A list of the greatest and most influential mathematicians.
Thales (c. 624 – c.547 BC) Greek philosopher who is considered one of the first mathematicians. Thales made pioneering use of geometry to calculate height and distance. He also used deductive reasoning in creating ‘Thales’ theorem. Thales was an important figure in the ‘Scientific Revolution of Ancient Greece, which rejected the use of mythology and developed science and reason.
Pythagoras (c. 570 BC – c 495 BC) Greek philosopher, spiritual leader and mathematician. Pythagoras is believed to be one of the first Western men to describe himself as a philosopher – ‘lover of wisdom’ His philosophy was based on the mystic traditions of Egypt and Greece. He is also credited with ‘Pythagoras theorem’ – about the relation of triangles in geometry.
Euclid (c. 325 – 265 BC) Greek mathematician. Euclid is often referred to as the ‘father of modern geometry.’ His book ‘Elements‘ provided the basis of mathematics into the Twentieth Century.
Archimedes (287 B.C – 212) Mathematician, scientist and inventor. Archimedes made many contributions to mathematics, such as a calculation of pi, geometrical theorems and developing a concept of exponentiation for very large numbers.
Ptolemy (c. 90 – c. 168 AD) Greek / Roman mathematician, astronomer, poet and geographer. Ptolemy wrote one of the few surviving ancient works on astronomy – the Almagest.
Aryabhata (c. 476 – c. 550) Indian mathematician and astronomer. Aryabhata was influential in the development of trigonometry. In astronomy, he made accurate explanations of lunar eclipses’ and the circumference of the earth. His great works include: Āryabhaṭīya and the Arya-Siddhanta
Omar Khayyám (1048-1131) Persian poet, philosopher, astronomer and mathematician. Khayyam wrote an influential work on algebra – Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra (1070)
Leonardo Pisano Bigollo (1170-1250) Italian mathematician. Bigollo helped standardise the Hindu–Arabic numeral system – through his Liber Abaci (Book of Calculation) (1202). Bigollo is considered the greatest mathematician of the medieval ages.
Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650) French philosopher and mathematician. Descartes made important discoveries in analytical geometry (bridging algebra and geometry), calculus and other fields of mathematics.
Pierre de Fermat (1601-1665) French lawyer and amateur mathematician. Fermat helped develop infinitesimal calculus. Best known for his ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem, which he described in a margin of a copy of Diophantus’ Arithmetica.
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) French mathematician, philosopher and inventor. Pascal worked on projective geometry and corresponded with Pierre de Fermat on probability theory. Pascal’s Triangle is a term given to his presentation on binomial coefficients, (“Treatise on the Arithmetical Triangle”) of 1653.
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726) English scientist. Newton made studies in mathematics, optics, physics, and astronomy. In his Principia Mathematica, published in 1687, he laid the foundations for classical mechanics, explaining the law of gravity and the Laws of Motion. In mathematics, he also studied power series, binomial theorem, and developed a method for approximating the roots of a function.
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716) German mathematician, innovator and philosopher. Leibniz developed mechanical calculators and worked on theories of calculus. In philosophy, he was a leading rationalist philosopher – also noted for his optimism about the universe.
Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) Swiss mathematician and physicist. Euler made important discoveries in infinitesimal calculus, graph theory mechanics, fluid dynamics, optics, astronomy, and music theory. Euler also formalised many mathematical notations.
Joseph Louis Lagrange (1736 – 1813) Italian mathematician and astronomer. He made significant contributions to the fields of analysis, number theory, and both classical and celestial mechanics.
Carl Gauss (1777 – 1855) German mathematician. Often referred to as Princeps mathematicorum – “the Prince of Mathematicians” Gauss was influential in a range of mathematics, including number theory, algebra, statistics, analysis, differential geometry, geophysics, electrostatics, astronomy, matrix theory, and optics.
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) English mathematician. Daughter of Lord Byron, Lovelace developed an interest in maths and logic and worked with Charles Babbage writing one of the first computer algorithms – Work on the Analytical Engine. Lovelace saw the potential of computers to be more than just calculating machines.
Bernhard Riemann (1826-1866) German mathematician, who made substantial contributions to analysis, number theory, and differential geometry. His work was a precursor to the general theory of relativity.
David Hilbert (1862-1943) German logician/mathematician. Hilbert was influential in the Twentieth Century study of maths. He was one of the founders of proof theory and mathematical logic. He created the invariant theory, the axiomatization of geometry and the theory of Hilbert spaces.
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) German/ US. Revolutionised modern physics with his general theory of relativity. Won Nobel Prize in Physics (1921) for his discovery of the Photoelectric effect, which formed the basis of Quantum Theory.
Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) Indian. Self-taught mathematician, Ramanujan developed highly original and insightful theorems in number theory, infinite series and continued fractions. Credited with Ramanujan prime and the Ramanujan theta function. Worked with G.W. Hardy (Cambridge)
Alan Turing (1912-1954) British computer scientist. Considered the father of computer science and one of the most brilliant minds of Twentieth Century. Cracked the enigma code during the Second World War.
John Forbes Nash, Jr. (1928 – ) – American mathematician. Worked on game theory, partial differential equations and differential geometry. He made great insights into the maths of chance and complex decision making. Awarded Nobel Prize in Economics 1994. His life was the source material for film ‘A Beautiful Mind’
Famous Olympic sprinters, including the most prolific Olympic medallists, such as Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Gail Devers and Jesse Owens.
Usain Bolt (1986 – ) Jamaica, athletics. Usain Bolt has set the world record for 100m (9.58s) and 200m (19.19). Bolt won triple Olympic gold at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics. He won gold in the 100m, 200m and 4*100m relay.
Carl Lewis (1961 – ) American sprinter. Nine-time Olympic gold medallist, Carl Lewis won gold over four Olympics (1984-1996). He won gold in the long jump for four consecutive Olympics. He won the 100m in 1984 and 1988.
Fanny Blankers-Koen (1918-2004) (Netherlands, athletics) Koen participated in 1936 Olympics, and missed the best years of her career, due to the War. But, in the 1948 London Olympics, she won four gold medals at 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4*100m relay.
Eric Liddell (1902 – 1945) (Scottish, athletics) Liddell represented Scotland at Rugby Union and GB athletics. He was the Olympic gold medallist at 400m (1924). His preferred distance was 100m, but he didn’t compete because it involved racing on Sundays, which conflicted with his beliefs. His life featured in the film ‘Chariots of Fire’.
August 2014 is the Centenary of the First World War – a dreadful war which cost the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians. An estimated nine million soldiers were killed and countless more civilians.
First World War
The first thing is to feel grateful that we didn’t live through such an appalling catastrophe and a waste of human life. War is undoubtedly man’s greatest tragedy and the emotional suffering of this ‘Great War’ is incomparable. I’m glad I didn’t have to make the choice that many young men of the 1914-18 period did.
However, if we could go back in time, would you fight for your country of birth or would you be a conscientious objector?
Was there any justification for the First World War?
Would I fight for Britain?
I am British and have often thought about this question.
Firstly, I believe the British Empire was wrong. Britain had no right to be ruling in India, African countries, parts of Asia and parts of the Middle East. I would not fight to save the British Empire because I would support the independence movements in Ireland and India.
If I joined the British army and found myself in India or Ireland, I would feel compromised because I wouldn’t want to be party to supporting an Empire which denied the democratic rights of the inhabitants.
However, the First World War wasn’t primarily about promoting the British Empire. Most soldiers were sent to the Western Front to fight the German army.
Defence of Belgium and France
Sometimes, the First World War is portrayed as a senseless war where we fought for no reason. However, in 1914, there seemed to be a certain moral necessity for Britain to be involved.
