The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country in north-western Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands within the British Isles. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland. Otherwise, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The total area of the United Kingdom is 93,628 square miles (242,500km2).
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two teenage "star-cross'd lovers" whose untimely deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Its plot is based on an Italian tale, translated into verse as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562, and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1582. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both, but developed supporting characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris, in order to expand the plot. Believed to be written between 1591 and 1595, the play was first published in a quarto version in 1597. The play ascribes different poetic forms to different characters, sometimes changing the form as the character develops. John Gielgud's 1935 version kept very close to Shakespeare's text, and used Elizabethan costumes and staging to enhance the drama. In the 20th century the play has been adapted in versions as diverse as MGM's comparatively faithful 1936 film, the 1950s stage musical West Side Story, and 1996's MTV-inspired Romeo + Juliet. (Fullarticle...)
Dick Turpin (bap. 1705 – 1739) was an English highwayman whose exploits were romanticised following his execution in York for horse theft. Turpin may have followed his father's profession as a butcher early in life, but by the early 1730s he had joined a gang of deer thieves, and later became a poacher, burglar, horse thief, and murderer. He is also known for a fictional 200-mile (320km) overnight ride from London to York on his steed Black Bess, a story that was made famous by the Victorian novelist William Harrison Ainsworth almost 100years after Turpin's death. His involvement in the crime for which he is most closely associated—highway robbery—followed the arrest of the other members of his gang in 1735. He then disappeared from public view towards the end of that year, only to resurface in 1737 with two new accomplices. Later that year he moved to Yorkshire and assumed the alias of John Palmer. While he was staying at an inn local magistrates became suspicious of "Palmer", and made enquiries as to how he funded his lifestyle. Suspected of being a horse thief, "Palmer" was imprisoned in York Castle, to be tried at the next assizes. Turpin's true identity was revealed by a letter he wrote to his brother-in-law from his prison cell, which fell into the hands of the authorities. On 22March 1739 he was found guilty on two charges of horse theft and sentenced to death; he was executed on 7April 1739. He became the subject of legend after his execution, romanticised as dashing and heroic in English ballads, popular theatre, film and television. (Fullarticle...)
Image 38King Alfred the Great statue in Winchester, Hampshire. The 9th-century English king encouraged education in his kingdom, and proposed that primary education be taught in English, with those wishing to advance to holy orders to continue their studies in Latin. (from Culture of the United Kingdom)
Gilbert and Sullivan created fourteen comic operas, including H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado, many of which are still frequently performed today. However, events around their 1889 collaboration, The Gondoliers, led to an argument and a lawsuit dividing the two. In 1891, after many failed attempts at reconciliation by the pair and their producer, Richard D'Oyly Carte, Gilbert and Sullivan's music publisher, Tom Chappell, stepped in to mediate between two of his most profitable artists, and within two weeks he had succeeded. This cartoon in The Entr'acte expresses the magazine's pleasure at the reuniting of D'Oyly Carte (left), Gilbert (centre), and Sullivan (right).
A map of the Battle of Jutland, a naval battle fought by the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet against the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The only full-scale clash of battleships in the war, the Germans intended it to lure out, trap and destroy a portion of the Grand Fleet, as the German naval force was insufficient to openly engage the entire British fleet. Fourteen British and eleven German ships were sunk, and more than 8,000 people were killed. Both sides claimed victory, and dispute over the significance of the battle continues to this day.
France recalls its ambassadors from the United States and Australia in protest of the security pact, which also includes the United Kingdom. The French Foreign Ministry says that the "exceptional decision" was justified by the seriousness of the pact, which has replaced its own security agreement with Australia. (BBC)