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Sunday, 31 December 2017

Shed

A shed is typically a simple, single-story roofed structure in a back garden or on an allotment that is used for storage.  Some sheds are large structures framed by wood and others are made out of plastic or metal. At times, people use their shed to do hobbies or as a workshop.

Pixiebay

The word 'shed' is recorded in English since 1481, as 'shadde,' possibly a variant of
'shade'. In Anglo-Saxon times a 'scead' was a place of rest in a shady place.

Depending on the region and type of use, a shed may also be called an "outhouse", "outbuilding" or "shack".

Rudyard Kipling, George Benard Shaw, Agatha Christie and Roald Dahl all wrote in their sheds.

George Bernard Shaw's writing shed. By PaulSkin from UK - Shaw's Corner7, 

A shed the English composer Benjamin Britten owned is now a Grade 2 listed building.

In 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War, to handle post for the army, the British Post office put up a wooden structure in Regents Park, London, which has been described as "the world's largest shed".

US engineer Wilson Greatbatch built the first reliable implantable pacemaker in his garden shed. He tested a prototype on a dog in 1958 and, in 1960, 77-year-old Henry Hannafield, became the first human recipient.

26 per cent of male shed owners say they spend time in their sheds to get away from their partner.

Garden shed with gambrel roof. CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia

There are about 12 million sheds in Britain.

In New Zealand, the bi-monthly magazine The Shed is bought by men who do woodwork or metalwork DIY projects in their sheds.

The Australian Men's Shed Association is an organisation for shed hobbyists.

Source Daily Express

Saturday, 30 December 2017

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) was an Irish playwright and critic who had a major influence on Western theater, culture and politics.

Shaw in 1914 aged 57

EARLY LIFE

George Bernard Shaw was born July 26, 1856 at 3 Upper Synge Street in Portobello, Dublin.
He was the youngest of three children and only son of retail corn merchant George Carr Shaw (1814–1885) and Lucinda Elizabeth (Bessie) Shaw (née Gurly; 1830–1913)

George attended four schools in Dublin between 1865 and 1871, all of which he hated. He was lazy in class and disliked games, but the Irish youngster was an early reader, (Shaw was reading Shakespeare before he was 10). He left school aged 15.

In the summer of 1873, Shaw's mother left Dublin for London; his two sisters joined her, leaving George with his father.

"I must have been an insufferable child," he quipped. "Most children are."

CAREER

George Bernard Shaw began work aged 15 as a junior clerk in a Dublin land agency at a salary of £18 a year. He later described the work as a “damnable waste of human life”.

In early 1876 Shaw learned from his mother that his sister Agnes was dying of tuberculosis. He resigned from the land agents, and in March traveled to England to join his mother and other sister Lucy at Agnes's funeral.

After moving to London, Shaw spent many years as a struggling writer and novelist, supported by his mother. Questioned on why he allowed his aged parent to support him while he wrote unpublishable novels, Shaw responded "I did not throw myself into the battle of life. I threw my mother into it."

Shaw in 1879

Shaw first found fame in the 1880s as a socialist speaker and debater, originally in open air meetings and eventually to well bred, posh audiences in fashionable halls.

Shaw's financial situation did not improve until the mid-1880s when he began a career writing book and music criticism for London newspapers.

A great advocate of Henrik Ibsen, before he started writing plays himself, Shaw devoted a lot of time in the 1880s to persuading theatre managers to put on the Norwegian's works without success.

After serving as deputy in 1888, Shaw became musical critic of The Star in February 1889, writing under the pen-name Corno di Bassetto and earning two guineas a week.

In May 1890 Shaw moved to The World, where he wrote a weekly column as "G.B.S." for more than four years.

From 1895 to 1898, Shaw was the theatre critic for The Saturday Review. By this time he had embarked in earnest on a career as a playwright.

Shaw's first stage success was Arms and the Man in 1894; a mock-Ruritanian comedy, it satirized conventions of love, military honor and class.

Shaw in 1894 at the time of Arms and the Man

Shaw was regarded as the leading dramatist of his generation, and was awarded the 1925 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Shaw wrote prolifically until shortly before his death, aged 94.

He won an Oscar for the screenplay of his play Pygmalion in 1938.

WORKS 

Under the influence of Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw brought a new realism into English-language drama, using his plays as vehicles to disseminate his often contentious political, social and religious ideas.

Gertrude Elliott & Johnston Forbes-Robertson in Caesar and Cleopatra, New York, 1906

Widowers' Houses, the first play of George Bernard Shaw to be staged, premiered on December 9, 1892 at the Royalty Theatre, under the auspices of the Independent Theatre Society. The drama attacked slum landlords and placed Shaw as the spearhead of a new political movement in the theatre aimed at the intellect rather than the emotions.

Shaw's plays were not regularly performed in public until he was 40. His first real earnings from the stage came in 1897 with the opening run of The Devil's Disciple in New York which bought him £2000 in royalties.

Following The Devil's Disciple, many of Shaw's plays were critical and commercial successes, including Caesar and Cleopatra (which treated a historic subject in a humorous way thus influencing subsequent historical drama, 1898), Man and Superman (a retelling of Mozart's Don Giovanni 1903), Major Barbara (depicting the contrasting morality of arms manufacturers and the Salvation Army, 1905), The Doctor's Dilemma (Shaw's revenge for maltreatment by doctors in the past, 1906) and Androcles and the Lion (about the persecution of the early Christians, 1912).

Shaw's 1913 play Pygmalion was based on a Greek myth. Pygmalion was a sculptor who fell in love with a statue he had carved, which then came to life when he kissed it. The play was later filmed as My Fair Lady.

George Bernard Shaw wrote St Joan (1923), a play about the failure of the world to make itself a place for saints, on the occasion of Joan of Arc's canonization.

Wikipedia

After the success of St. Joan, George Bernard Shaw was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is the only person to have won both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar (for the screenplay of his play Pygmalion).

By the late 1920s Shaw was as famous as a movie star and was treated as such. The success of his dramas was an embarrassment to his socialist ideals.

MUSIC

Shaw's mother had a fine mezzo-soprano voice and when he was growing up in Ireland, Shaw's home was often filled with music, with frequent gatherings of singers and players.

As a music critic, Shaw was a passionate admirer of Wagner and Mozart. The latter's "The Magic Flute" said the Irish writer is his own "private church."

Once whilst a music critic, Shaw was being entertained by a mediocre orchestra at a restaurant. The leader recognized the Irishman and asked him what he would like the orchestra to play next. "Dominoes" was Shaw's reply.

BELIEFS 

Shaw was a member of the gradualist Fabian Society (which aimed to bring about Socialism by gradual and peaceful means.), a socialist pamphleteer and polemicist for over 50 years, and was instrumental in the foundation of the modern Labour Party.

Despite the fact that he was a democratic socialist, Shaw approved of the dictatorship of Stalin, who according to the Irish playwright , "... made good by doing things better and much more promptly than parliaments."


After the Second World War, Shaw visited the Soviet Union and spoke highly of the good things that were happening over there to the fury of the anti-communist English hierarchy.

A pacifist, Shaw opposed British involvement in the First World War. In Common Sense about the War, written in late 1914, he proposed that soldiers of both sides shoot their officers and go home. Because of his anti-war pamphlets and speeches Shaw was expelled from the Dramatists’ Club.

Shaw's experiences as a schoolboy left him disillusioned with formal education. He said that Eton, Harrow, Winchester and other lesser public schools should be "razed to the ground and their foundations sown with salt."

