06 February, 2009

Lerone Bennett Jr.


Lerone Bennett Jr. is an American scholar, author and historian.

Bennett was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi the son of late Lerone Bennett Sr. and Alma Reed. When he was young his family moved to Jackson, Mississippi. He is most notable for his work as an editor for Ebony Magazine and for two historical texts: Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, 1619-1962 and Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream. The former discusses the contributions of African Americans in the United States, while the latter questions President Abraham Lincoln's role as the "Great Emancipator". Bennett is an alumnus of Morehouse College. Mr. Bennett is also a distinguished member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Wyndham Lewis


Percy Wyndham Lewis was an English painter and author. He was a co-founder of the Vorticist movement in art, and edited the literary magazine of the Vorticists, BLAST. His novels include his pre-World War I-era novel Tarr (set in Paris), and The Human Age, a trilogy comprising The Childermass (1928), Monstre Gai and Malign Fiesta (both 1955), set in the afterworld. A fourth volume of The Human Age, The Trial of Man, was begun by Lewis but left in a fragmentary state at the time of his death. He also wrote two autobiographical volumes, Blasting and Bombardiering (1937) and Rude Assignment: A Narrative of my Career up-to-date (1950). He died in 1957.

Charles Hamilton


Charles Harold St. John Hamilton, was an English writer, specializing in writing long-running series of stories for weekly magazines about recurrent casts of characters, his most frequent and famous genre being boys public school stories. He used a variety of pen-names; generally using a different name for each publication he wrote for, the most famous being Frank Richards for The Magnet where the Greyfriars School stories (featuring Billy Bunter) were published. Other important pen-names included Martin Clifford (for The Gem), Owen Conquest (for the Boys' Friend). He wrote a series of stories for the Modern Boy, about an island trader called Ken King, under his real name.

Hamilton was born in Ealing, London to a family of eight children. He began a career as a writer of fiction having his first story accepted almost immediately. Over the following years he was to establish himself as the main writer with the publisher, Trapps Holmes, providing several thousand stories on a range of subjects including policemen, detectives, firefighters, Westerns as well as school stories. In 1906 however, he was started to write for the Amalgamated Press. Although he continued to have stories published for Trapps Holmes until 1915 (many of which were reprints), his allegiance was gradually to move (Lofts & Adley 1975:25-42).

Amalgamated Press started a new story paper for boys called The Gem in 1907 and by issue number 11 it had established a format – the major content was to be a story about St Jim’s school, starring Tom Merry as the main character and written by Charles Hamilton under the pen name of Martin Clifford. This paper rapidity established itself and anxious to capitalize on its success, a similar venture was launched in 1908. This was to be known as The Magnet, the subject matter was a school was called Greyfriars and Hamilton was again to be the author, this time using the name Frank Richards (Lofts & Adley 1975:43-51) .

In 1915, Hamilton started a third school for Amalgamated Press, Rookwood, this time under the name Owen Conquest and featuring a character called Jimmy Silver. These appeared as part of the Boys' Friend Weekly publication and were shorter than the Greyfriars and St Jim’s stories (Lofts & Adley 1975:52-55).

These publications were to absorb most of Hamilton’s efforts over the next three decades and were where he was to produce the work for which he is best remembered. In the early days of this period, the St Jim’s stories were more involved and more popular. The Greyfriars stories however, evolved gradually over the early years of the Magnet, eventually becoming Hamilton’s main priority. In all he provided stories for 82% of the issues of The Magnet compared with two thirds of the issues of the Gem. If a Hamilton story was not available, the story was provided by another author but still using the Clifford or Richards name (Lofts & Adley 1975:52-72).

The Gem carried on until December 1939 and by then the circulation of the Magnet had also declined. With England facing a paper shortage the closure of the paper was inevitable and this came about in 1940.

Following the closure of The Magnet, Hamilton had little work but ironically, growing fame as his identity as the author of so many stories became known following an interview in the Evening Standard. He was not however able to continue the Greyfriars saga as Amalgamated Press held the copyright and would not release it.

