What If? 31 Creative Writing Prompts for March

Monday, 27 February 2017

Here’s this month’s selection of What Ifs to help stimulate your writer’s brain. Let’s see what can you do with these! Some are deliberately vague or ambiguous so you can interpret them in different ways.

There’s one for each day of the month. If you need more, you might like our book
The Fastest Way to Get Ideas – 4,400 Essential What Ifs for Writers.

dave_small** NEW for 2017 ** We’ll be discussing these What Ifs in our Facebook group each day!
We’ll post each day’s What If in the group first thing in the morning (UK time) and we’ll post our thoughts (i.e. Dave’s thoughts) in the early evening, including how we think you could best turn it a story. We hope you’ll join in too – just leave a comment under that day’s entry.
Our Facebook group is open to everyone. Just go to the group and click on the Join button.

The What Ifs for January and February, including Dave’s thoughts about them, are already in the group. Here are the ones we’ll be discussing during March:

1. you saw your name spelled out in the sky?

2. you had the magic touch?

3. you didn’t have any favourites?

4. you could only taste one flavour?

5. ghosts definitely existed and lived among us?

6. everyone owned at least one bomb?

7. you could only see the colour blue?

8. you owned your own museum?

9. you woke up to find you had a tattoo on your face?

10. your experience was not the same as everyone else’s?

11. your mileage varied?

12. you signed a petition but it had unforeseen consequences?

13. your local undertaker was a notorious crook?

14. you stuck rigidly to your principles?

15. your teaching methods were ridiculed?

16. your grandfather took you to a secret shed and revealed something astonishing to you? (He may be dead, which makes the story more interesting!)

17. you were regarded as an easy target?

18. you were determined to make the list of the top ten most famous people of this century?

19. you witnessed a crime that didn’t happen?

20. you advertised a service you had no ability to do?

21. humans had nine lives?

22. all advertising was banned?

23. you could only write well when you were in pain?

24. you knocked a cyclist off his bike but didn’t hang around to see if he was okay?

25. you were given a second chance?

26. people started dying and the only connection was that they had been reading one of your books when it happened?

27. your home was haunted by a ghost that could see into the future?

28. your child kept inventing things?

29. you felt compelled to investigate an unsolved crime – and then discovered that you had committed it?

30. you could have prevented or avoided the problem but you let it happen anyway?

31. you made more money from failing at things than you did from succeeding?

If you’d like to send in a What If for us to discuss in the Facebook group please email it to: mail@ideas4writers.co.uk or leave a comment in the group.

If you’ve come up with a really great What If that you’re planning to use in a story and you’d like our thoughts on it, but without anyone else seeing it, we can do that too! (There’s a small charge to cover our time – and a 50% discount for lifetime members – see below.) Email us at the address above for more details.

Become a lifetime member of ideas4writers
and get all 40+ of our ebooks for just £49.95

(Other currencies also accepted)

Price if purchased individually: £214.56
Save: £164.61

Click here to find out more or email us to ask a question

ideas4writers: inspiring you since 2002

Next Year’s News: 50 Newsworthy Anniversaries in August 2017 for you to write about

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Here are 50 newsworthy anniversaries coming up in August 2017 for you to write about (and make money from). The anniversaries are listed 6 months in advance to give you enough time to find markets, and research and write your articles.

We have painstakingly cross-checked every entry, but you are advised to check all facts again as part of your research. Please let us know of any errors you find.


The Date-A-Base Book 2017The listing below is a small sample of the entries for August from The Date-A-Base Book 2017
There are 303 anniversaries for August in the book (more than six times more than listed here). The book covers the whole of 2017 from January to December and features more than 4,000 anniversaries in total.

If you need to work further ahead, Next Year’s News 2018 (the new name for the Date-A-Base Book series) is also available!

Just one published article should cover the cost of your copy many times over – and the book also explains how to get your anniversary articles and features published in newspapers and magazines, on radio and TV, and on paid sites online.

300 years ago (22 Aug – 30 Oct 1717)
The Spanish conquest of Sardinia. This led to the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-20).

150 years ago (3 Aug 1867)
Birth of Stanley Baldwin, British Prime Minister (1923-24, 1924-29, 1935-37). He led the government during the 1926 General Strike, the 1935 Ethiopian crisis and the 1936 abdication crisis. He is the only British Prime Minister to have served under 3 monarchs.

150 years ago (14 Aug 1867)
Birth of John Galsworthy, British novelist and playwright. Best known for The Forsyte Saga. Winner of the 1932 Nobel Prize for Literature.

150 years ago (25 Aug 1867)
Death of Michael Faraday, British physicist and chemist. Noted for his many contributions to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry, especially electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.

150 years ago (31 Aug 1867)
Death of Charles Baudelaire, important French poet, essayist, literary and art critic, and translator of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Best known for his poetry collection Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil).

125 years ago (4 Aug 1892)
The father and step-mother of Lizzie Borden were found murdered at their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, USA. Lizzie was accused of killing them with an axe, but was later acquitted. Police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the crime, and Lizzie was ostracised for the rest of her life. It was one of the most sensational murder cases of that period, and speculation continues to this day. The story has been recounted in numerous books, films, TV shows, plays, songs, and a popular skipping rhyme.

125 years ago (24 Aug 1892)
Goodison Park opened in Liverpool, UK. It was one of the world’s first purpose-built football (soccer) stadiums, and is the home of Everton FC.

100 years ago (6 Aug 1917)
Birth of Robert Mitchum, American film actor. Best known for his roles as a gritty anti-hero.

100 years ago (18 Aug 1917)
Great Thessaloniki Fire, Greece. Two-thirds of Greece’s second-largest city was destroyed by fire. 72,000 people were left homeless. (Cause: a spark from an unattended kitchen fire ignited a pile of straw. The resulting fire swept through the city, fanned by strong wind.)

100 years ago (18 Aug 1917)
Birth of Caspar Weinberger, U.S. Secretary of Defense (1981-87) and businessman. He resigned over his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal, but was pardoned shortly before his trial was due to begin. He later became chairman of Forbes magazine.

100 years ago (22 Aug 1917)
Birth of John Lee Hooker, American blues singer, songwriter and guitarist.

80 years ago (2 Aug 1937)
The Marijuana Tax Act was passed in the USA. It was a significant step towards the criminalisation of cannabis. (It came into effect on 1st October. It was repealed and replaced by the Controlled Substances Act in 1970.)

80 years ago (13 Aug – 26 Nov 1937)
Second Sino-Japanese War – the Battle of Shanghai (China). Japanese victory. One of the largest and bloodiest battles of the war.

80 years ago (28 Aug 1937)
The Toyota Motor Corporation was founded as an independent company in Japan. (It began in 1933 as part of the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works.)

75 years ago (1 Aug 1942)
Birth of Jerry Garcia, American rock singer, guitarist and songwriter (Grateful Dead). (Died 1995.)

75 years ago (7 Aug 1942 – 9 Feb 1943)
World War II – the Battle of Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands). The Allies’ first major offensive in the Pacific. Strategic Allied victory.

