So You Thought You Knew All Our Secrets? We Know What They're Famous for, but It's Not the Whole Story

Daily Mail (London), November 26, 1996 | Go to article overview

So You Thought You Knew All Our Secrets? We Know What They're Famous for, but It's Not the Whole Story


Byline: JANE KELLY

CONVENTIONAL biographical dictionaries give all the essential details about significant lives. But a new lexicon of the famous and infamous offers titbits that other books leave out. It is probably not widely known that Sir Isaac Newton, for instance, invented the cat flap, or that George Washington had wooden teeth and Theodore Roosevelt owned a six-toed grey cat called Slippers.

In Private Lives, Curious Facts About The Famous And Infamous, author Mark Bryant selects more than 200 figures from history and gives insights into their characters through an array of intriguing facts and anecdotes. Here we offer a sample . . .

GEOFFREY CHAUCER, 1343-1400. English poet.

IN 1380 he was accused of rape and had to pay Cecile Champaigne, a baker's daughter, to withdraw her charge against him.

JOAN OF ARC, 1412-31. French patriot and martyr.

SHE was burned at the stake in Rouen, aged 19. When she was dead and her clothes had been burned away, the fire was raked back to expose her naked body to the public to prove that she was human rather than immortal. Just to reinforce the point, her corpse was burnt to ashes and the remains thrown into the Seine.

FRANCIS BACON, 1561-1626. English statesman.

BACON'S death came about because he invented frozen food. While travelling through North London on a snowy day, he got the idea that food might be preserved if it was stuffed with snow. He got out of his carriage and bought a dead chicken to test his theory. Unfortunately he caught a chill, which turned to bronchitis and died a few days later.

CHARLES l, 1600-49.

CHARLES not only had an arranged marriage, he did not meet his wife, Henrietta Maria, until a month after their wedding, which was performed by proxy.

CARDINAL RICHELIEU, 1585-1642. French priest and statesman.

HE HAD a brother who thought he was God and a sister who thought that her back was made of crystal. Richelieu however, believed he was more important than the King - and he was right.

RENE DESCARTES, 1596-16-50. French philosopher who based his philosophical system on his famous axiom: `Cogito ergo sum' (I think therefore I am). Also the inventor of roulette.

THROUGHOUT his life, Descartes often meditated in bed until midday. While lying in bed watching a fly, he worked out that the position of the insect could be described at any given moment by its distance from three intersecting lines. This became the basis of his Cartesian mathematical system. When the weather was cold, he would climb inside the stove and think there.

EDWARD GIBBON, 1737-94. English historian.

HE DIED of an infection after an operation to drain a 3ft swelling `the size of a child' from his left testicle.

ROBERT BURNS, 1759-96. Scottish poet.

AS WELL as a wife and numerous mistresses, Burns kept a pet ewe called Poor Mailie and wrote two poems in her honour.

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, 1806-61. English poet.

FOR 35 years she was kept a semi-invalid by her tyrannical father, until the poet Robert Browning encouraged her to rebel. When she first rose from her couch and went downstairs, her brother was so surprised when she entered the room that he thought she was a complete stranger. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

So You Thought You Knew All Our Secrets? We Know What They're Famous for, but It's Not the Whole Story
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.