…in 1847, Charlotte Brontë sent a manuscript of Jane Eyre to her publisher in London. Due to the misogyny of the time, Charlotte wrote under the pseudonym ‘Currer Bell,’ so that her work would be taken more seriously. Her sisters, Emily and Anne, did the same, writing as ‘Ellis Bell’ and ‘Acton Bell’.
…in 1692, five people were hanged in Salem, Massachussetts after being convicted of witchcraft. Fourteen more were executed for the crime that year, and a further 150 were imprisoned.
… in 1977, Elvis Presley died of a heart attack in his Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee.
RIP the King of Rock and Roll.
… in 1940, the Battle of Britain began. This was the first major battle to be fought solely in the air. Lasting from July to October, defeat would have meant the invasion of Britain and a very different conclusion to the Second World War. Instead, the allies’ victory marked a significant turning point in the war.
…in 1940, the evacuation of Dunkirk began.
Code-named ‘Operation Dynamo’ and nick-named by some as ‘The Miracle Of Dunkirk,’ hundreds of boats sailed across the Channel to rescue almost a quarter of a million Allied troops who were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk in France. The rescue vessels ranged from military ships to ordinary fishing boats and even private yachts. As they would do so many times throughout the war, the British people came together in the face of adversity and triumphed.
In total, 338,226 soldiers were saved as a result of Operation Dynamo. Had the evacuation not happened, the outcome of the Second World War could have been very different.
…in 1918, the so-called ‘Spanish influenza’ broke out in America, when 107 soldiers became sick at Fort Riley in Kansas.
Around one quarter of the US population became ill from the virus, resulting in half a million deaths. Worldwide, the death-toll had reached approximately 22 million by the end of 1920. After the pain and suffering of four long years at war, this outbreak must have been devastating.
… in 1847 the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The first sentence ever spoken on the telephone occurred on 10th March, 1876, when Bell said to his assistant: “Mr Watson, come here, I want you.”
… in 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published a pamphlet called The Communist Manifesto. It advocated the abolition of private property and emphasised that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.”
Arguably one of the most influential works ever, the Manifesto influenced everything from literary theory to politics – notably being adopted (and, quickly, distorted) during the Russian Revolution and under Stalin’s rule in the early twentieth century.