75 years ago (9 Aug 1942)
Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement after being arrested by British forces in Bombay.

75 years ago (11 Aug 1942)
Austrian-born American actress Hedy Lamarr and American composer George Antheil were granted a U.S. patent for their frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system. They developed the system as part of the U.S. war effort – it prevented radio-controlled torpedoes from being jammed by the enemy. The system was later adopted as the basis for wireless phones and Wi-Fi computer networking.

75 years ago (12 Aug 1942)
World War II – the Second Moscow Conference. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and U.S. envoy W. Averell Harriman to discuss war strategy, plan the North Africa Campaign, and discuss opening a new front in northern France.

75 years ago (13 Aug 1942)
The première of Walt Disney’s animated feature film Bambi. (Released 21st August. UK première: 8th August.)

75 years ago (17 Aug 1942)
World War II: the first US-only bombing raid in Europe. The U.S. Eighth Air Force attacked marshalling yards at Rouen/Sotteville in Normandy, France. Sam Junkin became the first U.S. pilot to shoot down a German fighter plane.

75 years ago (23 Aug 1942 – 2 Feb 1943)
World War II – the Battle of Stalingrad (Soviet Union). The turning point in the war in Europe. Regarded as the largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare, and one that the Germans never recovered from. Decisive Soviet victory.

70 years ago (7 Aug 1947)
Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl’s raft Kon-Tiki reached Raroia, Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia after a 101-day journey across the Pacific from South America. This demonstrated that people from pre-Columbian South America could have made the journey and settled there.

70 years ago (14 Aug 1947)
Pakistan gained its independence from the UK. Muhammad Ali Jinnah was its first Governor-General. (Pakistan and India both officially became independent at midnight on 15th August, but Pakistan held its independence ceremony 30 minutes early, on 14th, and now celebrates 14th August as its independence day.)

70 years ago (15 Aug 1947)
India gained its independence from the UK.

65 years ago (15 Aug 1952)
Lynmouth flood, Devon, UK. 34 people were killed and buildings and bridges devastated as a flood swept through the village.

60 years ago (5 Aug 1957)
The first episode of the dance show American Bandstand was broadcast on ABC TV in the USA. (It began as a local TV show called Bandstand in Philadelphia in 1952.)

60 years ago (31 Aug 1957)
The Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gained its independence from the UK.

50 years ago (8 Aug 1967)
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was founded.

50 years ago (9 Aug 1967)
Death of Joe Orton, British playwright. Known for his outrageous farces and black comedies. Best known for Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Loot and What the Butler Saw. (Murder-suicide by his lover.)

50 years ago (14 Aug 1967)
The Marine, Etc. Broadcasting Offences Act came into effect in the UK. It banned radio and television broadcasts being made into Britain from outside its territory, including airspace and bodies of water. It effectively made offshore pirate radio stations illegal, as well as outlawing pirate TV stations and aircraft-based broadcasts that were being planned.

50 years ago (15 Aug 1967)
Death of René Magritte, Belgian Surrealist artist.

50 years ago (27 Aug 1967)
Death of Brian Epstein, British music entrepreneur. Best known as the manager of the Beatles. (Accidental overdose of sleeping pills.)

40 years ago (15 Aug 1977)
The ‘Wow! Signal’ was detected by American astronomer Jerry R. Ehman while he was working on a SETI project using the Big Ear radio telescope at Ohio State University. The 72-second strong narrowband signal appeared to come from the M55 globular cluster in the constellation Sagittarius, but it has not been detected since.

40 years ago (16 Aug 1977)
Death of Elvis Presley, (‘The King’), iconic American rock and roll singer, guitarist and actor.

40 years ago (20 Aug 1977)
NASA launched its Voyager 2 spacecraft on a mission to study the outer solar system and (eventually) interstellar space. It is the only spacecraft to have visited Uranus and Neptune. (It also visited Jupiter and Saturn.) It remains operational and in communication with Earth. Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 carry a gold-plated audio-visual disc featuring photos and sounds from Earth as well as scientific information.

40 years ago (23 Aug 1977)
The first VHS video recorder was released in the USA – the RCA VBT200. (The first VHS video recorder in the UK was the Victor HR-3300, released in 1978 by JVC. That model had been on sale in Japan since October 1976.)

30 years ago (1 Aug 1987)
The entertainment television network MTV Europe was launched. The first music video it played was Money for Nothing by Dire Straits.

30 years ago (15 Aug 1987)
Corporal punishment was banned in British state schools.

30 years ago (19 Aug 1987)
Hungerford Massacre, Berkshire, UK. Michael Ryan went on a shooting rampage around the town, killing 16 people (including his mother) before committing suicide.

25 years ago (12 Aug 1992)
Death of John Cage, American avant-garde composer.

25 years ago (20 Aug 1992)
Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper published compromising photographs of the Duchess of York (Sarah Ferguson) on holiday in France with her ‘financial adviser’ John Bryan, who could be seen sucking her toes while she was topless.

25 years ago (24 Aug 1992)
Hurricane Andrew hit Florida, USA, causing a record $26.5 billion (£17 billion) worth of damage (surpassed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005). The Bahamas and Louisiana were also hit. 65 people were killed.

25 years ago (30 Aug 1992)
Astronomers David Jewitt and Jane Luu discovered the first Kuiper belt object after 5 years of searching. (The Kuiper belt is a region of the solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune and includes the dwarf planet Pluto. More than 100,000 Kuiper belt objects with a diameter larger than 62 miles (100 km) are believed to exist. Over 1,000 have been discovered so far.)

25 years ago (30 Aug 1992)
German racing driver Michael Schumacher won the Belgian Grand Prix – the first of his record 91 Formula One wins.

20 years ago (13 Aug 1997)
The first episode of the adult animated comedy series South Park was broadcast on Comedy Central in the USA.

20 years ago (26 Aug 1997)
The first DVD-Video discs went on sale in the USA.

20 years ago (29 Aug 1997)
Netflix began operating as an online DVD rental service. It switched to a subscription-based service in 1999 and later added unlimited video streaming and original programming.

20 years ago (31 Aug 1997)
Death of Diana, Princess of Wales, her companion Dodi Fayed, and their driver, in a car crash in the Place de l’Alma underpass in Paris, France.

15 years ago (4 Aug 2002)
Soham murders, Cambridgeshire, UK. 10-year-old schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells went missing. (Their bodies were found in a ditch in Suffolk 2 weeks later. School caretaker Ian Huntley and his girlfriend Maxine Carr were arrested and convicted.)


Become a lifetime member of ideas4writers
and get ALL 40 of our ebooks
(including The Date-A-Base Book 2017 and
Next Year’s News 2018) for just £49.95!

(or the equivalent in your local currency)

Price if purchased individually: £214.56
Save: £164.61

Click here to find out more or email us to ask a question

ideas4writers: inspiring you since 2002

What If? 28 Creative Writing Prompts for February

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Here’s this month’s selection of What Ifs to help stimulate your writer’s brain. Let’s see what can you do with these! Some are deliberately vague or ambiguous so you can interpret them in different ways.

