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he distinguished himself but was prevented by lack of money from taking a degree. He is buried in Westminster Abbey and his house in Gough Square, London, is preserved as a museum.

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(Joseph) Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
English writer

Actually born in Bombay whilst India was under British rule, Kipling was educated at the United Services College at Westward Ho!, Devon, England. Plain Tales from the Hills 1888, about Anglo-Indian society, contains the earliest of his masterly short stories. His books for children, including The Jungle Book 1894-95, Just So Stories 1902, Puck of Pook's Hill 1906, and the picaresque novel Kim 1901, reveal his imaginative identification with the exotic. Poems such as `Danny Deever´, `Gunga Din´, and `If-´ express an empathy with common experience, which contributed to his great popularity, together with a vivid sense of `Englishness´. His work is increasingly valued for its complex characterisation and subtle moral viewpoints. Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.

In 1926 he was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Society of Literature; he received many other honours, including associate membership of the French Académie des Sciences et Politiques. Kipling was well travelled and lived in many countries until finally settling in Sussex, South East England. He is buried in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.

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David Livingstone 
Few Europeans have contributed as much to the exploration of Africa as a gentle Scottish missionary named David Livingstone.

Livingstone was a curious combination of missionary, doctor, explorer, scientist and anti-slavery activist. He spent 30 years in Africa, exploring almost a third of the continent, from its southern tip almost to the equator. He was the first white man to see Victoria Falls and though he never discovered the source of the Nile, one of his goals, he eliminated some possibilities and thereby helped direct the efforts of others.

In 1865, at age 52, Livingstone set out on his last and most famous journey. He soon lost his medicine, animals and porters, but struggled on almost alone.

At a village on the Lualaba River he witnessed the slaughter of villagers by slave traders. The letter he sent home describing the event so infuriated the public that the English government pressured the Sultan of Zanzibar to stop the slave trade. The pressure was only partially successful.

On Nov. 10, 1871 in the village of Ujiji, on the east side of Lake Tanganyika, Livingstone encountered Henry Stanley, who had been sent by the New York Herald Tribune newspaper to find and help him.

With Stanley's supplies Livingstone continued his explorations, but he was weak, worn out and suffering from dysentery. Then, on the morning of April 30, 1872, his two African assistants found him kneeling at his bedside, dead. They dried his body and carried it and his papers on a dangerous 11-month journey to Zanzibar, a trip of 1,000 miles. From there his body was taken to England.

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John Locke
1632 - 1704
English Philosopher

Locke was born in Wrington, Somerset, SW England. He studied at Oxford, and in 1667 he became am adviser to Lord Ashley, later first Earl of Shaftesbury. He retired to France, but after Shaftesbury's death in 1683 he fled to Holland, returning to England in 1689, where he became commissioner of appeals until 1704.

Locke's philosophical and political theories widely influenced the thinkers of his day, and are still considered important. To secure the personal liberties of the citizens Locke provided the theoretical justification for the separations of the powers of the state into legislative and executive branches.

In his major philosphical work 'Essay Concerning Human Understanding', he accepted the possibility of rational demonstration of moral principles and the existence of God, but he insisted that all beliefs depend for their justification ultimately upon experience - a doctrine that was the real starting point of British Empiricism.

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Sir Stanley Matthews CBE
(1915 - 2000)
World's Greatest Footballer