Although the causes of the First World War are complex and multifarious – in August 1914, Germany was invading Belgium and France. This violated Belgian neutrality and also French borders. Britain had signed a guarantee of Belgian independence, and should Belgium request support from an invading army, Britain had a treaty obligation to support.
This makes it very difficult not to join the British war effort. It is true, Britain was fighting for self-interest. We didn’t want Germany to dominate Europe, we wanted to protect our trade interests and also the rule of international law. But, it wasn’t entirely selfish. It was wrong for the Germans to invade Belgium and France. In that sense, the First World War could be seen as a defensive war against an invading army.
If Britain had stayed neutral, it is very likely that ultimately Germany would have defeated the French and occupied both Belgium and France. Germany was not a democracy but ruled by an autocratic military state and powerful Tsar. A military victory would arguably have strengthened the militaristic tendencies within Germany and the occupation of France and Belgium would have violated the rights of the Belgians and French.
German atrocities were definitely exaggerated by the Allied powers. Yet, they did occur. Belgian civilians were shot. The Germans did sink neutral shipping with civilians on board. It is inevitable that an invading and occupying army commit atrocities; another reason why the invasion of German forces needed to be opposed.
The Allies were definitely not blameless; for example, there are reports of shooting German prisoners of war soon after capture. But, when an invading army occupies a neutral country and kills innocent civilians – it becomes hard to refuse to fight.
The senseless nature of the conflict
In August 1914, there seemed to be a clear case for war. If the Allies had prevailed by Christmas – defeated the German army, reigned in imperialistic ambitions and restored the continent to peace – we may look back and think ‘What a wonderful war.’
But, the First World War didn’t end quickly and decisively. For the soldiers in the trenches, it seemed a senseless slaughter with lives needlessly sacrificed for inevitable failures. Sitting in a London coffee shop, it is easy to say the war was justified. But, when you are drowning in the mud of Ypres with death and destruction all around you – many soldiers (on both sides) started to ask – is it really worth it? Why are we fighting? They just wanted to go home.
“the old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”
The long and bloody conflict meant the initial idealist aims seemed lost in the mud and death of the trenches. Both sides became increasingly desperate in their quest to win. The media was used to whip up hatred of the other side. People of German descent were abused in the street and there was a growing intolerance of any dissent from the official line.
Even if you see a moral justification for fighting for Britain, it is impossible not to sympathise with the horrors of the soldiers and their desire to just see the war end.
The difficulty is how could Britain have ended the war in 1916, 1917? It would have essentially meant giving into German demands and allowing the German army to occupy France. The death would have stopped, but it leaves a militaristic regime controlling most of Europe.
It is like a terrible Hobson’s choice – both continuing to fight and stopping fighting had terrible consequences.
I admire the courage of conscientious objectors. But, at the same time, I am not a pacifist. I do believe war can be justified to protect your country from an invasion.
I dislike the patriotic vitriol that was created in Britain and (all participant countries). Yet, despite that, there were still reasons to fight for Britain.
I don’t support the British Empire and many actions of Britain in the First World War (such as promising the Arabs a homeland in return for fighting against the Ottoman Empire – show how Britain could be deceitful and ignore democratic ideals when it felt like it.)
Yet, however, the many failings Britain had – the alternative of a militaristic Germany dominating Europe was much worse.
Would I fight for Germany?
If I was born in Germany, I would like to think I would be a conscientious objector. I believe following orders and fighting for your Fatherland is no excuse for supporting an illegal invasion. There are greater ideals than nationalism. Your country isn’t right, just because you were born in it.
People of the First World War (1914 to 1918) The principal figures involved in the First World War from Germany, Britain, US and the rest of the world. Includes David Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, the Kaiser and George Clemenceau.
Great Briton list – Top 100 famous Britons as voted by a BBC poll. Including Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, Thomas Cromwell and Queen Elizabeth I.
Edwardian Age (1901 to 1914). A period of growth in science, technology and also rising tensions between the major powers. Also saw the ‘heroic age’ of exploration.
The Roaring Twenties is a term used to describe Western society in the 1920s. Sometimes known as the Jazz Age, it was characterized by new freedoms in social, economic and cultural aspects of life. It is often synonymous with pleasure seeking and people having a good time after the devastation of the First World War. In America especially, the economy boomed, with mass consumerism arriving for the first time. For the first time in history, ordinary workers were able to purchase goods, such as motor cars and radios. The Roaring Twenties also saw a loosening of social morality, though, in America, prohibition saw alcohol outlawed and the subsequent growth of criminal bootlegging.
Facts about the Roaring Twenties
Bright Young Things was a term given to a group of bohemian young people, who enjoyed partying in 1920s London. These were predominately aristocrats and the ‘idle rich.’
P.G. Wodehouse in his humorous novels, e.g. Jeeves and Wooster lampooned the habits of these ‘bright young things’ and idle rich.
During the 1920s, millions of African-Americans migrated from the south to north – to escape segregation and racism. It was termed the Great Migration.
The new black communities, helped to forge a new black identity, especially in major cities, like New York. The Harlem Renaissance was considered the flowering of a new negro identity and culture.
The 1920s also saw a re-emergence of the Klu Klux Klan, with membership peaking at over 4 million people during the 1920s.
Despite growing wealth and conspicuous consumption – during the 1920s, more than 60 per cent of Americans lived just below the poverty line – especially black-Americans and those living in rural areas.
In 1920, all women were given the right to vote in the US. (19th Amendment)
In 1921, Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The greater availability of contraception, helped to liberate women, enabling a greater sexual promiscuity without risk of pregnancy
In the 1920s, divorce was made easier, and the number of divorces doubled.
In the 1920s, more Americans lived in cities than in rural communities for the first time.
The 1920s saw the explosion of numerous dance crazes, including the Charleston and the Breakaway.
The Cotton Club was the most famous jazz club, played by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and other masters of jazz.
In 1927, ‘The Jazz Singer’ starring Al Jolson was the first major ‘talking’ movie. This led to the decline of the silent movie, but growth in cinema attendance.
The 1920s saw an explosion in ownership of the radio. By the end of the 1920s, there were over 100 million radios in circulation.
Flappers was a term used to describe young women, who wore short skirts, listened to jazz music and took rebellious attitudes to old standards of morality.
In the 1920s, many banks, including the Federal Reserve had an ‘anti-flapper code’ – prohibiting women dressing too attractively.
Due to prohibition, speakeasies – illegal salons selling alcohol – became popular and numerous as the Prohibition years progressed.
In 1927, Charles Lindbergh was the first pilot to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic – in the “Spirit of Saint Louis”.
The economic boom of the 1920s was not equally felt across the country. Agriculture suffered from low prices and entered recession, even before the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
Art deco was a new style of architecture, which was based on pure, geometric shapes. The Empire State building was designed in the late 1920s and built in 1930-31.
Buying on the margin. The stock market boom caused many investors to buy shares on the margin – a way of increasing profits by taking more risk. This led to the creation of many new ‘paper millionaires.’
In the 1920s, there was a credit and share price bubble. The S&P 500 Share price index saw a rise in earnings per share from 20 (1922) to 100 in 1929. (What caused Wall Street Crash?)
The Roaring Twenties came to a shuddering halt on 29 October 1929 (Black Tuesday. Share prices fell by $40 billion in a single day. By 1930 the value of shares had fallen by 90%.
Iconic people of the Roaring Twenties
Calvin Coolidge (1872 – 1933) US president (1923–29) Coolidge presided over a booming economy. He adopted a laissez-faire approach – cutting taxes and reducing regulation. Some criticise him for the unsustainable boom which preceded the Great Depression. He spoke up for civil rights and sought to eradicate lynching. Coolidge articulated the aspirations of many middle-class Americans who sought to benefit from the economic growth of the 1920s.