There’s one for each day of the month. If you need more, you might like our book
The Fastest Way to Get Ideas – 4,400 Essential What Ifs for Writers.

dave_small** NEW for 2017 ** We’ll be discussing these What Ifs in our Facebook group each day!
We’ll post each day’s What If in the group first thing in the morning (UK time) and we’ll post our thoughts (i.e. Dave’s thoughts) in the early evening, including how we think you could best turn it a story. We hope you’ll join in too – just leave a comment under that day’s entry.
Our Facebook group is open to everyone. Just go to the group and click on the Join button.

The What Ifs for January, including Dave’s thoughts about them, are already in the group. Here are the ones we’ll be discussing during February:

1. What if people of different religions were never allowed to mix?

2. What if people of different races were never allowed to mix?

3. What if gravity weakened… and then stopped?

4. What if you spent your whole life balanced on a ball?

5. What if you spent your whole life on stilts?

6. What if you were an island?

7. What if you were the black sheep of your family?

8. What if something you thought was inanimate was trying to kill you?

9. What if a typo had far-reaching consequences?

10. What if birds talked like humans?

11. What if schools were abolished?

12. What if you wanted to be alone but your family, friends or colleagues wouldn’t let you?

13. What if your version of the truth was different from other people’s?

14. What if rocks were alive?

15. What if you spent the day coming up with new words?

16. What if taxes were higher than wages?

17. What if you ignored the signs?

18. What if everyone was free?

19. What if you won the jackpot on the lottery even though you hadn’t bought a ticket?

20. What if everyone could see auras?

21. What if whenever anyone died we threw them on the fire and a living baby came out of the flames to take their place?

22. What if your dog trained you to do tricks?

23. What if the medicine you were taking to make you better was actually making you sicker?

24. What if you were out of time?

25. What if you took revenge in subtle ways?

26. What if you were not from Earth?

27. What if the legal system was so simple that anyone could understand it?

28. What if you always knew where everything was?

If you’d like to send in a What If for us to discuss in the Facebook group please email it to: mail@ideas4writers.co.uk or leave a comment in the group.

If you’ve come up with a really great What If that you’re planning to use in a story and you’d like our thoughts on it, but without anyone else seeing it, we can do that too. (There’s a small charge to cover our time – and a discount for lifetime members – see below.) Email us at the address above for more details.

Become a lifetime member of ideas4writers
and get all 40+ of our ebooks for just £49.95

(Other currencies also accepted)

Price if purchased individually: £214.56
Save: £164.61

Click here to find out more or email us to ask a question

ideas4writers: inspiring you since 2002

Next Year’s News: 50 Newsworthy Anniversaries in July 2017 for you to write about

Monday, 16 January 2017

Here are 50 newsworthy anniversaries coming up in July 2017 for you to write about (and make money from). The anniversaries are listed 6 months in advance to give you enough time to find markets, and research and write your articles.

We have painstakingly cross-checked every entry, but you are advised to check all facts again as part of your research. Please let us know of any errors you find.


The Date-A-Base Book 2017The listing below is a small sample of the entries for July from The Date-A-Base Book 2017
There are 306 anniversaries for July in the book (more than six times more than listed here). The book covers the whole of 2017 from January to December and features more than 4,000 anniversaries in total.

If you need to work further ahead, Next Year’s News 2018 (the new name for the Date-A-Base Book series) is also available!

Just one published article should cover the cost of your copy many times over – and the book also explains how to get your anniversary articles and features published in newspapers and magazines, on radio and TV, and on paid sites online.

300 years ago (17 Jul 1717)
Handel’s Water Music was performed for the first time, on a barge on the River Thames in London. King George I sailed in the royal barge to hear the music, and was accompanied by many Londoners in their own boats.

250 years ago (11 Jul 1767)
Birth of John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States (1825-–29).

200 years ago (12 Jul 1817)
Birth of Henry David Thoreau, American essayist, poet, philosopher and advocate of civil liberties. A leading transcendentalist. Best known for his book Walden (a record of his experiment in simple living) and for his essay Civil Disobedience.

200 years ago (18 Jul 1817)
Death of Jane Austen, British romantic novelist. One of the most widely read writers in English literature. She helped set the character of the modern novel. Her books include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

150 years ago (1 Jul 1867)
The Dominion of Canada was established when the British North America Act (also known as Constitution Act of 1867) came into effect. It was comprised of 4 provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. (The event is now celebrated annually in Canada as Canada Day.)

150 years ago (5 Jul 1867)
Birth of A. E. Douglass, American astronomer and archaeologist. Founder of the field of dendrochronology (dating past events by analysing the ring growth patterns in trees). He also discovered a correlation between the sunspot cycle and tree rings.

150 years ago (24 Jul 1867)
Birth of E. F. Benson, British novelist, short story writer, biographer and memoirist. Best known for his novels featuring the characters Mapp and Lucia.

150 years ago (26 Jul 1867)
Death of Otto, first King of modern Greece (1832–-62).

150 years ago (31 Jul 1867)
Birth of S. S. Kresge, American merchant who founded a chain of discount stores which later became Kmart.

125 years ago (18 Jul 1892)
Death of Thomas Cook, pioneering British travel agent. Founder of Thomas Cook & Son. Regarded as the inventor of modern tourism.

100 years ago (7 Jul 1917)
World War I: the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was founded in the UK. For the first time, women were able to enlist in the Army and serve alongside their male counterparts in France (in non-combat roles).

100 years ago (16 – 20 Jul 1917)
Russian Revolution – the July Days demonstrations, Petrograd. The Russian military attacked peaceful demonstrations by soldiers and industrial workers who were protesting against the Russian Provisional Government. Provisional Prime Minister Georgy Lvov resigned on 21st July and was succeeded by Alexander Kerensky (until 7th November when he was also overthrown in the October Revolution).

100 years ago (17 Jul 1917)
World War I: King George V changed the name of the British royal family from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor (due to the anti-German sentiment in Britain ).

100 years ago (20 Jul 1917)
World War I: the first military draft lottery was held in the USA to select the order in which men would be called for service in WWI. 1,374,000 men were selected for examination, of whom 687,000 were called for immediate service. A further 10 million men were listed for future service.

100 years ago (24 Jul 1917)
World War I: Dutch-born exotic dancer Mata Hari went on trial in France, accused of spying for Germany. She was convicted and sentenced to death. (Executed: 15th October 1917.)

100 years ago (27 Jul 1917)
Death of Emil Theodor Kocher, pioneering Swiss surgeon. Winner of the 1909 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his work on the thyroid gland. He also made several other important contributions to surgery, promoted aseptic surgery and scientific methods, reduced mortality from surgery, and invented new techniques, instruments and appliances.

100 years ago (31 Jul – 10 Nov 1917)
World War I – the Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres), Belgium. One of the greatest disasters of the war for both sides. Casualty figures were enormous, but the Allies were better able to bear the heavy losses as the war continued.

80 years ago (5 Jul 1937)
SPAM luncheon meat was launched by Hormel Foods in Austin, Minnesota, USA.

