Margaret Elizabeth More was born in Harlech on June 26th 1903, to parents William Henry More and Alice. She had much older siblings, Constance, Jack, Frank, Evelyn and eventually a younger brother, George. The family home was Crown Lodge, in Harlech on the rugged Welsh Coast. Margaret was a great deal younger than the next eldest sister Evelyn, and was undoubtedly an unplanned child. As the girls did not attend school, they instead had a governess, with whom Margaret studied music. Margaret was a natural rebel, and the boredom of life away from a big city necessitated that the siblings created their own entertainment.
Sappho was the original female singer-songwriter, an Ancient Greek Carol King or Joni Mitchell, whose songs were so memorable that people were still writing about them and passing them on centuries later.
Today her name is synonymous with lesbianism – indeed the very word ‘Lesbian’ comes from the name of the island where Sappho lived, Lesbos – due to the many lines of her poetry where she expresses strong, and sometimes sexual, feelings for other women. But there was more to Sappho than just her interest in women. Continue reading Sappho
Dorothy Howell was an exceptional British musician, who composed over 130 pieces during her lifetime.
Dorothy was born in Handsworth, Birmingham in 1898. Her five siblings were all musical, and their father, an ironmaster by trade, was a self-taught pianist, who became the Musical Director at their local church. Dorothy’s mother was also musical, an accomplished violinist & soprano. The family used to spend time singing and playing together.
By the age of 13 Dorothy was already composing pieces. She wrote a set of six pieces for piano that were inspired by the popular Tales of Beatrix Potter. Dorothy studied at a number of convent schools in Birmingham, Belgium & London, but at the age of just 15, with promising musical abilities, she enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM). There she was taught by great composers and pianists including Tobias Matthay and Sir J B McEwen. Continue reading Dorothy Howell
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is one of Mexico’s greatest artists. Born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon in Coyocoán, Mexico City to a Mexican mother and German father, her early life was spent in Casa Azul (the Blue House) which today houses a museum dedicated to her life and work. She was influenced by indigenous Mexican culture as well as religious and political themes, and is most famous for her self-portraits. she once said, “I paint my own reality”. Continue reading Frida Kahlo
The stereotypes of film nerds aren’t exactly positive: secretive, obsessive, quiet. But, these are all great traits for someone fighting, in their own way, against a tyrannical regime, wouldn’t you agree?
Irina Nistor was employed by the Romanian Communist regime to translate programmes for the state-run tv channel. Romania was ruled by Nicolae Ceausescu, one of the cruelest dictators of the communist period. Her impact on the falling of that regime can never be measured, but thousands of Romanians believe her role in the fall of communism in Romania should be not be overlooked. What Irina Nistor did was translate western films into Romanian. A simple but very much illegal job. Continue reading Irina Nistor
If I had a chance to have lunch with anyone living or dead I would most certainly chose to have it with Dora Jordan, one of Western history’s most famous comics who graced the British stage for forty years. Not only would she make me laugh, I would uncover some mysteries about her that have persisted for the past two hundred years.
Dora was born in Ireland to a pair of theater folks around 1761. It’s not known for certain if her father was a stagehand or an actor but it is known that when Dora was thirteen, he abandoned his family for a young actress and left them destitute. Fortunately, Dora took to the stage and acted until she was fifty-four, earning around one hundred thousand pounds (approximately 7 million dollars). Continue reading Dora Jordan
Born Marguerite Annie Johnson on April 4, 1928, Maya Angelou was an American author, poet, dancer, actress, and singer. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several other books.
I discovered Maya Angelou’s work in a charity shop in Cornwall, I bought the book I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and it was a true gift for me. Throughout my life I have read most of her books and poetry and seen her on TV, and in films. It is her universal voice, that connects with so many of her readers. She details the struggles we all encounter, growing up, sexuality, self esteem, being a strong woman, role models, how to survive mistakes that break your heart, living a creative life, motherhood, and finding love. Continue reading Maya Angelou