2.12 Language & Culture

'Britain's record of scientific achievement and magnificent literary and cultural heritage remains unmatched by any other country since classical antiquity. English is the world's second language, used in most means of communication, from cyberspace to air-traffic control.' [Source: Sykes]

English language: English seems not to have been brought over to Britain as part of the Anglo-Saxon influx after AD 450, as was once thought; lexical (vocabulary) research by Cambridge scientist Peter Forster and Continental colleagues indicates that the language was spoken in Britain before the Roman period (AD 43-410); whereas Roman Latin produced the new languages of French and Spanish in Gaul (France) and Hispania (Spain), English owes little to it

'Tacitus, in his Life of Agricola (c. 21), takes occasion to notice the stubborn attachment of the Briton to his native tongue. And it is one of the most remarkable facts connected with the occupation of Britain by the Romans, that though they entirely recast the languages of the Continent through the medium of their own, they did not leave probably a hundred Latin words behind them in Britain: within twenty years of their departure Latin had ceased to be spoken in the island.' (R W Morgan, St. Paul in Britain, 1861)

Many English words are of profound antiquity; a tomb tablet reckoned to be over 5,000 years old found south of Troy is thought to read, poignantly, ‘Cut (original: khat) mud (mad) from sick (sig) good girl (kud gal), let her (er) bide (bid) in angel’s house (es)’ [Source: Waddell]; English is generally regarded as a West Germanic language, along with German and Dutch, yet there are grounds for a more profound view, as indicated by the lexical research cited above and for other reasons; the British Chronicles state that the sons of King Ebraucus, the Ancient British founder of York who ruled 900s BC, conquered what is now Germany and settled there; a later British occupation of Denmark is also recorded in the British Chronicles, still in pre-Roman times; the post-Roman coming of the Angles, Frisians, Saxons and Jutes from the AD mid-400s onwards can thus be regarded as to some extent a return, with their speaking a tongue related to that of their British forebears; the Welsh Histories state under the date AD 826 that the language that prevailed in the land to the east of Wales was that of the ‘Icinglas’, who were the Iceni tribal nation of Boudicca [Source: Wilson & Blacket]; the Iceni were probably the descendants of Albyne [see Monarchs], who journeyed to Britain from Chaldean Syria; from Icinglas comes ‘English’ and hence ‘England’, in this view; the English language is thus anciently derived from Chaldean Syria, while having West Germanic influences; it has been said that England (French: Angleterre) was named after the incoming Angles, yet they were a relatively obscure minority among the migrants; the reality seems to be that the Angles were named after the original Ancient British and their return confirmed the local name or restored it; the Anglo-Saxons were illiterate and less cultured than the native Britons, note, and we are told by the chroniclers that they adopted the native laws of Dunvallo Molmutius, the Molmutine Laws, which date from around 420 BC; they were also pagans, hence Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, commemorating the gods Tiw, Woden, Thor and Woden’s wife Frig (Saturday is named for Saturn, Sunday for the sun and Monday for the moon); the first English word written down is reckoned to be keel, from ceol, an Anglo-Saxon boat; as noted above, for all that the Romans influenced Britain for over three centuries, their residual impact on the modern everyday vocabulary of English is minimal; in a chronology of firsts there is this:

Document in the English language (known): Henry III's Oxford Provision'
[Source: Robertson/Shell]

Robert Manning was the first author in English, eschewing Latin; his book of 1303 took as its subject sin and the Ten Commandments; 'For men unlearned I undertook, In English speech to write this book'; William Caxton printed the first book in English, TheRecuyell of the Histories of Troy, in 1474 [see William Caxton]; half a millenium later English is now the world’s number one language; it is the first universal language since Latin, while going well beyond that to become the first truly global lingua franca, taking together native speakers, second-language speakers and the vast numbers of people who have a serviceable smattering of the language; studies have shown that a common second language boosts trade, so the rise of English has had a positive global economic impact; English has the largest vocabulary of any language, at over a million words – including many with barmy spellings – and the most diverse shades of meanings; it is noted for concision; translations from English to most other languages result in a text 20-40% longer, though Arabic and Chinese are more concise; compressing information in the form of acronyms is easy; English is known for its insouciant borrowings from over 350 other languages; word order is flexible; ungendered nouns; pronouns are minimally inflected; there is an absence of diacritical marks (the dots and squiggles adjacent to letters in many other languages); by having only a single form of ‘you’ English is implicity democratic and egalitarian, respecting the rights and dignity of each individual; native speakers, mostly themselves monoglots, are uncritical of the errors of non-native speakers, appreciating instead that it is they who are taking the trouble to communicate; some dream of improving the language, for instance by an end to British overspelling (e.g. note the superfluous me and u in programme and colour) and to American overpunctuation (e.g. note the redundant comma after ‘carrots’ in ‘…cabbage, carrots, and peas’); English is the working language of the United Nations; the world literature in English is second to none; English is spoken internationally because of the British Empire and because of that lost jewel in the British imperial crown, America, in that order; it was the language of the first globalisation, in the late 1880s, and has been the language of the second globalisation, since the 1990s [see Globalisation]