In the event he was obliged to create new schools such as Carcroft and Sparshott, as well as trying the romance genre under the name of William Cardew, albeit with limited success. By 1946 however, he had received permission to write Greyfriars stories again and obtained a contract from publishers Charles Skilton for a hardback series the first volume of which, Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School, was published in September 1947. The series was to continue for the rest of his life, the publisher later changing to Cassells. In addition, he wrote further St Jim’s, Rookwood and Cliff House stories, as well as the television script for seven series of Billy Bunter stories for the BBC (Lofts & Adley 1975:146-151).

He died on 24 December 1961, aged 85.

Aleister Crowley



Aleister Crowley, born Edward Alexander Crowley, was a British occultist, writer, mountaineer, poet, and yogi. He was an influential member of several occult organizations, including the Golden Dawn, the A∴A∴, and Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), and is best known today for his occult writings, especially The Book of the Law, the central sacred text of Thelema. He gained much notoriety during his lifetime, and was dubbed "The Wickedest Man In the World."

Aleister Crowley died of a respiratory infection in a Hastings boarding house on 1 December 1947 at the age of 72.

Michel Saint-Denis


Michel Saint-Denis was a French actor, theater director, and drama theorist whose ideas on actor training have had a profound influence on the development of European theater from the 1930s on.

Michel Saint-Denis was born in Beauvais, France. The nephew of Jacques Copeau, who had founded the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier in 1913, St-Denis was exposed to theater early in his life. He joined Copeau's troupe in 1919, after their return from New York, where they had performed for two years. Saint-Denis was greatly influenced by Copeau's approach to theater taught at his Ecole du Vieux-Colombier, which embraced not only the play on stage but also the actor training itself. He soon became Copeau's right hand man, like Charles Dullin or Louis Jouvet before him. Together with other members of the troupe of the Vieux-Colombier, he followed his uncle to Burgundy in 1924, where they formed a new troupe that would become famous as les Copiaus.

In 1929, Michel Saint-Denis together with some other members of the Copiaus and with the help of Copeau, moved to Paris and set up the Compagnie des Quinze, transporting Copeau's teachings on international stages to wide acclaim. In 1935, he accepted an invitation to London, where he founded the London Theatre Studio together with George Devine and Marius Goring, an actor school where he introduced Copeau's and his own concepts from his earlier experience in France. Working together with established actors like Alec Guinness, Peter Ustinov, Michael Redgrave, John Gielgud or Laurence Olivier, he soon became known as a renowned director. At one time, he also co-directed the Royal Shakespeare Company.

During World War II, he directed the French programme of the BBC ("Radio Diffusion Française") under the pseudonym of "Jacques Duchesne". After the war, Saint-Denis founded a new theater school at the damaged Old Vic that existed from 1947 to 1952.

In 1952, Saint-Denis accepted a call by the Centre Dramatique de l'Est first at Colmar, and then—since 1953—at Strasbourg, where he founded the Ecole Supérieure d'Art Dramatique. After his retirement for health reasons in 1957, he taught at the Juilliard School in New York, where he instituted the Juilliard Drama School, and served as an advisor to the Canadian National Theatre School. In 1961, he was named artistic advisor at the new Royal Shakespeare Company.

Having suffered from health problems for a long time, Michel Saint-Denis died in 1971 in London from a stroke.

Alan Sillitoe


Alan Sillitoe is an English writer, one of the "Angry Young Men" of the 1950s.

Sillitoe was born in Nottingham, to working class parents. Like Arthur Seaton, the anti-hero of Sillitoe's first novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, his father worked in the Raleigh factory.

He left school at the age of 14 and spent his time reading. He served in the Royal Air Force, where he was a wireless operator. After returning to England from Malaya, he was discovered to have tuberculosis and he spent sixteen months in an RAF hospital.