An apostate rebel from Christian upbringing, Shaw believed that God is a fiction for a weak brain. Critical of hypocritical Christians, he wrote, "The British churchgoer prefers a severe preacher because he thinks a few home truths will do his neighbors no harm." He also quipped, "Christianity might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it."

A lifelong vegetarian, George Bernard Shaw said he didn't eat meat or fish as "a man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses."

George Bernard Shaw always ate small meals. At 70-years-old, after nearly 60 years, he  switched from a diet of macaroni with beans and lentils in soups and porridges to one with more fresh fruit and vegetables, which benefited him healthwise.

APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER 

A tall red-headed man, Shaw never weighed more than ten stone.

Shaw in 1911, by Alvin Langdon Coburn

At the age of five young George Bernard Shaw was watching his father shave, the Irish youngster asked him "Daddy, why do you shave"? His father looked at him for a full minute, then threw the razor out of his window saying "Why do I?" He never did again.

Shaw grew a beard as an adult as well, to hide a facial scar left by smallpox.

Shaw wore either woollen suits or tweed plus fours. He was famous for his Norfolk Jacket.

A witty egotist, Shaw once quipped, "I often quote myself; It adds spice to my conversation."

Shaw was once sent an invitation reading "Lady... will be at home on Tuesday between 4.00 and 6.00". Shaw returned the card annotated "Mr Bernard Shaw likewise."

RELATIONSHIPS

In 1897 Charlotte Payne Townshend (January 20, 1857–September 12, 1943), an Anglo-Irish woman of wealth and socialist ideals, proposed that she and Shaw should marry. He had declined but the following year, as a result of overwork, Shaw's health broke down and Charlotte insisted on nursing him in a house in the country, Shaw, concerned that this might cause scandal, agreed to their marriage.

The marriage ceremony between the two 41-year-olds took place on June 1, 1898, in the register office in Covent Garden, London.

There were no children of the marriage, which it is generally believed was never consummated.

Charlotte and Bernard Shaw (centre) with friends Sidney and Beatrice Webb

Sigmund Freud said: "Shaw has not the remotest conception of love. There is no real love affair in any of his plays. He makes a jest of Caesar's love affair-perhaps the greatest passion in history.
Deliberately not to say maliciously, he divests Cleopatra of all grandeur and degrades her into an insignificant flapper."

Shaw had a long time friendship with Gilbert Keith Chesterton, the Catholic writer, and there are many humorous stories about their complicated relationship.

He was also a close friend of Edward Elgar. However, despite his high regard for the English composer, Shaw turned down his request for an opera libretto, but was the dedicatee of The Severn Suite (1930).

Shaw formed a friendship with boxer Gene Tunney, despite the world heavyweight champion being some 40 years younger than him. The two men, along with their wives, spent a month long holiday together in 1929 in Brioni, the Adriatic resort.

Oscar Wilde said of Shaw, "He hasn't an enemy in the world and none of his friends like him."

He hated the name George and always preferred to be called simply Bernard Shaw.

HOBBIES AND INTERESTS 

Shaw was concerned about the inconsistency of English spelling and backed the idea of a new phonemic alphabet. He illustrated his campaign for spelling reform by using the word "ghoti" as a respelling of "fish." "Gh" (f) as in cough, "o"(i) as in women, "ti" (sh) as in nation. Shaw willed a portion of his wealth to aid the cause.

He wrote more than 250,000 letters in his lifetime - assuming he didn't write any in his first 10 years -that is over eight a day.

 Shaw was very fond of flowers. When asked why he didn't have a single vase in his house he replied "Yes I am fond of flowers, but I'm very fond of children too, but I don't chop their heads off and stand them in pots about the house."

Shaw was an authority on photography, amassing about 10,000 prints and more than 10,000 negatives from 1898 until his death. They documentated his friends, travels, politics, plays, films and home life.

Shaw liked prize fighting boxing, going as far as to write a novel about it, Cashel Byron's Profession. He even took up the sport himself. In 1883 Shaw entered the Queensberry amateur boxing championships in London, as both a heavyweight and a middleweight, but there is no record that he actually got as far as the ring.

He regularly frequented Cafe Royal, 68 Regent Street, London.

HOMES 

When George Bernard Shaw was born, his family was living at 3 Upper Synge Street in Portobello, a lower-middle-class part of Dublin.

Shaw's birthplace (2012 )  J.-H. Janßen -

Shaw's mother was close to George John Lee, a flamboyant figure well known in Dublin's musical circles. In 1862, the Shaws agreed to share with Lee, a house, No. 1 Hatch Street, in an affluent part of Dublin, and a country cottage on Dalkey Hill, overlooking Killiney Bay,

He moved to London 1876 where his mother had gone years earlier having separated from her husband. Shaw never again lived in Ireland, and did not return to visit his home country for twenty-nine years

Shaw lived at Shaw's Corner, Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire from 1906 until his death in 1950. He chose to live in Ayot St Lawrence after reading inscribed on a gravestone of a woman who died aged 70, "Her time was short." Thinking if 70 years was a short time span for citizens of Ayot it's the place for me, Shaw decided to move there. The house is preserved as it was in his lifetime.

Shaw wrote much of his work in a rotating hut, located in his Ayot St Lawrence garden.

During his later years, Shaw enjoyed tending the gardens at Shaw's Corner.

Garden of Shaw's Corner. By Jason Ballard

LAST YEARS AND DEATH 

Shaw suffered monthly from excruciating headaches, which left him surprised to be alive after each disabling bout.

Shaw died on November 2, 1950 aged 94 of kidney problems caused by a fall from a ladder while pruning a tree.

He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium and Shaw's ashes mixed with his wife's were scattered over the garden of Shaw's Corner.

Shaw left the bulk of his fortune for establishing "a Fit alphabet containing at least 42 letters and thereby capable of noting with sufficient accuracy for recognition all the sounds of spoken English without having to use more than one letter for each sound."

Shaw left a third of his royalties to the National Gallery of Ireland in recognition of the education he gained there as a young man.

Sources Food For Thought by Ed Pearce, Days with Bernard Shaw by Stephen Winsten, The Penguin Book of Interviews, Daily Express

Friday, 29 December 2017

Shaving

HISTORY

The history of shaving dates back to the Stone Age, when Neanderthal man first started pulling hair from his body. Ancient cave paintings indicate that early man removed hair from his face, by simply plucking them out using two seashells as tweezers.

Permanent shaving razors were developed around 3000 BC, thanks to the invention of metalworking. Copper razors have been found in both India and Egypt.

Shaven heads and smooth, hair-free bodies were signs of nobility in Ancient Egypt from about 3000 BC.

In Ancient Greece, it was popular for men to crop hair very short and shave their face. The Greeks considered it an aesthetic approach to personal hygiene, like the Middle Eastern cultures.

Alexander the Great ordered his soldiers to shave their beards to avoid having them seized in hand-to-hand combat.

Alexander the Great's shaven image on the Alexander Mosaic, 

Some Republican Roman men had a skilled live-in servant to shave them; others started their day with a trip to the tonsor, or barber, who would shave his customer's faces with an iron novacila, or Roman razor.

In 296 B.C Publicus Ticinius Maenas, a wealthy Greek businessman, brought professional barbers from Sicily to Rome. These barbers used thin-bladed iron razors, which were sharpened with water and a whetstone. They didn't always use soap or oil, which was probably why it took so long to shave a patron's face.