English Renaissance: 1500s; the European Renaissance rediscovery of classical form and resulting burst of creativity started in Italy in the 1300s, but its most urgently vibrant manifestation in terms of cultural ferment was in England 200 years later

William Shakespeare: 1564-1616; world’s greatest playwright; also poet (154 sonnets); candidate for foremost Englishman of all time, writing of ‘this royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle’; model for other nations of writer creating national identity; he is credited with inventing the concept of human personality; “Next to God, Shakespeare has created most” (Balzac); Shakespeare's plays were collected and printed together in 1623, providing a publication referred to as the First Folio; the Bard was born and died on the celebration day of England’s patron saint, St George; he famously spelt his surname differently on different occasions, never in fact using ‘Shakespeare’; an anagram of ‘William Shakespeare’ is ‘we all make his praise’

Theatrical tradition
Globally unrivalled; many centuries of fine drama

First recorded play in Britain:Saint Catherine by Geoffrey, Abbot of St Albans, presented in Dunstable, Beds, 1110 [Source: Robertson/Shell

Playwrights: The Bard (i.e. William Shakespeare, see above), Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Aphra Behn (the first woman playwright; see Aphra Behn) etc

Theatres: Royal Shakespeare Company (world’s largest theatre company); National Theatre; Globe; London’s West End

Famous actors: Edmund Kean, David Garrick, Henry Irving, Ellen Terry – described by George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde as the ‘the uncrowned Queen of England’ – John Geilgud, Michael Redgrave, Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier, Alec Guinness etc; not forgetting Nell Gwyn, mistress of Charles II and beloved by the people and the monarch; his last words were of her

Over 1200 years of it; the world’s greatest

Tysilio Chronicle: a history of Britain written around AD 600 by the princely monk St Tysilio [see Sources & More 18]; Tysilio was in the tradition of British pioneers, as his was the first written history of a Western nation in a vernacular tongue (Old Welsh); the Tysilio Chronicle was the basis of a later historical work of Europe-wide impact [see below, Geoffrey of Monmouth]

Caedmon: the earliest named poet in Old English, AD mid-600s

Beowulf: anonymous epic poem, the only surviving complete saga in Old English; composed in Britain, but when and where are moot; it may have been written in the early AD 700s at the court of the Swedish Wulfing dynasty of East Anglia and hark back to people and deeds in Scandinavia; with this view, the greatest Arthurian chronologist of the nineteenth century [see Arthur] begs to differ:

‘Of these [Anglo-Saxon literary] remains the poem of Beowulf is the grandest... Its origin has been referred to Scandinavian kingdoms, and to a period antecedent to the immigration into Britain of the Teutonic race; and its subject to the misty regions of mythology... I regard it as the composition of a Northumbrian scóp [Old English poet], familiar with the scenes he describes, and acquainted with persons who had been cotemporary [sic] with some of his heroes; I believe that all the [realistic] events he records...occurred in this island and most of them in Northumbria, during the fifth and sixth centuries... Eormenric [of Kent], Theodric [his nephew],  Ætla [reigned in Norfolk], and others who figure in the grand cycle of Teutonic romance, were kings and chieftains who flourished in England, in the first half of the sixth century... sagas, originally English, were carried to the continent [in the AD 500s]... That Scyld [AD 375], Beowulf, and Haelfdene reigned in Northumbria, as Hrothgar certainly did, is very probable... Such is the history of a family who appear to have originally settled in the districts north of the wall [Hadrian’s], afterwards borne part in the enterprise of Horsa and Hencgest [AD 428; see Saxons], and eventually moved southward, and occupied the southern division of what is now the county of Durham... Thus does the history of Beowulf bring us to the commencement of the authentic history of Northumbria...’ (Daniel H Haigh, The Anglo-Saxon Sagas; an Examination of Their Value as Aids to History; a Sequel to the “History of the Conquest of Britain by the Saxons”, 1861, pp 2-3, 3, 4, 6, 16-17, 17, 27, 88)