80 years ago (7 – 9 Jul 1937)
The Second Sino-Japanese War began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (the Battle of Lugou Bridge). Japanese troops made an assault on an important access point to the city of Beijing, China. This developed into a full-scale war, and then into the Pacific theatre of war during WWII, which continued until 1945.

75 years ago (1 – 27 Jul 1942)
World War II – the First Battle of El Alamein, Egypt. The Allies prevented the Germans and Italians from advancing into Egypt.

75 years ago (4 Jul 1942)
World War II: the Siege of Sevastopol ended. Axis forces captured the Crimean port city which they had first attacked in October 1941.

75 years ago (6 Jul 1942)
Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in a secret annex at her father’s workplace in Amsterdam.

75 years ago (10 Jul 1942)
Birth of Ronnie James Dio, American heavy metal singer and songwriter (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio). Known for his powerful, soaring voice and theatrical stage persona. He also popularised the ‘devil horns’ hand gesture. (Died 2010.)

75 years ago (17 Jul 1942 – Feb 1943)
World War II – the Battle of Stalingrad. Soviet victory.

75 years ago (23 Jul 1942)
Holocaust: the Treblinka extermination camp in Poland began operating. (By October 1943 around 850,000 people had been killed there by gassing.)

75 years ago (31 Jul 1942)
The charity Oxfam was founded in the UK (as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief).

70 years ago (2 Jul 1947)
The Roswell Incident, New Mexico, USA. A UFO apparently crash-landed on a ranch, and debris with strange markings and unusual properties was found. The U.S. Air Force claimed it was just a weather balloon. Some witnesses reported seeing the bodies of aliens, which the Air Force later said were mannequins.

70 years ago (9 Jul 1947)
Florence Blanchfield was appointed a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, becoming the first woman in the USA to hold permanent military rank.

70 years ago (11 Jul 1947)
Exodus 1947. The ship SS Exodus carrying illegal Jewish emigrants from France set sail for the British Mandate of Palestine. Many of the passengers were Holocaust survivors. On arrival, the British packed them into 3 ships and deported them (on 19th July) back to France. On reaching Marseilles (on 2nd August), they refused to leave the ships and were taken to Germany where they were held in poor conditions in refugee camps. The event was widely covered in the media and caused Britain significant embarrassment. (About half the emigrants ended up in detainment camps in Cyprus when they tried to make the journey again. Britain recognised Israel in January 1949 and the detainees were transferred there.)

70 years ago (26 Jul 1947)
U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act into law. It led to the creation of the Department of Defense, the National Military Establishment, the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and separated the Army Air Forces into its own service – the Department of the Air Force. (Effective from 18th September 1947.)

60 years ago (6 Jul 1957)
American tennis player Althea Gibson became the first black player to win a Wimbledon singles title.

60 years ago (6 Jul 1957)
John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time at a church hall in Liverpool, England, where 16-year-old Lennon was performing with his skiffle group, the Quarrymen. 15-year-old McCartney joined as a rhythm guitarist shortly afterwards, and the pair went on to form the Beatles.

60 years ago (12 Jul 1957)
The Sodium Reactor Experiment, the first nuclear reactor in the USA to generate electricity for the commercial power grid, began operating in Simi Valley, California. It produced power for Los Angeles. (It experienced a partial meltdown in July 1959. It was restarted in September 1960, and shut down in February 1964. Removal of the reactor was completed in 1981.)

60 years ago (29 Jul 1957)
The International Atomic Energy Agency was established. It promotes the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

50 years ago (1 Jul 1967)
The European Economic Community, the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Atomic Energy Community merged into a single organisation. Many people regard this event as the creation of the European Union.

50 years ago (1 Jul 1967)
BBC2 became the first TV channel in Europe to broadcast regularly in colour.

50 years ago (5 Jul 1967)
Israel annexed the Gaza Strip following the Six-Day War. (Israel officially withdrew from Gaza in September 2005, but as it continues to control the airspace and coastline it is still regarded as an occupying power by the UN.)

50 years ago (6 Jul 1967 – 15 Jan 1970)
Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War). Nigerian government forces invaded the breakaway Republic of Biafra which had seceded in May. Nigerian victory: Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria.

50 years ago (8 Jul 1967)
Death of Vivien Leigh, award-winning Indian-born British stage and film actress (Gone with the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire and more).

50 years ago (21 Jul 1967)
Death of Basil Rathbone, Tony Award-winning South African-born British stage, film and radio actor. Best known for his role as Sherlock Holmes.

50 years ago (27 Jul 1967)
The Criminal Justice Act 1967 received Royal Assent in England and Wales. It allowed majority verdicts for juries in criminal trials, removing the need for unanimous verdicts. (The first case in the UK to be decided by a majority verdict was in Brighton on 5th October 1967.)

50 years ago (27 Jul 1967)
The Sexual Offences Act received Royal Assent in England and Wales (but excluded the Merchant Navy and Armed Forces). It decriminalised homosexual acts in private between consenting males aged 21 or over.

40 years ago (1 Jul 1977)
British tennis player Virginia Wade won the ladies’ singles championship at Wimbledon. (She remains the last British woman to do so.)

30 years ago (29 Jul 1987)
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President François Mitterrand ratified the Treaty of Canterbury – the agreement to build the Channel Tunnel. (Construction began on 15th December.)

20 years ago (1 Jul 1997)
The sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred from the UK to China.

20 years ago (1 Jul 1997)
The entertainment television network MTV UK & Ireland was launched.

20 years ago (9 Jul 1997)
The CEO of Apple Computer, Gil Amelio, was forced to resign following a boardroom coup led by Steve Jobs. The coup followed heavy financial losses and a slump in shares. (Jobs became interim CEO in September and began restructuring the company.)

20 years ago (15 Jul 1997)
Death of Gianni Versace, Italian fashion designer. (Shot dead by American serial killer Andrew Cunanan, who killed himself on 23rd July.)

20 years ago (20 Jul 1997)
The second IRA ceasefire in 3 years came into effect in Northern Ireland. There were sporadic outbreaks of violence afterwards, but the ceasefire lasted, leading to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in May 1998.

10 years ago (1 Jul 2007)
Smoking was banned in all enclosed workplaces in England. Similar bans were already in place in Scotland (26th March 2006), Wales (2nd April 2007) and Northern Ireland (30th April 2007).


Become a lifetime member of ideas4writers
and get ALL 40 of our ebooks
(including The Date-A-Base Book 2017 and
Next Year’s News 2018) for just £49.95!

(or the equivalent in your local currency)

Price if purchased individually: £214.56
Save: £164.61

Click here to find out more or email us to ask a question

ideas4writers: inspiring you since 2002

NEW: Discuss What Ifs in our Facebook Group

Monday, 9 January 2017
dave_small

Dave Haslett, founder, ideas4writers

 

Hello fellow writers!

If you go to the ideas4writers Facebook group you’ll see an exciting new feature. Each day we’re choosing one of the What Ifs we posted on the blog at the beginning of each month, and we’re discussing it in depth, expanding and enlarging on it, and looking at the story possibilities in each one. I hope you find it useful. It’s certainly stretching my imagination!