During Julius Caesar's expedition to the British Isles, he noted that "the Britons shave every part of their body except their head and upper lip."


The tonsure, that is to say the shaving of part of the head, became the convention among the western monks and the Catholic clergy in the sixth century. The intention behind the tonsure was to symbolize the crown of thorns.

During the Middle Ages, Muslim men attended the hammams (public baths), where they were shaved (sometimes the whole head except for the long topknot) and their beards were trimmed.

The Aztec Indians of North and Central America shaved with razors made from the volcanic glass obsidian.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the wealthy had servants to shave them or they would frequent barber shops. Daily shaving was not a widespread practice, so many of the common people grew beards.

"A barber getting ready to shave the face of a seated customer", c. 1801

London dandy George Bryan "Beau" Brummell was known for his impeccable grooming and style of dress, Brummell was said to shave his face several times a day and plucked out leftover hairs with tweezers.

By the second half of the 19th century, many European men had become very particular about personal grooming. They had started to use shaving soaps and after-shave lotions, which were often made at home in the kitchen from cherry laurel water.

Shaving Soap ad, 1851

The custom of daily shaving among American men was a 20th-century innovation which started as a result of World War I. Men were required to shave daily so their gas masks would fit properly and this became much easier with the advent of the safety razor, which was standard issue during the war.

The modern concept of women shaving their armpits began in 1915. However, it wasn't until World War II, when there was a shortage of silk stockings, that it became an actual trend for women to shave their legs.

FUN SHAVING FACTS

A fancy way to say shaving is "pogonotomy." which means the cutting or shaving of a beard.

Among the 750 poems that Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote was an elegy to his broken shaving pot.

Because audiences only saw one side of his face during a piano recital, Frederic Chopin would sometimes shave only half of his face.

The 5-year-old George Bernard Shaw was watching his father shave. Young George asked him "Daddy, why do you shave"? His father looked at him for a full minute, then threw the razor out of his window saying "Why do I?" He never did again and Shaw grew a beard as an adult as well.

Razor, Knife, Carbon Steel, Horn Handle, Shaving Brush

Albert Einstein used to wash and shave with the same soap as he claimed using two kinds would needlessly complicate life.

During the 1970 Aspen's sheriff's election, the gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson shaved his head bald so he could refer to the crew-cut, ex-army, Republican incumbent as "My long-haired opponent."

An average man spends around five months of his life shaving if he starts at the age of 14 — assuming that he lives until he's 75 years old.

A man shaving his neck using a shavette. By Andrew Dyer

A British survey estimates that women spend 72 days of their lives shaving their legs.

Source Menstylepower

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Shark

 ANATOMY 

The harmless Whale Shark holds the title of largest fish, with the record being a 59 footer captured in Thailand in 1919.

Pixibay

The smallest shark in the world is the dwarf lantern shark, which is about 8 inches long.

Sharks do not have a single bone in their bodies. Instead they have a skeleton made up of cartilage which is the same type of tough, flexible tissue that makes up human ears and noses.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

Sharks are the only fish that can’t swim backwards. If you pull a shark backward by the tail, it will die.

The skin of a female shark is much thicker than that of a male because males bite females during mating.

The thresher shark was named for its thresher-like tail, which can be as long as its entire body. It uses its tail as a weapon to stun prey.

Small purple colored thresher caught at Pacifica Pier, California. By Paul E Ester 

A great white shark's liver can weigh up to be 24 percent of its body weight.

The great white shark is the only shark that can lift its head above the water to look for prey.

The great white has several rows of sharp, serrated teeth that can number into the thousands. As teeth fall out, they are rapidly replaced by those in the row behind them.

SENSES

A Shark can sense a drop of blood from 2.5 miles away and can detect one part of blood in"100 million" parts of water (i.e 1:100000000).

Sharks have outstanding hearing. They can hear a fish thrashing in the water from as far as 500 metres away.

Sharks can see up to 10 times better than humans in clear water.

Grey reef shark. The original author is Fbattail
40% of a shark's brain is dedicated to its sense of smell.

BEHAVIOR 

A pup (baby shark) is born ready to take care of itself. The mother shark leaves the pup to fend for itself and the pup usually makes a fast getaway before the mother tries to eat it!

A Great White Shark can fast for as long as three months after a big meal.

Every winter, great white sharks swim for 40 days to meet up between Mexico and Hawaii, and nobody knows why.

When a shark is flipped on its back it enters a state of paralysis that lasts for up to fifteen minutes. The phenomenon is known as "Tonic Immobility." In some cases orcas have been seen maneuvering a shark upside down to induce this paralyzed state.

RELATIONSHIP WITH HUMANS

In 2004, California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium became the first to keep a great white shark captive for longer than 16 days — 198 days in all. The female — which was accidentally caught in fishing nets — was kept in a 1.2 million-gallon tank before being released after she attacked other sharks in the exhibit.

Between 50 and 70 people are attacked by sharks every year. On average, five people die of a shark attack per annum.

93% of shark attacks between 1580 and 2010 worldwide were on men.

The world’s most deadly shark is the great white, responsible for 251 of the 1,860 confirmed unprovoked attacks on humans in the 20th century.

Great white shark By Brocken Inaglory

It is estimated that 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year. Many of  these were driven by the demand for shark fin soup by Chinese consumers. Usually only the fins are taken, while the rest of the shark is discarded, generally into the sea.

In recent years, 85% of Chinese consumers have given up shark fin soup, largely as a result of campaigning by ex-NBA player Yao Ming.

Sharks fin soup By Arthur Hungry - From Arthur Hungry

For every human killed by a shark, humans kill two million sharks.

If you are attacked, punch at the shark's eyes, snout and gills (on the sides of the head, ahead of the pectoral fins). Play dead and the shark will think you are a free lunch.

HABITAT

Sharks generally do not live in freshwater although there are a few known exceptions, such as the bull shark and the river shark, which can survive and be found in both seawater and freshwater.

Bull sharks have been known to travel up the Mississippi River as far as Alton, Illinois.

St Helena is the only place on this planet where the mating of whale sharks has been seen by humans.

LIFE HISTORY 

Shark lifespans vary by species. Most live 20 to 30 years. The spiny dogfish and Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) both live over 100 years.

The Greenland shark is currently believed to be the longest-lived vertebrate species on Earth. A recent examination of 28 specimens in one study determined by radiocarbon dating that the oldest of the animals that they sampled had lived for about 392 ± 120 years (a minimum of 272 years and a maximum of 512 years). The authors further concluded that the species reaches maturity at about 150 years of age.

Scientists believe female Greenland sharks don't reach sexual maturity until they are 156 years old.


Source Radio Times

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Share (or Stock)

A share is a unit of account for various investments. It often means the stock of a corporation, but the term is also used for collective investments such as mutual funds, limited partnerships, and real estate investment trusts.


In the United Kingdom and Australia, the word share is used the same way as stock is described in the United States.

Dividends are payments made by a company to its shareholders. When a company earns more money than it spends, the extra money can either be spent on making the company better or it can be given to the people who own stock in the company as a dividend. In the financial history of the world, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was the first recorded (public) company ever to pay regular dividends in 1602.

The VOC invented the idea of investing in the company rather than in a specific venture governed by the company. The VOC was also the first company to use a fully-fledged capital market (including the bond market and the stock market) as a crucial channel to raise medium-term and long-term funds. The VOC paid annual dividends worth around 18 percent of the value of the shares for almost 200 years of existence (1602–1800).