Geoffrey of Monmouth: his Historia Regum Britannaiae (History of the Kings of Britain) of 1136 [see Sources] represents a 'flowery expansion' of a history of Britain originally penned c600 called the Tysilio Chronicle [see above, Sources & More 18], according to renowned archaeologist and historian Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) [see William Flinders Petrie]; to state this claim clearly, Geoffrey took an earlier version of what has come down to us as the Tysilio Chronicle and wrote it up in his own colourful way, adding and subtracting material as he saw fit; Geoffrey’s work engendered a literary historical renaissance across Europe, inspiring the Arthurian romances; these in turn spurred on the Age of Chivalry that saw the foundation of the Order of the Garter in 1348 by Edward III, to celebrate his victory at Crécy two years before and the taking of Calais in the Hundred Years’ War against France [see Edward III]; Geoffrey wrote Britain's Old Testament and was mostly right in what he said

Geoffrey Chaucer:The Canterbury Tales, 1342

Elizabethan poetry: 154 sonnets were quilled by William Shakespeare [see above], who was among many practitioners of the art during this period

Holinshed’s Chroniclesthis epic history of the British Isles first appeared in 1577 [see Sources]; engendered in a London printer's shop and the labour of at least twenty-five years, the  Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland was the largest book published in England up to that time; especially in its expanded second edition of 1587, this stupendous work of Tudor scholarship was the chronicle to end all chronicles, where a chronicle is defined as a compiled broad record of historical events ordered chronologically; Holinshed's Chronicles was used as an inspiring source-work by William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and others

'The roots of the chronicle as a literary form lie, of course, in the Old Testament...the two books of Chronicles dilineate the peace and prosperity enjoyed by rulers...who ‘did that which was right in the sight of the Lord’ and the adversities and plagues visited upon...[those] who lapsed into idolatry and kindled the wrath of the Almighty.' (The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed’s Chronicles, 2013, p429)

'…it is one of the great printing achievements in British literary history, alongside Caxton, the King James Bible, the First Folio and Abraham Farley’s Domesday Book' (Michael Wood, introduction to Holinshed: Chronicles, Folio Society, 2012; for further information on these topics see William Caxton, Bible in English & William Shakespeare; for Domesday Book, see William the Conqueror; note that Farley's Domesday Book was the first printed version, 1783)

'...it remains a treasure-trove of evidence and information 'fruitfull to such as be studious in antiquities'.' (The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed’s Chronicles, 2013, p19)

Metaphysicals: notably John Donne

John Milton: 1608-1674; wrote of ‘a nation not slow or dull, but of quick, ingenious and piercing spirit, acute to invent, subtle and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point that human capacity can soar to.’

Alexander Pope: the most brilliant poet and wit of England’s Augustan Age

Romantics: William Wordsworth, Percey Bysshe Shelley, John Keats

Lord Byron: early 1800s bestselling poet and leading Romantic; George Gordon, Lord Byron, was the world’s first superstar celebrity and sex symbol; ‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’, according to Lady Caroline Lamb, an intimate

Robert Burns: national bard of Scotland, an Ayrshire labourer and tax collector; his are the words to Auld Lang Syne, the second most song sung after Happy Birthday

Other notables: Thomas Hardy, Robert Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Dylan Thomas

Samuel Pepys: Diary; covers the period 1660-9: Pepys was a naval admistrator of genius, who yet lived life to the utmost

James Boswell:Life of Johnson, 1791

Jonathan Swift:Gulliver’s Travels, 1726

Rise of the novel: Daniel Defoe (c1660-1731), Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), Henry Fielding (1707-54); the modern novel as an international literary form was a British creation of the 1700s, with Defoe’s Moll Flanders of 1721 being regarded as the first modern character-driven novel; this development brought with it, among other things, quotation marks [see below, Typography]

