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Queen Charms Soviet Leader

1956: Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visited Britain, where he was charmed by Elizabeth II – “the sort of young woman you’d be likely to meet walking along Gorky Street on a balmy summer afternoon.” Source: Nikita Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers, ed.…

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1954: It took 25 years, but eventually, on 23 November 1954, the Dow-Jones industrial average surpassed its previous high of 381 points, set on 3 September 1929, just before Wall Street crashed. Source: The New York Times, 24 November 1954

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1951: James Joyce’s wife, Nora, outlived him by 10 years. She was protective of his literary reputation, though at times she overdid it. When an interviewer questioned her about the French writer André Gide, she remarked: “Sure, if you’ve been married to…

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1948: Charles de Gaulle’s tender love for his family contrasted sharply with the cold dignity he displayed towards the public. De Gaulle was especially devoted to his second daughter, Anne, who suffered from Down’s syndrome. She was different from de…

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1947: Marooned in a provincial English hotel with dispiriting winter weather outdoors and dispiriting food indoors, Elizabeth David’s mind wandered to memories of southern sun, colours and flavours. Writing about Mediterranean cookery offered a way of…

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1942: The poet Robert Graves, living in south Devon, had his application to join the special constabulary blocked by the village policeman. Three reasons: first, because of Graves’s suspicious German middle name, von Ranke: second, because Graves had been…

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Contemplation

1941: “You hear people say that fishing is a waste of time,” wrote the novelist and keen angler H.E. Bates. “Can time be wasted?” he pondered. “In a hundred years it will not matter much whether on a June day in 1941 I fished for perch or devoted the same…

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1936: Letters from Iceland introduced tourists to some of the more curious items of the island’s cuisine. Hákarl, “half-dry, half-rotten shark”, had a flavour, W.H. Auden reported, “more like boot-polish than anything else I can think of.” Dried fish,…

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1935: Instead of allowing incurable breast cancer run its deadly course, the American writer and social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman inhaled chloroform to bring her life to a close. “When all usefulness is over, when one is assured of unavoidable and…
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