The son of Hanley's famous boxing-barber, Jack Matthews, Stan was the greatest footballer the world has ever seen. Born in Hanley, on leaving school he did general office work, while also on the ground staff at the Victoria Ground. He turned professional on his 17th birthday, having represented England at schoolboy level in 1929. He made his League debut for Stoke on March 19, 1932. Occupying the right-wing position throughout his career both as a club player and England international, he won the first of his 54 full England caps in September 1934 (Wales), scoring in the 4-0 win at Cardiff. During World War Two, Matthews appeared in 24 wartime and five Victory internationals, and also represented the Football League, the Football League XI and the FA XI. His first stay at Stoke ended in 1947, when, aged 32, he moved to Blackpool for £11,500. There he helped them to with the FA Cup in 1953, and scored 17 goals in 379 appearances for the Seasiders before returning to Stoke City in October, 1961, for a fee of £2,500. Matthews was 46 years old at the time, yet he still went on to play for a further four years for The Potters. Promotion was gained back into the First Division in 1963 and two years later on February 6, 1965, just five days after his 50th birthday, he retired from competitive football with well over 800 games under his belt, 701 in the Football League (332 with Stoke and 369 for Blackpool). His record at Stoke is 355 senior appearances and 62 goals. He is the oldest player ever to win a full England cap, aged 42 years, 103 days. He was knighted in 1965, having received the CBE nine years earlier). After leaving Stoke, Matthews toured the world, coaching in many countries including the Far East. In 1967-68 he returned to manage Port Vale, before going to live in Malta, where he took charge of Hibernians. He later lived in Canada before returning to the Potteries in the late 1980s to live. In 1989 he was appointed president of Stoke City Football Club. He was presented with the Midlands Sports Personality of the Year in 1994.

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John Milton
(1608-1674)
English poet

Milton was born in London on December 9, 1608, and educated at Saint Paul's School and Christ's College, University of Cambridge. He intended to become a clergyman in the Church of England, but growing dissatisfaction with the state of the Anglican clergy together with his own developing poetic interests led him to abandon this purpose.

He became totally blind in about 1652 and thereafter carried on his literary work helped by an assistant; with the aid also of the poet Andrew Marvell.

John Milton's work is marked by cosmic themes and lofty religious idealism; it reveals an astonishing breadth of learning and command of the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew classics. His blank verse is of remarkable variety and richness, so skillfully modulated and flexible that it has been compared to organ tones.

Paradise Lost is considered Milton's masterpiece and one of the greatest poems in world literature. In its 12 cantos he tells the story of the fall of Adam in a context of cosmic drama and profound speculations. The poet's announced aim was to "justify the ways of God to men." The poem was written with soaring imagination and far-ranging intellectual grasp in his most forceful and exalted style. Paradise Regained, which tells of human salvation through Christ, is a shorter and lesser work, although still one of great richness and strength. Milton is often considered the greatest English poet after Shakespeare.

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Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson
(1758-1805)
British naval commander

Nelson was born in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, on September 29, 1758

Nelson's services to the British nation were contributed in the course of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Nelson was made a commodore in 1796. During the Battle of the Nile, on August 1-2, 1798, he destroyed most of the French vessels; the victory cut Napoleon's line of communication with France and eventually was responsible for his withdrawal from the Middle East in spite of his military victories there. In 1801 Nelson became a vice

Nelson was in England at the time of the Treaty of Amiens (1802-03), which temporarily ended the fighting between England and France. When war broke out again in 1803 he was appointed commander of the British Mediterranean fleet. In the Battle of Trafalgar, on October 21, 1805, Nelson overwhelmingly defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets, leading the attack himself in his flagship Victory. The British victory put an end to Napoleon's plans for invading England.

Nelson is regarded as the most famous of all British naval leaders and as one of the most noteworthy in world history. He was buried in Saint Paul's Cathedral. In November 1805, in recognition of his services, his brother William Nelson was made Earl Nelson of Trafalgar. In 1849 a monument known as the Nelson Column was erected to Admiral Nelson in Trafalgar Square, London.

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Sir Isaac Newton
1642 - 1727
English Scientist
Isaac Newton is one of the greatest names in the history of human thought.

Newton was born in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, UK. He studied at Cambridge. Legend has it that the fall of an apple initiated the train of thought that led to the law of gravitation. As professor of mathematics at Cambridge he worked on his famous Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, which supplied a complete proof of the law of gravitation. This law explained celestial motions, the tides, and terrestial gravitation, and is regarded as one of the greatest scientific achievements.

He deveolped a new kind of mathematics known as the calculus. He also invented the reflecting telescope, and discovered that white light is a combination of all colors by using prisms. Newton sat in parliament on two occasions, was elected President of the Royal Society in 1703, and was knighted in 1705.
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Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale's parents were horrified. Their daughter had just announced her intention to be a nurse, and nursing was among the lowest of occupations, engaged in by the dirtiest and least-educated women.