Warren Harding (1865 – 1923) US President for just two years, 1921-23, Harding presided over a dramatic economic recovery, after the slump at the end of the First World War. He cut tax rates and authorised federal money to be spent on building new roads. He announced America was now living in the age of the motor car.
Andrew Mellon (1855 – 1937) US Secretary of the Treasury 1921-31. Mellon was a key figure in the US economy during the 1920s. He reformed the tax system, cutting income and corporation tax and seeking to reduce the federal debt. Mellon’s tax cuts helped to boost investment in new multi-ethnic neighbourhoods. Mellon became unpopular after ineffective measures to halt the Great Depression. F.D. Roosevelt hated Mellon for embodying ‘everything wrong with the 1920s’.
Woodrow Wilson(1856 – 1924) US president (1913-1921). Wilson was a Democrat and leading progressive. Under his presidency, he passed many progressive bills, including a graduated income tax, Federal Reserve Act, anti-trust legislation and federal support for agriculture and the beginnings of a welfare state. In international affairs, Wilson was an idealist, who sought to create a League of Nations after the end of the First World War. During his presidency, laws on prohibition were passed.
Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) Pioneer of the mass use and distribution of electricity. Edison was one of the most prolific inventors, who developed commercially available electric light bulbs. Edison was at the cutting edge of the modernisation of American society, which dramatically changed people’s lives in the 1920s.
Henry Ford (1864-1947) Founder of Ford motor company. Ford pioneered the use of the assembly line for making cars, helping to reduce the price and make cars affordable for the average American consumer. Ford’s Model T car was a ubiquitous sight in the 1920s.
John Maynard Keynes (1883 – 1946) one of the most influential economists of the Twentieth Century. In the 1920s, he was highly critical of the Versailles Peace Treaty and Britain’s decision to return to the gold standard (causing a boom in the US, and depression in the UK). Keynes was also an influential cultural figure and member of the Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals.
Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) Groundbreaking modernist American writer. Famous works included For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940) and A Farewell to Arms (1929). A Farewell to Arms was a devastating account of his experience in the First World War.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940) American author. Iconic writer of the ‘jazz age’. Notable works include The Great Gatsby (1925), and Tender Is the Night (1934) – Iconic and cautionary tales about the ‘Jazz decade’ and the American Dream based on pleasure and materialism.
Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) Poet, author and social activist. Hughes was considered the leader of the Harlem Renaissance. This was a celebration of African-American culture and music. Hughes also was associated with the civil rights movement, having his poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” in “Crisis” – the journal of the NAACP.
D H Lawrence (1885 – 1930) English poet, novelist and writer. One of his best-known works included: Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) – which was banned for its sexual promiscuity and intermingling of social classes – an illustration of the new age clashing against the old.
Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) English modernist writer, member of the Bloomsbury group. Famous novels include Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928).
James Joyce (1882 – 1941) Irish writer from Dublin. Joyce was one of the most influential modernist avant-garde writers of the Twentieth Century. His novel Ulysses (1922), was ground-breaking for its stream of consciousness style.
Louis Armstrong (1901 – 1971) Jazz musician. During the 1920s, Armstrong helped to popularise jazz music among both black and white Americans. Armstrong’s gregarious and non-political nature helped him become one of the few black Americans accepted by white America.
Emily Murphy (1868–1933) The first woman magistrate in the British Empire. In 1927 she joined forces with four other Canadian women who sought to challenge an old Canadian law that said, “women should not be counted as persons.”
Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) Spanish, modern ‘cubist’ painter. Picasso was a leading pioneer of modern art, which redrew boundaries and styles of art
Coco Chanel (1883–1971) French fashion designer. One of the most innovative fashion designers, Coco Chanel was instrumental in defining feminine style and dress during the 20th Century. She made clothes which were both stylish and more comfortable and practical. The 1920s saw a revolution in female dress style as the corset, and other Victorian relics fell out of fashion.
Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) – Sanger was a leading pioneer in offering contraception and health care services to women. Controversial at the time, Sanger is credited with playing a leading role in the acceptance of contraception. She founded the American Birth Control League.
Walt Disney (1901 – 1966) American film producer and creator of cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney pioneered the successful film portrayal of classic fairy tales, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Al Capone (1899-1947) American gangster who rose to fame during the prohibition era. He was an uncompromising boss of the Chicago Outfit – behind the St Valentine’s Day Massacre. Eventually convicted of income tax evasion. Capone is an iconic representative of the mafia mobster and the dark side of the ‘Roaring Twenties’.
Babe Ruth (1895 – 1948) Iconic baseball player. Babe Ruth was one of the greatest baseball players whose popularity transcended sport and epitomised the Roaring Twenties for his laid-back style. In 1927 in 1927 Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs
Amelia Earhart (1897– 1937) – Female aviator. She broke several records and became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932. She epitomised both the new age of exploration and setting new ideas for what it was possible for women to do.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “The Roaring Twenties”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 11th Jan 2017
The Progressive Era (1890-1920) A period of increased federal intervention to tackle the abuse of the Gilded Age. The Progressive Era also saw women gain the vote, and increased efforts to tackle corruption.
People of the First World War (1914 to 1918) The principal figures involved in the First World War from Germany, Britain, US and the rest of the world.
Famous Americans – Great Americans from the Founding Fathers to modern civil rights activists. Including presidents, authors, musicians, entrepreneurs and businessmen.
Inter-war era (1918 to 1939) A period of peace in between the two world wars. Characterised by economic boom and bust, and the growth of polarising ideologies.
Feminism is a broad range of movements and ideologies which seek to work towards greater equality between men and women. Within feminism, there are different strands and emphasis, but most feminists would share the same idea of equal rights and equal opportunities.
A list of famous feminists and famous quotes.
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797) English author, Wollstonecraft wrote the most significant book in the early feminist movement. Her tract “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” laid down a clear moral and practical basis for extending human and political rights to women.
“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”
– Mary Wollstonecraft
Sojourner Truth (1797 – 1883) African-American abolitionist and women’s rights campaigner. In 1851, gave a famous extemporaneous speech “Ain’t I a woman?” which explained in plain language how women were essentially equal to men.
J.S. Mill (1806-1873) John Stuart Mill was a leading liberal philosopher of the Nineteenth Century. He argued for universal suffrage (extending the vote to women and all classes of people) His pamphlet The Subjection of Women (1861) was influential for raising the issue of votes for women.
“the legal subordination of one sex to the other — is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other. “
– J.S. Mill Subjection of Women (1861)
Margaret Fuller (1810 – 1850) An American women’s rights advocate. Her book Women in the Nineteenth Century (1845) was influential in changing perceptions about men and women and was one of the most important early feminist works. She argued for equality and women being more self-dependent and less dependent on men.
“Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But in fact they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman… Nature provides exceptions to every rule.”
― Margaret Fuller, Women in the Nineteenth Century (1845)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815 – 1902) American social activist and leading figure in the early women’s rights movement. She was a key figure in helping to create the emerging women’s suffrage movements in the US. She was the principal author of ‘Declaration of Sentiments’ in 1848.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.”
― Elizabeth Cady Stanton, History of Woman Suffrage
Susan B. Anthony (1820 – 1906) American Campaigner against slavery and for the promotion of women’s and workers rights. She played a key role in the movement to pursue suffrage for women.
“Woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself.”
― Susan B. Anthony
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836 – 1917) – Britain’s first qualified female doctor. She passed the medical exam and obtained a licence (LSA) from the Society of Apothecaries. She set up her own medical practice. In 1873 was the first woman to be admitted to the British Medical Association (BMA)
Emmeline Pankhurst (1858 – 1928) British suffragette, Emily Pankhurst dedicated her life to the promotion of women’s rights. She explored all avenues of protest including violence, public demonstrations and hunger strikes. She died in 1928, three weeks before a law giving all women over 21 the right to vote.