 Bond from the Dutch East India Company dating from 7 November 1623

In 1719, the South Sea Company proposed to convert £30,981,712 of the British national debt. At the time, government bonds were extremely difficult to trade due to unrealistic restrictions; for example, it was not permitted to redeem certain bonds unless the original debtor was still alive. Each bond represented a very large sum, and could not be divided and sold. Thus, the South Sea Company sought to convert high-interest, untradeable bonds to low-interest, easily-tradeable ones. The Company bribed Lord Stanhope to support their plan; they were also supported by Lord Sunderland. Company prices rose rapidly; the shares had cost £128 in January 1720, but were valued at £550 when Parliament accepted the scheme in May. The price reached £1000 by August. Uncontrolled selling, however, caused the stock to plummet to £150 by the end of September. Many individuals—including aristocrats—were completely ruined. The economic crisis, known as the South Sea Bubble, made King George I and his ministers extremely unpopular and resulted in the rise of power of Britain's first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole.

1720 "South Sea Bubble" from the mid-19th century, by Edward Matthew Ward

On July 3, 1884, Dow Jones and Company published its first stock average index. The inaugural index was published as part of the "Customer's Afternoon Letter" and consisted of 11 stocks, nine of which were railroad stocks, since railroads were considered the largest and sturdiest companies in the U.S. at the time.

In 1887 Irishman John Boyd Dunlop invented the pneumatic tyre to stop his son getting headaches from riding his bumpy tricycle. Commercial production began in late 1890 in Belfast. Dunlop assigned his patent to William Harvey Du Cros, in return for 1,500 shares in the resultant company.

Wall Street Journal editor and Dow Jones & Company founder Charles Dow published the first edition of the Dow Jones Industrial Average on May 26, 1896. There are 30 companies, all from the USA, and traded on either the NYSE or the NASDAQ, that make up the Industrial Average.

Historical logarithmic graph of the DJIA from 1896 to July 2011.

When he was UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George was caught buying American shares in Marconi on basis of inside information that they had just secured a government contract.

October 24, 1929, a day known now as "Black Thursday," saw the stock markets take an 11% tumble that shook investors to their core. Markets dropped by another 13% on "Black Monday" after the weekend and then another 12% on "Black Tuesday." The losses continued and saw the markets crash hard in front of the broader economic crash that would become the Great Depression.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches its lowest level of the Great Depression, closing at 41.22 on July 8, 1932.

When the Ford company went public in 1956, the Ford family, through special Class B shares, retained 40 percent voting rights.

Immediately after the 1986 Challenger explosion, shares of every corporation involved in the Space Shuttle dropped. But by the end of the day, most had rebounded; only Morton Thiokol remained low. This was months before the official investigation found Thiokol to be responsible for the disaster.

Google's initial public offering of stock was on August 18, 2004. The initial price was set at $85 and ended the day at $100.34 with more than 22 million shares traded.

In 2005, Facebook hired graffiti artist David Choe to paint murals in their new office space. Choe accepted Facebook shares instead of a cash payment, and when Facebook went public in 2012, his shares were valued at $200 million.

Following the bankruptcies of Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual, The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 777.68 points on Se4ptember 29, 2008, the largest single-day point loss in its history.

Statistics show September is the only month when share prices are likelier to fall than rise.

Source Equities


Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Shanghai

Shanghai is the largest city in China. Sitting on the south edge of the estuary of the Yangtze in the middle portion of the East China coast, it is the world's busiest container port.

The Lujiazui skyline in Shanghai. By J. Patrick Fischer 

The Mandarin Chinese name of Shanghai is Shànghǎi, which is written as 上海 in Chinese characters. This name means "On-the-Sea" because Shanghai used to be next to the East China Sea.

HISTORY

For most of China's history, Shanghai was a small fishing village. The big cities nearby were Suzhou and Hangzhou.

Shanghai was upgraded in status from a village to a market town in 1074, and in 1172 a second sea wall was built to stabilize the ocean coastline, supplementing an earlier dike.

Under the Ming, Shanghai had a big city wall built in 1554 to protect the town from raids by Japanese pirates. It measured 10 metres (33 feet) high and 5 kilometres (3 miles) in circumference.

The walled Old City of Shanghai in the 17th century

The city started to grow and Shanghai became one of the most important sea ports in the Yangtze Delta region, but it only became truly important after the 1842  Treaty of Nanking. Shanghai was one of five ports opened for foreign trade alongside Canton (Shameen Island from 1859 until 1943): Amoy (Xiamen until 1930), Foochowfoo (Fuzhou) and Ningpo (Ningbo).

Between 1860–1862, the Taiping rebels twice attacked Shanghai and destroyed the city's eastern and southern suburbs, but failed to take the city. In 1863 British Army officer Charles Gordon was placed in command of the "Ever-Victorious Army" - a 3,500 strong European officered rabble raised by the Shanghai merchants to defend the city against the Taiping rebels. He transformed the rabble into an effective force and by careful planning Gordon was able to lead the Ever Victorious Army to victory of the rebels.

The international settlement of Shanghai developed throughout the remainder of the 19th century. It remains the commercial centre of this city after the departure of European interests following the Second World War.

Shanghai in the 1930s

By 1932, Shanghai had become the world's fifth largest city and home to 70,000 foreigners. However, the Japanese captured Shanghai on January 28, 1932, as they invaded China. Shanghai remained occupied until Japan's surrender in 1945, during which time many war crimes were committed.

With the Communist Party's takeover of the mainland in 1949, trade was limited to other socialist countries, and Shanghai's global influence declined.

In the 1990s, the economic reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping resulted in an intense re-development of Shanghai, aiding the return of finance and foreign investment to the city.

Shanghai has a subway system with 7 million daily riders. The metro in this port city opened in 1995.

A $12.5 million theme park based on Hans Christian Andersen's tales and life opened in Shanghai at the end of 2006.

FUN SHANGHAI FACTS

The 2010 census put Shanghai's total population at 23,019,148. More people live in Shanghai than in all of Australia, but Shanghai is physically about half the size of Sydney, Australia.


Mission: Impossible III dropped a shot of Shanghai clothes lines from the Chinese cut because it made China look like a developing country.

Shanghai is sinking by about 1.5 centimeters a year due to the weight of rapid building expansion on what was once a drained swamp.

Famous buildings include the Jade Buddha temple, the former home of the revolutionary Sun Yat-Sen; The City God Temple or Temple of the City Gods, a folk temple located in the old city of Shanghai, which is the site of the veneration of three Chinese figures honored as the city gods of the town; the Yu Garden, an extensive Chinese garden located beside the City God Temple: and the house, museum and tomb of the writer Lu Fun.

Another tourist attraction is the house where the first national Congress of the Communist Party of China met secretly in 1921. It is a typical shikumen building in the former French Concession (see below).

SBy http://www.flickr.com/photos/verkhovensky/ - 

The Shanghai Tower is a 632-metre (2,073 ft), 128-story megatall skyscraper. It is the world's tallest building, by height to highest usable floor (Observation Deck Level 121: 561.25m). It also has the world's fastest elevators at a top speed of 20.5 m/s (74 km/h; 46 mph).

Pupils in Shanghai spend more than 14 hours a week doing homework. In the UK it is 4.9 hours.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Shamrock

Technically, there is no such thing as a shamrock. It’s just a word used to refer to several varieties of clover, mainly trifolium repens.