The Facebook group is open to anyone who wants to join. Just go to the group and click the Join button and I’ll grant you access the next time I’m on Facebook. You don’t need to be a member of the ideas4writers website or the blog. Your friends can join too – just let them know where to find us. The more people who join, the better the discussions should be, and the more ideas we’ll get for bigger and better stories.

In case the link above isn’t working, the ideas4writers Facebook group is at: www.facebook.com/groups/ideas4writers

WEBSITE UPDATE

If you’re a member of the ideas4writers website, you might have spotted that our forum software has died. We’re going to redesign the site over the next few months, so it seems silly to replace the forum software with something else, only to have to scrap it again when the new site launches. So we’re using the Facebook group as our forum for now, and directing all our members there instead.

When the new website launches, the forum will be at the front of the site, not hidden away in the members’ section, so everyone will be able to use it.

DAVE’S NEWS

I hope you’ve made a great start to your writing in 2017. I have huge plans for the year, and I’ve made a big wall chart with all the projects and timelines I’ll be working on. It looks … scary. But just about doable with a lot of work (and no procrastinating).

You might know that I get most of my ideas while I’m out walking, so when I saw the Walk 1,000 Miles in 2017 challenge, I immediately signed up for it. As I write this I’ve just completed the walk for day 9 and my total so far is 33 miles (8 miles more than the target) so it’s going well – I could even afford to take a couple of days off. Snow is forecast for the end of the week, which might limit the walks for a few days. (But I’ll believe it when I see it – it rarely snows here.)

I’m planning to do some longer walks over the summer. There are about 50 walking routes through the Blackdown Hills, about 20 minutes from here, that I haven’t explored yet. I’m also part of a walking group, but they only walk on Wednesday evenings between May and August.

If I’m walking on my own (which is most of the time – the rest of the family are not walkers!) I take my phone and headphones with me and listen to podcasts to keep me company. They help the miles fly by, and don’t inhibit the flow of ideas. I have Evernote on my phone, so it’s easy to note down (or speak) each idea as it occurs, or take a quick photo, and file it in the relevant section.

The podcasts I listen to are: The Creative Penn, the Sell More Books Show, Write 2B Read, and a new one called the Book Launch Show. I also download and listen to the Radio 4 shows The News Quiz and the The Now Show when they’re on – but they’re not on at the moment.

I must leave you now as it’s 9 pm and I have a chapter to write before bedtime. I hope to connect with you in the Facebook group. Or I’ll see you here this time next week with 50 Newsworthy Anniversaries in July 2017 for you to write about.

What If? 31 Creative Writing Prompts for January

Monday, 2 January 2017

Happy New Year! Here’s this month’s selection of What Ifs to stimulate your writing brain. Let’s see what can you do with these! Some are deliberately vague or ambiguous so you can interpret them in different ways.

There’s one for each day of the month. If you need more, please take a look at our book
The Fastest Way to Get Ideas – 4,400 Essential What Ifs for Writers.

NEW for 2017: You can discuss these ideas further in our Facebook group!

What if…

1. you worked for a secret government department that rewrote history?

2. our only form of transport was motorised roller skates?

3. the schools in each community were at war with each other?

4. fathers brought up children?

5. you built a time machine that appeared to work, but it took you back to events that had never happened or forward to events that would never happen?

6. humans communicated by singing like birds?

7. students decided what they should be taught in school?

8. you were meant to write a new version of Planet of the Apes but you misheard it as Planet of the Grapes?

9. you were unable to fall in love?

10. you never wrote another word?

11. your guardian angel told you everything you must do and must not do?

12. your guardian angel was an idiot?

13. your guardian angel was at war with someone else’s guardian angel?

14. inanimate objects were thrilled when you used them correctly, but deeply upset when you didn’t?

15. everyone had their own personal alphabet?

16. there was always enough time?

17. you had too much spare time on your hands?

18. you had too much money?

19. you were too intelligent?

20. you were too beautiful or too handsome?

21. your writing was considered ‘too perfect’?

22. you went for a walk and never came back?

23. you did all the things that signs said you were not allowed to do?

24. people recognised each other by their smell alone?

25. everything was free?

26. you sent fake news reports to your local newspaper to make your community sound more interesting than it actually was?

27. you tried to make your community more attractive to a certain type of people?

28. you decided to create a monument that would baffle future generations?

29. you achieved your goal of playing games for a living?

30. you were debating whether or not to bring a child into this world?

31. you were at a TV studio where a (supposedly) real-life show was being filmed, and you discovered the secret scripts?

Become a lifetime member of ideas4writers
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Next Year’s News: 50 Newsworthy Anniversaries in June 2017 for you to write about

Monday, 19 December 2016

Here are 50 newsworthy anniversaries coming up in June 2017 for you to write about (and make money from). The anniversaries are listed 6 months in advance to give you enough time to find markets, and research and write your articles.

We have painstakingly cross-checked every entry, but you are advised to check all facts again as part of your research. Please let us know of any errors you find.


The Date-A-Base Book 2017The listing below is a small sample of the entries for June from The Date-A-Base Book 2017
There are 326 anniversaries for June in the book (more than six times more than listed here). The book covers the whole of 2017 from January to December and features more than 4,000 anniversaries in total.

If you need to work further ahead, Next Year’s News 2018 (the new name for the Date-A-Base Book series) is also available!

Just one published article should cover the cost of your copy many times over – and the book also explains how to get your articles published.

1000 years ago (5 Jun 1017)
Death of Sanjo, Emperor of Japan (1011-16).

500 years ago (18 Jun 1517)
Birth of Ogimachi, Emperor of Japan (1557-86).

300 years ago (24 Jun 1717)
Freemasonry: the first Grand Lodge was founded in London. (It is now the United Grand Lodge of England.)

200 years ago (26 Jun 1817)
Birth of Branwell Brontë, British artist, writer and poet. Brother of the writers Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë.

200 years ago (30 Jun 1817)
Birth of Sir Joseph Hooker, British botanist. One of the greatest British botanists and explorers of the 19th century. Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew (1865-85). He was also a close friend of Charles Darwin and encouraged his work.

150 years ago (8 Jun 1867)
Birth of Frank Lloyd Wright, famous American architect.

150 years ago (17 Jun 1867)
Birth of John Robert Gregg, Irish-born American publisher who developed Gregg Shorthand – the most popular form of shorthand in the USA.

125 years ago (3 Jun 1892)
Liverpool Football Club was officially founded in England.

125 years ago (6 Jun 1892)
The Chicago ‘L’ rapid transit system began operating in Illinois. It is one of the largest and busiest city transit systems in the USA.

100 years ago (4 Jun 1917)
The Order of the British Empire was established by King George V. It is an order of chivalry awarded to people who make a significant achievement for (or contribution to) the United Kingdom. There are 5 classes: Knight/Dame Grand Cross (GBE), Knight/Dame Commander (KBE/DBE), Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE), Member (MBE).

100 years ago (4 Jun 1917)
The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded.