“We have to free half of the human race, the women, so that they can help to free the other half.”
― Emmeline Pankhurst, The Suffragette: The History of the Women’s Militant Suffrage Movement
Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) – Through her work as a nurse in New York’s Lower East side in 1912, Margaret Sanger worked hard to improve birth control practice to prevent unwanted pregnancies. This groundbreaking shift in attitude led to the foundation of the American Birth Control League. Sanger is credited with playing a leading role in the acceptance of contraception.
“No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.”
― Margaret Sanger
Marie Stopes (1880 – 1958) British author, palaeobotanist and campaigner for eugenics and women’s rights. Stopes played a major role in making contraception more widely available.
Katharine Hepburn (1907 – 2003) Multiple Oscar-winning American actress. Hepburn’s independence of mind and assertiveness helped redefine women’s roles in Hollywood and post-war America.
“I just recently realized that women are supposed to be the inferior sex”
— Katharine Hepburn
Simone de Beauvoir (1908 – 1986) – French existentialist philosopher. Simone de Beauvoir developed a close personal and intellectual relationship with Jean-Paul Satre. Her book “The Second Sex” depicted the traditions of sexism that dominated society and history. It was a defining book for the feminist movement.
“To gain the supreme victory, it is necessary, for one thing, that by and through their natural differentiation men and women unequivocally affirm their brotherhood.”
– Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949)
Betty Friedan (1921 – 2006) – American social activist and leading feminist figure of the 1960s; she wrote the best-selling book “The Feminine Mystique” Friedan campaigned for an extension of female rights and an end to sexual discrimination.
“The feminine mystique has succeeded in burying millions of American women alive.”
– Betty Friedan, “The Feminine Mystique” (1963)
Coretta Scott King (1927 – 2006) Civil rights and social activist. After the death of her husband, she continued to campaign for civil rights and gay rights. She also helped to found the National Organisation for Women. (NOW)
Gloria Steinem (1934 – ) An American feminist, journalist, and social activist. She was one of the most prominent leaders of the US feminist movement of the 1960s 1970s. She played a vital role campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment passed in 1972. She was the co-founder of several feminist groups, such as the ‘Women’s Action Alliance’.
“I’m not sure feminism should require an adjective. Believing in the full social, political, and economic quality of women, which is what the dictionary says “feminism” means, is enough to make a revolution in itself.”
– Gloria Steinem
Germaine Greer (1939 – ) Australian feminist icon of the 1960s and 1970s, Germaine Greer, enjoys raising contentious issues. In particular her book “The Female Eunuch” was a defining manifesto for the feminist movement, which proved influential in the 1960s.
Billie Jean King (1943 – ) American tennis player. Billie Jean King was one of the greatest female tennis champions, who also battled for equal pay for women. She won 67 professional titles including 20 titles at Wimbledon.
“I have often been asked whether I am a women or an athlete. The question is absurd. Men are not asked that. I am an athlete. I am a women.”
– Billie Jean King
Shirin Ebadi (1947 – ) An Iranian lawyer, Ebadi has fought for human rights in Iran – representing political dissidents and founding initiatives to promote democracy and human rights. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.
“Whenever women protest and ask for their rights, they are silenced with the argument that the laws are justified under Islam. It is an unfounded argument. It is not Islam at fault, but rather the patriarchal culture that uses its own interpretations to justify whatever it wants.”
– Shirin Ebadi
Naomi Klein – Anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation writer. Also, labels herself as feminist, and supporting the equal rights movement.
Rigoberto Menchu (1959 – ) Menchu is an activist for the rights of indigenous Guatemalans. She was active during the Guatemalan Civil War (1960–1996) and after. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. She also serves as a UNESCO goodwill ambassador. She also formed the Nobel Women’s Initiative with other Nobel winners, such as Shirin Ebadi and Betty Williams.
Naomi Wolf (1962 – ) Author of The Beauty Myth – which argued beauty was a socially manufactured construct. She has been considered one of the leaders of the third wave of feminism.
“What are other women really thinking, feeling, experiencing, when they slip away from the gaze and culture of men?” ― Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth
Emma Watson (15 April 1990 – ) British actress famous for role as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter film series. UN ambassador for women and feminist activist. Watson sought to redefine feminism to be more inclusive of involving men in the campaign for equal rights and ending the idea of feminism as ‘man-hating’.
“When at 15, my girlfriends started dropping out of their beloved sports teams, because they didn’t want to appear muscle-y, when at 18, my male friends were unable to express their feelings, I decided that I was a feminist.”
– Emma Watson
Malala Yousafzai (1997 – ) Pakistani schoolgirl who defied threats of the Taliban to campaign for the right to education. She survived being shot in the head by the Taliban and has become a global advocate for women’s rights, especially the right to education.
“I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”
A list of famous and influential composers throughout history, including the greatest composers Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Franz Schubert.
Composers of the Medieval period
Hildegard von Bingen (1097 – 1179) German writer, mystic, composer and polymath. Hildegard wrote many liturgical songs, which pushed the boundaries of traditional Gregorian Chant. Her greatest work was Ordo Virtutum (Play of the Virtues) – a morality play.
Composers of the Renaissance period
John Dunstable (1390 – 1453) English composer of polyphonic music. Dunstable had a big influence on the development of music through his creation of chords with triads, which became known as the Burgundian School: la countenance angloise or “the English countenance” e.g Quam pulchra es.
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 – 1594) Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music. Palestrina was a prolific composer of masses, motets, madrigals and offertories. An influential work was Missa Papae Marcelli (Pope Marcellus Mass)
William Byrd (1543 – 1623) English composer of the Renaissance. He wrote in many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony. He helped the development of Anglican church music, and also secular vocal music with his use of Tudor consort and keyboard fantasia.
Composers of the Baroque Period
Henry Purcell (1659-1695) English composer of the Baroque period. Purcell wrote some early baroque classics such as Te Deum and Jubilate Deo. He also wrote for theatre and England’s first opera.
Bach (1685 – 1750) German composer of the Baroque period. One of the most prolific composers of all time. Bach brought Baroque music to its pinnacle of musical maturity. Famous works of Bach include: Brandenburg Concertos, the Mass in B minor, St Matthew’s Passion, St John’s Passion; Bach also wrote organ pieces and over 300 sacred cantatas.
George Frederick Handel (1685 – 1759) German-born composer who spent a lot of time in England. He wrote operas and oratorios. Famous works include Messiah “Hallelujah Chorus”, Music For The Royal Fireworks, Jephtha, Chaconne Variations in G Coronation Anthems, Zadok the Priest.
Composers of the Classical Period
Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809) Prolific Austrian composer of the classical period. He helped develop chamber music such as the piano trio and string quartet. Also wrote amongst first extensive symphonies and contributed to the development of sonata. Haydn’s famous works include Cello Concerto No.1 in C major and Symphony No.94 in G major.
Mozart (1756 – 1791) Austrian classical composer. Composing from the age of 6, Mozart’s repertoire varied from light waltzes and dances to the spiritual elevating choral music of Missa Brevis and Mass in C minor. He composed over 600 pieces, including symphonies, operas (e.g. Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), concertos (e.g. Piano Concerto no. 21) and chamber music.
Beethoven (1770 – 1827) German composer and pianist of the classical and romantic period. Another prodigious genius. Beethoven’s compositions invoked both tremendous power, and soulfulness; he had a lasting influence on western classical music. His greatest works include his Symphonies No.6 and his choral work Missa Solemnis.