Pensioned off at 21 on 45 shillings at week, he lived in France and Spain for seven years in an attempt to recover. In 1955, whilst living in Mallorca with his lover, American poet Ruth Fainlight, and in contact with the poet Robert Graves, Sillitoe commenced work on Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, which was published in 1958. Influenced in part by the stripped-down prose of Hemingway, the book conveys the attitudes and situation of a young factory worker faced with the inevitable end of his youthful philandering. As with John Osbourne's Look Back in Anger and John Braine's Room at the Top, the novel's real subject was the disillusionment of post-war Britain, and the lack of opportunities for the working class. It was adapted as a film by Karel Reisz in 1960, with Albert Finney as Arthur Seaton.

His story The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, which concerns the rebellion of a borstal boy with a talent for running, won the Hawthornden Prize in 1959. It was also adapted to film in 1962, this time directed by Tony Richardson, and starring Tom Courtenay.

In 1990, he was awarded an honorary degree from Nottingham Trent University. The city's older, prestigious Russell Group university, The University of Nottingham, also awarded Sillitoe an honorary DLitt degree in 1994, and in 2006 his best known play was staged at the University's Lakeside Arts theatre in an in-house production.

Sillitoe has written many novels, and several volumes of poetry. His 1995 autobiography, Life Without Armour was critically acclaimed on publication, and offers a view into his squalid childhood.

In 2007 Gadfly in Russia, an account of his travels in Russia spanning 40 years, was published. In 2008 London Books republished A Start in Life as part of their London Classics series and to mark the author's 80th birthday. He was honoured with an appearance on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on 25 January 2009.

Sillitoe is married to Ruth Fainlight, lives in London and has two children.

Ira Gershwin



Ira Gershwin was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century.

With George he wrote more than a dozen Broadway shows, featuring songs such as "I Got Rhythm", "Embraceable You", "The Man I Love" and "Someone to Watch Over Me", and the opera Porgy and Bess.

The success the brothers had with their collaborative works has often overshadowed the creative role that Ira played. However, his mastery of songwriting continued after the early death of George. He wrote additional hit songs with composers Jerome Kern ("Long Ago (and Far Away)"), Kurt Weill and Harold Arlen.

His critically acclaimed book Lyrics on Several Occasions of 1959, an amalgam of autobiography and annotated anthology, is an important source for studying the art of the lyricist in the golden age of American popular song.

Gershwin was born Israel Gershowitz in New York City to Morris and Rose Gershovitz. Shy in his youth, he spent much of his time at home reading, but from grammar school through college, he played a prominent part in several school newspapers and magazines. He graduated from Townsend Harris High School where he met Yip Harburg. He graduated from City College of New York.

While his younger brother began composing and "plugging" in Tin Pan Alley from the age of eighteen, Ira worked as a cashier in his father's Turkish baths. It was not until 1921 that Ira became involved in the music business. Alex Aarons signed Ira to write the music for his next show (Two Little Girls in Blue, ultimately produced by Abraham Erlanger), with co-composers Vincent Youmans and Paul Lannin. Gershwin's lyrics were well received and allowed him to successfully enter the theatre world with just one show.

It was not until 1924 that Ira and George Gershwin teamed up to write the music for their first Broadway hit Lady, Be Good!. Once the brothers joined together, their combined talents became one of the most influential forces in the history of American Musical Theatre. Together, they wrote the music for more than twelve shows and four films. Some of their more famous works include "The Man I Love", "Fascinating Rhythm", "Someone to Watch Over Me", "I Got Rhythm", "Summertime", and "They Can't Take That Away from Me". Their partnership continued until George's sudden death from a brain tumor in 1937.

Following his brother's death, Ira waited nearly three years before writing again. After this interlude, he teamed up with such accomplished composers as Jerome Kern (Cover Girl); Kurt Weill (Where Do We Go from Here? and Lady in the Dark)'; and Harold Arlen (A Star Is Born). Over the next fourteen years, Gershwin continued to write the lyrics for many film scores and a few Broadway shows. But the failure of Park Avenue in 1946, a 'smart' show about divorce, co-written with composer Arthur Schwartz, was his farewell to Broadway. As he wrote at the time, "Am reading a couple of stories for possible musicalization (if there is such a word) but I hope I don't like them as I think I deserve a long rest."

