OTD, August 1845, UK Parliament passed an enclosure act, taking away common land, & appointing enclosure commissioners who could enclose more land without submitting a request to Parliament. From the 17th to 20th centuries, the British government passed over 5,000 enclosure acts, enclosing 6.8 million acres of common land, which the public previously had rights to use. Often military force was used to crush anyone who resisted. The enclosures were a vital part of the development of capitalism, as they created a whole class of landless people who had no way of surviving other than selling their labour power – the working class.

“The law locks up the man or woman Who steals the goose off the common But leaves the greater villain … More

Born OTD in 1946, Cuban-Jamaican singer, Rita Marley. “..When Beverly would travel to Studio One from Trench Town she says she and the Wailing Wailers would take a short cut through the Calvary Cemetary & pass Rita Anderson’s home…. Not only did Beverly help launch their career, but her connection also brought Rita Anderson & Bob Marley together. They were married on the 10th February, 1966.”

In a music world that was rougher than rough, where men took monikers of royalty and machismo like Duke and … More

Born OTD in 1918, South African lawyer and politician, Nelson Mandela. Freedom fighter, fugitive, celebrated prisoner, president: the hero of a nation. Mandela was called a terrorist, forced into hiding, captured, threatened with the death penalty and eventually thrown into prison for 27 years, but nothing could stop him from fighting to liberate his country from the infamous sytem of apartheid, which for so many years sought to separate people by race in South Africa. A hero in the struggle, he never gave up.

Even when he was a prisoner, he worked secretly with his comrades to undermine South Africa’s oppressive government. This is … More

First published OTD in 1960, Harper Lee’s, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. A beautifully crafted graphic novel adaptation of Lee’s beloved American classic. ‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ A haunting portrait of race & class, innocence & injustice, hypocrisy & heroism, tradition & transformation in the Deep South of the 1930s, Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ remains as important today as it was upon its initial publication in 1960, during the turbulent years of the Civil Rights movement. Now, this most beloved & acclaimed novel is reborn for a new age as a gorgeous graphic novel.

Scout, Jem, Boo Radley, Atticus Finch and the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, are all captured in vivid and moving … More

Born OTD in 1933, British neurologist, naturalist, historian of science, and author, Oliver Sacks. In his most extraordinary book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Sacks recounts the stories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders. These are case studies of people who have lost their memories & with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people or common objects; whose limbs have become alien; who are afflicted & yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents.

In Dr Sacks’s splendid and sympathetic telling, each tale is a unique and deeply human study of life struggling against … More

Born OTD in 1883, Bohemian novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature, Franz Kafka. Like Orwell, Kafka has given his name to a world of nightmare, but in Kafka’s world, it is never completely clear just what the nightmare is. The Trial, where the rules are hidden from even the highest officials, and if there is any help to be had, it will come from unexpected sources, is a chilling, blackly amusing tale that maintains, to the very end, a relentless atmosphere of disorientation. Superficially about bureaucracy, it is in the last resort a description of the absurdity of ‘normal’ human nature.

Still more enigmatic is The Castle. Is it an allegory of a quasi-feudal system giving way to a new freedom … More

Born OTD in 1880, American author, political activist, & lecturer, Hellen Keller. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. A biography of an American radical & her long life campaigning as a crusading socialist. “Keller is blind, deaf & dumb , yet in her blindness she sees oppression, in her deafness she hears the cry of outraged humanity, and in her speechlessness she voice the demand for justice.”

Features political writings and speeches for women’s suffrage, in defence of the IWW and against the First World War. ‘I … More

Born OTD in 1869, Lithuanian anarchist political activist & writer, Emma Goldman. Goldman was well known during her life, described as, among other things, “the most dangerous woman in America”. In essays like “The Hypocrisy of Puritanism” & a speech entitled “The Failure of Christianity”, Goldman made more than a few enemies among religious communities by attacking their moralistic attitudes & efforts to control human behavior. She blamed Christianity for “the perpetuation of a slave society”, arguing that it dictated individuals’ actions on Earth & offered poor people a false promise of a plentiful future in heaven. She was also critical of Zionism, which she saw as another failed experiment in state control.

A wonderful retelling of the famous anarchist and radical icon Emma Goldman’s extraordinary life, this graphic biography embodies the richness … More

Born OTD in 1914, English poet, novelist and screenwriter, Laurie Lee. A moving, never-before-published portrait of the landscape that shaped the life of Laurie Lee, the beloved author of Cider With Rosie’. Before I left the valley I thought everywhere was like this. Then I went away for 40 years and when I came back I realized that nowhere was like this. ‘Laurie Lee walked out of his childhood village one summer morning to travel the world, but he was always drawn back to his beloved Slad Valley, eventually returning to make it his home.

In this portrait of his Cotswold home, Laurie Lee guides us through its landscapes, and shares memories of his village … More

Born OTD in 1903, English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, George Orwell. “..What had happened was that the whole moneyed class, unwilling to face a change in their way of life, had shut their eyes to the nurture of Fascism and modern war. And false optimism was fed to the general public by the gutter press, which lives on its advertisements an is therefore interested in keeping trade conditons normal..”

George Orwell’s moving reflections on the English character and his passionate belief in the need for political change. The Lion … More