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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