Pixibay
The word "shamrock" was first seen in English in 1571 in the work of the English Elizabethan scholar Edmund Campion. In his work Boke of the Histories of Irelande, Campion states that the Irish ate shamrock: "Shamrotes, watercresses, rootes, and other herbes they feed upon."

"Shamrock" is derived from Irish seamróg, which is the diminutive version of the Irish word for clover, seamair. It means simply "little clover" or "young clover."

The shamrock was originally associated with the mythical Celtic Mother goddess Ana (or Anu). Ana was worshipped in the three aspects of her life, maiden, mother and crone, corresponding to the three leaves of the plant.

In the fifth century St Patrick used the shamrock to explain the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. He utilised the three-leafed plant to illustrate to the Irish people the Christian teaching of three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) are connected in one God: three leaves on one stem.

St. Patrick with shamrock in St. Benin's Church, Wicklow, Ireland Andreas F. Borchert

Today, Shamrocks symbolize St Patrick's Day. Some people wear sprigs of shamrock in a buttonhole on the holiday. They are also Ireland's national flower.

The tradition of presenting a bowl of Shamrocks to the US President began in 1952 during the Presidency of Harry Truman as a means of strengthening ties. But Truman was not hand to receive the gift that year, so the Irish ambassador John Joseph Hearne simply dropped off a box of shamrocks at the White House.

In 2002, Australia classified shamrock as a weed and banned it as a possible carrier of foot and mouth disease. It is still illegal to send shamrock plants and seeds by mail to Australia.

Pixiebay

The official call-sign for the Irish airline Aer Lingus is “shamrock”.

The phrase, "Drowning The Shamrock" is from the custom of floating the shamrock on the top of whiskey before drinking it. The Irish say that if you keep the custom, then you will have a prosperous year.

Source Daily Express

Shampoo

HISTORY 

The ancient Egyptians used a mixture of water and citrus juice to wash their hair.

Moses gave the Israelites detailed laws governing personal cleanliness. He also related cleanliness to health and religious purification. Biblical accounts suggest that the Israelites knew that mixing ashes and oil produced a kind of hair gel.

Originally, soap and shampoo were very similar products; both containing the same naturally derived surfactants, a type of detergent. Indded a physician in 385 AD recommended soap as good for shampooing.

A detergent shampoo that appeared in the Middle Ages involved boiling water and soap with soda or potash. This produced a mixture with a high concentration of negatively charged hydroxllons, the basis of modern day shampoo.

By the 1300s some European women were conditioning their hair with dead lizards boiled in olive oil. Egg whites were used to give hair body and stiffness.

The word shampoo entered the English language from India during the colonial era. It dates to 1762, and is derived from Hindi chāmpo, itself derived from the Sanskrit root capayati, which means to press, knead, soothe.


Pixibay

Sake Dean Mahomed, a Bengali traveller, surgeon, and entrepreneur, is credited with introducing the practice of champooi or "shampooing" to Britain when he opened some baths on Brighton sea front in 1821. He claimed he was "the inventor of the Indian Medicated Vapour Baths…by whom the Art of Shampooing was first introduced into England in 1784." King George IV gave Mahomed a royal warrant and appointed him Shampooing Surgeon to The King.

Before the invention of mass-marketed hair care products, households were pretty much on their own concocting family shampoos and conditioners. This suggestion was published in The New England Economical Housekeeper and Family Receipt Book in 1847: "Perhaps the best of all shampoos is the yolk of an egg beaten up with a pint of soft warm water. Apply at once and rinse off with castille or other hard white soap."

Hair salons in Britain in the 1870s concocted their own shampoos from varying amounts of water, soda, and bar soap.

In 1898, Hans Schwarzkopf, a qualified chemist in Berlin, opened a tiny drugstore with a perfume section. Schwarzkopf disliked the expensive oils and harsh soaps used to wash hair and his solution was a violet-scented powder shampoo that dissolves in water. He started selling it in 1903 and the shampoo was an instant hit with his customers.

In 1927, the first liquid shampoo was invented by Hans Schwarzkopf in Berlin, whose name created a shampoo brand sold in Europe.

Picture below shows bottles of shampoo and lotions manufactured in the early 20th century by the C.L. Hamilton Co. of Washington, D.C.



The first successful retail shampoo was created in 1930 by Dr. John H. Breck, Sr in Springfield, Massachusetts. Thought to be the first pH-balanced shampoo in history, Breck was initially sold only in local New England beauty salons.

In 1936, son Edward J. Breck (1907–1993) assumed management of Breck Shampoo. He immediately collaborated with portrait painter Charles Sheldon to bring a new form of advertising to the company. Their "Breck Girls" pastel portraits started running in 1936 and eventually became one of the country's longest-running advertising campaigns. Breck girls have included Patti Boyd, Cheryl Tiegs, Cybill Shepherd, Jaclyn Smith,  Kim Basinger, Brooke Shields and Farrah Fawcett.



Breck was the first manufacturer to present the public with a shampoo line for dry and oily hair. Advertising that "every woman is different," by the 1950s, the shampoo was available in three expressions, color-coded for easy identity.

Though synthetic shampoos were introduced in the 1930s, daily shampooing only becoming the norm in the 1970s and 1980s.

FUN SHAMPOO FACTS

In order to become a Shampoo Technician in Tennessee, you must obtain 300 hours of instruction in the practice and theory of shampooing.

A Q-Tip dipped in shampoo and rubbed into the area where a zipper is caught on a jacket can get it unstuck.

Sources SchwarzkopfInventors.about

Sunday, 24 December 2017

William Shakespeare

EARLY LIFE 

William Shakespeare was born in a half-timbered house in Henley Street, Stratford-Upon-Avon, England. He was baptized in the town's Holy Trinity Church on April 26, 1564.

William Shakespeare figure at Madame Tussauds Berlin | by Luke Rauscher

His father, John Shakespeare, was a wool dealer and glover who became an alderman and bailiff.  John Shakespeare was also a onetime Ale Taster for Stratford (not a job to be given up lightly!)

Shakespeare's father, prosperous at the time of William's birth, was prosecuted for participating in the black market in wool, and later lost his position as an alderman. Some evidence exists that both sides of the family had Roman Catholic sympathies.

William's mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a local wealthy farmer.

William was one of eight children, the eldest of four sons. Three brothers and a younger sister lived beyond childhood.

Little is known about Shakespeare’s early life. As the son of a prominent town official, William attended the local Stratford educational establishment, Kings New Grammar School, which may have provided an intensive education in Latin, grammar and literature.

The quality of Elizabethan era grammar schools was uneven and according to his friend Ben Jonson Shakespeare learnt "small Latin and less Greek."

William Shakespeare left Kings New Grammar School at the  age of 17.

CAREER 

According to John Aubrey's 1697 Brief Lives, Shakespeare started out as a country school teacher.

In 1585, five or six thousand English soldiers arrived in Flanders with the Earl of Oxford and Colonel Norris to take part in England’s impending war with Spain. Some have speculated that Shakespeare was among these soldiers. There is no prove but the battle scenes in his plays seem remarkably vivid.

Sometime between 1585 and 1592, Shakespeare set off for London to become an actor.

