ON THIS DAY: August 24, 2018

August 24th is

Pluto Demoted Day *

Sack Like a Visigoth Day *

Strange Music Day *

Vesuvius Day *

William Willberforce Day *


MORE! Sophie Brahe, Stephen Fry and Ava DuVernay, click



India – Thiruvananthapuram:
First Onam (Harvest festival/carnival)

Liberia – National Flag Day

Switzerland – Zürich: Openair Festival

Ukraine – Independence Day


On This Day in HISTORY

79 – (Traditional date) After centuries of dormancy, Mount Vesuvius erupts, buries Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae – Vesuvius Day *

The Eruption of Vesuvius, by Abraham Pether – painted 1825

410 – The Sack of Rome: The city is attacked by the Visigoths led by King Alaric. Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, having been replaced in that position first by Mediolanum in 286 and then by Ravenna in 402. But Rome retains a paramount position as “the eternal city” and a spiritual center of the Empire. The sack is a major shock to contemporaries, friends and foes of the Empire alike, the first time in almost 800 years that Rome has fallen to a foreign enemy (see also 2017 entry)

1215 – Pope Innocent III declares the Magna Carta invalid

1349 – 6,000 Jews, blamed for the bubonic plague, are killed in Mainz, Germany

1456 – The first printing of the Guttenberg Bible is completed

1552 – Lavania Fontana born, Italian painter; considered the first woman professional artist; she supported the family, her husband took care of the house and kids

La Regina di Saba e Salomone (Solomon and Sheba)
by Lavinia Fontana

1556 – Sophie Brahe born, Danish horticulturalist, genealogist, and student of chemistry and medicine; assisted her brother, astronomer Tycho Brahe, with observing and recording

1572 – St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre – French King Charles IX, swayed by his mother Catherine de Medici, orders the assassination of leaders of the French Protestants, called Huguenots, in Paris, which becomes a bloodbath, killing 70,000 protestants, and causing a resumption of the French religious civil war

1662 – Act of Uniformity requires all English to accept Book of Common Prayer

1669 – Alessandro Marcello born, Italian composer

1724 – George Stubbs born, English painter and draftsman

Horse and Dog by George Stubbs

1759 – William Wilberforce is born, head of English parliamentary campaign to abolish the slave trade. Small in stature, but with a fine speaking voice and a sharp wit, he tirelessly advocated for ending the slave trade, in spite of his numerous health problems, from 1789 until the passage of Abolition of the Slave Trade bill in 1807.  William Wilberforce Day * honors his persistence

1814 – British forces capture Washington DC, set fire to the Capitol and the President’s Mansion (now called the White House), the only time the city has been occupied by a foreign force. First Lady Dolley Madison organizes the household staff and slaves of the presidential residence to save valuables and records as the British are entering the city

1847 – Charles McKim born, influential American architect

Courtyard of the Boston Public Library, designed by McKim, completed in 1895

1857 – The Panic of 1857 becomes first world-wide economic crisis, brought on by an international economic downturn and over-expansion of U.S. economy, but sparked by the sinking of SS Central America carrying a large shipment of gold to  NY banks, combined with failure of Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company

1869 – Cornelius Swarthout patents the waffle iron *

1890 – Ella Rees Williams born, Dominican-English author of novels and short stories, under pen name Jean Rhys; Wide Sargasso Sea

1891 – Thomas Edison patents the motion picture camera

1898 – Malcolm Cowley born, American novelist, poet, and critic; New Republic editor

1899 – Jorge Luis Borges born, Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator; Labyrinths

1900 – Maria Zubreeva born, Russian Soviet realist (Leningrad school) painter and portraitist, graphic artist and designer

1903 – Graham Sutherland born, English Surrealist painter

The Dying Swan, by Graham Sutherland – c. 1942

1904 – Ida Cook born, English novelist under the pen name Mary Burchell, and Jewish rescuer; with her sister, Mary Louise Cook, and funded mainly by her writing, helped 29 Jews escape from the Nazis during the late 1930s, and smuggled valuables out of Germany for Jewish families, after Jews were severely restricted by law in what they could take with them; ‘Mary Buchell’ was known for her romance novels; as Ida Cook, she published We Followed Our Stars, the story of the sisters’ rescue operation; in 1965, the Cook sisters were honored as Righteous Gentiles by Yad Vashem in Israel

