Archive for Biography

Happy 450th Birthday, William Shakespeare!

Considered among the greatest, if not the finest, writer in the English language, William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564 and died on the same date in 1616. A great page to start reading his works, perusing his biography, looking at some of his more memorable quotes, and so much more is Absolute Shakespeare. Shakespeare Online also offers comprehensive treatment of the Bard, though marred by intrusive ads. (But then someone has to pay the hosting and managing fees. As Robert Heinlein stated: TANSTAAFL) The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. houses hundreds of thousands of items relating to Shakespeare and the theater in general. Due to the rarity and fragility of many of its holdings only scholars have direct access to these materials, but the public is offered access to thousands of digital images that include books, theater memorabilia, and manuscripts via the Digital Image Collection. There have always been arguments over whether or not Shakespeare actually wrote what we read; some representative articles include: The Case for Oxford (that the Earl of Oxford is the true author, The Atlantic); The Case for Shakespeare (The Atlantic); and Shakespeare: the conspiracy theories (The Telegraph).

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The Life and Times of Lord Byron

An influential and controversial poet, Lord Byron is considered one the great Romantic writers. Lord Byron and His Times is a wonderfully dense collection of material on Byron and his contemporaries. Included are his memoirs, memoirs by his contemporaries, hundreds of letters, criticism and commentary, and document collections arranged by topic. This latter section is especially valuable for the introductory overviews that are provided. The various parts of this site have active links so you can identify the persons and writings referenced. The multiple layers embedded in this presentation are entrancing and informative. A great way to be introduced to this world.

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Biographies of New Jersey Governors

A very brief history and a complete list of New Jersey governors back to colonial times is available. Infoplease profiles many of the colonial governors as does encyclopedia.com. Biographies of post-colonial governors can be found at the National Governors’ Association and those who also served in Congress are profiled in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 – Present. Rutgers University’s Center for the American Governor has some very informative research on New Jersey governors; it also provides links to interviews/forums/resources for ex-Governors Byrne, Kean, Florio, and Whitman.

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The Real Monuments Men and Women

A group of approximately 350 men and women – artists, curators, educators, museum directors –  from more than a dozen countries operated under the U.S. Army’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program. They were tasked with retrieving art work looted by the Nazis; ultimately, Monuments Men went to Japan as well. From 1943 to 1946, they recovered vast numbers of masterworks that had been stripped from museums and private collections. The Archives of American Art has organized Monuments Men: On the Frontline to Save Europe’s Art, 1942-1946 featuring interviews and biographical information on some of these individuals. The Monuments Men Foundation has an extensive listing of those who participated in the program; where possible, biographical information is included. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an itinerary and interactive map highlighting treasures held at the Met that were rescued by the Monuments Men. The National Archives hosts a Monuments Men site including finding aids, biographical essays, a link to a Prologue article Monuments Men and Nazi Treasure, and images of looted art. Monuments in Peril: The Rape of Europa is a very informative video on this topic.

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Stephen Foster, 1826-1864

Considered America’s first great songwriter, people may be surprised to find that this individual so closely associated with the South was born east of Pittsburgh and spent the last years of his life in New York City. Some his most famous works include “Beautiful Dreamer ,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” and “Oh! Susanna.” A prolific songwriter, he died penniless in NYC on January 13, 1864, 150 years ago to the day.  Good biographies are available courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh (features a listing of his songs);PBS (contains a timeline of his life, special features, and additional biographies); and the Library of Congress. Many of his compositions are available here and here. Brief contemporary obituaries are at Chronicling America; the Emporia News of Emporia, Kansas has a longer memorial.

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An Interview With Congressman Frank J Guarini

The interview is courtesy of The Jersey Journal.

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Pope Francis is Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year”

Pope Francis has been selected as the Person of the Year by Time. The justification for this award is included along with his biography. The runners-up, one of whom is Edward Snowden, are also included in this feature.  Prior selections can also be accessed from this site.

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The Lion of South Africa Sleeps

Nelson Mandela, Madiba to those who loved, admired, and respected him, passed away yesterday, December 5, 2013. His enduring legacy, his championing of human rights, will live on. Biographical information can be found at: Nelson Mandela Foundation; Noble Prize.org (which he won in 1993; here is his Nobel lecture); BBC; The Telegraph; and The New York Times. This PBS Frontline report – The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela – should be required viewing; it is contains in addition to the two-hour video, biographies, anecdotes, and a chronology. Some of his quotations are here; search his speeches as well as viewing them. C-SPAN offers sixty videos. The O’Malley Archives is replete with historical material on apartheid; many primary sources are listed. President Obama’s remarks on Mandela’s passing are available.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Nelson Mandela, Speech from the Dock of the Rivonia Trial, 1964.

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City Council Candidates for Jersey City – Biographies

Today’s election has fourteen candidates vying for City Council seats. Here are their biographies.

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Biography of Pope Francis I

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Biographies of the New Members of the 113th Congress

Biographical information on the newly-elected members of both the House and Senate are presented by The Hill. Roll Call also contains biographies as well as photos of each new lawmaker.

