Famous People from London
(1932-10-27 - 1963-02-11 )
, Address in London: Chalcot Square near the Primrose Hill Regent's Park / 23 Fitzroy Road
This renowned American confessional poet and novelist, was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. During the Great Depression the family moved to Winthrop, where 8-year old Sylvia published her first poem in the children's section of the Boston Herald. She attended Smith College, from which she graduated with honours in 1955. Because of her suicide attempts, she was placed in a mental institution for a short time. Later, when she obtained a Fullbright scholarship, Plath continued her education at Cambridge University, where she met her future husband, the English poet Ted Hughes. From 1957 to 1956 the married couple lived and worked in Massachusetts. This time was also influential for Plath, as she taught at Junior College, but she also, while in Boston, attended seminars given by Robert Lowell. When Sylvia got pregnant, the family moved to London, and later to North Tawton in Devon, where Plath's first collection of poetry 'The Colossus' was published. She had a miscarriage, but later two children, Frieda and Nicholas, were born, although the marriage ended with a separation. Sylvia Plath was also an author of 'The Bell Jar', her autobiographical novel. Her second collection of poems was entitled 'Ariel', while 'The Collected Poems' was published posthumously in 1981, earning her the Pulitzer Prize the next year. She died tragically, committing suicide at her flat on Fitzroy Road.
(1564-04 - 1616-04-23 )
, Address in London: the parish of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate
Shakespeare, author of about 38 plays, definitely changed the state of the theatrical world. Although many details of his life remain a mystery, his works have been translated into numerous languages, and have defined the standards of literature. Born in the town of Stratford-on-Avon, he went to the local grammar school, and probably became a teacher. He was only eighteen when he married Anne Hathaway. About three years later the couple and their children moved to London. In the early 1590s, Shakespeare's first comedies were produced. By late 1594 he was recognised not only as a writer, but also an actor and co-owner of an acting company, Lord Chamberlain's Men, who, from 1603, became known as the King's Men. Every summer season they performed at the famous Globe Theatre in London. Shakespeare's writings can be divided into comedies ('A Midsummer Night's Dream', 'The Merchant of Venice', 'As You Like It'), histories ('Henry VI', 'Richard III', 'Henry VIII'), tragedies ('Romeo and Juliet', 'Julius Caesar', 'Otello', 'Mackbeth', 'Hamlet', 'King Lear') and poems ('Shakespeare's Sonnets', V'enus and Adonis'). His last production was 'The Tempest', staged in 1611. Later, Shakespeare moved back to his hometown, where he died on his birthday in 1616.
(1908-05-28 - 1964-08-12 )
, Address in London: 22 Ebury Street, Belgravia
This British writer is primarily associated with the character of James Bond which he created. He was also a journalist, and during World War II he served as a Naval Officer. Born in Mayfair, London to a prominent family, he received his education from Durnford School in Dorset, Eton College as well as from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was also sent to Kitzbühel in Austria, Munich University and University of Geneva, to improve his German and French. Eventually, he stared to work for Reuters, spending some time in Moskow in 1933, and back in London he was a stockbroker with Rowe and Pitman, in Bishopsgate. During World War II, Fleming developed an Allied plan enabling communication with Gibraltar and monitoring Spain after the Spanish Civil War. Called “Operation Goldeneye,” it was later ascribed to Fleming's private Jamaican estate, and in 1995 – used as a title of the seventeenth James Bond film. After war, in 1953, Fleming published his first novel, 'Casino Royale', introducing the secret agent 007. Throughout 1950s and 1960s he wrote 14 Bond novels all together which brought the author much acclaim and financial success. In 1961 he sold the film rights to them. As a result result, in 1962, Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli produced the film version of 'Dr. No'. Fleming died of a heart attack in Canterbury, Kent, England, leaving notes for future stories or novels unfinished.
(2008-01-25 - 2008-01-25 )
, Address in London: born at 29 Polygon Square / 24 Chester Square, Knightsbridge
Born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley in the London area of Somers Town, she remains renowned as Mary Shelley, the author of 'Frankenstein'. She was the second wife to the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her mother Mary Wollstonecraft – feminist, educator and writer, died only ten days after Shelly's birth. Some time after, her father married the widow Mary Jane Clairmont. Having been exceptionally well educated at home, Mary was encouraged to write, and some claim a children's book Mounseer Nongtongpaw from 1808 to be her first attempt. She met her future husband and his wife Harriet in 1812 in London, as Percy was a friend of the Godwins. In 1816 the couple travelled to Switzerland, and the summer spent at Lake Geneva inspired Mary to write her masterpiece, which she finished by the spring of 1817. Percy and Mary would marry in the late 1816, after the tragic death of Harriet Shelley. After moving from place to place in England, they eventually settled in Italy, in the Province of La Spezia. Percy Bysshe died there in the summer of 1822, drowning during a boat trip. Mary Shelly devoted herself to promoting his works, however she also wrote several novels herself, such as The 'Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck', 'Falkner', 'Lodore', 'Mathilda' and 'The Last Man'. She died from a brain tumour in Bournemouth, England, where she is buried in St. Peter's Church.