19th century novel: Walter Scott invented for the West the historical novel, with Ivanhoe and Rob Roy; he produced 27 novels in 18 prolific years; Jane Austen, among whose six novels is the vibrantly witty Pride and Prejudice of 1813, which is judged by many to be the greatest-ever love and courtship story; the Bront ё sisters (1816-55), Charlotte, Emily & Anne; Charles Dickens produced 16 books in 34 years; George Eliot, seven novels in 17 years; Thomas Hardy; Charles Dickens etc

20th century writing: D H Lawrence – Sons and Lovers, Women in Love; John Galsworthy – The Forsyte Saga; George Orwell – Animal Farm, 1984

Rudyard Kipling: If is the most translated and anthologized poem; it was Gandhi’s favourite poem

Limerick: the first appeared in London in 1752 [Source: Robertson]

Humorous writing: this is regarded as an authentic British invention, with exemplars including Jerome K Jerome (Three Man in a Boat, 1889), P G Wodehouse (Right ho, Jeeves, 1933), Tom Sharpe (Wilt, 1976) & Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 1979); seeing the funny side of life is an islander trait [see British values]

Spy fiction was invented by Erskine Childers, The Riddle of the Sands, 1902

Crime fiction: Edgar Allan Poe, an American writer with an English mother, produced the first detective story, in 1841, The Murders in the Rue Morgue; fittingly, Poe’s own death was one of the most mysterious in literary history; the world's first detective novel was The Notting Hill Mystery of 1862/3, by Charles Warren Adams, which appeared before, for example, Wilkie Collins's more impressive The Moonstone (1868); the crime fiction genre really took off though with the Sherlock Holmes mysteries of Arthur Conan Doyle, from 1887; the books of crime writer Agatha Christie, 1890-1976, are the third biggest sellers internationally, after the Bible and Shakespeare; her fictional detectives were Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple; Agatha Christie has been translated into more than 100 languages and over 2 billion copies of her books have been sold worldwide; she is reckoned to have been subject to the most translations of any author on the planet ever [see below, this section, Translations]; Agatha Christie’s murder mystery The Mousetrap was first performed in London’s West End in 1952; it holds the record as the world’s longest running play

Science fiction: Francis Godwin’s The Man in the Moon, 1600, was arguably the first science fiction work anywhere; gravity was articulated before Newton, as a man, transported by a flock of swans, experiences the waning pull of the Earth as he travels to the Moon; the Copernican view was upheld of the Earth revolving around the sun; Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels of 1726 is another early work of science fiction; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein appeared in 1818; her apocalyptic account of a global plague, The Last Man, was published in 1826; the modern era of science fiction was ushered in by Frenchman Jules Verne and by H G Wells, regarded as co-fathers of the genre; Wells’s The Time Machine of 1895 was the seminal time travel story while his The War of the Worlds of 1898 was the seminal alien invasion story, in which was invented the ray gun; Wells predicted tanks in 1903, atomic bombs in 1914 and the Second World War (to within four months) in 1933; he produced the first proper set of rules for hobby war games with toy soldiers

Self-improvement: the genre was launched by Samuel Smiles’s Self-Help, 1859, which has been translated into 50 languages; the book’s subtitle is With Illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance and its message is that, great outside influences notwithstanding, “it is nevertheless equally clear that men must necessarily be the active agents of their own well-being and well-doing; and that, however much the wise and good may owe to others, they themselves must in the very nature of things be their own best helpers.” [see 1859]

Science writing: a hattrick of great British works has influenced the modern world view; William Gilbert’s De Magnete of 1600, on magnetism, is regarded as the first true scientific textbook; the Earth is a magnet said Elisabeth I’s court physician, inspiring Galileo, who graciously acknowledged his debt to Gilbert, describing him as the founder of the experimental method of science; Isaac Newton’s Principia of 1687, on physics, is the most incomparably influential book on science ever written; Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published in 1859; it articulates evolution by natural selection, one of the most powerful ideas of all time; A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (b1942), a book published in 1988, launched popular physics as a literary genre in the most recent era

Romantic fiction: Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, 1740, is reckoned pioneering by virtue of an exclusive focus on courtship as seen from the female protagonist’s viewpoint; Jane Austen’s novels of love and courtship transcend the genre and occupy a place in the literary canon; Georgette Heyer introduced historical romance in 1921; Babara Cartland, 1900-2000, is among the top ten most translated authors ever