There is some evidence that Shakespeare was prosecuted by a certain Sir Thomas Lucy for poaching deer from his Stratford estate. The Landlord birched him. In return Shakespeare anonymously wrote lampoons about Lucy and when it was discovered the young son of the alderman was the author, this was a contributing factor in thim leaving Stratford for London. The wily writer later caricatured Lucy as Justice Shallow in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

By 1592, Shakespeare was well established in London’s theatrical world as an actor and playwright. His own acting abilities were not great. It is thought as an thespian he never reached a greater eminence than the ghost in Hamlet, but he was a hard working playwright producing three to four plays a year.

Shakespeare had his first work published, the narrative poem Venus And Adonis, on April 18, 1593.

Title page of the first quarto (1593)

When he was a struggling writer Shakespeare managed to get as his patron the glamorous Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. The poem begins with a brief dedication to the Earl of Southampton, in which the poet describes the work as "the first heir of my invention."

Shakespeare's average annual income from writing plays was a sprightly £20. He earned approximately £8 a play.

Shakespeare made his name in Elizabethan society with his Sonnets but he only enjoyed slight esteem, indeed Edmund Spenser was the "Prince of Poets" in his time.

Shakespeare's friend Ben Jonson rated the sweet swan of Avon. He claimed he was "not of an age but of all time."

Shakespeare was a member of the popular theater troupe the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, which later became the King’s Men. When the group built and operated the famous Globe Theater in London for their plays in 1599, Shakespeare became a partner.

Sermons were more popular than plays in Shakespeare's era. However theater going was gradually catching on and by 1600 an eighth of Londoners were going to the theater at least weekly.

At his peak Shakespeare was earning £200 a year from his plays, sonnets and the Globe Theater.

Shakespeare retired to Stratford in 1610, where he wrote his last plays, including The Tempest (1611) and The Winter’s Tale (1610-11).

The Globe Theatre burned down on June 29, 1613. Shakespeare lost much money in it, but he was still wealthy. He shared in the building of the new Globe.

The reconstructed Globe Theatre. By Steve Collis from Melbourne, Australia

For the first two hundred years after his death, Shakespeare’s plays appeared in reduced form. Even in the 18th century the Bard's greatness wasn't recognized. Boswell quoted Dr Johnson as saying, "Shakespeare never had six lines together without a fault. Perhaps you may find seven, but this does not refute my general assertion."

At the dawn of the 19th century the critical assessment of Samuel Taylor Coleridge bought Shakespeare to the fore and the restoration of the original texts. Even then not everyone was happy: "I have tried lately to read Shakespeare and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me," wrote Charles Darwin the author of the intolerably dull Origin of the Species. The words "Kettle" and "pot" come to mind.

PLAYS 

The plays written by William Shakespeare are recognized as being among the greatest in the English language and in Western literature. Traditionally, the plays are divided into the genres of tragedy, history, and comedy.

Shakespeare's works include the 36 plays printed in the First Folio of 1623. Two plays not included in the First Folio, The Two Noble Kinsmen and Pericles, Prince of Tyre, are now accepted as part of the list of comedies plus Edward III has been added to the list of histories.

The Plays of William Shakespeare. By Sir John Gilbert, 1849.

William Shakespeare’s first review in 1592 was a negative one in which he was criticized by the playwright Robert Greene for being an “upstart crow."

Alls Well that Ends Well The plot is based on one of the stories in Boccaccio's Decameron.

Anthony and Cleopatra Shakespeare's chief source for this play was Life of Anthony by Plutarch.

Shakespeare erroneously claimed Cleopatra played billiards when in Act 2 Scene 5 she says “come, let us to billiards”. The game wasn't adopted as a pastime until the fourteenth century.

As You Like It The play is set in Hampton, Forest of Arden a 200 square mile area north west of Stratford. Virtually a musical it had more songs in it, including the classic "Blow, blow thou Winter Wind," than any other Shakespeare play.

Famous quotations from As You Like It include: "Well said: that was laid on with a trowel"1:2. "And so from hair to hair we ripe and ripe. And from hour to hour, we not trot. And thereby hangs a tale" 2:7. "And all the world's a stage. And all the men and women merely players" Also 2:7. "It is meat and drink to me to see a clown 5:1,

Comedy of Errors This was Shakespeare's shortest play with a mere 1778 lines and his only play in which no one kisses anybody.

Coriolanus Famous quotes include: "Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another mans will. Tis strongly wedged up in a blockhead." 2:3. "Your minds, preoccupied with what you rather must do. Than what you should made you against the grain to voice him consul. 2:3.

Cymbeline Dr Johnson wrote of Cymbeline. "To waste criticism upon unresisting imbecility, upon faults too evident for detection and too gross for aggravation." Despite Johnson's skepticism this was one of Shakespeare's most popular plays in the 19th century.

Hamlet was set in the actual Port Elsinore, Denmark and came from a large French work by Francois de Belleforest called Histories and Tragedies. This implies that Shakespeare could speak French as an English translation wasn't made until seven years after Hamlet was written.

Henry IV, Part 1 The character of Sir John Fallstaff was modeled on Sir John Oldcastle who was hanged in 1417 for being a Lollard.

Henry IV, Part 2 features the quote "He hath eaten me out of house and home." 2:1.

Henry V "The national anthem in five acts” includes the famous quote "Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more."

Henry VI It is assumed by the style of Henry VI that Christopher Marlowe was a co-author of this one.three parted epic

The framework for all three parts of Henry VI were taken from Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed.

Henry VI includes the quotes: "Let's leave this town for they are hair brained slaves."Pt 1 1:2 and  "The new made Duke that rules the roast." Pt 2 1:1.

King John includes the phrase "I beg cold comfort" 5:7.

Julius Caesar Shakespeare based Julius Caesar on Plutarch's description of Caesar's murder and the intrigues thereafter.

Although the play is named Julius Caesar, Brutus speaks more than four times as many lines as the title character.

Shakespeare makes an astonishing anachronism in Julius Caesar. He made a reference to a clock striking despite the fact that clocks didn't appear until 1000 years after Caesar's death.

In Julius Caesar Shakespeare coined the phrases "It's all Greek to me" (1:2). and "Right on" (3:2)
Other famous quotes include. "Beware the Ides of March" 1:2. "Cry havoc and let sup the dogs of war." 3:1. "Friends , Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him."3:2.

King Lear was written in 1605, the year Shakespeare's source The True Chronicle History of King Lear was first published. Its first known performance was on St. Stephen's Day in 1606.

King Lear was banned in Britain from 1788-1820 as the government considered the play inappropriate in the light of King George III’s insanity.

Love Labour's Lost was written for Shakespeare's benefactor the Earl of Southampton.

Love's Labour's Lost at the Globe Theatre. By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham

Love's Labour's Lost features the longest scene (5.2) that Shakespeare ever wrote. Depending upon formatting and editorial decisions, it ranges from around 920 lines to just over 1000 lines. The First Folio records the scene at 942 lines.

The comedy also features (depending on editorial choices) the longest speech (4.3.284–361) in all of Shakespeare's plays. With no omissions, the speech given by Berowne is 77 lines and 588 words.

Love's Labour's Lost also features the longest single word Shakespeare used in his plays. "Honorificabilitudinitatibus" (5:1) is a 27 letter word meaning "with honorablenesses".

Macbeth is the most produced play ever written, with a performance staged every four hours somewhere in the world.

Merry Wives of Windsor was written at the request of Elizabeth I. The  English queen had so liked the character of Falstaff in Henry IV and Henry V that she asked for another play to show him in love.