(1843-04-15 - 1916-02-28 )
Born in New York, Henry James was a renowned American novelist, who was educated in Europe, and in 1869 he settled in England. His father was a theologian and his brother, William James, became the philosopher and psychologist. In 1864, he his first short story, 'A Tragedy of Error', was published anonymously. Throughout his literary career he produced different genres; novels, short stories, literary criticism, travel writing, as well as biographies and an autobiography. Among his 22 novels the topic of the cultural differences between the American and European people was common. These include 'The Europeans', a story about a European princess and her brother visiting their cousins in New England, and 'The Ambassadors' about Americans in Paris. Among his other works one should list 'The Portrait of a Lady', 'The Golden Bowl' and 'The Turn of the Screw'. James lived for a short period in Paris, until he moved permanently to England, where he firstly dwelt in an apartment in London, and later in the historic Lamb House in Rye, East Sussex. Aged 56, the author met a young Norwegian-American sculptor, Hendrik Christian Andersen, and they developed a close friendship that lasted till James' death. He visited the United States in 1904–05. In 1915, upon the outbreak of World War I, he became a British citizen. He died in London at the end of that same year.
(1913-11-05 - 1967-07-07 )
, Address in London: 53 Eaton Square, Knightsbridge
And I'd been playing it then for ten months – nine months in London and one month in New York. Every single night I'm nervous.
This beautiful English actress is particularly remembered for her two film roles, Scarlett O'Hara in 'Gone with the Wind' and Blanche DuBois in 'A Streetcar Named Desire', especially considering that for both of them she won Academy Awards for Best Actress. She also played Blanche on the stages of West End in London. She was born in Darjeeling, British India as Vivian Mary Hartley. Educated in Europe, she was enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In 1931, she met Herbert Leigh Holman, her future husband. After giving birth to their daughter, she had her film debut in T'hings Are Looking Up', however it wasn't until the play 'The Mask of Virtue' (1935) that she gained acclaim from the critics. Two years later she played in the film drama 'Fire Over England' with the talented actor Laurence Olivier, whom she soon after had an affair with. Later, she went to Hollywood to take part in David O. Selznick's production of 'Gone with the Wind' (1939), which brought her international renown. In 1949, Vivien and Olivier married, after having divorced their then-spouses. The couple often played together, for instance in the 'Romeo and Juliet' stage production on Broadway or in 'That Hamilton Woman' (1941). They went back to England, and in 1943 she performed for the troops in North Africa. In London she devoted herself more to theatre, while suffering health problems towards the end of her career. In 1963 Leigh won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in the Broadway musical 'Tovarich'. Two years after her death, there was a plaque placed in her memory in the actors' church St Paul's, Covent Garden.
(1907-05-22 - 1989-07-11 )
Sir Laurence Oliver was one of the most acclaimed English actors of the 20th Century and was a holder of many international film awards, including Oscars and Golden Globe. Due to his achievements in British theatre he was knighted in 1947 and made baron in 1970. Born in Dorking, Surrey, he was educated firstly at the All Saint's Choir School in London, later at the Elsie Fogerty's Central School of Speech Training, and at the Dramatic Arts St Edward's School in Oxford. He had his stage debut at the age of fourteen, in the school production, 'The Taming of the Shrew', while a role in 'The Ghost Train' marked his professional debut on the stage. From 1926 to 1928 Laurence Olivier was a member of the Birmingham Repertory Company. His talent was noticed by critics in the early 30s after his performance in 'Private Lives' and in 'Romeo and Juliet'. Soon after, he became a star of the Old Vic Theatre, playing major Shakespearean roles. In 1937, he starred with Vivien Leigh in the film Fire Over England, which was the start of their relationship as well as their artistic cooperation. From 1939 he was a popular Hollywood actor, especially due such films as 'Wuthering Heights', Hitchock's 'Rebecca', and 'Pride and Prejudice' by MGM. In 1944 Laurence was appointed co-director of the Old Vic, and that same year he had his debut as a director with 'Henry V'. Notably, he was one of the founders of the National Theatre, directing nine and appearing in twelve plays during that time.
(1757-11-28 - 1827-08-12 )
, Address in London: 28A Broad Street, Golden Square
I wandered through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
London-born William Blake was a poet, artist and an illustrator, who claimed to have visionary powers and was deeply interested in mysticism. Raised in a numerous family of English Dissenters, he was educated at home, where the Bible was commonly read. By 1772, he became an apprentice engraver at the Great Queen Street, and later enrolled at the Royal Academy School and began working as an illustrator for magazines. In the early 1780s, William Blake met John Flaxman, who soon became his patron, and Catherine Boucher, his future wife. His 'Poetical Sketches' were published around 1783. In his thirties, he experimented with relief etching, and illuminated manuscripts, which he incorporated into his most famous written works, such as 'Songs of Innocence' and 'Experience', 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell', and J'erusalem'. Blake is frequently associated with his allegorical painting of the scientist Isaac Newton, as well as with his illustrations to the Biblical Book of Job. At the end of his life he began his work on a series of engravings for Dante's 'Inferno'.