October 16

Marie-Antoinette’s Hair Extravaganza

On the 16th of October 1793 – only two weeks before her thirty-eighth birthday – Marie Antoinette was beheaded at the Place de la Révolotion in Paris. From a historical perspective, one can refer to her death in a more symbolic context as to a loss of identity that was never entirely her own.  “For Marie-Antoinette, […]

October 15

Jack the Ripper’s Letter from Hell

15 October 1888 – says the postmark on the letter received by George Lusk, the then head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. The sender of the letter was allegedly the serial killer and bogeyman of Victorian London, Jack the Ripper. The cryptic message in the letter read as follows: From hell Mr Lusk Sor I send […]

October 14

The Tale of the Real Winnie Bear

On the 14th of October 1926, Alan Alexander Milne’s iconic collection of children’s stories Winnie-the-Pooh was first published by Methuen in London. The story of the actual brown bear which inspired Milne’s cartoon teddy is a lot less known, even though it has been the subject of books, such as  Real Winnie: A One-of-a-kind Bear (2003) by Val Shushkewich, or even […]

October 13

Art Tatum: The Prodigy of Jazz

Art Tatum, one of the most famous jazz pianists in history, was born on the 13th of October 1909, in Toledo, Ohio. His exceptional talent and prodigious technique were a true revelation to the jazz lovers at the time. Many would agree that Tatum was to jazz what Mozart to classical music. “When Art Tatum arrived…, […]

October 12

History in Nursery Rhymes: Three Blind Mice

On the 12th of October 1609, the popular children’s nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice was published in London. A version of this rhyme, together with music, was published in Deuteromelia (1609); the editor was Thomas Ravenscroft (c.1582-1635), still a teenager at the time of its publication. London life in the 1600s was hard for everyone. The capital […]

October 11

Piaf and Cocteau: Les Enfants Terribles

When I write I disturb. When I make a film I disturb. When I paint I disturb. When I exhibit my paintings I disturb, and I disturb if I don’t. I have a knack for disturbing. (Jean Cocteau, Diary of an Unknown) On the 11th of October 1963, a French poet, novelist, designer, playwright, artist, […]

October 10

Racism in Opera: Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

On the 10th of October 1935, George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess opened in the Alvin Theatre on Broadway, New York. A few years earlier, Singer Al Jolson attempted to musicalise the story starring as a comic blackface Porgy, his minstrel shows, an unacceptable racist concept nowadays. The Broadway opening was unprecedented in U.S. history due to […]