100 years ago (5 Jun 1917)
World War I: the first WWI draft registration day was held in the USA. About 10 million men aged 21 – 31 registered for military service. Registration was compulsory. (By the end of the war in 1918 about 2.8 million American men had been drafted, and a further 2 million had joined the armed forces as volunteers.)

100 years ago (7 Jun 1917)
Lions Clubs International was founded.

100 years ago (11 Jun 1917)
Alexander I became King of Greece following his father Constantine I’s abdication. (Constantine went into exile in Switzerland.)

100 years ago (13 Jun 1917)
World War I: Germany carried out its deadliest air raid of the war. Gotha G.IV heavy bombers attacked London, killing 162 people and injuring 432. One of the bombs fell on a primary school in Poplar, where 16 children were killed.

100 years ago (15 Jun 1917)
Death of Kristian Birkeland, Norwegian physicist, astrophysicist, educator and explorer. Known as ‘the first space scientist’. Best known as the first person to determine the nature of the aurora borealis. He also invented a process for fixing nitrogen from the air (the Birkeland–Eyde process) and made numerous other contributions to science. He was nominated for a Nobel Prize 7 times, but never won.

100 years ago (17 Jun 1917?)
Birth of Dean Martin, (‘the King of Cool’), popular American stage, film and television singer, actor and comedian. A member of the Rat Pack. Noted for his seemingly effortless charisma and performances. Well known for his comedy partnership with Jerry Lewis. He also hosted the TV series The Dean Martin Show and The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. (Several sources give his date of birth as 7th June but we believe 17th is correct.)

100 years ago (23 Jun 1917)
Ukraine was founded (as the Ukrainian People’s Republic). It proclaimed independence from Russia in January 1918.

100 years ago (26 Jun 1917)
World War I: the first troops from the American Expeditionary Forces arrived in France under the command of General John Pershing. They were the first U.S. forces to fight in WWI.

80 years ago (3 Jun 1937)
Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, married Wallis Warfield in France.

80 years ago (30 Jun 1937)
The 999 emergency telephone service went into operation in London – the first such service in the world. It began operating in other major UK cities after WWII and was extended nationally in 1976.

75 years ago (1 Jun 1942)
Liberty Brigade, an underground newspaper published in Warsaw, Poland, revealed the first details of the Nazi extermination camps and the gassing of tens of thousands of Jews at Chelmno.

75 years ago (3 Jun 1942 – 15 Aug 1943)
World War II – the Aleutian Islands Campaign, Alaska, USA. Allied victory. Japanese forces occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska but were eventually ejected by a combined US/Canadian force, though this took time because of the difficult terrain and weather conditions.

75 years ago (4 – 7 Jun 1942)
World War II – the Battle of Midway. The USA defeated Japan in the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign.

75 years ago (4 Jun 1942)
Death of Reinhard Heydrich, German Nazi official. Heinrich Himmler’s chief lieutenant in the SS. He played a key role in organising the Holocaust, and chaired the Wannsee Conference (20th January 1942). (Assassinated. The Czech village of Lidice was destroyed on 10th June in retaliation for his death.)

75 years ago (12 Jun 1942)
Anne Frank received her famous diary for her 13th birthday. She used it to document her life over the next 2 years as her family hid from the Nazis. It was first published in the Netherlands in June 1947 (as The Secret Annex: Diary Notes from 14 June 1942 to 1 August 1944). An English translation was published in the UK and USA in 1952 (as The Diary of a Young Girl).

75 years ago (25 Jun 1942)
World War II: Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower (later U.S. President) took command of U.S. forces in Europe.

60 years ago (1 Jun 1957)
The Casio Computer Company was founded in Japan.

60 years ago (1 Jun 1957)
The first premium bond prize draw took place in Britain.

60 years ago (27 Jun 1957)
Britain’s Medical Research Council reported that there was a cause-and-effect relationship between smoking and lung cancer. As a result, the Minister of Health said he had a duty to warn the public of the risks smokers faced. (In 1954 the then Minister of Health had said there was no firm evidence of a link, only a presumption of one.)

50 years ago (1 Jun 1967)
The album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles was released.

50 years ago (3 Jun 1967)
Death of Arthur Ransome, British children’s writer. Best known for his Swallows and Amazons series of 12 novels.

50 years ago (4 Jun 1967)
Stockport air disaster, Greater Manchester, England. A British Midland Airways plane crashed in an open area near the centre of Stockport after suffering fuel starvation due to a leaking valve. 72 of the 84 people on board were killed. All 12 survivors were seriously injured.

50 years ago (6 Jun 1967)
Six-Day War: Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser closed the Suez Canal by scuttling ships on both sides of it. It remained closed until 1975. 15 cargo ships (the ‘Yellow Fleet’) were trapped in the canal for 8 years.

50 years ago (7 Jun 1967)
Death of Dorothy Parker, American short story writer, poet and critic. Renowned for her witty remarks. She was also blacklisted by Hollywood for her involvement in left-wing politics.

50 years ago (10 Jun 1967)
Death of Spencer Tracy, Academy Award-winning American actor. One of the greatest male leads during Hollywood’s Golden Age. His films include Father of the Bride, Bad Day at Black Rock, Inherit the Wind, Judgement at Nuremberg, How the West Was Won, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and many more.

50 years ago (12 Jun 1967)
The Soviet Union launched its Venera 4 spacecraft on a mission to Venus. It became the first craft to enter another planet’s atmosphere and return data. It found that Venus’s atmosphere was extremely hot and far denser than expected. It might also have been the first spacecraft to land on another planet. (Venera 3 might have been the first – it possibly crash-landed on Venus in March 1966, but its communications system failed before it reached the planet and its fate is unknown. The first successful landing on Venus was achieved by Venera 7 in 1970.)

50 years ago (16 Jun 1967 to 18th)
The Monterey Pop Festival was held in California, USA. It featured the first major U.S. public appearances by Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Ravi Shankar, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding. It also inspired the Woodstock Festival held in 1969. (Jimi Hendrix famously set fire to his guitar on stage at this event – an act he had first performed in London on 31st March.)

50 years ago (20 Jun 1967)
American world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali was convicted of violating Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted into the U.S. Army. His conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1971, but it left him unable to box between the ages of 25 and 29 – what should have been the peak of his career.

50 years ago (27 Jun 1967)
The world’s first ATM (cash machine) went into operation at Barclays Bank in Enfield, north London, UK. Comedy actor Reg Varney made the first withdrawal.

50 years ago (29 Jun 1967)
Death of Jayne Mansfield, award-winning American stage and film actress. One of Hollywood’s leading blonde bombshells of the 1950s. (Car crash.)

40 years ago (10 Jun 1977)
Apple Computer released the Apple II – the first personal computer to feature colour graphics. It cost $1,298 (£835).

40 years ago (16 Jun 1977)
Leonid Brezhnev became Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union (equivalent to ceremonial head of state). He held the position until his death in November 1982.

40 years ago (26 Jun 1977)
Elvis Presley performed his last concert, in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.

30 years ago (12 Jun 1987)
During a visit to Berlin, Germany to celebrate the city’s 750th anniversary, U.S. President Ronald Reagan gave a historic speech in front of the Berlin wall, challenging Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to ‘tear down this wall’. (The wall was demolished in November 1989.)