But Florence was strong-willed, meticulous and believed God had given her a special calling. "On February 7th, 1837," she wrote, "God spoke to me, and called me into his service."

Despite her parents' objections, she studied nursing at Catholic and Protestant hospitals.

Then, in 1854, the horrible condition of British Army hospitals during the Crimean War prompted the government to ask her to run the hospitals in the Crimea, located on the north side of the Black Sea. With her emphasis on sanitation, she and her 38 nurses brought the hospital death rate from 42 percent down to 2 percent.

Though the strain of the war had permanently damaged her health, she later founded a nurses' school, wrote on hospital administration, petitioned the government for hospital reforms, and served as an inspiration for the founding of the Red Cross by Jean Henri Dunant.

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Sir Walter Raleigh
(1554-1618)
English adventurer and writer, who was prominent at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, and became an explorer of the Americas.

Born at Hayes Barton in Devonshire, Raleigh attended the University of Oxford. for a time and later studied law in London, where he became familiar with both court life and the intellectual community.

In 1578 Raleigh sailed to America with his half brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, a voyage that may have stimulated his plan to found an English empire there. In 1585, Raleigh sponsored the first English colony in America on Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina. He was knighted, and became one of the most powerful figures in England.

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The Hon. Charles Stewart Rolls
(1877-1910)

The son of a wealthy British peer, Rolls might have led a carefree life often associated with the young Edwardian aristocracy. Instead, he combined an adventurous spirit with an education and thus made a useful contribution to his nation.

Rolls went to Cambridge University where he earned a BA, and later MA in engineering. His love for speed led him to become a racing cyclist. Later he turned to racing automobiles along with his friend, Moore-Brabazon. In 1896 Rolls joined with other auto enthusiasts to break a law which forbade automobile travel at over 4mph (6.4km/hr). Their defiance led to a new speed limit which at 12 mph (19.3 km/hr) was 200% faster than had previously been allowed.

In 1901 Rolls, having become an aeronaut, helped found the Aero Club. Two years later he entered an automobile sales venture in London selling expensive French cars. One day a friend introduced him to F. H. Royce who was just beginning to build quality automobiles. Royce, who had worked hard his entire life, had little in common with Rolls yet they still became friends. In 1904 they agreed that Royce would build cars and Rolls would sell them. Rolls-Royce was born.

Rolls continued to fly balloons when he wasn't demonstrating his soon-to-be-famous products. His balloon flying led to aeroplane flying and in 1910 he received certificate number 2 from the Royal Aero Club (Royal as of that year). Later in the same year he became the first man to fly non-stop across the English Channel both ways, but his triumph was short lived. In July 1910 he was killed when his French-built Wright biplane broke up in mid-air. Though he came down from only 20 feet, he cracked his skull. He became Britain`s first aircraft fatality.

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Sir (Frederick) Henry Royce
(1863-1933)

Although he was to rise and become the producer of some of the most luxurious cars in the world, Royce began life in poverty. Born in Alwalton, England, he was orphaned at age nine. He struggled through a variety of jobs before being apprenticed to a locomotive works. There he became an expert machinist noted for his dedication to unequalled precision. At seventeen he left a subsequent job with a train ticket that had taken him several months to save for, and travelled to London. By day he worked at an electricity generating station, while at night he went to school. Three years passed before he decided to go to Manchester to open his own shop to produce dynamos and motors. Noted for their high quality, the Royce products sold well and his company grew. In 1902 he bought a second hand Decauville automobile hoping to enjoy leisurely weekends in the countryside. Instead, the car produced an endless series of breakdowns. He decided he could build a better one. In less than a year he had built a car that was so good that he decided to market it. In 1904 he entered into partnership with Rolls to sell automobiles, thus Rolls-Royce was formed. In 1906 Royce introduced the Silver Ghost, a car which was to become known as the greatest car in the world.

Royce's reputation as a leading engineer led the Royal Navy to contact him during World War I with an order to build Renault-designed aero-engines. Royce scoffed at what he considered an inferior design and said he would come up with a better one. The result was the Eagle, a twenty-litre engine which produced 225hp. This engine, and it's derivatives the Falcon and the Hawk, were so successful that by the end of World War I Rolls-Royce supplied 60% of all British built engines.