Shakespeare acknowledged the popular songs of the day. The bard referred to the tune "Greensleeves" in The Merry Wives of Windsor. 2:1 & 5:5.

Famous quotes in The Merry Wives of Windsor include: "Why then the world's mine oyster, which I with sword will open." 2:2. "This is the short and long of it" Also 2:2. "I cannot tell what the dickens his name is." 3:2

A Midsummer Night's Dream was written for the wedding celebrations of a certain Thomas Hemage and The Countess of Southampton.

Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing. By William Blake, c. 1786

William Shakespeare's tragedy Othello was presented for the first time, at Whitehall Palace in London on November 1, 1604.

The play may be named Othello but Shakespeare’s title character has 237 fewer lines than his traitorous standard bearer Iago (1,097 lines to Othello’s 860). Only three Shakespeare characters have more lines: Hamlet, Richard III and Henry V.

The support role of Sir John Falstaff in Shakespeare’s Henry IV boasts 318 more words than the title role of his play Othello.

Famous quotes in Othello include: "In compliment extern tis not long after. But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve. 1:1. "When I spake of most disastrous chances of moving accidents by flood. of hair breadth escapes the imminent deadly breach. 1:4. "She was a wight, if ever such wight were. To suckle fools and chronicle small beer." 2:1.

In 1660 the first ever professional actress appeared as Desdemona in a production of Othello.

Richard II A performance was requested and paid for by an Earl of Essex supporter, on the day before Essex launched a rebellion against the crown. Queen Elizabeth I saw the play as a sinister portrait of herself in the deposed and murdered Richard. Consequently Richard II was banned during most of her reign. The full text did not appear until five years after her death.

Richard II includes the quote: "Shall I seem crest-fallen in my father's sight". 1:1.

Richard III's famous quotes include. "Now is the winter of our discontent. Made glorious summer by this son of York"1:1. "Under our tents I play the eavesdropper. To hear it any mean to shrink from me."5:3. "A horse, a horse. my kingdom for a horse." 5:4.

The first Shakespearean play presented in America was performed at the Nassau Street Theatre in New York City. The play was King Richard III.

Romeo and Juliet, The Bard's play about puppy love in the 12th century was based on the quarrels between rival families in Verona. Shakespeare's sources were an Italian novella and Arthur Brooke’s 1562 poem The Tragical History of Romeus & Juliet.

The Taming of the Shrew Cole Porter's musical Kiss Me Kate is about a touring company's The Taming of the Shrew.

The Taming of the Shrew includes the quote "Why, how now daughter Katherine? In your dumps?"

Troilus and Cressida  In the play Troilus asks “was this the face that launched above a thousand ships.” It is a reference to Shakespeare's friend Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus famous speech “was this the face that launched a thousand ships.”

Twelfth Night was titled thus as it was written for acting on the Twelfth Night revels.

The only hiccup in the whole of Shakespeare's works is featured in Twelfth Night. Appropriately enough Sir Toby Belch is the hicupee.

Quotes in Twelfth Night include "If music be the food of love, play on" 1:1. "Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them."2:5.

The Tempest, Shakespeare's romantic comedy, was first presented at Whitehall Palace in London in 1611.
Quotes from The Tempest include: "Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows."2:2. "How can'st thou in this pickle" 5:1.

Titus Andronicus features Shakespeare's possibly most ridiculous scene where a mother finds she's eaten her sons in a pie. However in Shakespeare's lifetime this populist play was possibly the most performed one of all his works.

The Winter's Tale Shakespeare wrote this about a shipwreck on the coast of Bohemia despite the fact Bohemia has no coastline.

Though the general belief is that the Bard of Avon never travelled outside Britain, his accurate depictions of Italy throws up the argument that Shakespeare must have spent some time there. However, it can be safely assumed that he didn't get anywhere near Bohemia.

Shakespeare’s plays were not published during his lifetime. After his death, two members of the Bard's troupe, Heminge and Condell, collected copies of his plays and printed what is now called the First Folio (1623).

Title page of the First Folio, 1623. 

Shakespeare used over 30,000 words in his plays, many which he invented himself. He introduced some 3,000 words into the English language including "accommodation", "assassination", "obscene" and "submerged.” As a comparison, an educated 20th century person has a vocabulary of 15,000 words and the King James Bible has a vocabulary of 8000 words.


POETRY

A great lyricist, Shakespeare's plays contain songs such as "Sigh No More" and "Under the Greenwood Tree".

Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets dedicated to a mysterious WH. They were written during a great plague and were circulated amongst colleagues of the Earl of Southampton. 1-126 addressed to a fair young man, 127-154 to a “dark lady”

Title page from 1609 edition of Shake-Speares Sonnets

Sonnet no 18 features the famous lines:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? 
 Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
 Rough winds do shake the darling buds of may
 And summers lease hath all too short a date.

The Sonnets were the last of Shakespeare's non-dramatic works to be printed. They were first published in London on May 20, 1609, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe.

Shakespeare's rather naughty collection of poems Venus and Adonis were dedicated to his patron the Earl of Southampton. They became a best seller of the Elizabethan age shifting over 10,000 copies.

APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER 

The only surviving portrait of Shakespeare shows a rather handsome man with a rather trendy hoop in his left ear. The portrait is known as the 'Chandos portrait' after a previous owner, James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos. It was the first painting to be acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1856.

The 'Chandos portrait

No one wrote anything about Shakespeare until 50 years after his death by which time all who knew him had passed away. The first actual story of his life wasn't written until a hundred years after his death.

Shakespeare left no words about himself so not a lot is known about the world's greatest ever writer though one can surmise that he was articulate, witty and good company. Ben Jonson referred to him as the "Sweet Swan of Avon" in a verse prefacing his first folio of plays (1623).

In addition, Shakespeare was probably well organised, ambitious and took pleasure in the status his prosperity gave him.

Assuming Shakespeare spoke in a typical Elizabethan accent, to our ears it would be a mixture of West Country and Irish.

The bawdy bard was very fond of innuendos. He was good at insults too like "He has not so much brain as earwax."

RELATIONSHIPS 

On November 28, 1582, the 18-year-old William Shakespeare married the 26-year-old daughter of a yeoman farmer Anne Hathaway (1556-1623). Shakespeare paid a £40 bond for their marriage licence in Stratford-upon-Avon. Two neighbors of Anne, Fulk Sandalls and John Richardson, posted bond that there were no impediments to the marriage. There appears to have been some haste in arranging the ceremony: Anne was three months pregnant.


On May 26, 1583 Shakespeare's first child, Susanna, was baptized at Stratford. A son, Hamnet, and a daughter, Judith, were baptized soon after on February 2, 1585. Shakespeare bitterly mourned after Hamnet died at the age of 11.

Anne and their two children who lived to adulthood, Susanna and Judith, are thought to have been illiterate, though Susanna could scrawl her signature.

Susanna married a Dr John Hall and they lived happily ever after at Halls Croft, Stratford.

Shakespeare was not a faithful husband and it is thought he had an affair with the mysterious "Dark Lady" who featured in many of his sonnets. There are many theories as to who this mysterious not so whiter than white woman could be ranging from a prostitute called Lucy Negro to Mary Fitton a maid of honor at court.

A woman in the audience of Shakespeare’s play Richard III was smitten by the star actor of the day, Richard Burbage who was playing the king. She went backstage to arrange a rendezvous later that night. He was to knock three times on her door and say "It is I, Richard III" as a signal.