25 years ago (17 Jun 1992)
START II arms reduction treaty: U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin attended two arms reduction summit meetings where the treaty was agreed. (The first meeting was held in Washington, D.C. on this day and the second was held in Moscow in January 1993.)

25 years ago (22 Jun 1992)
Andrew Morton’s controversial book Diana: Her True Story was published. It claimed that Diana, Princess of Wales was deeply depressed and unstable and had attempted suicide a number of times.

20 years ago (12 Jun 1997)
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre opened in London. It is a reconstruction of the original theatre of 1599, located about 750 feet (230 metres) from the original site. The project to rebuild it began in 1970 and was led by the actor and director Sam Wanamaker (who died in 1993).

20 years ago (25 Jun 1997)
The Soufrière Hills volcano on Montserrat erupted, killing 19 people. Over the next few months it destroyed the capital, Plymouth, and rendered half the island uninhabitable. About two-thirds of the population have been evacuated. (At the time of writing it is still erupting.)

20 years ago (26 Jun 1997)
The first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling, was published in the UK. (USA: September 1998 as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.)

10 years ago (29 Jun 2007)
Apple released the first iPhone.


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Next Year’s News 2018) for just £49.95!

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What If? 31 Creative Writing Prompts for December

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Hello! Here’s this month’s selection of What Ifs to stimulate your writing brain. Let’s see what can you do with these! Some are deliberately vague or ambiguous so you can interpret them in different ways.

There’s one for each day of the month. If you need more, please take a look at our book The Fastest Way to Get Ideas – 4,400 Essential What Ifs for Writers.

What if…

1. they evacuated Earth and you were one of the few who stayed behind?

2. you told someone you felt sorry for them, but didn’t get the reaction you expected?

3. you used a work skill outside of work?

4. you used something you’d learned in school that you thought you’d never have a use for in real life?

5. you defended the indefensible?

6. you were tricked into saying something in another language that didn’t mean what you thought it did?

7. your toilet was really hungry?

8. your toilet ate you?

9. vehicles only went where they wanted to go?

10. you had a secret identity – online, in the real world, or both?

11. you had your own think-tank?

12. you were hugely respected?

13. you were renowned?

14. you had a bit of a reputation?

15. you had a pair of glasses that enabled you to see ghosts?

16. you ended up in another country, with no idea how you’d got there?

17. your case was to be heard by the Supreme Court?

18. you had never lasted a full week (or even a full day) at any job?

19. you became an Olympic gold medalist?

20. NASA needed your expertise?

21. one of the intelligence services summoned you to join them for a month-long secret mission?

22. teenagers started using your name as rhyming slang for the latest swear word?

23. a product that your family had used for generations was revealed to be toxic – which perhaps explained their early deaths?

24. it was free to get in but you had to pay to get out?

25. you changed the main thing about yourself?

26. parents decided what their children should be taught at school?

27. you escaped into the fictional world of a novel but couldn’t get back out again?

28. every war had turned out the opposite way?

29. we all stopped learning at 8 years old?

30. the general public was paid to solve crimes?

31. Earth was the only planet and the Sun was the only star?

Become a lifetime member of ideas4writers
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Price if purchased individually: £214.56
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Available now: Next Year’s News 2018

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Next Year's News 2018Next Year’s News is the new name for our popular “The Date-A-Base Book” series.

Inside you’ll find details of over 5,000 newsworthy and notable anniversaries in 2018, including events, discoveries, inventions, births and deaths.

It’s the ideal (some would say essential!) reference for all writers, journalists, researchers, TV/radio producers and film-makers.

 

Size: 8.5″ x 11.5″. 357 pages.

The ebook (PDF) version is available now. Printed copies will be available in January.

The price is unchanged from last year: £9.99 (US$12.49).

Get your copy now at www.ideas4writers.co.uk/2018

The Date-A-Base Book 2017 is also available.

ideas4writers lifetime members: this ebook is included in your membership. You can download it from the members’ home page after logging in at www.ideas4writers.co.uk.

Next Year’s News: 50 Newsworthy Anniversaries in May 2017 for you to write about

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Here are 50 newsworthy anniversaries coming up in May 2017 for you to write about (and make money from). The anniversaries are listed 6 months in advance to give you enough time to find markets, and research and write your articles.

We have painstakingly cross-checked every entry, but you are advised to check all facts again as part of your research. Please let us know of any errors you find.


The Date-A-Base Book 2017The listing below is a small sample of the entries for May from The Date-A-Base Book 2017
There are 315 anniversaries for May in the book (more than six times more than listed here). The book covers the whole of 2017 from January to December and features more than 4,000 anniversaries in total.

If you need to work further ahead, Next Year’s News 2018 (the new name for the Date-A-Base Book series) is now available!

Just one published article should cover the cost of your copy many times over – and the book also explains how to get your articles published.

400 years ago (23 May 1617)
Birth of Elias Ashmole, English antiquarian and collector. A founding member of the Royal Society. Greatly rewarded for his support for the royalists in the English Civil War. Most of his collection was donated to Oxford University, which established the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology to house it.

200 years ago (15 May 1817)
Friends Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA was officially opened (as the Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason). It was founded by the Quakers in 1813 and was the first privately run psychiatric hospital in the USA.

150 years ago (7 May 1867)
Swedish chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel was granted a British patent for his invention of dynamite – a safer and more manageable alternative to black powder and nitroglycerin. (He was also granted a Swedish patent on 19th October.)

150 years ago (26 May 1867)
Birth of Mary of Teck, Queen consort of the United Kingdom (1910––36). Wife of King George V. Mother of Edward VIII (the Duke of Windsor) and George VI.

150 years ago (29 May 1867)
Austria-Hungary (also known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire) was established as a dual monarchy when the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 (also known as the Ausgleich) came into effect. (It was dissolved in 1918 following WWI.)

100 years ago (13 May 1917)
Our Lady of Fátima, an apparition of the Virgin Mary, was reported for the first time by three shepherd children in Fátima, Portugal. (The children later revealed that they had experienced apparitions during 1916 too, but had kept the secret to themselves. The final apparition was on 13th October 1917 during an event now known as the Miracle of the Sun.)

100 years ago (18 May 1917)
The Selective Service Act came into effect in the USA. It authorised a compulsory military draft to increase the size of the U.S. Army as it entered WWI. Draft days were held on 5th June 1917, 5th June 1918 and 12th September 1918. (The war ended on 11th November 1918. All Selective Service operations closed down between March and July 1919.)

100 years ago (21 May 1917)
Birth of Raymond Burr, Emmy Award-winning Canadian-American actor. Best known for his leading roles in the TV series Perry Mason and Ironside.

100 years ago (23 May 1917)
Birth of Edward Lorenz, American mathematician and meteorologist. Noted for his work on chaos theory and the Lorenz attractor. He also coined the term ‘butterfly effect’.

100 years ago (29 May 1917)
Birth of John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States (1961––63).(Assassinated 1963.)