Royce stayed actively involved with the design of his company's engines up until his death in 1933. Before he died, he dictated what was to become known as the Rolls-Royce bible. It was a set of guidelines for future generations of Rolls-Royce engineers to follow. Even today, it is a closely guarded industrial secret.

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Robert Falcon Scott
(1868-1912)
British naval officer and explorer of Antarctica


Born in Devonport, England. Scott entered the Royal Navy at the age of 14. In 1900 he was placed in command of the National Antarctic Expedition. Leaving England in 1901, Scott established a land base on the shores of McMurdo Sound, in Antarctica. He explored to the east of the Ross Ice Shelf and named Edward VII Peninsula. He also led a party that achieved a record latitude of 81° 17' south and sledged over Victoria Land. The expedition, which returned in 1904, was responsible for scientific discoveries of marked importance.

In 1910 Scott embarked on a second Antarctic expedition, with the aim of being the first man to reach the South Pole. He again landed at McMurdo Sound and with four companions began a trek of 2964 km (1842 mi), the longest continuous sledge journey ever made in the polar regions. Scott reached the South Pole on January 18, 1912, only to find the tent and flag of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who had achieved the goal 5 weeks earlier. The return journey ended in the loss of the entire party. Petty Officer Edgar Evans died from a fall; Captain Lawrence Oates sacrificed his life, hoping thus to save his comrades; Henry R. Bowers, Dr. Edward Wilson, and Scott perished of starvation and exposure on March 29, 1912, within 18 km (11 mi) of a supply depot. Their bodies, along with valuable documents and specimens left by Scott in his tent, were found by a search party almost eight months later. His diaries and other documents were published as Scott's Last Expedition (1913). He is also the author of The Voyage of the Discovery (1905).

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William Shakespeare
1564- 1616
English Playwright
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. Around 1591 he moved to London and became an actor. He joined the Lord Chamberlain's company of players, later 'the King's Men'. When the company built the Globe Theatre in 1597, he became a partner, living at a house in Silver Street until c.1606, then moving near the Globe. He returned to Stratford c.1610, living as a country gentleman at his house, New Place.

Shakespeare is generally acknowledged to be one of the most extraordinary writers in history. His 28 plays and 154 sonnets explore the complexity of the human soul with unparalleled insight. No other writer's plays have been produced so many times in so many countries. His creative power is one of the great feature of his genius, and to many people Hamlet, or King Lear seem far more real than historical characters like Caesar.

Authorship is still a controversial subject for certain plays, and the modern era of Shakespeare scholarship has been marked by an enormous amount of investigation into the authorship, text, and chronology of the plays, including detailed studies of the age in which he lived, and of the Elizabethan stage.
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George Bernard Shaw
1856- 1950
British Dramatist
G. B. Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, and became the most significant British playwright of the last 300 years.

In addition to being a prolific playwright (he wrote 50 stage plays), he was also the most trenchant pamphleteer since the Irish-born satirist Jonathan Swift and the most readable music critic and best theatre critic of his generation. He was also one of literature's great letter writers.
Shaw was mostly concerned with social problems and early on became a member of the socialist Fabian Society. He was also a brilliant novelist and critic, and many consider him the greatest satirist of this century. Among his works are 'Caesar and Cleopatra' ; 'Man and Superman' ; 'Saint Joan' ; 'Back to Methuselah'. 'Man and Superman' is a dramatic parable based on the legend of Don Juan, it contains a famous dream scene called 'Don Juan in Hell' involving a debate with the devil. Shaw continued to write into his 90s.
To the end, Shaw continued to publish brilliantly argued prefaces to his plays and to flood publishers with books, articles, and cantankerous letters to the editor.
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George Stephenson
(1781-1848)

British inventor and engineer, who built the first practical railroad locomotive. Stephenson was born in Wylam, near Newcastle. During his youth he worked as a fireman and later as an engineer in the coal mines of Newcastle. He devised one of the first miner's safety lamps but shared credit for this invention with the British inventor Sir Humphry Davy, who developed a similar lamp at about the same time. Stephenson's early efforts in locomotive design were confined to constructing locomotives to haul loads in coal mines, and in 1823 he established a factory at Newcastle for their manufacture. In 1829 he designed a locomotive known as the Rocket, which hauled both freight and passengers at a greater speed than had any locomotive constructed up to that time. The success of the Rocket greatly stimulated the subsequent construction of locomotives and the laying of railroad lines.

