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 […]

October 09

Che Guevara’s Revolution in Pop Culture

On the 9th of October 1967 Che Guevara, an Argentinian Marxist revolutionary, and allegedly one of the most famous revolutionaries in the world, was executed. The execution took place in a little Bolivian village, La Higuera, which since then has become a pilgrimage destination for numerous Che Guevara followers. The use of the word ‘pilgrimage’ […]

October 08

Can and Should Manners be Taught?

On the 8th of October 1952, American socialite-journalist Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette was first published . Most of us wish to be seen as well-mannered. However, acknowledging the existence of a set of rules which would dictate how to behave has largely become a derided, old-fashioned subject. Things were different in the 1950s. Vanderbilt’s 800-page tome set the standard […]