90 years ago (4 May 1927)
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded. The first official meeting took place on 11th May and the actor and producer Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. was elected as its first president.

90 years ago (9 May 1927)
The Australian Parliament convened in the new capital, Canberra, for the first time, after moving from Melbourne.

90 years ago (18 May 1927)
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (now the TCL Chinese Theatre) opened in Hollywood, California, USA. The theatre is famous for the many (approximately 200) celebrity hand prints, footprints and autographs left in cement in its forecourt.

90 years ago (20 – 21 May 1927)
American aviator Charles Lindbergh made his historic first non-stop solo transatlantic flight, from New York, USA to Paris, France aboard the Spirit of St. Louis.

80 years ago (1 May 1937)
The U.S. Congress passed the Neutrality Act of 1937 in an attempt to avoid becoming entangled in foreign conflicts. (The Neutrality Acts of the 1930s are now regarded as negative as they treated both sides as belligerents and limited the USA’s ability to supply aid to ‘friendly’ nations such as Britain and France during WWII.)

80 years ago (6 May 1937)
The Hindenburg disaster. The German airship Hindenburg burst into flames as it docked at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey, USA. 36 people were killed.

80 years ago (12 May 1937)
The coronation of King George VI of the United Kingdom. (This was also the BBC’s first official outdoor television broadcast and marked the first use of an Outside Broadcast Van – a mobile television control/production room.)

80 years ago (27 May 1937)
The Golden Gate Bridge was officially opened. It links San Francisco and Marin County in California, USA.

80 years ago (28 May 1937)
Neville Chamberlain became British Prime Minister.

75 years ago (3 May 1942)
World War II: Japanese American internment. The USA ordered all people of Japanese ancestry living in Military Area No. 1’ (near San Francisco, California) to go to assembly centres and await transportation to permanent relocation centres.

75 years ago (5 May 1942)
World War II: food rationing began in the USA. The first food item to be rationed was sugar, which was restricted to half of normal consumption.

75 years ago (5 May 1942)
Birth of Tammy Wynette, American country music singer and songwriter. Known as ‘the first lady of country music’. Best known for her song Stand By Your Man. (Died 1998.)

75 years ago (12 May 1942)
Birth of Ian Dury, British punk/rock/new wave singer and songwriter. Known for his songs Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick, Reasons to be Cheerful (Part Three) and the controversial Spasticus Autisticus. (Died 2000.)

75 years ago (15 May 1942)
The Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps was established in the USA.

75 years ago (15 May 1942)
World War II: mandatory gasoline (petrol) rationing was introduced in the eastern United States. Non-essential vehicles were allowed 3 gallons per week. Rationing was expanded to cover the whole country on 1st December. (Gasoline was not in short supply, but rubber was. Rationing gasoline reduced the demand for replacement tyres.)

75 years ago (19 May 1942)
Birth of Gary Kildall, American computer scientist who created the CP/M operating system and founded Digital Research, Inc. (Died 1994).

75 years ago (22 May 1942)
United Steelworkers was founded. It is the largest trade union in North America.

70 years ago (22 May 1947)
Cold War: U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed what is now known as the Truman Doctrine. It granted $400 million in military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey to help fight the spread of communism.

60 years ago (2 May 1957)
Death of Joseph McCarthy, American politician. Senator from Wisconsin. Known for his sensational accusations and investigations of the so-called communist infiltration of the State Department and other branches of government. His charges ultimately proved unfounded and he was discredited and censured by the Senate.

60 years ago (10 May 1957)
Birth of Sid Vicious, notorious British punk rock star (the Sex Pistols). (Died 1979.)

60 years ago (15 May 1957)
Operation Grapple: Britain carried out its first hydrogen bomb test explosion over Malden Island in the Pacific Ocean. Immediately after the test, Britain announced to the world that it had become a thermonuclear power. However, the test was actually disappointing and the bomb produced less than a third of its expected 1 megaton yield. (The first real success was Grapple X, which was dropped over Kiribati on 8th November 1957 and produced a yield of 1.8 megatons – this is regarded as the date when Britain actually became a thermonuclear power.)

60 years ago (16 May 1957)
Death of Eliot Ness, American federal law enforcement officer. Best known for his efforts to enforce Prohibition in Chicago, Illinois. Leader of ‘The Untouchables’ – the legendary fearless and incorruptible group that worked to end Al Capone’s illegal activities.

60 years ago (28 May 1957)
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, best known for the Grammy Awards, was established in Hollywood.

60 years ago (31 May 1957)
The British Computer Society (BCS) was formed. Its first president was the renowned computer scientist Maurice Wilkes.

50 years ago (1 May 1967)
American singer Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas.

50 years ago (5 May 1967)
Ariel 3, the first satellite designed and built in Britain, was launched to study the Earth’s atmosphere. It remained operational (or semi-operational) until September 1969 when it was deactivated. It re-entered the atmosphere in December 1970.

50 years ago (25 May 1967)
Celtic became the first British football team to win the European Cup, beating Internazionale Milan 2 – 1 in Lisbon, Portugal.

50 years ago (28 May 1967)
British sailor and aviator Sir Francis Chichester became the first person to complete a true solo circumnavigation of the world from west to east via the clipper route and great capes.

50 years ago (30 May 1967)
The Republic of Biafra was established when the Eastern Region of Nigeria declared independence. (After a bitter civil war, Biafra was reintegrated with Nigeria in January 1970.)

50 years ago (30 May 1967)
Death of Claude Rains, British-born American stage and film actor. Noted for his smooth, polished style. His films include The Invisible Man, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia and more.

40 years ago (25 May 1977)
The film Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) was released in the USA. (UK: 27th December.)

40 years ago (27 May 1977)
British punk rock band the Sex Pistols released their controversial single God Save the Queen. It reached #2 in the charts during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in June. Many believe the sales figures were manipulated to keep it from the #1 spot.

40 years ago (29 May 1977)
American racing driver Janet Guthrie became the first woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500. (She suffered engine problems and finished 29th.)

30 years ago (28 May 1987)
Mathias Rust, a 19-year-old amateur pilot from West Germany, illegally landed his plane in Red Square, Moscow, Soviet Union. (He was arrested and detained until August 1988.)

25 years ago (6 May 1992)
Death of Marlene Dietrich, German-born American stage and film actress and singer.

25 years ago (9 May 1992)
Westray Mine Disaster, Nova Scotia, Canada. 26 miners were killed by a methane explosion.

20 years ago (6 May 1997)
The Bank of England was granted operational independence by the government. It was also granted sole responsibility for setting the country’s interest rates.

20 years ago (11 May 1997)
The IBM computer Deep Blue defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game match in New York City, USA. (Kasparov: 1 win, Deep Blue: 2 wins, drawn games: 3.)

20 years ago (27 May 1997)
American software developer Eric S. Raymond published his famous essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar, which discusses software engineering methods – particularly the struggle between top-down and bottom-up design. The essay, and his 1999 book of the same name, is regarded as the principal manifesto of the open source software movement.

10 years ago (25 May 2007)
Google Street View was launched in the USA. It provides panoramic views along streets, and now covers many parts of the world.


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