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Thomas Telford
(1757-1834)

Thomas Telford, the son of a shepherd, was born in Westerkirk, Scotland in 1757. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a stonemason. He worked for a time in Edinburgh and in 1792 he moved to London where he was involved in building additions to Somerset House. Two years later he found work at Portsmouth dockyard.

In 1787 he became surveyor of public works for Shropshire. By this time Telford had established a good reputation as an engineer and in 1790 was given the task of building a bridge over the River Severn at Montford. This was followed by a canal that linked the ironworks and collieries of Wrexham with Chester and Shrewsbury. This involved building an aqueduct over the River Dee. On the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Telford used a new method of construction consisting of troughs made from cast-iron plates and fixed in masonry.

After the completion of the Ellesmere Canal Telford moved back to Scotland where he took control of the building of Caledonian Canal. Other works by Telford include the Menai Suspension Bridge (1819-1826) and the Katherine's Docks (1824-1828) in London.

Telford was also an important road builder. He was responsible for rebuilding the Shrewsbury to Holyhead road and the North Wales coast road between Chester and Bangor. During his life Telford built more than 1,000 miles of road, including the main road between London and Holyhead. Thomas Telford died in 1834.

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Richard Trevithick
(1771-1833)

British mechanical engineer and inventor, and one of the pioneers of railroad locomotion. Trevithick was born in Illogan, near Camborne-Redruth. In 1796 he exhibited models of high-pressure, noncondensing steam engines, which were an improvement on the low-pressure engines developed by the Scottish inventor James Watt. On Christmas Eve, 1801, Trevithick put into operation the first steam-propelled vehicle ever to carry passengers. In 1804 he made the first application of steam to the hauling of loads on a railway when his steam locomotive carried ten tons of iron about 15 km (about 9.5 mi), from Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon. His success led to the construction of further steam locomotives operating on rails. He is considered by many the real inventor of the locomotive steam engine.

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James Watt
1736 - 1819
Scottish Engineer
James Watt was born in Greenock, Scotland. He moved to Glasgow in 1754 to learn the trade of instrument maker. While he was employed on surveys for canals, he was also studying steam technology.

In 1763, while repairing a Newcomen engine, he found he could greatly improve the machine. His invention of the 'separate condenser' and the introduction of crank movements could make steam engines more efficient. After other improvements, he went into partnership with Matthew Boulton, and the new steam engine was manufactured at Birmingham in 1774. Several other inventions followed, including the double-acting engine, the centrifugal governor for automatic speed control, and the pressure gauge.

With this invention he provided one of the most essential components of early industrial revolution. The term horse-power was first used by him, and the power unit, the watt, is named in his honor.
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Josiah Wedgwood
(1730-1795)

English potter, whose works are among the finest examples of ceramic art. Wedgwood was born in Burslem, Staffordshire, into a family with a long tradition as potters. At the age of nine, after the death of his father, he worked in his family's pottery business. In 1759 he set up his own pottery works in Burslem. There he produced highly durable cream-coloured earthenware that so pleased Queen Charlotte Sophia, wife of George III of Great Britain, that in 1762 she appointed him royal supplier of dinnerware. From the public sale of what has become known as queensware, Wedgwood was able, in 1768, to build near Stoke-on-Trent a village, which he named Etruria, and a second factory equipped with tools and ovens of his own design. At first only ornamental pottery was made in Etruria, but by 1773 Wedgwood had concentrated all his production facilities there. Etruria Hall is now a museum to Wedgwood and is surrounded by commercial redevelopment following the National Garden Festival.

