On this day in history : 16th November 1928 – Marguerite Radclyffe Hall, English author and poet, attends trial at Bow Street Court – at which her book ‘The Well of Loneliness’ is banned for obscenity….
The book is the only one of Hall’s eight novels to have a lesbian theme – Hall was a lesbian herself…. The book was not sexually explicit – a kiss on the lips was as racy as it got – but it covered an extremely taboo subject at the time…. Those in high places (and that included the Government) decided they did not like the ‘unnatural offences’ portrayed in the book….and so took the measures to prosecute…. They gathered ‘evidence’ from senior doctors to determine that ‘The Well of Loneliness’ would encourage female homosexuality….
On the day of the trial the court room was crowded…. Magistrate Sir Chartres Biron ruled the book to be obscene and that all copies were to be destroyed…. On leaving court, Hall was heard saying to friends “Believe me, the end is only the beginning”….
‘The Well of Loneliness’ was finally released in 1949 – six years after the death in October 1943 of Marguerite Radclyffe Hall – and has been by far her most successful novel….
On this day in history : 15th November 1977 – Princess Anne gives birth to a son….the first royal baby in more than 500 years to be born a commoner….
Master Peter Mark Andrew Phillips arrived in the World at 10.46 am in St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington – less than 6 hours after Princess Anne was driven there by her husband, Captain Mark Phillips…. Their new son weighed a healthy 7lb, 9oz – and a 41-gun salute was fired from the Tower of London to celebrate and welcome the new royal baby….
In 1981 Zara was born, a sister for Peter…. Although Princess Anne is the Queen’s daughter she has no hereditary title – meaning Peter and Zara are the Queen’s only untitled grandchildren…. Reputedly Princess Anne and Capt. Mark Phillips declined an offer of a title from the Queen – which would have meant their children would receive a peerage….
Princess Anne and Capt. Mark Phillips divorced in 1992…. Princess Anne married Commander Timothy Laurence later the same year…. Mark Phillips remarried in 1997 and had another child, a daughter – his third, as he had also fathered one other whilst married to Princess Anne….
On this day in history : 14th November 1952 – Britain’s first music chart is published in the New Musical Express; the No.1 position is taken by American crooner Al Martino….
“Here in my heart” by Martino stayed at No.1 for nine consecutive weeks….
The United States had been compiling a weekly chart based on record sales since 1940 – but Britain still measured a song’s popularity by sales of sheet music….
One of the founders of the NME, Percy Dickinson, decided to compile a list of the week’s best-selling singles…. He did so by telephoning twenty different record stores around the country each week – to determine the top 12 singles the British public were buying….
On this day in history : 13th November 1964 – The Royal Shakespeare Company performs Hamlet in Rome, to an audience which includes the Pope – who almost causes a diplomatic embarrassment….
The RSC owns a copy of the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays…. Printed in 1623 only 233 copies remain, many of which are incomplete…. It is one of the most valuable books in the World…. The RSC’s edition was carefully packaged and the Company carried it with them to Rome for Pope Paul VI to bless at the end of a performance of Hamlet – which was being held at the Palazzo Pio to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth….
The book was presented to the Pope and he looked through some of the pages….before graciously accepting the ‘gift’ for the Vatican Library…. Without a doubt some diplomacy and tact had to be rapidly deployed…. The 400 year old copy of the Bard’s work is now kept safely at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon….
On this day in history : 12th November 1933 – The first known photograph of the ‘so-called’ Loch Ness Monster is taken by Hugh Gray….
According to Gray, he had been walking along the shore of Loch Ness after attending Church – when he spotted “an object of considerable dimensions, making a big splash with spray on the surface of the Loch”…. Fortunately he just happened to have a camera with him – and although the picture is blurred it does indeed resemble a large ‘monster type’ object….but when examined closely the shape of a dog’s head can be seen…. As Gray had a Labrador, which he often took walking with him, it is suspected the image is in fact of his dog fetching a stick from the water…. However, at the time the picture caused much excitement amongst those who believed in Nessie….
In December 1933 the Daily Mail hired a well known big-game hunter by the name of Marmaduke Whetherell, to find the monster…. He was soon to return to them with evidence he had found….a series of giant footprints leading from the Loch’s shore into the water…. He believed they had been made by a soft-footed creature at least 20 feet long…. However, zoologists at the Natural History Museum identified the footprints as have being made by a dried hippopotamus foot…. At the time it was commonplace for household items, such as umbrella stands, to be made from them – so it would not have been hard to obtain such an object…. It was concluded that the prints were a hoax – it was never determined if Whetherell was involved or if he just happened to be the one to find them – but he felt humiliated and embarrassed by the Daily Mail and retreated from public life….
In 1934 another photograph was taken which caused much excitement at the time…. Known as ‘The Surgeon’s Photograph’, it was taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson and published by the Daily Mail on the 21st of April 1934…. Wilson refused to have his name associated with the picture – but as he was a London gynaecologist this is how it became known a the Surgeon’s Photograph…. Wilson claimed he had been looking out across the Loch when the creature rose from the water – he grabbed his camera and took four shots…. Only two came out when developed and one was too blurred to be of much use…. Being a respected surgeon Wilson’s story was taken very seriously…. After the Daily Mail published the image hundreds, if not thousands of people flocked to Loch Ness to see if they could get a glimpse of Nessie…. There was much speculation that it was a plesiosaur- a dinosaur that had been extinct for millions of years….
In 1994, sixty years after the photograph was taken, Marmaduke Whetherell’s stepson, Christopher Spurling, admitted it was a hoax and revealed his own part in it…. His stepfather, harbouring a grudge, wanted to get his own back…. He enlisted the help of Christopher, a model-maker by trade, by getting him to model a monster’s head and neck from plastic and wood – which was then fixed to a toy submarine…. How convenient a London surgeon happened to be on the shore of the Loch with a camera at the time….