Gioachino Rossini (1792 – 1868) Italian composer. Rossini wrote 38 great operas, transforming the opera into its modern form. Great Italian works include The Barber of Seville (1816) and La Cenerentola. He also moved to Paris and wrote for the French theatre, including the operas Count Ory (1828) and William Tell (1829)
Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828) Austrian composer who bridged the classical and romantic periods. One of the few composers to evoke the spirit of Mozart, especially in his work – Symphony number 5. Schubert composed seven symphonies sacred music, operas and piano music. He was also a great composer of secular vocal songs. Famous works include his immortal version of Ave Maria D.839, Piano Sonata in A major, D 959, Symphony in C major (Great C major, D 944), and Symphony No.5 in Bb major D.485.
Composers of the Romantic Period
Hector Berlioz (1803 – 1869) French composer of the Romantic period. Berlioz composed a Requiem for 210 voices Grande Messe des morts (Requiem) and Symphonie fantastique. He made significant contributions to the romantic period and the development of the modern orchestra.
Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847) German composer of the romantic period. Mendelssohn wrote symphonies, concerti, oratorios, piano music and chamber music. His famous works include Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave) (1830), Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (1844) and his piano compositions – ‘Songs without words’
Frederick Chopin (1810 – 1849) Polish-born classical composer. Important compositions include piano collections, Études, Opp. 10 and 25, and the 24 Preludes, Op. 28. Chopin also wrote numerous polonaises, sonatas, waltzes, impromptus and nocturnes. Chopin is the most influential composer for the piano, becoming a staple for all piano students.
Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886) Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist. Liszt was a prominent member of the “New German School” of musicians. Significant compositions include Piano Sonata in B minor (1853), “Liebesträume No. 3”. He also transcribed for the piano great works by other composers, such as Schubert. Also developed new musical ideas, such as the symphonic poem.
Giuseppe Verdi (1813 – 1901) Italian opera composer of the romantic period. Verdi is considered one of the greatest opera composer of all time. Famous works include “Va, Pensiero” (The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves), the “Coro di zingari” (Anvil Chorus) from Il Trovatore and the “Grand March” from Aida. He also composed other works outside opera, such as Messa da Requiem (1874).
Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883) German composer who wrote epic operas such as the Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). Beginning in the romantic tradition, Wagner developed his own complex and unique style of ‘total art.’
Johann Strauss Jr. (1825 – 1899) Austrian composer of popular light music. He wrote over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles. Famous works include Blue Danube Waltz, Egyptian March, Persian March and Roses from the South Waltz.
Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) German composer who spent most of his life in Austria. Although of the romantic period, Brahms used many of the principles of baroque and classical music in his compositions. Famous works include Violin Concerto in D major, Op 77, “Symphony No. 3 in F Major, Op. 90: Allegro con brio” and Sinfonia n. 2 em ré major op. 73
Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893) Russian composer. Tchaikovsky was the greatest composer of the Romantic period. Compositions include the 1812 Overture, Romeo and Juliet Overture, Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor and ballet compositions – Swan Lake and Nutcracker.
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 – 1921) French composer, conductor and pianist of the Romantic era. Famous works include Second Piano Concerto (1868), the First Cello Concerto (1872), Danse macabre (1874), the opera Samson and Delilah (1877), the Third Violin Concerto (1880) and The Carnival of the Animals (1887).
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844 – 1908) Russian composer who infused a Russian tradition of folk music into a classical genre. He wrote five operas, symphonies and orchestral works. Famous works include Scheherazade, Capriccio Espagnol (including The Flight of the Bumble Bee).
Gabriel Faure (1845 – 1924) French composer of the late Romantic period. Faure composed intimate Chamber music and many compositions for the piano. Famous works include choral masterpieces – Pavane and Requiem, and his Nocturnes for piano, such as Après un rêve” and “Clair de lune”.
Edvard Greig (1843 – 1907) Norwegian composer. Greig was one of the most notable composers of the Romantic period. Famous works include – Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 16, Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46, IV. (In the Hall of the Mountain King) and Peer Gynt Suite No.1
Late Nineteenth and Twentieth Century – neo-classical / Impressionist
Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934) English composer who created many great orchestral works of the late classical repertoire. Famous works include Enigma Variations (1899) and Symphony No. 2 in E-flat, Op. 63 (1909–1911). Many works are important for British / English musical identity, e.g. Pomp and Circumstance, (including Land of Hope and Glory)
Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911) (Austrian Empire / now the Czech Republic) Mahler was a composer of the late Romantic period. His symphonies (No. 5, No. 2 and No.1) have become some of the best known in the classical repertoire.
Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918) French composer of Impressionist music. Debussy used non-traditional scales and chromaticism to develop new strands of classical music. Famous works include Clair de Lune (from Suite Bergamasque), Reverie (1890) and Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873 –1943) Russian composer. Rachmaninoff wrote five works for piano and orchestra. His most popular works included Concerto No. 2 in C minor, and Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30 (1909). Rachmaninoff was one of most daring composers, noted for his difficult pieces and extensive chords.
Gustav Holst (1874 – 1934) English composer best known for his orchestral works The Planets. Holst was influenced by Wagner, but later developed his own style inspired by both English folk music and Indian mythology / Vedas.
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) Russian born composer, who lived in both France and America. He was an influential composer for his development of neo-classical styles. He wrote ballets, such as The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913)
George Gershwin (1898 – 1938) American composer who combined both classical and popular music. Famous for his modern jazz classic Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and the opera “Porgy and Bess.”
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975) Russian composer who fused neo-classical and post-romantic styles. Famous works include Waltz, no.2, Symphony No. 15 and Piano Concerto No.2.
Leonard Bernstein. (1918 – 1990) American composer. The conductor of the New York Philharmonic orchestra. Bridged classical music and popular music. Wrote musicals: “On The Town,” “Wonderful Town,” and “West Side Story.”
Meet the Famous Composers Bk 1: Short Sessions on the Lives, Times and Music of the Great Composers, Book & CD (Learning Link) at Amazon
Musicians – Famous musicians from classical music to popular music. Including Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and John Lennon.
People of the Romantic Era (1790s to 1850s) Romantic poets (Blake, Keats, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Shelley) and Romantic artists, composers and writers.
100 most influential people – A list of 100 most influential people as chosen by Michael H. Hart, from his book 100 most influential people in the world. Includes; Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha, Confucius, St Paul and Johann Gutenberg.
A selection of over 50 books that helped to influence and change the world. These books have all had an impact on human society and human culture.
Bhagavad Gita (c. 3100 B.C) – ‘The Song of God‘ – is a classic Hindu scripture which records the discourse of Sri Krishna and Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra. Sri Krishna taught a practical spirituality that could be practised in the world and did not require world-renunciation. The philosophy of the Gita includes bhakti yoga (devotion) and karma yoga (selfless action)
The Iliad (8th Century BC) – Homer. One of the earliest surviving classics of Western literature, the Iliad is an epic poem telling the story and characters of the Trojan War – such as Achilles and King Agamemnon. The Iliad also tells of ancient Greek legends.
The Histories (c. 450 – 420s BC) – Herodotus (Greek) The Histories was one of the first major works of history – documenting the peoples and times of ancient Greece, Persia and Northern Africa. It is an important source for knowledge about those times and set an important precedent for documenting history.
The Torah (c. 600 – 400 BC) Judaism believes the Torah was received by Moses on Mount Sinai; it incorporates five main books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). It is the principal account of Jewish history, traditions and customs. It is highly influential in Judeo-Christian culture, and the five principle books were incorporated into the Bible.
The Dhammapada (c 3rd-1st Century BC) – Sayings of the Buddha. The Dhammapada is a written account of Buddha’s sayings on the spiritual life and his advice to monks. They contain the essence of Buddhism through topics, such as meditation, detachment, liberation and controlling the mind.