During his long career Wedgwood developed revolutionary ceramic materials, notably basalt and jasperware. Wedgwood's basalt—a hard, black, stonelike material known also as Egyptian ware or basaltes ware—was used for vases, candlesticks, and realistic busts of historical figures. Jasperware, his most successful innovation, was a durable unglazed porcelain most characteristically blue with fine white cameo figures inspired by the ancient Roman Portland Vase. Many of the finest designs in Jasperware were the neoclassical work of British artist John Flaxman.

Wedgwood was one of the first potters to market his wares not only to the European aristocracy, but also to middle-class society. The enormous popularity of his wares severely affected the competing porcelain and faience industries. Other innovations by Wedgwood include a device for measuring high oven temperatures, an improved green glaze, and efficient factory distribution methods. After Wedgwood's death in Etruria, his descendants carried on the business, which still produces many of his designs. Wedgwood was the grandfather of British naturalist Charles Darwin.

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Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
(1769-1852)
British general and prime minister (1828-30 and 1834)

Wellesley was born in Dublin, Ireland on May 1, 1769. He was commissioned as ensign in the British army in 1787 and was elected to the Irish parliament in 1790. In 1796 Wellesley, now holding the rank of colonel in the army, went to India, where he subsequently received his first independent command. Arthur took part in several military campaigns; in the Battle of Assaye in 1803, he subdued the Marathas, then the dominant people of India. Returning to England in 1805 he was rewarded with a knighthood and with election to the British Parliament.

Wellesley was involved in the struggle against Napoleon. He took part in military campaigns against France and its allies in Hannover (1805-6) and in Denmark (1807). In 1808 he was given command of the British expeditionary forces in Portugal, where in 1810 he first made use of his famous military tactic known as the scorched-earth policy, laying waste to the countryside behind him as he and his troops moved on. In the ensuing Peninsular War (1808-14), which resulted in the expulsion of Napoleon's armies from Portugal and Spain, Wellesley's troops won a series of victories, especially at Talavera de la Reina (1809), Salamanca (1812), Vitoria (1813), and Toulouse (1814). His success in Spain won him many honors and large estates and cash awards. In 1814 he was created 1st duke of Wellington.

On June 18, 1815, Wellington decisively defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

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H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells
(1866-1946)

English author and political philosopher, most famous for his science-fantasy novels with their prophetic depictions of the triumphs of technology as well as the horrors of 20th-century warfare.

Wells was born September 21, 1866, in Bromley, Kent, and educated at the Normal School of Science in London, to which he won a scholarship. He worked as a draper's apprentice, bookkeeper, tutor, and journalist until 1895, when he became a full-time writer. His novel The Time Machine (1895) mingled science, adventure, and political comment. Later works in this genre are The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), and The Shape of Things to Come (1933); each of these fantasies was made into a film.

Wells also wrote novels devoted to character delineation. Among these are Kipps (1905) and The History of Mr. Polly (1910), which depict members of the lower middle class and their aspirations. After World War I (1914-1918) Wells wrote an immensely popular historical work, The Outline of History (2 volumes, 1920).

Throughout his long life Wells was deeply concerned with and wrote voluminously about the survival of contemporary society. For a time he was a member of the Fabian Society. He envisioned a utopia in which the vast and frightening material forces available to modern men and women would be rationally controlled for progress and for the equal good of all.

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Sir Frank Whittle
(1907-1996)

Inventor of the Jet Engine

British aeronautical engineer, aviator, and inventor of the jet engine. Whittle was born in Earlsdon, Coventry, England, at a time when powered flight was still in it's infancy. He was educated at Leamington College and the University of Cambridge. In 1926 he entered the Royal Air Force College in Cranwell as a flight cadet. While attending the college, Whittle became interested in jet propulsion for aircraft; by 1930 he had developed the concept of a turbojet engine and filed his first patent. In 1936 he organized a privately financed company, Power Jets, Ltd., for the development of his engine.
In April 1937 the first engine was tested. According to Whittle himself it, "Made a noise like an air raid siren" Subsequently, the Gloster Aircraft Company was asked to build an experimental aircraft. The result was the Gloster E.28/39, which, powered by the Whittle jet engine, took off from Cranwell on 15 May 1941.
By now it had become clear that Great Britain needed a jet fighter, and by the time of the Battle of Britain in 1940, work had already begun on a jet that would fly 200mph faster than the RAF's Spitfires and Hurricanes. Known as the Gloster Meteor, this became the RAF's first jet fighter, entering squadron services towards the end of the Second World War.
Knighted in 1948, Whittle received many other honors, including the U.S. Legion of Merit in 1946 and the Churchill Gold Medal of the Society of Engineers in 1952.

