OTD in 1787 the First Fleet (the 11 ships), that departed from Portsmouth, England, carrying 1,500 convicts and later arrived on 13 May 1787 to found the penal colony that became known as Australia. In 1787, the 28th year of the reign of King George III, the British Government sent a fleet to colonize Australia. An epic description of the brutal transportation of men, women and children out of Georgian Britain into a horrific penal system which was to be the precursor to the Gulag and was the origin of Australia.

The Fatal Shore is the prize-winning, scholarly, brilliantly entertaining narrative that has given its true history to Australia. Available in … More

Born OTD in 1942, American boxer and activist, Cassius Marcellus Clay, AKA Muhammed Ali. When Muhammad Ali died, many mourned the life of the greatest sportsman the world had ever seen. In Redemption Song, Mike Marqusee argues that Ali was not just a boxer but a remarkable political figure in a decade of tumultuous change. Playful, popular, always confrontational, Ali refashioned the role of a political activist and was central, alongside figures such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, to the black liberation and the anti-war movements.

Marqusee shows that sport and politics were always intertwined, and this is the reason why Ali remained an international beacon … More

Born OTD in 1933, American writer, filmmaker, philosopher, teacher, and political activist, Susan Sontag. Sontag was active in writing & speaking about, or travelling to, areas of conflict, including during the Vietnam War & the Siege of Sarajevo. She wrote extensively about photography, culture & media, AIDS & illness, human rights, communism & leftist ideology. Sontag wrote Illness as Metaphor in 1978, while suffering from breast cancer herself. In her study she reveals that the metaphors and myths surrounding certain illnesses, especially cancer, add greatly to the suffering of the patients and often inhibit them from seeking proper treatment.

By demystifying the fantasies surrounding cancer, Sontag shows cancer for what it is – a disease; not a curse, not … More

Born OTD in 1809, French politician & the founder of mutualist philosophy, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. His best-known assertion is that ‘property is theft!’, contained in his first major work, What Is Property?, published in 1840. Proudhon favored workers’ associations or co-operatives as well as individual worker/peasant possession over private ownership or the nationalization of land and workplaces.

The first English translation of Guerin’s monumental anthology of anarchism, published here in one volume. It details a vast array … More

Born OTD in 1921, American social theorist, author, orator, historian, & political philosopher, Murray Bookchin. A pioneer in the ecology movement, Bookchin formulated & developed the theory of social ecology & urban planning, within anarchist, libertarian socialist, & ecological thought. In the essays that make up this book, Murray Bookchin calls for a critical social standpoint that transcends both ‘biocentrism’ & ‘ecocentrism’. A call for new politics & ethics of complementarity, in which people, fighting for a free, nonhierarchical, & cooperative society, begin to play a creative role in natural evolution. Bookchin attacks the misanthropic notion that the environmental crisis is caused mainly by overpopulation or humanity’s genetic makeup.

He resolutely points to social causes–patriarchy, racism, and a capitalistic “grow or die” economy–as some of the problems the environmental … More

Born OTD in 1908, French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist, Simone de Beauvoir. When this book was first published in 1949 it was to outrage and scandal. Never before had the case for female liberty been so forcefully and successfully argued. De Beauvoir’s belief that `One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman’ switched on light bulbs in the heads of a generation of women and began a fight for greater equality and economic independence.

These pages contain the key passages of the book that changed perceptions of women forever. Available in store and online.

Born OTD in 1902, American psychologist & among the founders of the humanistic approach (or client-centered approach) to psychology, Carl Rogers. Rogers believed that a therapist who embodies the three critical & reflexive attitudes (the three core conditions) will help liberate their client to more confidently express their true feelings without fear of judgement. To achieve this, the client-centred therapist carefully avoids directly challenging their client’s way of communicating themselves in the session in order to enable a deeper exploration of the issues most intimate to them and free from external referencing.

Rogers was not prescriptive in telling his clients what to do, but believed that the answers to the clients’ questions … More

Born OTD in 1883, English lawyer, soldier and politician, Clement Attlee. His government’s Keynesian approach to economic management aimed to maintain full employment, a mixed economy and a greatly enlarged system of social services provided by the state. To this end, it undertook the nationalisation of public utilities and major industries, and implemented wide-ranging social reforms, including the passing of the National Insurance Act 1946 and National Assistance Act, the foundation of the National Health Service (1948) and the enlargement of public subsidies for council house building. His government also reformed trade union legislation, working practices and children’s services; it created the National Parks system, passed the New Towns Act 1946 and established the town and country planning system.

Clement Attlee was the Labour prime minister who presided over Britain’s radical postwar government, delivering the end of the Empire … More

OTD in 1918 Countess Markievicz was the first woman elected to the UK House of Commons. Markievicz was an Irish politician, revolutionary, nationalist, suffragist, socialist, the first woman elected to the Westminster Parliament, and was elected Minister for Labour in the First Dáil, becoming the first female cabinet minister in Europe.

Twenty illustrated essays on Irish women, historical and contemporary, who have defied cultural norms around femininity and achieved great things. … More

Born OTD in 1944, the Queen of Rocksteady, Phyllis Dillon. “..it was at the Glass Bucket that Phyllis Dillon met Lynn Taitt after The Vulcans performed. Taitt complimented her singing and suggested she begin recording. He took her a few days later to meet Duke Reid at Treasue Isle Records. She was just 19 years old when she recorded her first tune for Reid, a tune called ‘Don’t Stay Away’, which she had written herself.”

These are the Songbirds: Pioneering Women of Jamaican Music. Featuring exclusive photos and dozens of interviews from the women themselves, … More