The Gilded Age is a period in American society (1870-1900) with rapid economic growth but also characterised by corruption, materialism, monopoly businesses and growing inequality.
The Gilded Age was a time of unbridled capitalism, with some business leaders becoming very wealthy through the consolidation of key industries into powerful monopolies.
Cartoon by Joseph Keppler entitled ‘The Bosses of the Senate’ – suggestion US Congress effectively owned by wealthy industrial bosses.
The term ‘Gilded Age’ implies outer wealth was a mask for the inner corruption and inner poverty. ‘Gilded Age’ is a satire on the rich monopolists, who were accused of gaining wealth through monopoly practices, mistreatment of workers and corruption of the political process.
One of the defining elements of the Gilded Age was the railroad industry. Americans developed a love/hate relationship with the railroads. They transformed society enabling greater travel and economic growth, but they were also run by business magnates who wielded enormous power and could set high prices to farmers, suppliers and travellers. While the owners grew very wealthy, the industrial work was also very dangerous, with numerous accidents and relatively low pay. Read On…
The Indian independence movement encompasses the efforts to free India from British rule from the Nineteenth Century until the granting of Independence in 1947. The Independence Movement involved a range of different strategies from revolutionary acts of violence, to peaceful non-violent protests.
Leaders of the Independence movement
Gopal Krishna Gokhale 1866 – 1915 Gokhale was an early leader of the Indian National Congress. Gokhale supported social and political reform which would give India greater autonomy. He was considered a moderate – working with British institutions and opposing more direct approaches to independence. Gokhale was an important mentor to Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) The foremost political leader of the Indian independence movement. For over two decades, Gandhi led a peaceful independence movement, characterised by non-violent protests, such as boycotts and the Salt March. He commanded respect from both Hindus and Muslim, but, despite seeking a united India, was unable to avoid the partition of 1947. He was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic in 1948.
Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950) One of the key figures in the early Indian Independence movement, Aurobindo initiated early efforts at full independence and was sympathetic to armed resistance. After his retreat to a spiritual ashram, he rarely spoke on political matters apart from in 1942, where he urged Congress and Gandhi to accept the Cripps proposal to give Indian Dominion status. Sri Aurobindo became a noted philosopher, poet and Spiritual Teacher.
Ali Jinnah (1876 – 1948) Jinnah was leader of the All-India Muslim league from 1913 to 1947 and then as Pakistan’s first Governor. Initially, Jinnah advocated Hindu-Muslim unity and supported the All-India Home Rule League. But from 1940, he rejected the idea of a united India and advocated an independent Muslim state of Pakistan.
SirMuhammad Iqbal (1877 – 21 April 1938) Iqbal was an Islamic poet, philosopher and politician. As President of the All-Muslim League, Iqbal was influential in promoting the idea of separate Muslim provinces and ultimately was influential in encouraging Jinnah to embrace the idea of a separate nation of Pakistan
Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) – Nehru was an influential nationalist from the 1910s. With the backing of Gandhi, he came to lead Congress, moving the party to the left and seeking a united independent India. After Congress was politically diminished after the British crackdown on the ‘Quit India’ movement of 1942, Congress was unable to prevent the partition of India. Nehru became the first Prime Minister of India.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945) Indian nationalist leader. Netaji raised a united Indian army (INA) of all religious faiths in an attempt to gain independence for India through military means.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856 – 1920) Prominent early leader of the Indian nationalist cause. Tilak was an early proponent of Swaraj and was imprisoned for sedition. Despite his radical stance, Gandhi saw Tilak as one of his political mentors.
Bipin Chandra Pal (1858–1932) One of the early Indian nationalist leaders, who like Lala Rai and Tilak, proposed direct action to secure Indian freedom.
Lala Lajpat Rai (1865 – 1928) Punjabi author and politician, Lal was a leader of the Indian independence movement. Lal died after sustaining injuries in a protest against British rule. This led to major demonstrations across India.
Chitta Ranjan Das (1870-1925) Lawyer and politician – Das represented Sri Aurobindo at the Alipore bomb trial and founded the Bengali Swaraj ‘Independence’ Party in Bengal.