American singer, pianist, musical historian Michael Feinstein worked for Gershwin in the lyricist's latter years, helping him with his archive. Several lost musical treasures were unearthed during this period, and Feinstein performed some of the material.

Gershwin died in Beverly Hills, and is interred at Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

Sax Rohmer


Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward better known as Sax Rohmer, was a prolific English novelist. He is most remembered for his series of novels featuring the master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu.

Born in Birmingham he had an entirely working class education and early career before beginning to write. His first published work was in 1903, the short story The Mysterious Mummy for Pearson's Weekly. He made his early living writing comedy sketches for music hall performers and short stories and serials for magazines. In 1909 he married Rose Knox. He published his first novel Pause! anonymously in 1910 and the first Fu Manchu story, The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu, was serialized over 1912-13. It was an immediate success with its fast paced story of Sir Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie facing the worldwide conspiracy of the 'Yellow Peril'. The Fu Manchu stories, together with those featuring Gaston Max or Morris Klaw, made Rohmer one of the most successful and well-paid writers in of the 1920s and 1930s. But Rohmer was very poor at handling his wealth. After World War II the Rohmers moved to New York.

Rohmer died in 1959 due to an outbreak of avian influenza ("Asian Flu").

Stephen Crane


Stephen Crane was an American novelist, short story writer, poet and journalist. Prolific throughout his short life, he wrote notable works in the Realist tradition as well as early examples of American Naturalism and Impressionism. He is recognized by modern critics as one of the most innovative writers of his generation.

The eighth surviving child of highly devout parents, Crane was raised in several New Jersey towns and Port Jervis, New York. He began writing at an early age and had published several articles by the age of 16. Having little interest in university studies, he left school in 1891 and began work as a reporter and writer. Crane's first novel was the 1893 Bowery tale Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, which critics generally consider the first work of American literary Naturalism. He won international acclaim for his 1895 Civil War novel The Red Badge of Courage, which he wrote without any battle experience.

In 1896, Crane endured a highly publicized scandal after acting as a witness for a suspected prostitute. Late that year he accepted an offer to cover the Spanish-American War as a war correspondent. As he waited in Jacksonville, Florida for passage to Cuba, he met Cora Taylor, the madam of a brothel with whom he would have a lasting relationship. While en route to Cuba, Crane's ship sank off the coast of Florida, leaving him marooned for several days in a small dinghy. His ordeal was later described in his well-known short story, "The Open Boat". During the final years of his life, he covered conflicts in Greece and Cuba, and lived in England with Cora, where he befriended writers such as Joseph Conrad and H. G. Wells. Plagued by financial difficulties and ill health, Crane died of tuberculosis in a Black Forest sanatorium at the age of 28.

At the time of his death, Crane had become an important figure in American literature. He was nearly forgotten, however, until two decades later when critics revived interest in his life and work. Stylistically, Crane's writing is characterized by descriptive vividness and intensity, as well as distinctive dialects and irony. Common themes involve fear, spiritual crisis and social isolation. Although recognized primarily for The Red Badge of Courage, which has become an American classic, Crane is also known for his unconventional poetry and heralded for short stories such as "The Open Boat", "The Blue Hotel", "The Monster" and "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky". His writing made a deep impression on 20th century writers, most prominent among them Ernest Hemingway, and is thought to have inspired the Modernists and the Imagists.

Lawrence Durrell


Lawrence George Durrell was an expatriate British novelist, poet, dramatist, and travel writer, though he resisted affiliation with Britain and preferred to be considered cosmopolitan. His most famous work is the tetralogy The Alexandria Quartet.

Durrell was born in Jullundur, British India, the son of Indian-born British colonials Louisa and Lawrence Samuel Durrell. His first school was St Joseph's College, North Point, Darjeeling. At the age of eleven, he was sent to England where he briefly attended St Olave's Grammar School before being sent to St Edmund's School, Canterbury, in England. England was a country in which he was unhappy and which he left as soon as possible. Although his formal education was unsuccessful, and though he failed his university entrance examinations, Durrell had started writing poetry seriously at the age of fifteen. His first collection, Quaint Fragment, was published in 1931.

