William Morris

English artist, textile designer, poet and socialist activist William Morris was born on this day in 1834. Morris was one of the principal figures of the British arts and crafts movement. 

This is an ink, pen and watercolour drawing of a Woman Playing Cymbals, a design which was used for one of the many Morris & Co stained glass windows at Wightwick Manor.

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ON THIS DAY:

The Spice Girls’ debut film, Spiceworld: The Movie, was released nationwide in the UK, 19 years ago today, on Boxing Day December 26th, 1997! 

The film was a #1 smash hit, grossing more than £6 million pounds during its opening weekend in the UK alone and over $100 million dollars worldwide.

GIRL POWER

Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin

Born February 12, 1809, Charles Darwin revolutionized science and the culture around it.  On 24 November 1859 Charles Darwin published his monumental work On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, changing the face of biology. Although he only used the word once at the very end of the book, the word evolve (and evolution) is synonymous with Darwin. The word evolve had been used in a scientific sense specifically in biology for over a hundred years before Darwin wrote Origin of Species-which is one reason why he avoided it. By the mid 1850s, the word had connotations of perfectibility-something Darwin wanted to avoid. It was the last sentence of his book:

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

The word evolution arrived in English in 1620 and comes from the Latin word evolutionem(nomnative form evolutio) meaning the unrolling of a book or revealing that which was rolled up. The word evolve arrived a bit later in the 1640s from the Latin word evolvere meaning to unroll and could also pertain to other ‘hidden’ things (see also for example the etymology of vulva), but mostly meant books, when a ‘volume’ was a rolled up manuscript made from vellum. The modern meaning that scientists such ad Darwin meant for it began around 1832 and reached its first full expression in Darwin’s work.

Happy Birthday to Charles Darwin, born on this day, 1809.  

Lord Byron wrote his last poem on this day

On this day (22 January) in 1824, Byron wrote “On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year,” his last poem. He had arrived at Missolonghi three weeks earlier, taking command of his “army of liberation” which would free Greece from the Turks. But he died of fever on 19 April, after railing against incompetent doctors who literally bled him to death.

On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year

‘Tis time the heart should be unmoved,
Since others it hath ceased to move:
Yet, though I cannot be beloved,
Still let me love!

My days are in the yellow leaf;
The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
The worm, the canker, and the grief
Are mine alone!

The fire that on my bosom preys
Is lone as some volcanic isle;
No torch is kindled at its blaze–
A funeral pile.

The hope, the fear, the jealous care,
The exalted portion of the pain
And power of love, I cannot share,
But wear the chain.

But ’tis not thus–and ’tis not here–
Such thoughts should shake my soul nor now,
Where glory decks the hero’s bier,
Or binds his brow.

The sword, the banner, and the field,
Glory and Greece, around me see!
The Spartan, borne upon his shield,
Was not more free.

Awake! (not Greece–she is awake!)
Awake, my spirit! Think through whom
Thy life-blood tracks its parent lake,
And then strike home!

Tread those reviving passions down,
Unworthy manhood!–unto thee
Indifferent should the smile or frown
Of beauty be.

If thou regrett’st thy youth, why live?
The land of honourable death
Is here:–up to the field, and give
Away thy breath!

Seek out–less often sought than found–
A soldier’s grave, for thee the best;
Then look around, and choose thy ground,
And take thy rest.