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Biographies of China’s New Leaders

The new leaders of the Politburo Standing Committee have been selected for their five-year terms. Their biographies are here from Brookings; Reuters also has biograhical information as does the BBC, The Washington Post and the Parliamentary Library of Australia.  The Changing of the Guard from The New York Times provides biographies, links, and a comprehensive timeline. (UPDATE: This hearing from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission should be of value - China’s New Leadership and Implications for the United States.)

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Happy 100th Birthday, Julia Child!

For those of us who grew up with her cooking shows or were the beneficiaries of dishes cooked from her Mastering The Art of French Cooking, this is indeed a milestone day. Biographies are at: biography.com, history.com, PBS(a quite extensive tribute site including a wonderful remix), and The New York Times (with a plethora of articles and links). Her career with the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, is described here. The Census Bureau also offers a tribute, and her kitchen is at the Smithsonian. Some of her recipes are at the PBS and The New York Times sites; another batch is at food.com. A long interview from 1999 is at TV Legends. Bon appetit!

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100th Birthday of Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)

Prolific songwriter, poet and letter writer, Woody Guthrie is enshrined in the pantheon of American folksingers, and his thirst for social justice has inspired countless others.  His “This Land is Your Land is considered by many our second national anthem. A good biography of him is found here; his daughter Nora’s recollections of him are here. An 1940 interview with Guthrie can be heard here. Lyrics to hundreds of songs are also available. You can also read some of his letters at this Library of Congress site – Woody Guthrie and the Archive of American Folk Song: Correspondence, 1940-1950, along with a timeline and thematic essay.  YouTube has a goodly number of videos either featuring his music, or others discussing/performing his works. A great informative site is at Times Topics – Woody Guthrie; it can be complemented by this NPR section on Guthrie.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

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“Something Wicked This Way Comes” – Ray Bradbury Dies at 91

For those of us who grew up reading and cherishing his work, Ray Bradbury’s death signals to some of us the demise of our youth. His work spanned the decades and genres, forcing us to confront our own fears and prejudices. Our office contains several of his works, each of which we remember with fondness. He was a champion of reading, libraries, and books. Biographical and other information can be found in: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction; NEA; Los Angeles Times; Times Topics – Ray Bradbury; io9; Locus;  PBS NewsHour; and Washington Post (with a photo gallery). Interviews are here and dozens of YouTube interviews and conversations are available. Bradbury did a lengthy interview in the Spring 2010 issue of The Paris Review. Excerpts from some of his books are here. President Obama issued a statement on his passing. And what may be his last piece, Take Me Home, is in the June 6, 2012 issue of The New Yorker.

“Rocket summer. The words passed among the people in the open, airing houses. Rocket summer. The warm desert air changing the frost patterns on the windows, erasing the art work. The skis and sleds suddenly useless.” – from The Martian Chronicles, chapter 1.

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Biographies of World Leaders/Notables

France has a new president by the name of Francois Hollande; Russia has re-installed Vladimir Putin as president; Ratko Mladic goes on trial for mass murder; and Abdrabbuh Hadi is the newly appointed president of Yemen. Where does one find accurate information on these people? A place to start with is the  BBC News site that has a search box in which you can find biographical information by the simple expedient of typing “profile” along with the person’s name; for example, typing “profile Francois Hollande” will retrieve this biography along with other valuable links. Hundreds of valuable portraits are contained here. Another place to mine in the BBC is its Country Profiles section where you will find not only biographical information on the leaders of every country and selected NGOs, but you will also find overviews and media outlets for each entity. Times Topics People provides thousands of biographical profiles along with free access to relevant NY Times articles as well as links to outside sources. For example, here are Hadi’s entry, Mladic’s profile, and Putin’s biography. So whether you are looking for information on the president of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa or Alekandr Lukashenko of Belarus, using either or both of these sources will yield satisfying results.

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Are Jeremy Lin and Rihanna Together?

Yes they are! They are listed in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Each individual is accorded a biography written by a noteworthy person preferably in their own field; for example, Louis CK’s profile is by Joan Rivers and Matt Lauer’s is by Howard Stern. If you want the rationale behind these picks, please read this.

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Biographies of European Officials

With all the media coverage focusing on the debt crisis in Europe, we thought everyone could use some help in identifying all the players. Whoiswho is the official directory of the European Union; it provides searching by name, EU institution, or hierarchical listing. The information is fairly sparse, but it does identify everyone in the various EU entities and provides their title, telephone and fax numbers as well as their email and Internet site. Additional  information can be garnered from the biographies of the European Commissioners of the EU, and the members of the European Parliament. A non-EU site, the Council of Europe, provides personal data on its officials at its leaders page and its member states page.

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2011 Nobel Prize Winners

Come here for the winners, bio-bibliographies,  and videos of the announcements. Past winners and various listings of them are found on this page.

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Complete List of 2011 Emmy Award Winners

Please come here for the full list of nominees and winners. Biographical information on nominees and winners is found at emmys.com; more can be found at biography.com and and the television section of  IMDb. EmmyTVLegends provides interviews with the movers and shakers of television from actors/actresses to producers, writers, and directors. And don’t forget to visit the Encyclopedia of Television.

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