Animal novels:  the first of note was Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, 1877

Translations: the most translated author of all time and any nation is crime writer Agatha Christie [see above, Crime fiction]; this is according to UNESCO’s Index Translationum, whose top ten includes more Britons than representatives of any other nations, the other three being William Shakespeare, children’s author Enid Blyton and romantic novelist Barbara Cartland

Novel, electronic: the world's first electronic novel was Host by Peter James, published in 1994 by Penguin on floppy disks

Newspapers: The Observer is the world’s oldest newspaper still in production; The London Illustrated News was a pioneer whose title says it all; Evening News, Daily Mail (first mass-circulation newspaper, 1896), Daily Mirror, The Times of London, Daily Telegraph etc; Reuters news agency; there are many examples of pioneering in this sector (e.g. John Bell was the first war correspondent, 1790s, the first modern-style weather forecast was published in the Times in 1861, the first horoscope in the Sunday Express in 1930; Source: Robertson)

Magazines: the first periodical miscellany was produced in France in 1672; London saw the first magazine in English, 1692, the first women's magazine, 1693, the first illustrated magazine, 1701, the first children's magazine, 1751, and the first magazine to exhibit a photograph, 1846 [Source: Robertson]; the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1731 was the first magazine to have 'magazine' in its title; this publication was once edited by Samuel Johnson (1709-84), who reckoned that “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money”; premier international journals to this day are The Economist (1843), for current affairs, explaining the world to its readers, and Nature (1869), the international science journal

Typography: the Latin of the Roman Empire lacked spaces between words; this approach, adopted from the Greeks, was called scriptio continua

‘In the eighth century [AD] the first chinks of light appeared in the claustrophic scriptio continua that had dominated writing for a millenium.  English and Irish priests, in an attempt to help readers decipher texts written in unfamiliar Latin, began to add spaces between words.’ (Keith Houston, Shady Characters, 2013)

Roman Latin was also exclusively in CAPITALS, there being no lower case letterforms, and lacked punctuation; this means that ROMANLATINWASHARDTOREAD; the British Empire [see Empire] was more modernising than the Roman Empire and one aspect of this was its propagation of a flexible written language, English, with word spaces, upper and lower case letterforms and punctuation; the form of writing in Latin and English in use today was developed in AD 789 by Alcuin of York, who promoted Roman capitals (‘majuscules’) and lower case forms (‘miniscules’), used together [see Alcuin of York] 

‘Latin succeeded Greek as the language of record in the West; papyrus scrolls gave way to parchment codices [books with animal skin pages]; and upstart minuscules muscled in on traditional majuscule scripts.’ (Keith Houston, Shady Characters, 2013)

After the invention of the printing press in the mid-1400s, there arose three main families of type – roman (with a small ‘r’), italics (i.e. slanting letterforms) & blackletter (German Gothic); books and other long-form texts such as the present website are set in the familiar upright roman type, which  derives from Alcuin’s Carolingian minuscule [see Alcuin of York] 

‘...the practice of hyphenating words at the end of lines... Latin hyphens first appeared in this role in tenth-century England, spreading to the Continent during the tenth and eleventh centuries.’ (Keith Houston, Shady Characters, 2013)


‘The earliest attested manicules [pointing hand symbols, e.g. F, for denoting text of special interest] appeared in the Domesday Book, the exhaustive survey of England carried out for William I in 1086.’ (Keith Houston, Shady Characters, 2013; for more on the Domesday Book, see William the Conqueror)


‘The footnote as we recognize it today attained its current from over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries... The first known footnote―that is, a note placed at the foot of the page, as opposed to in the margin, and linked to the main text by some special symbol―appeared in the “Bishop’s Bible” of 1568, printed in London by Richard Jugge... Perhaps the most famous footnote of all, and one that surely would have to be invented did it not already exist, appears in the Reverend John Hodgson’s magnum opus, his six-volume History of Northumberland, published between 1820 and 1840. In a work already renowned for its thoroughness, the third volume further distinguished itself by dint of a mammoth 165-page footnote describing the history of Roman walls in Britain.’ (Keith Houston, Shady Characters, 2013)


‘...quotation marks[“ ”], propelled to prominence by the [eighteenth-century British] mass-produced novel...’ (Keith Houston, Shady Characters, 2013; see above, Rise of the novel) 