On January 22, 1935, Durrell married Nancy Isobel Myers, the first of his four marriages. In March of that year Durrell, Nancy, his mother, and his siblings (including brother Gerald Durrell, later to be a major British wildlife conservationist and popular writer) moved to the Greek island of Corfu.

In the same year, Durrell's first novel, Pied Piper of Lovers, was published by Cassell. Around this time, he wrote to Henry Miller, expressing intense admiration for his novel Tropic of Cancer, which sparked an enduring friendship and mutually-critical relationship. The two got on well, as they were exploring similar subjects, and Durrell's next novel, Panic Spring was heavily influenced by Miller's work, and after that The Black Book abounded with "four-letter words... grotesques,... [and] its mood equally as apocalyptic" as Tropic.

In Corfu, Lawrence and Nancy lived together in bohemian style in a number of large houses, notably the 'White House' on the coast at Kalami. Henry Miller was a guest in 1939. The period is somewhat fictionalized in Durrell's lyrical account in Prospero's Cell, which may be instructively compared with the accounts of the Corfu experience published by Gerald Durrell, notably in My Family and Other Animals. Gerald describes Lawrence as living with his mother and siblings -- Nancy is not mentioned at all -- whereas Lawrence's account makes few references to the fact that his mother and three siblings were also resident on Corfu. The accounts do cover a few of the same topics; for example, both Gerald and Lawrence describe the role played by the Greek doctor, scientist and poet Theodore Stephanides in their lives on Corfu.

In August, 1937, Lawrence and Nancy traveled to the Villa Seurat in Paris, to meet Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin. Together with Alfred Perles, Nin, Miller, and Durrell "began a collaboration aimed at founding their own literary movement. Their projects included 'The Shame of the Morning' and the 'Booster', a country club house organ that the Villa Seurat group appropriated for their own artistic...ends." They also started the Villa Seurat Series in order to publish Durrell's Black Book, Miller's Max and the White Phagocytes, and Nin's Winter of Artifice, with Jack Kahane of the Obelisk Press as publisher.

Durrell's first novel of note, The Black Book: An Agon, was heavily influenced by Miller and was published in Paris in 1938. The mildly pornographic work only appeared in Britain in 1973. In the story, Lawrence Lucifer struggles to escape the spiritual sterility of dying England, and finds Greece's warmth and fertility.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Durrell's mother and siblings returned to England, while he and Nancy remained on Corfu. In 1940 he and his wife had a daughter, Penelope Berengaria. After the fall of Greece, Lawrence and Nancy escaped via Crete to Alexandria in Egypt, where he wrote about Corfu and their life on "this brilliant little speck of an island in the Ionian" in the poetic Prospero's Cell.

During the war, Durrell served as a press attaché to the British Embassies, first in Cairo and then Alexandria. After the war he held various diplomatic and teaching jobs. It was in Alexandria that he met Eve (Yvette) Cohen, who was to become the model for the character Justine in the Alexandria Quartet.


In 1947 Durrell was appointed director of the British Council Institute in Córdoba, Argentina, where for the next eighteen months he gave lectures on cultural topics. He returned to London in the summer of 1948, around the time that Marshal Tito broke ties with Stalin's Cominform, and Durrell was posted to Belgrade, Yugoslavia where he was to remain until 1952. This sojourn gave him material for his book White Eagles over Serbia (1957). In 1952 he moved to Cyprus, buying a house and taking a position teaching English literature at the Pancyprian Gymnasium to support his writing, followed by public relations work for the British government there during agitation for union with Greece. He wrote about his time in Cyprus in Bitter Lemons, which won the Duff Cooper Prize in 1957. In 1954, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

In 1957, he published Justine, the first part of what was to become his most famous work, The Alexandria Quartet. Justine, Balthazar (1958), Mountolive (1959) and Clea (1960) deal with events before and during the Second World War in Alexandria. The first three books tell essentially the same story but from different perspectives, a technique Durrell described in his introductory note to Balthazar as "relativistic". Only in the final part, Clea, does the story advance in time and reach a conclusion.