The Analects c. 475 BC–221 BC) – Confucius The Analects contain the sayings of the Chinese sage Confucius. The Analects encourage people to cultivate wisdom (ren) through devotion to one’s parents/family and loyalty to their ruler. It is essentially a conservative philosophy encouraging morally and ethically upstanding citizens. It is the most influential book in Chinese history and is widely read today.
The Republic (c. 4th Century BC) – Plato. The Republic is a highly influential book on political and social philosophy. It is written in the form of a Socratic dialogue where different participants discuss concepts of justice, good governance, the nature of the soul, and ideas of what constitutes happiness. Plato argues that one of the best forms of government would be to give power to philosopher-kings – independently minded arbiters of just rule.
Euclid’s Elements (c. 300 BC) A mathematical and geometric treatise consisting of 13 books written by the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria. Euclid combined many different aspects of mathematics and presented them in a coherent and logical format. His clarity meant this became the standard mathematics textbook into the Nineteenth Century.
Geographia (c. 100- 170 AD) – Ptolemy Ptolemy created a book of maps, atlas which summarised the Roman knowledge of world geography. It was translated into Latin in Europe during the early part of the Renaissance and provided an influential starting point for European knowledge of world geography.
The Qu’ran (c. 609 AD – 632 AD). The Qu’ran, meaning “recitation” is considered the holy book of Islam. Muslims believe the Qu’ran contains revelations from God revealed by the Archangel Gabriel to Muhammad. The Qu’ran teaches a monotheistic religion, where followers are encouraged to surrender to God.
Canon of Medicine (1025AD) – Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna). The Canon of Medicine is an encyclopaedia of medical knowledge compiled by Persian philosopher Ibn Sīnā. It includes some of the most important medical knowledge of the time – including Galenic medicine, Chinese medicine and some of Aristotle’s writings. It served as a medical textbook in Europe into the Seventeenth Century.
The Canterbury Tales (c. 1390s) – Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales‘ are a collection of 20 books written in Middle English, telling accounts of English life in the Middle Ages. Chaucer was a master storyteller, also including criticism of the church and aspects of English life. The book was an influential moment in encouraging the use of English – as opposed to Latin.
Don Quixote (1605) – Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha) is one of the world’s greatest novels. It is highly influential in Western literature – and Spanish literature in particular. It explores themes of chivalry, realism, justice and simplicity.
The Bible – King James Version (1611) Commissioned shortly after the first English translation of the Bible by John Wycliffe. The King James Bible was translated from Greek and Aramaic and became the defining English translation for the Western World; it became the most printed book in the world. It has been admired for its quality of English and poetic descriptions.
First Folio (1623) – William Shakespeare. The first comprehensive publication of Shakespeare’s plays. The First Folio includes 36 of Shakespeare’s plays and is the primary source material for much of Shakespeare’s work. Its publication began the gradual process of making Shakespeare the most widely read author in the English language. Shakespeare’s influence on language, literature are hard to quantify – given the global and universal appeal of his work.
An Anatomical Study of the motion of the heart and blood in Animals (1628) – William Harvey. A pioneering work on the circulation of blood. Harvey also offered a revolutionary scientific method – with hypothesis, experiments and observations. It influenced our understanding of physiology and also set a benchmark for scientific studies.
Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632) – Galileo Galilei – In this Italian book, Galileo compared Copernicus’ heliocentric view of the world with the contemporary view of Ptolemy (earth centre of the universe) Galileo’s findings were influential in shifting opinion about the nature of the universe. His book was placed on the Catholic Church’s list of prohibited books until 1835.
Principia Mathematica (1687) – Isaac Newton Full title – Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Latin for “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” This great work formed the basis of modern physics. Newton included his theory of gravity, the law of motion/mechanics and consolidated Kepler’s law of planetary motion. Newton developed new modes of mathematics and calculus to offer proof for his ideas. Widely considered to be the most influential science book of all time.
A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) – Samuel Johnson. Johnson did not write the first dictionary, but his was by far the most comprehensive dictionary and became the standard for English dictionaries until the OED in 1888. The Johnson dictionary was commissioned by printers who wanted a better quality dictionary to meet with the growing literacy and demand for books. Even the OED – 187 years later – used many of Johnson’s explanations.
The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774)– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe’s novel about a sensitive and passionate young man became a best seller and was translated into several European languages. The book helped Goethe become one of the first international literary celebrities. The novel and romantic ideals had a significant impact on the burgeoning Romantic Movement of the late Eighteenth Century.
The Wealth of Nations (1776) – Adam Smith. Smith’s work on economics became the founding cornerstone of classical economics – helping to define the relatively new subject, which was becoming increasingly important with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Smith’s work considered free markets, free trade, the division of labour and monopoly power.
Common Sense (1776) – Thomas Paine. Common Sense was a political pamphlet published at the beginning of the American Revolution. It spoke in simple and direct language about the benefits of American Independence from Great Britain. It appealed to ordinary people and helped to garner support for American Independence. It was also revolutionary for ushering in a more democratic and Republican politics.
Lyrical Ballads (1798)– William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. These volumes of poetry include some of Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s finest poetry – such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Coleridge) and Lines written above Tintern Abbey (Wordsworth). The poetry was influential for its simpler lyrical style. Wordsworth wrote that the book was an experiment to see if the language of poetry could be made more accessible to ordinary people – as opposed to the more rigid and highly formalised styles of 18th Century poetry. Lyrical Ballards is often considered to be the start of the English Romantic Movement, marking a defining shift in English literature.
Pride and Prejudice (1813) – Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice is one of the most enduringly popular novels in the English language. It deals with issues of class, marriage, manners and morality. It’s popularity and a lasting legacy on this romantic genre of novel. Jane Austen’s success also made it easier for women to be taken seriously as writers.
A Christmas Carol (1843)– Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of Dicken’s most popular short stories. It deals with the contrasting themes of the joy of Christmas and the unhappiness of being miserly and devoted to money. It helped revitalise Christmas traditions, while containing some classic Dickens satire of Victorian Capitalism.
The Communist Manifesto 1848 – Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The Communist Manifesto is a short and succinct revolutionary document which called for the overthrow of Capitalist society. Unlike Marx’ denser works, the language of the Manifesto was incendiary and inspirational for those who wanted to see the end of Capitalism. Marxism became a driving philosophy behind the Russian Revolution and influenced other Western states who became fearful of a Communist Revolution.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) – Harriet Beecher Stowe. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an anti-slavery novel, which portrayed the harsh realities of slavery. It also offered an optimistic view of how Christian charity and love could overcome a man-made evil such as slavery. It is considered to be highly influential in shaping American public opinion and turning people against slavery – which was a key issue of the civil war.
Madame Bovary (1857) – Gustave Flaubert (French). Flaubert’s novel depicts the life of a doctor’s wife who pursues affairs and excitement to escape the banality of life. It’s publication was considered shocking for its depiction of adultery – the resulting obscenity trial helped increase its profile and sales. Its gritty realism was also very significant for the development of the modern realistic genre of literature.
Gray’s Anatomy (1858) An English-language textbook of human anatomy, originally written by Henry Gray. It is was the first comprehensive analogy of human anatomy and part of the movement to formalise and clarify medical treatment. It was so useful that it became the classic textbook for physicians. It has been continually revised and republished since 1858.
On the Origin of Species (1859) – Charles Darwin – On the Origin of Species was a culmination of Darwin’s life work examining the development of life and species. It is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology and critical for overturning mankind’s idea of where it came from. The theory of evolution was a direct challenge to a literal interpretation of the Bible, and its publication was met with significant controversy.