The wily William Shakespeare overheard and beat Burbage to the lady's door. He gave the knocks and passwords (possibly "Avon calling"), was admitted, and altogether charmed the lady. The pair were kissing and cuddling when Burbage arrived, and though he roared that he was the king, she would not let him in. Shakespeare put his head out of the window and quipped: "William the Conqueror comes before Richard III".

It is thought Shakespeare also fathered an illegitimate son, William Davenant (1606-68) by means of an Oxford lodging-house owner, Jane. Davenant later became Poet Laureate and was a true innovator introducing scene shifting, operatic music and actresses playing female parts to the English stage.
Today he has no living descendants.

Shakespeare was Godfather to one of Ben Jonson's children.

Shakespeare often met up with friends such as Ben Jonson at the Mermaid Tavern, Bread Street, Cheapside to drink canary wine, (a light, sweet wine from the Canary Islands) and swap witty stories.

BELIEFS 

William Shakespeare did not have an especially religious upbringing, his Protestant father having been fined by the authorities for non-attendance at church.

Shakespeare kept his mouth shut about matters pertaining to religion, if indeed it meant much to him. It is thought the Bard possibly leaned towards Catholicism, at the time a dangerous inclination in England, as he used Catholic imagery in several of his plays including the return of the ghost from Purgatory in Hamlet. (Catholics believe there is a halfway house between heaven and earth where ones souls are cleansed whilst Protestants discount this teaching.)

A month before his death, Shakespeare wrote his will, which he concluded by saying, "I commend my soul into the hands of God my Creator, hoping and assuredly believing through the only merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour to be made partaker of life everlasting."

Shakespeare instructed that his tombstone to be inscribed:
"Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones."

The Bible and the Book of Common Prayer were the most frequently quoted sources in Shakespeare's work. He quotes or alludes to passages from at least 42 books of the Bible; and phrases from the morning and evening prayers in the Book of Common Prayer are frequent. Of the books of the Bible, Shakespeare quoted from Matthew 151 times and from the Psalms 137 times.

ANIMALS AND NATURE 

Shakespeare referred to the carnation as "The fairest Flower of the Season."

He didn't have such a high opinion of the lark. Shakespeare claimed in Romeo and Juliet it "sings so out of tune straining harsh discords and unpleasing sharps."

It seems, Shakespeare wasn't fond of dogs either, as he doesn't have a kind word to say about pooches in any of his works. In one of the Bard's earliest plays, Two Gentlemen of Verona, a dog called Crab pees on the leading lady. Also several dogs are whipped in the work.

HOMES

Shakespeare's birthplace was Britain's first building acquired specifically for conservation. It was bought for £3,000 in 1847.

John Shakespeare's house, believed to be Shakespeare's birthplace. By John 

Shakespeare's wife, Anne was bought up in a thatch roofed cottage in Shottery just outside Stratford.

Shakespeare bought a mansion The New Place, Stratford (the second largest house in his home town) in 1597 for £120 and retired there in 1610.

Between 1597 and 1601, Shakespeare invested around £900 in property and land in and around Stratford. On his father's death, Shakespeare inherited the family home in Henley Street.

Shakespeare decamped to London without his family at the age of 24. His only known place of residence in London was as a tenant of Christopher Mountjoy, a French Huguenot tire-maker [a maker of ornamental headdresses] near Cripplegate.

In 1604, Shakespeare acted as a matchmaker for his landlord's daughter.

A few months before the Globe fire, Shakespeare bought as an investment a house in the fashionable Blackfriars district of London.

LAST YEARS, DEATH AND LEGACY 

Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, at the age of 52 at New Place. It is alleged that he died from a cold brought on by a heavy drinking session with his friend Ben Jonson.

He died within a month of signing his will, a document which he begins by describing himself as being in "perfect health".

Shakespeare shuffled off this mortal coil on the same day as another great renaissance writer, Cervantes.

Ben Jonson said on Shakespeare's death “I loved the man and do honor his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any.”

Shakespeare was buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford upon Avon, a privilege bestowed upon him not on account of his fame as a playwright, but for purchasing a share of the tithe of the church for £440 (a considerable sum of money at the time).

A bust of Shakespeare, placed by his family on the wall nearest his grave, shows him posed as writing. Each year on his claimed birthday, a new quill pen is placed in the writing hand of the bust.

It was common in Shakespeare's time for graves in the chancel of the church to later be emptied with the contents removed to a nearby charnel house as room in the chancel was required. As a result, the inscription over his grave threatens a curse on anyone who moves his bones.

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
But cursed be he that moves my bones. 

Popular legend claims that unpublished works by Shakespeare may lie inside his tomb, but no-one has ever verified these claims, perhaps for fear of the curse included in the quoted epitaph.

Shakespeare's will, still in existence, bequeathed most of his property to Susanna and her daughter. He left small mementos to friends. The Bard mentioned his wife only once, leaving her his "second best bed" with its furnishings.

Much has been written about Shakespeare's odd bequest. There is little reason to think it was a slight. Indeed, it may have been a special mark of affection. The "second best bed" was probably the one they used. The best bed was reserved for guests. At any rate, his wife was entitled by law to one third of her husband's goods and real estate and to the use of their home for life.

Shakespeare grave at Holy Trinity Church is next to those of Anne Hathaway, and Thomas Nash, the husband of his granddaughter.

Shakespeare's grave By David Jones - originally posted to Flickr

Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825) was an English physician and writer, who wrote The Family Shakespeare, a censored version of the Bard’s works that he deemed acceptable for genteel women and children. The first edition was published in 1807, in four duodecimo volumes, containing 24 of the plays.

Bowdler's version removed unpleasant deaths, swearing and anything sexual from Shakespeare’s plays. It was hugely popular in the 19th century and his name inspired the verb ‘bowdlerise’ — to expurgate or cut out.

There are more than 20,000 pieces of music inspired by Shakespeare. Among the great musical works inspired by the Bard include: Provokfiev's music for his ballet, Romeo and Juliet, Verdi's operas, Macbeth and Othello and Elgar's symphony, Falstaff.

Here's a list of popular songs inspired by Shakespeare.

Shakespeare was voted Personality of the Millennium by listeners of the BBC Radio 4 Today program on January 1, 1999.


Shakespeare is the most quoted author in the Oxford English Dictionary with 33,300 approximately references.

Shakespeare is the only Playwright to have had a production of his work performed in every country on Earth.

FUN SHAKESPEARE FACTS 

It is thought that William Shakespeare was born on 23/4/1564 and he died on 23/4/1616. If you take the day of the months when Shakespeare was born and died and add them together (23+23=46), the total of 46 which was also Shakespeare's age when the King James Bible was completed. William Shakespeare is an anagram of "I like a Psalm." The 46th word from the beginning of Psalm 46 is "Shakes" and the 46th word from the end is "Spear".

Although Shakespeare’s works run to more than a million words, only 14 exist in his own handwriting: 12 of them are his signatures and the other two are ‘by’ and ‘me’.

In 1786, US founding fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson visited William Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Adams - who was big fan of the Bard - loved it; Jefferson thought they were overcharged for the tour.

In 1964 William Shakespeare became the first non-royal person shown on a UK postage stamp.

“William Shakespeare” is an anagram of “I am a weakish speller."

Shakespeare was the first to use the letter "U" to replace "you."

Sources Daily Mail, Compton's Encyclopaedia, Christianity