Surya Sen (1894 – 1934) Surya Sen was an Indian revolutionary who was elected President of the Chittagong Indian National Congress. In 1930, he led a group of revolutionaries in the Chittagong Armoury raid, and three years later was captured and executed.
Bhagat Singh (1907 – 1931) Singh was a leader of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). Born a Sikh he became influenced by Marxist and Anarchist philosophies and was committed to gaining independence for India, through violence if necessary. He was executed in 1931 for his part in killing a British officer.
Women in the Independence movement
Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) Influential Indian author and poet. Also Indian independence activist and poet.
Sister Nivedita (1867 – 1911) Born in Ireland, Sister Nivedita moved to India after meeting Swami Vivekananda in London, 1895. In India, she was involved in social work and the cause of Indian independence.
Annie Besant (1847 – 1933) Besant came to India because of her interest in Theosophy. She also campaigned for Indian independence and for a year was the leader of the fledgeling Indian National Congress in 1917.
Matangini Hazra (1870 – 1942) Hazra popularly known as “Gandhi Buri” was an Indian protester shot dead by the British Indian police in 1942. Hazra played a long role in the Indian independence movement. In 1942 the Quit India movement sought to take a police station in Midnapore district when she was shot carrying an Indian flag.
People of the Indian Renaissance
Raja Rammohun Roy (1772 – 1833) Considered the father of the Indian Renaissance for his attempts to promote reform and also protect Indian rights. He helped to found the influential Brahmo Samaj which was a reforming Hindu organisation dedicated to both modernisations and also promoting Hindu values.
Sri Ramakrishna (1836 – 1886) An illiterate mystic. Ramakrishna inspired many influential people in both India and the West. His spiritual sadhana offered a synthesis of all the main religious and spiritual strands.
Sri Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858 – 1937) Bengali polymath. Bose took an interest in a wide range of sciences. He made contributions to plant physiology, microwave optics and radio waves. Bose was part of the Indian scientific renaissance.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) The Seer-Poet of modern India. Tagore was the first Indian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Tagore was influential in creating a new genre of songs and wrote the national anthem adopted by both India and later Bangladesh.
Swami Vivekananda (1863 – 1902 ) – Vivekananda played an important role in revitalising pride in India and Hinduism as a source of universal tolerance. Many leaders acknowledged their debt to Vivekananda for his inspiration, dynamism and motivation to uplift India – both materially and spiritually.
Dwijendra Lal Roy (1863 – 1913) – Bengali poet and playwright. Wrote over 500 Bengali songs. Influential Indian nationalist, who opposed the partition of Bengal, and helped to raise the political awareness of Bengal.
Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899 – 1976) Bengali poet, writer, musician and revolutionary. Islam was a committed revolutionary often jailed for his protests against British rule. Also, a noted composer and considered National Poet of Bangladesh.
Founding Fathers of India
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (1838 – 1894) Bengali poet, author and journalist. Bankim composed Vande Mataram – which became the national song of India and played a pivotal role in the Indian nationalist movement.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875 – 1950) Indian barrister and politician. Patel was a leading figure in the leadership of the Indian Congress and played a leading role in the Independence struggle. He was deputy Prime Minister 1947-50 and is considered one of India’s founding fathers for helping to integrate the Indian states after independence.
Dr S. Radhakrishnan (1888 – 1975) Radhakrishnan was the foremost philosopher of modern Indian thought. He defended Hinduism and sought to make it relevant to the modern age. 2nd President of India.
Dr B.R. Ambedkar (1891 – 1956) – Political activist and social reformer who campaigned for greater equality for ‘untouchable castes’ and women. Ambedkar played a key role in drafting the Indian constitution.
President R Venkataraman (1910 – 2009) Indian lawyer, Indian independence activist and Eighth President of India.
Famous Indians – A list of Indian men and women throughout the ages. Categories include politicians, scientists, sports people, spiritual figures and cultural figures. Includes Mahatma Gandhi, Akbar, Swami Vivekananda and Indira Gandhi.
Famous Revolutionaries – People who inspired or began revolutions. Including Spartacus, Joan of Arc, George Washington, Karl Marx.
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.
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.
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.
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