22 October-First Parachute Jump from a Balloon

André-Jacques Garnerin was a native of France. He was the inventor of the frameless parachute and is recognized as the world’s first modern parachutist. Garnerin was born in Paris on January 31st 1769. He studied physics and became a successful balloonist and parachutist.

Although the exact origin of the parachute is unknown the idea dates back several centuries. In 852 Armen Firman sustained only minor injuries when he jumped from a tower in Cordoba, Spain using a makeshift parachute. A sketch of a parachute by Leonardo da Vinci dates back to 1485.

André-Jacques Garnerin made the first recorded parachute jump from 1,000m (3,200 feet) above Paris in the year 1797 On This Day.

André-Jacques Garnerin

 

 

20 October-Balfe

Michael Balfe was a composer and musician who was a native of Dublin, Ireland. The Bohemian Girl which contains the aria ‘I Dreamt That I Dwelt in Marble Halls’ is regarded as his most famous composition. During his career he composed over 20 operas and numerous songs.

Michael William Balfe was born in Pitt Street, Dublin on May 15th 1808. The name of the street was changed to Balfe Street by Dublin Corporation in 1917. From a young age his musical talent was apparent. As a child he moved with his family to Wexford. He made his first appearance as a violinist at the age of nine at the Rotunda Concert Rooms in Dublin.

At the age of sixteen Balfe moved to London following the death of his father. He played for a time in the orchestra at Drury Lane theatre before moving to Italy in 1825. He sang leading roles in operas by composers such as Rossini. He returned to London in 1833. In 1835 his popularity was established when his first opera in English, The Siege of Rochelle, was produced at Drury Lane. He became a noted conductor and composer during his lifetime. There is a large statue of Balfe in the entrance foyer of the Drury Lane Theatre Royal, London.

Michael Balfe, composer and musician who was a native of Dublin, died in the year 1870 On This Day.

Michael William Balfe

National Library of France

“The Bohemian girl : opera in three acts” (1880)

 

20 October-Anne Sullivan

Anne Sullivan was a teacher who educated the blind and deaf Helen Keller. She became Keller’s friend and lifelong companion. Sullivan herself had impaired eyesight, having contracted trachoma at the age of five. The story of Sullivan and Keller has been told in various dramas down the years including the in the film 1962 film ‘The Miracle Worker’.

Anne Sullivan was born Johanna Mansfield Sullivan in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts on April 14th 1866. Her parents had emigrated from County Limerick, Ireland to the United States during the 1840’s. Due to her impaired eyesight Sullivan was educated at Perkins School for the Blind in Boston. She underwent several operations which helped improve her vision. She graduated as the valedictorian of her class in 1886.

Following graduation Sullivan was employed by the parents of Helen Keller to teach their 7 year old daughter who was blind and deaf. Sullivan’s efforts were successful and Keller was admitted to Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1900. Sullivan accompanied Keller to college and assisted her with her studies. Keller became the first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1904.

Sullivan and Keller remained close companions. They travelled widely giving lectures and appearing in vaudeville performances. They were awarded honorary degrees from several universities. Anne Sullivan’s health began to decline and she died in New York in 1936. Helen Keller died aged 87 on June 1st 1968.

Anne Sullivan, the teacher who educated the blind and deaf Helen Keller, died aged 70 in the year 1936 On This Day.

Anne Sullivan photo

Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller

Photo by The Library of Congress

 

 

 

 

18 October-Elizabeth Arden

Elizabeth Arden was a businesswoman and beauty pioneer who was a native of Canada. She founded the cosmetics, skin care and fragrance company Elizabeth Arden, Inc. in 1910. The company became an international success and Elizabeth Arden became one of the wealthiest women in the world. In 1962 she purchased Barretstown Castle in Co Kildare. The castle was her home until her death in 1966.

Elizabeth Arden was born Florence Nightingale Graham in Ontario, Canada on December 31st 1878. Having spent time training to be a nurse she moved to New York to work for a pharmaceutical company where she studied skin care. She opened her first salon, The Red Door in New York in 1910. By 1966 there were over 100 Elizabeth Arden salons around the world. Today Elizabeth Arden Inc. is a subsidiary of Revlon, Inc.

Elizabeth Arden, businesswoman, beauty pioneer and founder of Elizabeth Arden, Inc. died aged 87 in the year 1966 On This Day.

 Elizabeth Arden Building New York

Elizabeth Arden Body Lotion

 

16 October-Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was a playwright, novelist, and poet who was a native of Dublin, Ireland. As a writer he is best known for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and his play The Importance of Being Earnest. Apart from his writing, his wit and lifestyle made Wilde one of the best known personalities of his time.

Oscar Wilde was born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born at 21 Westland Row, Dublin in 1854. He was educated at Portora Royal School at Enniskillen and at Trinity College Dublin. Following graduation from Trinity, Wilde was awarded a scholarship for further study at Magdalen College in Oxford.

Having completed his studies at Oxford in 1878, Wilde moved to London where he began writing poetry. In 1882 he travelled to North America where he spent almost a year on a lecture tour. He spent the following year on the lecture circuit in Ireland and England before taking up a post as editor of a woman’s magazine.

During his time as editor Wilde began writing what would be his most famous works. By 1890 he was one of the most successful playwrights of his time. In February 1895 the Marquis of Queensbury accused Wilde of being a sodomite. Wilde sued him for slander but lost.

In the trial which followed Wilde was found guilty of gross indecency and sentenced in May 1895 to two years of imprisonment. On being released he moved to France where he died on November 30th 1900. He is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Oscar Wilde, playwright, novelist, and poet, was born in Dublin in the year 1854 On This Day.