The Quartet impressed critics by the richness of its style, the variety and vividness of its characters, its movement between the personal and the political, and its exotic locations in and around the city which Durrell portrays as the chief protagonist: "... the city which used us as its flora - precipitated in us conflicts which were hers and which we mistook for our own: beloved Alexandria!" The Times Literary Supplement review of the Quartet stated: "If ever a work bore an instantly recognizable signature on every sentence, this is it." There was some suggestion that Durrell might be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but this did not materialize.

Given the complexity of the work, it was probably inevitable that George Cukor's 1969 attempt to film the Quartet (Justine) simplified the story to the point of melodrama, and was poorly received.

Durrell separated from Eve Cohen in 1955, and was married again in 1961 to Claude-Marie Vincendon; she died of cancer in 1967.

Durrell settled in Sommières, a small village in Languedoc, France, where he purchased a large house standing secluded in its own extensive walled grounds on the edge of the village. Here he wrote The Revolt of Aphrodite, comprising Tunc (1968) and Nunquam (1970), and The Avignon Quintet, which attempted to replicate the success of The Alexandria Quartet and revisited many of the same motifs and styles to be found in the earlier work. Although it is frequently described as a quintet, Durrell himself referred to it as a "quincunx". The middle book of the quincunx, Constance, or Solitary Practices, which portrays France under the German occupation, was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1982 and the opening novel, Monsieur, or the Prince of Darkness, received the 1974 James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In 1974, Durrell was the Andrew Mellon Visiting Professor of Humanities at the California Institute of Technology.

Durrell's poetry has been overshadowed by his novels. Peter Porter, in his introduction to a Selected Poems, writes of Durrell as a poet: "one of the best of the past hundred years. And one of the most enjoyable." He goes on to describe Durrell's poetry as "always beautiful as sound and syntax. Its innovation lies in its refusal to be higher-minded than the things it records, together with its handling of the whole lexicon of language."

Durrell also spent several years in the service of the Foreign Office. He was senior Press Officer to the British Embassies in Athens and Cairo, Press Attache in Alexandria and Belgrade, Director of the British Institutes in Kalamata, Greece, and Córdoba, Argentina. He was also Director of Public Relations in the Dodecanese Islands and on Cyprus.

Durrell suffered from emphysema for many years. He died of a stroke at his house in Sommières in November 1990.

Jerome Weidman


Jerome Weidman was an American playwright and novelist. He was educated at New York University Law School, Weidman made his Broadway debut as co-author of the libretto for the Pulitzer Prize–winning musical Fiorello! (1959). He also co-wrote Tenderloin (1960) and adapted his own novel about the garment industry into the musical I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1962). He was born in New York and educated at Harvard, where he wrote for the humor magazine Lampoon, and Yale to pursue a law career as well. But he soon turned to writing and was first represented on Broadway as the librettist for Pacific Overtures (1976), the experimental Stephen Sondheim musical about the opening of Japan. Weidman's other credits include the revised libretto for Anything Goes (1987); the bold, conceptual script for Sondheim's Assassins (1991); Big (1996); Contact (2000); and Bounce (2003). He collaborated with George Abbott on the book for the musical Fiorello! with music by Jerry Bock, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. All received the 1960 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the work. Weidman died October 6, 1998 in New York City.

Daniel Pinkwater



Daniel Manus Pinkwater born in Memphis, Tennessee, is an author of mostly children's books and is an occasional commentator on National Public Radio. He attended Bard College. Well-known books include Lizard Music, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, Fat Men from Space, Borgel, and the picture book The Big Orange Splot. Pinkwater has also illustrated many of his books in the past, although for more recent works that task has passed to his wife Jill Pinkwater.

