ON THIS DAY: 8 July 1822

The 29-year-old English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, an experienced sailor, drowned in a storm in the Gulf of La Spezia, off the west coast of Italy. Accompanying Shelley in his boat, the Don Juan, were his friends: Edward Williams, a retired army officer; naval officer Daniel Roberts; and their 18-year-old boat boy, Charles Vivian. All perished, … Read more

ON THIS DAY: 28 June 1919 

Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles, officially ending WWI, was signed in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, Paris, France. After five years of war, the treaty was signed between the Allied Powers, which included the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Italy, Japan, and Germany. Germany’s allies within … Read more

ON THIS DAY: 17 June 1885

Liberty Island

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to the USA, arrives in New York. The statue represents Libertas, the Roman Goddess of Liberty, and is located on Liberty Island (formerly Bedloe’s Island) in New York Harbour, New York City. The metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel, and the sculptor was Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. … Read more

ON THIS DAY: 9 June 68 AD


Roman Emperor Nero committed suicide at the age of 30.  Nero was adopted at the age of three by his great-uncle, Emperor Claudius, who had married his mother, Agrippina. Nero ascended to the throne at the age of 17 in AD 54 following Claudius’s death (caused by a dish of mushrooms poisoned by Agrippina). Initially, … Read more

ON THIS DAY:  31 May 1859

Big Ben

The Great Bell, known as ‘Big Ben’ in the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster, started ticking for the first time. The clock, designed by Edmund Beckett Denison and constructed by John Dent, chimed for the first time on July 11, 1859. A clock tower is thought to have been on the present site … Read more

ON THIS DAY: 23 May 1934 

Bonnie and Clyde

Bank robbers Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut ‘Champion’ Barrow were gunned down on State Highway 154 south of Gibsland, Louisiana. Bonnie was 23 years old, and Clyde was 25. Six officers hiding in the bushes fired 130 rounds into the car that Bonnie and Clyde had slowed down to assist a decoy car parked … Read more

ON THIS DAY: May 14, 1762

Orange girl

As reported in Lloyd’s Evening Post, ‘Yesterday a Gentlewoman going along Cheapside trod upon a bit of orange peel, by which accident she fell down and sprained her ankle. The like accident happened to a Gentleman in Fleet Street the same day. As many accidents of this kind daily happen, oranges being plenty, it is … Read more

ON THIS DAY: 26 April 1986 


The meltdown of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine occurred. The accident was caused by a system test that ultimately led to explosions, releasing radioactive contaminants that spread across Europe and the Soviet Union. Two plant workers died in the explosion, and 28 people died within weeks due to acute radiation syndrome. 350,000 people … Read more

ON THIS DAY: 6 April 1787 

East Indies Tea Auction

Sales by Candle, as reported in The Times at the New York Coffee House, Sweeting’s Alley, announced the availability of the following goods by auction: 30,000 fine parchment beaver skins, 1,000 beaver coats, and 30,000 ‘Deer in the Hair and Shaved’ [this means the deer skin has been cleaned of flesh]. Sales by candle were popular in … Read more

ON THIS DAY: April 1st, 1918

© Imperial War Museum, London.

The Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom was founded. It amalgamated the Royal Flying Corps (April 13, 1912 – April 1, 1918) and the air arm of the Royal Naval Air Service (July 1, 1914 – April 1, 1918). The newly created RAF was the result of the Smuts Report, prepared by South African … Read more