On Liberty (1859) – John Stuart Mill On Liberty is an influential justification for personal liberty and defining the limits of state intervention. – “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.” – Mill. On Liberty was an attempt to defend the philosophy of utilitarianism, but also defend individual rights against the ‘tyranny of the majority’.
War and Peace (1869) – Leo Tolstoy (Russian). War and Peace is Tolstoy’s great historical epic based on the French Napoleonic invasion of Russia. It deals with all aspects of life – human emotion, politics and philosophy. In many ways, the book transcended traditional genres and brought in new literary styles, such as the ability to offer a variety of perspectives on the same scene.
The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) – Sigmund Freud – Freud was a pioneering psychologist. His work on the Interpretation of Dreams was influential for advancing Freud’s theory of the unconscious and the Oedipus Complex. Freud’s theory of psycho-analysis has proved very controversial, but his work inspired a new branch of medical science to either further or reject his initial work.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – (1905) This was published in Russia and was a fraudulent attempt to suggest there was a Jewish conspiracy to gain control over the world through manipulation of the press and subverting Christian ideals. Although shown to be a fraud, it was widely distributed around the world and was used as a textbook in Nazi Germany, fuelling anti-Semitism.
Poems (1920) – Wilfred Owen. Owen’s war poetry was highly influential in creating a negative view of the First World War. His biting, ironic poems highlighted the absurdity and horror of war. The power of his poems was influential in creating a strong peace movement in Great Britain, which opposed re-armament in the 1920s and 30s.
Relativity: The Special and General Theory (1920) – Albert Einstein. Einstein’s great work on relativity helped redefine concepts of physics and our understanding of the universe. It was the most revolutionary development in physics since Newton. Einstein’s work showed that time and space are not linear and absolute, but could vary depending on circumstances. Einstein also showed that energy and mass are actually equivalent through his famous formula – E=mc²
Ulysses (1922) James Joyce – Ulysses is a highly influential modernist work of fiction, which used experimental techniques such as a stream of consciousness writing, combined with an offbeat sense of humour – based on puns, allusions and parodies. It was unprecedented in length, scope and style, and influenced many other modernist writers.
Mein Kampf (1925) – Adolf Hitler. Mein Kampf was written by Hitler when he was in prison for the failed Munich Putsch attempt. It expresses Hitler’s desire for a new world order – based on his anti-Semitism and desire for expanding Germany into Eastern territories. After his rise to power in 1933, it was widely disseminated in Nazi Germany. It was also used by many who feared Hitler’s rise to power as evidence of his intent.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) – D.H. Lawrence. The book was highly controversial for its depiction of a love affair between a working-class man and an upper-class women. It was prohibited in the UK for many decades because of its explicit sexual content. In 1960, Penguin wished to publish the book, leading to a trial about whether it contravened the obscenity act. Penguin won and it was published in 1961.
The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936) John Maynard Keynes – Keynes wrote his classic economic theory against the backdrop of the Great Depression. Keynes argued the persistence of mass unemployment was unnecessary and effective government action could overcome a prolonged slump. His book was the founding work of a new branch of economics – macro-economics. Keynesian economics continues to be highly influential both theoretically and practically for dealing with recessions.
The Diary of Anne Frank (1947) – Anne Frank (Dutch) – Originally published as a “Diary of a Young Girl”. The magnitude of the holocaust, with six million Jews killed, was hard for many to comprehend. The Diary of Anne Frank gave readers a personal link behind the numbers killed and helped put the holocaust into human terms.
If This is a Man (1947) – Primo Levi (Italian) Levi wrote this personal account of his 12-month incarceration in Auschwitz concentration camp. It is considered one of the most intimate and direct accounts of life under the degrading and dehumanising conditions of a concentration camp. It was one of the earlier personal accounts of surviving the holocaust to be published and is considered a pre-eminent first-hand account.
Animal Farm (1945) – George Orwell. Orwell was a democratic socialist who fought in the Spanish civil war. Animal Farm is a dystopian fairy-tale, which gives a biting and immediate allegory of a revolution betrayed. It was written as a satirical tale against Stalin’s Soviet Union and became part of the literary Cold War Propaganda against Communism.
The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946) – Dr Spock. Spock was an American paediatrician who wrote a manual for child care, which emphasised the importance of parents relying on their natural instincts in pursuing a balanced and empathetic approach to discipline and bringing up children. He has been blamed for encouraging a decline in discipline and respect for authority, though this was partly due to his active opposition to the Vietnam War.
Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell – 1949. Orwell’s classic dystopian novel. 1984 is a stark warning against the dangers of totalitarianism. It forewarns against the over-reaching power of the state and the desire to control the lives of individuals. Many phrases and ideas from 1984, such as ‘Big Brother’ and the ‘thought police’ have become part of the English language.
The Second Sex (1949) – Simone De Beauvoir The Second Sex was written by De Beauvoir, a French existentialist philosopher. It is considered an important work in the second wave of feminism, which sought to address feminist issues, such as sexual violence, discrimination against women and equal opportunities. She also rejected the theories of Freud.
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger – 1951. Salinger’s novel became an iconic work for teenage rebellion, dealing with issues of identity, alienation and respect for authority. It is considered influential for the ‘beat generation’ of the 1960s, which saw a widespread challenging of authority and conventional customs.
Lord of the Rings (1954) – J.R.R.Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings is an epic three-part fantasy novel based in mythological Middle-earth. It became one of the best selling works of the Twentieth Century and was influential for the 1960s beat generation. It also spawned a renewed interest in the fantasy genre.
Silent Spring (1962) – Rachel Carson. Silent Spring documented the danger to the environment from chemical pesticides. It is considered a seminal work in the new environmental movement which evolved from the early 1960s and which sought to give priority to protecting the environment.
Quotations from Chairman Mao (1964) – Mao Zedong Between 1964 and Mao’s death in 1976, ‘Quotations from Chairman Mao’ or the ‘Little Red Book’ became one of the most widely published books in the world. It was distributed to nearly every Chinese person and helped cement the personality cult of Mao and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s / 70s.
Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone (1997) – J.K.Rowling. One of the greatest publishing sensations of all time. This was the first book in the seven-part Harry Potter series. It has become the best selling series of books in the world, credited with revitalising interest in reading by children. It has encouraged more books from a similar genre.
A selection of famous doctors from Hippocrates to the first female doctors and pioneers in the use of new treatments.
Hippocrates (460 – 377 BC) –- Hippocrates was a great doctor of ancient Greece. Through his careful examination of patients, treatments and success rates, he was able to vastly improve his medical treatment. Hippocrates built up one of the great libraries of medical science in Kos. He is also credited with the Hippocratic oath which is still sworn today by medical practitioners.
Paracelsus (1493 – 1541) Swiss-German physician and leading health reformer. Paracelsus founded the discipline of toxicology and pioneered the use of chemicals in treating patients. He rebelled against the medical orthodoxy of the day, emphasising practical experience rather than ancient scriptures. He was also one of the first doctors to note illnesses can be psychological in nature.
Richard Lower (1631 – 1691) English physician who pioneered work on blood transfusions. He observed the circulation of blood and how it interacted with air.
William Harvey (1578 – 1657) English physician. He was the first known doctor to describe in detail the circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the brain and body by the heart.
Benjamin Rush (1745 – 1813) American physician, social reformer and ‘American Founding Father’. Rush was a professor of medical theory, and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania. He pioneered improved hygiene standards in hospitals and was the principal founder of American psychiatry. He also served as Surgeon General in the Continental army.
Edward Jenner (1749 – 1823) English physician and scientist who was the pioneer of a smallpox vaccine. Jenner’s breakthrough vaccine also enabled many other vaccines to be developed.
René Laennec (1781 – 1826) French physician. Laennec invented the stethoscope – which helped improve treatment of many chest infections. He also developed an understanding of peritonitis and cirrhosis.