Pinkwater tends to write books about (frequently obese) social misfits who find themselves in bizarre situations, such as searching for a floating island populated by human-sized intelligent lizards (Lizard Music), exploring other universes with an obscure relative (Borgel), and discovering that their teeth can function as interstellar radio antennae (Fat Men from Space). They are often, though not always, set in thinly--or not at all--disguised versions of Chicago and Hoboken, New Jersey. A recurring character in many of his books is the Chicken Man, an elderly man who carries a performing chicken on his head. In 1995, Pinkwater published his first adult novel, The Afterlife Diet, in which a mediocre editor, upon dying, finds himself in a tacky Catskills resort populated by "circumferentially challenged" deceased.

Pinkwater authored the newspaper comic strip Norb, which was illustrated by Tony Auth. The strip, syndicated by King Features, was cancelled after 52 weeks.

Pinkwater varies his name slightly between books ("Daniel Pinkwater", "Daniel M. Pinkwater", "Daniel Manus Pinkwater", "D. Manus Pinkwater", etc.); allegedly, he claims that he does this in order to annoy the librarians who have to catalogue his books.

Mr. Pinkwater is also a longtime commentator on National Public Radio. He regularly reviews children's books on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. For several years, he had his own NPR show, Chinwag Theater. Pinkwater is also known to avid fans of the NPR radio show Car Talk, where he has appeared as a (seemingly) random caller, commenting, for example, on the physics of the buttocks, and giving practical advice as to the choice of automobiles.

Richard Carleton Hacker


Richard Carleton Hacker is a featured writer on premium wine, spirits and tobacco for Robb Report (the leading luxury lifestyle magazine in America), Playboy Magazine (no description necessary!), Ritz-Carlton Magazine, Resort Living, Smoke Magazine, and is a regular columnist for The Quarterly Review of Wine. He writes about these pleasurable pastimes for other national and international lifestyle publications as well.

In addition, he has authored 11 books on pipes and cigars that have been published in the U.S., Great Britain, and Germany. One of these books, The Ultimate Cigar Book, is credited with having helped start the American cigar boom and was the first book to pair whiskies with cigars according to strength and taste.

The internationally acclaimed author is a popular keynote speaker, has made numerous guest appearances on radio and television, is a judge for the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the Critic’s Challenge International Wine Competition, and has been the subject of countless newspaper and magazine articles. He has been inducted by the Scotch whisky industry as a lifetime member of the Keeper of the Quaich, elected to the Académie Internationale de la Pipe, as well as the honorary French pipe smoking society of the Confrérie des Maîtres-Pipiers de Saint-Claude, honored as a member in the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, and was knighted in Germany.

Thus, Richard Carleton Hacker has become an international spokesman and ambassador for some of life’s greatest pleasures.

William Wrigley


William Wrigley Jr. was a U.S. chewing gum industrialist. He was founder and eponym of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in 1891. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Wrigley played an instrumental role in the history of Catalina Island, off the shore of Los Angeles, California. He bought the island in 1919 and improved the island with public utilities, new steamships, a hotel, the Casino building, and extensive plantings of trees, shrubs and flowers. However, William Wrigley Jr.'s greatest legacy was his plan for the future of Catalina Island — that it remain protected for all generations to enjoy. His son, P.K. Wrigley, eventually established the Catalina Island Conservancy for this in 1972 and transferred all family ownership to it. Wrigley is honored with the Wrigley Memorial in the Wrigley Botanical Gardens on the island.

Wrigley was also owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, which held its annual spring training on Catalina Island. Wrigley Field, the Cubs' ballpark in Chicago, is named for the owner. The now-demolished former home of the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, at that time the Cubs' top farm team, was also called Wrigley Field. He purchased the Chicago Cubs from Albert Lasker in 1925.

The Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona was partially financed, then wholly owned, by Wrigley, who finished the nearby Wrigley Mansion as a winter cottage in 1931. At 16,000 square feet it was the smallest of his five residences.