The hash sign (#) ultimately derives from the introduction of the Latin abbreviation “lb” for the Roman term libra pondo, or “pound weight”, sometime around the fourteenth century; a horizontal bar was drawn across the two ascenders, most famously by Isaac Newton, to show that ‘lb’ was an abbreviation; over time this became the hash symbol [Source: Keith Houston, Shady Characters, 2013]


Times Roman: most universally used type for books and periodicals, designed by Stanley Morison and introduced by The Times 3 Oct.' [Source: Robertson/Shell]

The foregoing quotation is set in Times New Roman, with a font size of 12 points; to honour Britain's contribution to the world of the most important typeface of modern times, the CVpedia is set in a big friendly variant of it, Georgia (12pt); the point system used in modern typography relates to an old British unit of measurement [see Inch]

Fictional characters

Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet etc (Shakespeare)

Robinson Crusoe: Daniel Defoe based the character in his novel of 1719 on real life shipwrecked sailor Alexander Selkirk, rescued in 1709; Crusoe is the British novel’s first hero

Frankenstein's monster: Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein is arguably the most influential piece of science fiction ever written

The Mummy, as in ‘The curse of …’: Jane Loudon Webb, 1828

Dracula: Bram Stoker

Scrooge, Oliver Twist, Little Nell, Uriah Heap, Miss Havisham, Pip, Pickwick etc (Charles Dickens)

Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Sherlock Holmes: 1887; the most filmed fictional character; first scientific detective, using observation and deduction, and Dr Watson; these characters were the creations of Arthur Conan Doyle; Holmes is the novel’s first superhero

James Bond: agent 007’s creator Ian Fleming, 1908-64, was a Second World War spook, codenamed 17F; 100m of Fleming’s books have been sold [see Cinema, below]

Harry Flashman: 1969; George MacDonald Fraser’s borrowed character from Tom Brown’s Schooldays of Thomas Hughes, 1857, is literary history’s greatest poltroon, lecher and cad; in another context MacDonald Fraser wrote in 1998 of “The United Kingdom, that astonishing little powerhouse which spread its language, its laws, and above all its ideas around the globe, and in the process gave birth to the United States, with whom 50 years ago it saved civilisation…”

Dr Who, the Tardis & the Daleks (BBC); the world's longest-running television science fiction series

Legendary characters

These include King Arthur, Robin Hood, Lady Godiva, Dick Whittington and Jack & the Beanstalk [see Legends]

Imaginary places

Celestial City, Slough of Despond, Valley of the Shadow of Death, Vanity Fair (John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress, 1678)

Shangri-La (James Hilton)

Ruritania (Anthony Hope)

The Lost World (Conan Doyle)

'The first in-flight feature film and the first movie shown during a scheduled flight was First National's production of Conan Doyle's The Lost World, shown during an Imperial Airways flight from London to the Continent on 6 April 1925.' [Source: Robertson]

Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson)

King Solomon’s Mines (Rider Haggard)

Middle-Earth (J R R Tolkien; 1930s Oxford ‘Inkling’, with C S Lewis)

Narnia (C S Lewis; seven books for the seven planets of Medieval cosmology, scholar Michael Ward was the first to point this out)

Utopia (Thomas More, 1516; see Thomas More)

Hogwarts School (J K Rowling's Harry Potter books; see next entry) 

Great children's writers: Robert Southey (original version, 1837, of what became Goldilocks and the Three Bears); Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland); J M Barrie (Peter Pan); Kenneth Grahame (Wind in the Willows); A A Milne (Winnie the Pooh); Beatrix Potter (The Tale ofPeter Rabbit; Peter Rabbit was the first patented soft toy, in 1903); Arthur Ransome (Swallows and Amazons), Richmal Crompton (Just William), Enid Blyton (Famous Five and Noddy; 500 million copies of her books sold and counting); Edith Nesbit (The Railway Children; the line "Daddy, my Daddy" is the most affecting in all of children's fiction); Dorothy Gladys Smith (The Hundred and One Dalmatians); Michael Bond (A Bear Called Paddington); Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory); J K Rowling (Harry Potter books; over 400m books sold worldwide, with their originator becoming ‘the world’s first billionaire author’ and the most successful anywhere)

