May 2013 – The British Newspaper Archive Blog

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The Death of Leslie Howard – Shot Down Over the Bay of Biscay on 1 June 1943

On 1 June 1943, the plane carrying the English actor, Leslie Howard, was shot down by the Luftwaffe over the Bay of Biscay. To commemorate the day, here is a newspaper story – published just two days after the event – that reports on this very sad loss. Historical rumour has it that the Nazis thought the plane was actually carrying Winston Churchill. Aberdeen Journal – Thursday 03 June 1943 Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE

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The Bombing of Dublin by the Luftwaffe – 31 May 1941

On 31 May 1941, Nazi planes dropped bombs on Dublin, with the loss of 28 lives. As the Republic of Ireland was neutral during World War Two, this was a major diplomatic incident – interestingly, this happened on more than one occasion. Since the bombing of Eire by Nazi Germany appears to be a rather obscure area of WWII history, we thought we’d post some newspaper articles that reported on the story just days after this bombing raid took place.

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The Death of Voltaire – 30 May 1778

‘All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds’ Voltaire (aka Francois-Marie Arouet), writer, philosopher, historian and creator of the Panglossian character type, died in Paris on 30 May 1778, aged 83. The Archive contains 100s of interesting newspaper stories about Voltaire so, to mark the day, here’s an excellent newspaper article from July 1778 that offers a wonderful insight into Voltaire’s character. Hampshire Chronicle – Monday 06 July 1778 Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL

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What Made Suffragettes Laugh?

What made suffragettes laugh? It’s a question we’ve been musing on since learning that BBC4 is going to be broadcasting a sitcom about a deputation (we think that’s the proper collective noun) of suffragettes. All will be revealed on Thursday night! Being a curious bunch, we did a combination keyword search in the Archive on ‘suffragettes’ and ‘laughter’. Looking at the search results, they seemed to create a lot of laughter when they were appearing before various judges. Hmm. Somebody

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The Sinking of the Empress of Ireland – 29 May 1914

In the St. Lawrence River on 29 May 1914, RMS Empress of Ireland sank with the loss of 1,024 lives, after colliding with the Norwegian collier, SS Storstad. Here is a newspaper story – published on 30 May 1914 – which reports on the disaster. Given that the loss of life in the Empress of Ireland disaster was almost on the same scale as the sinking of the Titanic, it’s amazing how few references are made in popular culture about

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The Fall of the Paris Commune and Victor Hugo’s Expulsion from Belgium – 28 May 1871

The Paris Commune fell on 28 May 1871 with, according to historical legend, the last barricade being removed in Rue Ramponeau in Belleville on the night of the 28th. The Archive contains 100s of fascinating stories about the Paris Commune, but we thought we’d post this story that focuses on Victor Hugo’s role in this struggle. After all, the Paris Commune was a muse for Hugo’s writing, as highlighted in his poem, ‘Sur une barricade’ (how interesting that a barricade

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The Death of Niccolo Paganini – Nice, 27 May 1840

Niccolo Paganini, the genius violinist alleged to have made a Faustian pact with the devil in exchange for his sublime musical skills, died in Nice on 27 May 1840. We’ve been reading 19th Century newspaper reports about Paganini, and have found some fascinating stories. Here’s a story about Paganini refusing to play at a pre-arranged concert at the Casino Paganini in Paris, and being sued for damages and fined £800 for his non-appearance. Blackburn Standard – Wednesday 15 January 1840

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Napoleon Bonaparte – Crowned King of Italy in Milan Cathedral on 26 May 1805

In Milan Cathedral on 26 May 1805, Emperor Napoleon was crowned King of Italy by the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, who presented him with the Iron Crown of Lombardy. Once the crown was safely on his head, Napoleon said: ‘God gives it to me, beware whoever touches it’. Hmm. To mark the day, here’s a fascinating newspaper article from June 1805 that reports on this historic occasion. Hull Packet – Tuesday 25 June 1805 Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson – Born in Boston on 25 May 1803

The American essayist, poet and lecturer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, was born in Boston on 25 May 1803. As Emerson was a leading literary figure in 19th Century America, the Archive contains 100s of interesting stories about his life and work. To celebrate the day of his birth, here is a detailed newspaper report about an eagerly awaited lecture he was due to give in Sheffield in January 1848. Also included is a portrait of Emerson, published in ‘The Graphic’ newspaper

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The Opening of the Brooklyn Bridge – 24 May 1883

On 24 May 1883 (Queen Victoria’s birthday), President Chester A. Arthur and New York Mayor Franklin Edson opened the Brooklyn Bridge by crossing over it and meeting Seth Low, the Brooklyn Mayor, beside the tower on the Brooklyn side of the bridge – the three men then shook hands and declared the bridge open. To mark this historic day, here are four newpaper stories from May 1883 that report on the opening of the famous bridge. Tamworth Herald – Saturday

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