Wrigley left his fortune to daughter Dorothy Wrigley Offield, and son, P.K. Wrigley, who continued to run the company businesses for the next 45 years until his death

Franco Marini


Franco Marini is an Italian politician and a prominent member of the centre-left Democratic Party. From 2006 to 2008 he was President of the Italian Senate.

Marini was born in San Pio delle Camere, in the Province of L'Aquila (Abruzzo).

A law graduate and trade unionist, Marini joined the Christian Democracy party in 1950 and was elected leader of the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions (CISL) trade union in 1985. He left CISL in 1991 in order to become the Minister of Labour in the government of Giulio Andreotti.

A candidate in the 1992 election for Christian Democracy, he was to emerge as the most voted candidate in the country for what it was the leading Italian party at the time. In 1997 Marini was appointed leader of the Italian People's Party, heir of the disbanded Christian Democracy, but he left the position in 1999 because of the party's poor electoral performance in that year's European election. After the Italian People's Party became part of Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy, he became the organizational secretary for the newly-founded party.

On April 29, 2006, after the centre-left Union victory in the general election, Franco Marini was appointed President of the Italian Senate after three votings, defeating Giulio Andreotti, candidate of the House of Freedoms and his former party fellow during the Christian Democracy times, by 165 votes to 156 and succeeding Marcello Pera.

On January 30, 2008, President Giorgio Napolitano summoned Marini to the Quirinale after having met with the different political parties following the vote of no confidence received by the Prodi II Cabinet and the political crisis it caused. He asked Marini to attempt to form an interim government, which would work to reform electoral laws prior to a new election. Marini decided that his task was impossible on February 4, after meeting with right-wing leaders Silvio Berlusconi and Gianfranco Fini, because he "could not find a significant majority on a precise electoral reform". Napolitano therefore dissolved Parliament and an early election was called for April 2008. Marini was re-elected to the Senate in this election.

Sir Neil Ritchie


General Sir Neil Methuen Ritchie was a British commanding officer during the Second World War.

Ritchie's military career started in 1914 when he was commissioned as an officer in the Black Watch. During the First World War he served in France and in the Mesopotamian campaign where he won the Military Cross in 1918, for "a fine example of coolness, courage and utter disregard of danger".

By the start of the Second World War Ritchie had risen to the rank of brigadier, and was involved in the evacuation of Dunkirk. He held posts on the staffs of Wavell, Alanbrooke and Auchinleck and was highly regarded by them all. It was Auchinleck who was to give him his highest field command, the Eighth Army, in November 1941.

Ritchie had the bad luck to hold his highest command during the earliest phases of the war, when British fortunes were at their lowest ebb. The Eighth Army, in North Africa, were the only British land force engaging the Germans anywhere in the world. After some early successes against the Italians the British were pushed back following the arrival of the Afrika Korps under Rommel. Ritchie was originally intended as a temporary appointment until a suitable commander could be found, but in fact ended up commanding the Eighth Army for over six months. He was in command of the Eighth Army at the Battle of Gazala in May-June 1942 where Ritchie failed to exercise strong command over the army and the British were heavily defeated, losing the port of Tobruk. He was sacked by Auchinleck on 25 June 1942 prior to the first battle of El Alamein.


Auchinleck is often seen as having appointed Ritchie, a relatively junior commander, in order to allow him to closely direct the battle himself as Commander-in-Chief Middle-East. Ritchie was criticised heavily both during and after the war for his failure to stop Rommel. Since then several commentators have come to his defence, most notably Field Marshal Lord Carver.

After being replaced as Eighth Army commander Ritchie was appointed to command the 52nd Division in Britain and later XII Corps during the D-Day landings. The fact that Ritchie regained an active command following his dismissal, unlike his Eighth Army predecessor Cunningham, reflects the high esteem in which he was held by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Alanbrooke.

After the war Ritchie remained in the Army and in 1947 served as Commander-in-Chief of British forces in the Far East, aide-de-camp to the King and as colonel of the Black Watch, his old regiment. Following his retirement he emigrated to Canada and took up a position as chairman of an insurance company. He died at the age of 86 in Toronto.