Nursery rhymes: many are of British origin, including Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Roses Are Red, Jack and Jill, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and Humpty Dumpty

Making us laugh: myriad comedic contributions including the Goons, Carry On Up the Kyber (1968 film skit on empire), Monty Python’s Flying Circus (Life of Brian is rated by some as the funniest film ever made, with the classic song Always look on the bright side of life), Yes, Minister, Blackadder (‘A cunning plan’), Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe (‘Life, the Universe and Everything’), Wallace & Gromit etc

Films: of the third of a million films made worldwide since 1895, about 22,000 have been British; the first moving images ever shot were those of Eadweard Muybridge in 1877, of a galloping horse [see Cinema & television]; the first two successful motion pictures were shot in Leeds in 1888 by Frenchman Louis Le Prince [Source: Robertson]; there were two of them and they were called Roundhay Garden Scene and Leeds Bridge; the world’s first known use of animation (matchstick men) was by Arthur Melbourne-Cooper in 1899; the first-ever film actors, three of them, appeared in The Arrest of a Pickpocket made in Hertfordshire in April 1895 [Source: Robertson]; the first film of war was that of Frederick Villiers, Battle of Volo, Greco-Turkish War, 1897 [Source: Robertson]; the world’s earliest colour motion films are held at the National Media Museum in Bradford and show scenes from Edwardian Britain; they were  shot by Edward Raymond Turner (1873-1903) and show horse-drawn omnibuses in London and Turner’s children playing with sunflowers [see Cinema & television]; Percy Smith (1888-1945) was the father of natural history filmmaking and a pioneer of stop-motion (time-lapse) photography; first in-flight movie on a scheduled flight, 1925 [see The Lost World]; Alfred Hitchcock made the first full-length British talkie, the thriller Blackmail (1929); the first globally recognised face was that of London-born Hollywood comic film actor Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977), who overtopped the previous most recognised face, that of Lawrence of Arabia; British films have won many Oscars, including numerous Best Pictures, the first being Olivier’s Henry V (‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends...’), of 1944, and another being Lawrence of Arabia (1962), by director David Lean; many non-British classics were made in Britain, e.g. The African Queen, 1951; the film series featuring Ian Fleming’s secret agent James Bond, 007, is the most prolific of all time; cinema’s most famous line is ‘The name’s Bond, James Bond’; the ski parachute jump at the start of The Spy Who Loved Me is reckoned to be the greatest stunt in cinema history; three historical films made in Britain in the early 21st century were The King's Speech, The Queen and The Iron Lady [see Cinema & television]; in 2013 Daniel Day-Lewis became the first person to win the Oscar for best actor on three occasions

Twentieth century entertainers: Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward



'The first concert, public, was held in London on 30 December 1672 at what the organizer, John Banister, described as "the Musick-school," and his contemporary the musicologist Roger North called "a publick room in a nasty hole in White Fryers." ' [Source: Robertson]

Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, Henry Purcell, John Taverner

Edward Elgar: 1857-1934; in 1901 he scribbled on a used envelope the music that was to become Pomp and Circumstance, March in D Major, part of which became Land of Hope and Glory, based on the words of Arthur Benson, 1862-1925); the chorus of that song is as follows:

'Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.'

Gustav Holst: 1874-1934; The Panets, 1918, is the only known symphonic tribute to the Solar System - a fitting soundtrack for the Space Age); Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frederick Delius, Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett, Peter Maxwell Davis, Harrison Birtwistle, Michael Nyman

Adopted über-maestros: George Frideric Handel, a German who took British citizenship; the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ of his Messiah of 1741 is regarded by many as the greatest choral music ever; also Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks; Haydn, Mendelssohn

Operatic tradition: the foremost opera house in Britain and one of the world’s greatest is the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden

Gilbert & Sullivan

Choral societies

Virtuosi: many fine performers, with London as an international concert centre

Folk tradition: many contributions over many centuries, notably sea shanties, jigs, hornpipes & dance music

Beatles & pop music: most successful popular music group of all time, whose heyday was the 1960s; seen in first satellite television link-up; The Beatles had 27 US and UK No. 1 singles; ‘Lucy’, a 3-million-year-old specimen of our ancient small-brained primate relative Australopithecus afarensis, was named after a Beatles song; Yesterday is the most covered song of all time; The Beatles were produced by George Martin, a legend in the music business; other popular music groups of the era include The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Queen, Rod Stewart etc; the 1960s were a golden age for popular music; the world's first 'Golden CD' (i.e. million selling compact disc) was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits, 1985 [Source: Robertson]; a recent-era success has been Adele (b1988)