Ida, left, and Mary Louise Cook in 1926

1905 – Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup born, American Delta Blues singer-songwriter; best-known songs are “That’s All Right” “My Baby Left Me” and “So Glad You’re Mine”

1909 – Workers begin pouring concrete for the Panama Canal

1926 – Nancy Spero born, American visual artist, anti-war and feminist activist, noted for epic-scale works, including a linear mosaic in NY subway walls at Lincoln Center station, and collage on paper; member of the Art Workers Coalition, Women Artists in Revolution, and Ad Hoc Committee of Women Artists; founding member of A.I.R. Gallery (Artists in Residence)

 A section from Artemis, Acrobats, Divas and Dancers (2001), a glass and ceramic mosaic on NY subway platform walls at the Lincoln Center station

1929 – Betty Dodson born, American sex educator, artist and author, pioneer in women’s sexual liberation

1932 – Amelia Earhart is the first woman to fly nonstop across the U.S., from Los Angeles to Newark NJ in just over 19 hours

1936 – Antonia Duffy born, uses pen name A. S. Byatt, English novelist and poet; Angels and Insects,  Babel Tower


1937 – Susan Sheehan born, American author; won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction for Is There No Place on Earth for Me?, her landmark book on mental illness and the mental-health system; staff writer for The New Yorker

1938 – Mason Williams born, American guitarist and composer; Classical Gas

1940 – Francine Lalonde born, Canadian member of the House of Commons 1993-2011 (for two different districts); campaigned for Assisted Suicide/Death With Dignity bill

1945 – Ronee Blakley born, singer-songwriter, actor, producer; women’s rights activist

1948 – Alexander McCall Smith born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), British internationally best-selling author, and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law, expert on bioethics; notable for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and the 44 Scotland Street Series

1949 – The North Atlantic Treaty goes into effect

1950 – Edith Sampson becomes the first black U.S. delegate to the U.N.

Eleanor Roosevelt with Edith Sampson

1952 – Marion Bloem born, Indonesian-Dutch writer and filmmaker; author of Geen gewoon Indisch meisje (No Ordinary Indo Girl) and as director of the feature film Ver van familie (Far from Family)

1954 – Congress passes the Communist Control Act, declaring the Communist Party to be an “agency of a hostile foreign power”

1957 – Stephen Fry born, English comedian, writer, presenter and activist; teamed with Hugh Laurie, he made A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster, then starred in the British television series Kingdom; hosted the documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, and the travel series Stephen Fry in America; author of four novels and three volumes of memoirs; active supporter of the Labour Party, and an advocate for LGBT rights, Palestinian rights and the organization Sense About Science

1959 – Meg Munn born, Deputy Chair of the Board of Governors of Sheffield Hallam University, and Chair of the British Council’s Society Advisory Group; international consultant on governance, including parliamentary processes gender, political party development, gender mainstreaming and women in leadership, working with organizations such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women; British Labour Member of Parliament (2001-2015); advocate for women in STEM and other non-traditional careers

1967 – Led by Abbie Hoffman, the Youth International Party  temporarily disrupts trading at the New York Stock Exchange by throwing dollar bills from the viewing gallery, causing trading to cease as brokers scramble to grab them.

1970 – A  bomb, planted anti-war extremists, explodes at the University of Wisconsin’s Army Research Center; a researcher is killed

1972 – Ava Du Vernay born, American producer, director, screenwriter and film distributor; the first African American woman to win the Sundance Film Festival  directing award, in 2012 for Middle of Nowhere; Director of the feature film Selma, which was nominated for an Academy award as Best Picture 2014, and the recently released A Wrinkle in Time; creator and producer of the TV series, Queen Sugar

1981 – Mark David Chapman sentenced to 20 years-to-life for killing John Lennon

1991 – Ukraine declares its independence from the Soviet Union

1994 – An initial accord between Israel and the PLO giving partial self-rule to Palestinians on the West Bank

1998 – Musician Patrick Grant starts Strange Music Day * – “listen to a CD you never heard before, just for the hell of it”

2006 – Pluto Demoted * – 424 astronomers still present on final day of the International Astronomical Union meeting in Prague, less than 5% of the world’s astronomers, voted to demote Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet

2017 – Sack Like a Visigoth Day * is inaugurated – if you love Talk Like a Pirate Day, this one’s right up your alley (see also year 410 entry) – How to play  along:


About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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