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William Wordsworth
(1770-1850)

English poet, one of the most accomplished and influential of England's romantic poets, whose theories and style created a new tradition in poetry.

Wordsworth was born on April 7, 1770, in Cockermouth, Cumberland, and educated at Saint John's College, University of Cambridge. He developed a keen love of nature as a youth, and during school vacation periods he frequently visited places noted for their scenic beauty. Although Wordsworth had begun to write poetry while still a schoolboy, none of his poems was published until 1793, when An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches appeared. These works, although fresh and original in content, reflect the influence of the formal style of 18th-century English poetry.

His work is generally taken to mark the beginning of the romantic movement in English poetry.

In 1813 Wordsworth obtained a sinecure as distributor of stamps for Westmorland.

Much of Wordsworth's easy flow of conversational blank verse has true lyrical power and grace, and his finest work is permeated by a sense of the human relationship to external nature that is religious in its scope and intensity.

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Sir Christopher Wren
(1632-1723)
English architect, scientist, and mathematician

Wren was born in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, on October 20, 1632, the son of a clergyman. He was a precocious child with remarkable talent for science and mathematics and had already invented numerous scientific devices before the age of 14, when he was admitted to Wadham College, University of Oxford. While still a student, he made several original contributions in mathematics, winning immediate acclaim. In 1657, after serving as a fellow of All Souls College at Oxford, he was appointed professor of astronomy at Gresham College in London. Three years later he returned to Oxford to accept the post of Savilian professor of astronomy.

Already famous as a scientist and mathematician, Wren started his career as an architect at the age of 29. Until then he had displayed no practical interest in architecture, but his reputation brought him an unsolicited court appointment as assistant to the surveyor general in charge of the repair and upkeep of public buildings. Thereafter Wren devoted himself to the study of architecture with increasing enthusiasm. His earliest work included designs for several new structures at Oxford and at Cambridge.

The fire of 1666 burned the oldest part of London. Within a few days Wren submitted a brilliant plan for rebuilding the area. The plan anticipated many of the features of modern city planning, but it was rejected because of property disputes. In 1667 he was appointed deputy surveyor general for the reconstruction of Saint Paul's Cathedral, numerous parish churches, and other buildings destroyed by the fire. Two years later he received the coveted post of surveyor of the royal works, a position that gave him control of all government building in Britain. He held this position for the following 50 years.

Wren's designs for St. Paul's Cathedral were accepted in 1675, and he superintended the building of the vast baroque structure until its completion in 1710. It ranks as one of the world's most imposing domed edifices. He also designed more than 50 churches, many of them, such as Saint Mary-le-Bow (1671-77) in London, famous for their towers and graceful spires. They include Saint Stephen's, Walbrook; Saint Clement Dane's, the Strand; and Saint James's, Picadilly. Among his secular buildings still in existence are the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford (1664-69), the Trinity College library at Cambridge (1677-92), and the facade for Hampton Court Palace (1689-94). He also built the Chelsea Hospital (1682), the Greenwich Observatory (1675), and the Greenwich Hospital (1696).

Wren's architectural achievements have obscured his extraordinary contributions in science. Among his inventions were a weather clock comparable to the modern barometer and new methods of engraving and etching. His biological experiments, in which he injected fluids into the veins of animals, were important in developing blood transfusion.

Wren was knighted in 1673; he subsequently served for many years as a member of Parliament. One of the founders of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, he became its president in 1680. He died in London, on February 25, 1723, and was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral. Near his tomb is a tablet inscribed with his epitaph, which ends with the following famous words: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice ("If you seek his monument, look about you").He is considered England’s foremost architect. His work, in a simple version of the baroque style, displayed great inventiveness in design and engineering. The Wren style strongly influenced English architecture in the Georgian period and its colonial version in America.

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