Elizabeth Blackwell ( 1821 – 1910) Born in Britain, Blackwell was the first women to receive a medical degree in America and the first women to be on the UK medical register. Blackwell helped to break down social barriers, enabling women to be accepted as doctors.
Theodor Billroth (1829 – 1894) Prussian physician who pioneered abdominal surgery. He carried out the first successful gastrectomy for gastric cancer. Billroth was also an amateur musician.
Joseph Lister (1827 – 1912) English surgeon. Lister pioneered the use of antiseptic (Carbolic acid) and antiseptic surgery which dramatically improved survival rates from major surgery.
Henry Gray (1827 – 1861) an English anatomist and surgeon most notable for publishing the book Gray’s Anatomy, which offered a comprehensive identification of parts of the human body.
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836 – 1917) First female registered doctor in Britain. Also, helped found first teaching college for female doctors.
Upendranath Brahmachari (1873 – 1946) Indian scientist and a leading medical practitioner of his time. In an era before antibiotics, he pioneered the synthesis and use of Urea Stibamine, which was effective in treating (Visceral leishmaniasis an often devastating disease in rural India.
Roger Bannister (1929 – ) British athlete and doctor. Roger Bannister achieved sporting fame by becoming the first athlete to run a sub-four minute mile in Oxford, 1954 – whilst working as a doctor. Bannister said he achievements as a doctor (neurologist) were greater than his sporting records.
Carl Jung (1875 – 1961) Swiss physician, psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. Although a practising doctor, his famous works were in fields of dreams, psychology and philosophy.
Sigmund Freud (1885 – 1939) Austrian /Czech physician, leading figure in the new science of psychoanalysis. Freud made an extensive study of dreams and the sub-conscious to try and understand better human emotions.
Frederick Banting (1891 – 1941) Canadian physician and medical scientist, he was the co-inventor of insulin and pioneered its use in people with diabetes. Awarded Nobel Prize in Medicine 1923
Howard Florey (1898 – 1968) Australian doctor who played a major role in turning penicillin into a practical drug. Florey pioneered the first clinical trials at the Radcliffe Hospital Oxford. Florey’s experience led to millions of lives being saved within a short time of his clinical trials.
Benjamin Spock (1903 – 1998) American paediatrician whose book Baby and Child Care (1946) – revolutionised attitudes to bringing up children. Spock encouraged mothers to use natural instinct and less formal disciplinarian approaches.
Charles Drew (1904 – 1950) African-American physician and surgeon who helped improve techniques for the storage and transfusion of blood. He protested against the racial profiling of blood donations as he felt it had no medical basis.
Virginia Apgar (7 June 1909–7 August 1974) American obstetrical anesthesiologist. She was a leader in the fields of anesthesiology and teratology. She pioneered the Apgar test for the health of newborn babies.
Christiaan Barnard (1922 – 2001) South African cardiac surgeon who performed the world’s first successful human-to-human heart transplant.
Ian Frazer (1953 – ) Scottish-born Australian scientist who pioneered the first cancer-preventing vaccine. – The HPV vaccine against cervical cancer.
Maria Theresa (1740–1780) The only female ruler of the Habsburg Empire. Maria Theresa succeeded to the throne after the death of her father Charles VI. With great strength of will, Maria held together the disparate empire and instituted military, financial and education reforms which strengthened the international position of the Habsburg Empire.
Marie Antoinette (1755 – 1793) Born in Vienna Austria, she had an arranged marriage to the King of France (King Louis XVI) to help secure peace between the two countries. The marriage was not a great success, with Marie Antoinette often held up as a symbol of Royal decadence and profligacy, which was a factor in the French revolution. The negative portrayal was heightened by her Austrian origins. Whether fair or not, she was executed in 1793 for treason and holding principles in opposition to the French revolution.
Mozart (1756 – 1791) (Austria) Born in Salzburg, and spending much of his life in Vienna, Mozart was one of the greatest classical composers of all time. A child prodigy, Mozart began composing at the age of six, and by the time he died, aged just 35, he had completed a remarkable array of symphonies, opera, chamber music and more.
Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828) Born in Vienna, Schubert was one of the great composers of the late classical and romantic period. He composed symphonies, sacred choral work, operas and a large body of piano music.
Johann Strauss, Sr., composer (1804 – 1849) Austrian composer. He was famous for his waltzes and marches. His most famous work was the Radetsky March. The work became an unofficial anthem of Austria and was used to celebrate Austrian military victories.
Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886) Hungarian born composer and virtuoso pianist. Liszt was a prominent member of the “New German School” of musicians. Significant compositions include: Piano Sonata in B minor (1853), “Liebesträume No. 3”. He also transcribed for the piano great works by other composers, such as Schubert. Also developed new musical ideas, such as the symphonic poem.Read On…
A selection of famous rebel leaders throughout history. People who have led a rebellion against the existing power system – seeking greater freedom for themselves and their people.
Spartacus (109 BC – 71 BC) A Thracian gladiator who was a slave of the Roman Empire. With other slave leaders, he led the slave revolt in the Third Servile War – this was a major slave rebellion which saw significant defeats for the Roman army before his final defeat by Crassus. Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus’ followers on the road to Capua.
William Wallace (1273 – 1305) A Scottish landowner who became principle leader of Scottish forces in the Scottish wars of Independence. He defeated an English army at the Battle of Sterling Bridge, before his later defeat and capture. He was hung, drawn and quartered on orders of King Edward I of England
Zhu Yuanzhang (Hongwu Emperor) (1328 –1398). Born into a poor peasant family, Zhu joined the rebellion against the Mongol, Yuan dynasty. He rose through the ranks of the military to successfully lead the Han Chinese in overthrowing the Mongols and establishing the Ming dynasty.
Wat Tyler (1341-1381) Leader of the 1381 English peasants revolt. The revolt was a protest against the ‘poll tax’ – an unfair tax levied on all people regardless of income. The revolt also sought to gain greater rights for peasants. He was decapitated after marching on London to meet with the Mayor of London and King Richard II.
Jakob Rohrbach C. 1490 – 1525. One of the leaders of the German peasants in the Peasants war of 1525. He was captured and burnt alive for his part in the violent disputes.
Yemelyan Pugachev (1742 – 1775) A Russian who led the Cossack insurrection against Russia, during the rule of Catherine II. The insurrection was initially quite successful, but he was later captured and taken to Moscow where he was executed.
Crazy Horse (1840 – 1877) A Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota. He led a rebellion against the US federal government who he felt were taking territories from Native Americans and harming their way of life. He achieved a notable military victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876. He was fatally wounded in 1877 after surrendering to American forces.
Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807 – 1882) Garibaldi was a key figure in the Italian independence movement. He led Italian forces to help create a united Italy. He also led rebel movements in South America who were fighting for independence.
Bhagat Singh (1907 – 1931) Indian revolutionary who became involved in a violent opposition to British rule. His determination and courage made him a great hero of the Indian independence movement. He was executed aged 24 for his role in the killing of British officers.
Che Guevara (1928-1967) An Argentinian Marxist revolutionary who became a major symbol of Twentieth Century Marxist rebellions in Latin America and Africa. Guevara played a key role in the Cuban revolution and later travelled to the Congo in Africa and Bolivia in South America where he was caught by CIA and summarily executed.
Politicians – Politicians from across the world. Including Abraham Lincoln, Charles de Gaulle and Indira Gandhi.
Revolutionaries – People who inspired or began revolutions. Including Spartacus, Joan of Arc, George Washington, Karl Marx.
People of the American Revolution – Leading figures in the American Revolution. Includes military leaders, philosophers, British protagonists and ordinary people. List includes; George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George III and Benjamin Franklin.