Born OTD in 1901, Cyril Lionel Robert James, was a Trinidadian historian, journalist, socialist & widely known as a writer on cricket. His works are influential in various theoretical, social, and historiographical contexts. His work is a staple of subaltern studies, and he figures as a pioneering and influential voice in postcolonial literature.

C.L.R. James is one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable individuals. As the author of the influential book The Black … More

OTD in 1853, after having been kidnapped and sold into slavery in the American South, Solomon Northup regains his freedom; his memoir Twelve Years a Slave later becomes a national bestseller. The shocking first-hand account of one man’s remarkable fight for freedom. `Why had I not died in my young years – before God had given me children to love & live for? What unhappiness & suffering & sorrow it would have prevented. I sighed for liberty; but the bondsman’s chain was round me, & could not be shaken off.’ 1841: Solomon Northup is a successful violinist when he is kidnapped & sold into slavery.

Taken from his family in New York State – with no hope of ever seeing them again – and forced … More

Born OTD in 1883, English soldier, lawyer & politician, Clement Attlee. The government he led built the post-war consensus, based upon the assumption that full employment would be maintained by Keynesian policies and that a greatly enlarged system of social services would be created – aspirations that had been outlined in the 1942 Beveridge Report. Within this context, his government undertook the nationalisation of public utilities and major industries, as well as the creation of the National Health Service.

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

The first novel by James Joyce, ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’, was published OTD in 1916. It traces the religious & intellectual awakening of young Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter ego of Joyce & an allusion to Daedalus, the consummate craftsman of Greek mythology. Stephen questions & rebels against the Catholic & Irish conventions under which he has grown, culminating in his self-exile from Ireland to Europe.

With an Introduction and Notes by Dr. Jacqueline Belanger, University of Cardiff. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young … More

Born OTD in 1936, Jamaican pianist, Theophilus Beckford. “..Ellis further compounds what many have claimed was the turning point, when a slightly wonky shuffle beat became highlighted within the traditional 12-bar blues structure, paving the way for ska. The guy really start that off-beat thing, Theophilus Beckford.”

Behind Jamaica’s musical reverberation lies the unlikely story of a boarding school run by Roman Catholic nuns and a brass … More

Born OTD in 1957, English singer-songwriter, guitarist & political activist, Billy Bragg. The title Roots, Radicals and Rockers suggests that someone at the publishing house experienced a slight failure of nerve, perhaps concluding that the term skiffle nowadays lacks charisma, or even the recognition factor, and coming up instead with a form of words more appropriate to a history of reggae in the 1970s. But Billy Bragg’s book is indeed the story of skiffle, from its origins in Britain’s postwar traditional jazz movement to its eventual eclipse by rock’n’roll.

Emerging from the jazz clubs of the early 1950s, skiffle – a uniquely British take on American folk and blues … More

OTD in 1843, Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, was first published. The new Laureate na nÓg, P.J. Lynch captures the spirit of Dickens’s beloved tale in a richly illustrated, unabridged paperback edition. A Christmas Carol has become as much a part of Christmas as trees, stockings and mistletoe. Ireland’s new Children’s Laureate P.J. Lynch breathes new life into Dickens’s classic ghostly tale for this magnificent paperback edition. Ebenezer Scrooge is a mean old skinflint, and our story opens on a Christmas Eve as cold as his heart.

In the dead of night, Scrooge is visited by the tormented ghost of his old friend Jacob Marley. Having led … More

Born OTD in 1945, English novelist who writes for children’s literature, Jacqueline Wilson. Her children’s novels frequently feature themes of adoption, divorce, and mental illness, and sometimes written from an historical perspective. Hetty Feather is a Foundling Hospital girl and was given her name when she was left there as a baby. When she is reunited with her mother, she hopes her beautiful new name, Sapphire Battersea, will also mean a new life! But things don’t always go as planned… Follow the twists and turns of Hetty’s adventure as she goes out to work as a maid for a wealthy man.

She longs to be reunited with her childhood sweetheart Jem – but also finds a new sweetheart, Bertie the butcher’s … More

Born OTD in 1916, English novelist, poet, essayist and biographer, Penelope Fitzgerald. The novel, set mainly in 1959, centres around Florence Green, a middle-aged widow, who decides to open a bookshop in the small coastal town of Hardborough, Suffolk. The location she chooses is the Old House, an abandoned, damp property said to be haunted by a poltergeist. After many sacrifices, Florence manages to start her business, which grows for about a year after which sales slump…

Florence has tried to change the way things have always been done, and as a result, she has to take … More