William Wilberforce (1759-1833) was an English politician and social reformer, most famous for his leading role in the campaign to end the slave trade, and slavery, within the British Empire.Elected to Parliament in 1784, he became an evangelical Christian in 1785, which prompted a dramatic change in his lifestyle, and a lifelong devotion to social reform.Although most well-known for his work on the abolition of the slave trade, he was also interested in factory reform, prison reform, children’s welfare and was involved in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. [Read More…]
Marc Chagall (1887-1985) was a Russian-born French painter, printmaker and designer. He worked in virtually every medium, including painting, stage sets, ceramics, tapestries and stained glass.
He was influenced by various modern artistic styles throughout his career, including Cubism and Surrealism, but rejected them in his commitment to figurative and narrative art.
A prolific, and long-lived, artist, Chagall left behind him thousands of works in different media, and using different techniques. He is one of the few living artists who have had an exhibition of their works held in the Louvre museum. He continued working right up until his death at the age of 97. [Read More…]
Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) was an American Democratic politician who served three terms as the 52nd Governor of New York (1983-94). His son, Andrew, became the 56th Governor of New York in 2011.
Known for his liberal views, especially his opposition to the death penalty, he came to national prominence following the reception of his keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in which he criticized Ronald Reagan’s policies.
Often mentioned as a potential Democratic presidential candidate, his reluctance to run led to him being dubbed “Hamlet on the Hudson”. [Read More…]
Luis Bunuel (1900-83) was an award-winning Spanish director and filmmaker often associated with the Surrealist movement. His film making career spanned almost fifty years. He worked mainly in Spain, Mexico and France.
Among his most well-known films are The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and That Obscure Object of Desire.
In his eighties he wrote his autobiography, My Last Sigh (Amazon link), which provides an account of his life, of his eccentric personality, and of his encounters with such people as Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Charlie Chaplin. It also includes his instructions for making the perfect martini. [Read More…]
Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007) was an Academy Award-winning Swedish film director, writer and producer whose work has influenced many other filmmakers. Amongst his greatest films are The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries and Fanny and Alexander.
In his career he made over sixty films for cinema and television, writing most of them himself. He also worked in the theatre, directing more than 170 plays.
He was noted for his distinctive camera work and narrative style. His work can be a little bleak, and dealt with such issues as death and illness, faith and betrayal, and human loneliness. [Read More…]
Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) was an Academy Award-winning American film actor. The American Film Institute ranks him as the greatest male American screen legend of all time. His performances in such films as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon helped turn him into a cultural icon. He appeared in more than 70 films.
He was married several times, most famously to the love of his life Lauren Bacall, who he met during the filming of To Have and Have Not.
He was diagnosed with cancer at the prime of his career, and died in 1957, just 57 years old. [Read More…]
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) was a Canadian-born American economist, public servant, diplomat and author. He was a leading proponent of American liberalism.
He was an advisor to John F Kennedy, and served as US ambassador to India (1961-3), after which he returned to academic life.
Galbraith was one of the most widely read economists of his time. He made his name with the wider public with the publication of The Affluent Society in 1958. His popularity as an author can largely be attributed to his clear and concise style, which helped to make the usually dry and technical subject of economics accessible to the general reader. [Read More…]
Garrison Keillor (b.1942), is an award-winning American author, humorist, poet and radio personality. He is best known as the host of the public radio show A Prairie Home Companion, and for his stories about the fictional town of Lake Wobegon. He is the author of many magazine articles and stories, and of more than a dozen books for adults and children. Keillor wrote and appeared in the 2006 movie A Prairie Home Companion, directed by Robert Altman.With his distinctive voice, he has often been used as a voiceover actor. [Read More…]
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) was an American short-story writer, poet, critic and satirist best known for her rapier-like wit and wisecracks.
Along with Robert Benchley and Robert Sherwood she was a founder member of the Algonquin Round Table. She moved to Hollywood in 1933 where her successes as a screenwriter included two Academy Award nominations. Her leftwing sympathies led to her being placed on the Hollywood blacklist during the McCarthy era.
She died in the New York hotel that had become her home. A supporter of civil rights, she left her estate to Martin Luther King, Jr. After his assassination it was turned over to the NAACP, a move which her executor, Lillian Hellman, unsuccessfully contested. [Read More…]