The Beatles

Andrew Lloyd Webber: most successful composer of musicals ever; Cats, based on the poetry of T S Eliot, is the biggest grossing musical of all time; the first British musical was John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera, 1728

Scottish bagpipes

Tuning fork: invented by John Shore in 1711

Concertina: invented by Charles Wheatstone, 1829

Microphone: invented by Charles Wheatstone in 1827, this became a vital component of the music presentation and recording revolution of the 20th century, not to mention its roles in the development of the telephone and broadcasting; meanwhile the radio microphone, the ‘wireless mike’ for actors, the ‘bug’ for spying, was invented by Reg Moores in 1949 for a production of Aladdin on Ice in Brighton

Daniel Parker violins: a violin maker working in London, Parker visited Stradivari’s Cremona workshop around 1715, acquiring the master’s secrets, to produce gloriously toned instruments

Britain's Top Ten Musical Contributions, selected by The National CV's music consultant Peter Medhurst

1. Sumer is icumen in is a traditional English round; possibly the oldest such example of counterpoint in existence.

2. John Dunstable was one of the most famous composers active in the early 1400s and widely influential, not only in England but on the continent, especially in the developing style of the Burgundian School; Dunstaple's influence on the continent's musical vocabulary was enormous, particularly considering the relative paucity of his (attributable) works; he was recognized for possessing something never heard before in music of the Burgundian School: la contenance angloise ("the English countenance"), a term used by the poet Martin le Franc in his Le Champion des Dames; Le Franc added that the style influenced Dufay and Binchois

3. Robert Fayrfax, who died in 1521, is considered the most prominent and influential musician of the reigns of Kings Henry VII and Henry VIII; he wrote Church music with astonishing technical and emotional content.

4. Spem in Alium is a forty-part Renaissance motet by Thomas Tallis, composed around 1570 for eight choirs of five voices each; along with Gregorio Allegri's Miserere this piece by Tallis is regarded as one of the pinnacles of Renaissance Polyphony.

5. Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell is a monumental work in Baroque opera; it is remembered as one of Purcell's foremost theatrical works; Dido and Aeneas was Purcell's first (and only) all-sung opera and is among the earliest English operas

6. Messiah – Handel

7. John Field is best known for being the first composer to write nocturnes in the modern sense of the term; he influenced among others Chopin, Whistler, Debussy

8. Gilbert & Sullivan operas (14 in all, music only survives for 13)

9. Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan Williams was composed in 1910 for the Three Choirs Festival; it was one of the first major successes for Vaughan Williams; it is also seen as the first English work of the new era to be completely devoid of 19th century Germanic influences; it is seen as the moment modern English music came of age

10. Peter Grimes is an opera by Benjamin Britten; written in 1945, it is regarded as the first great modern British opera

Songs, a selection

Early One Morning
Green Grow the Rushes O
Oh no John
All in a Wood there Grew a Tree
What shall we do with a Drunken Sailor?
Strawberry Fair
Dashing away with a Smoothing Iron
Were you ever in Quebec
Widdicombe Fair
The British Grenadiers
Robin Hood
Are you Going to Scarborough Fair?
Hearts of Oak
(words by William Blake, 1757-1827, music by Hubert Parry, 1916)
Land of Hope and Glory (words by Arthur Benson, music by Edward Elgar, 1902)
I Vow to Thee My Country (words by Cecil Spring-Rice, 1912, music by Gustav Holst, 1921)
Rule, Britannia! (words by James Thomson, music by Thomas Arne, 1740s)

Festivals & shows

Edinburgh International Festival: founded 1947; the Athens of the North hosts the largest arts festival of its kind in the world; the anarchic Festival Fringe is full of offbeat creativity and barminess

National Eisteddfod of Wales: this is the famous bardic meeting for competitions in poetry, literature, music and song

Proms: the Promenade Concerts in London’s Albert Hall comprise the world’s longest-running and greatest music festival; the Proms were founded in 1895 by Henry Wood; orchestral classical and choral music; the Last Night of the Proms is a fabulous flag-waving frolic

Royal Academy of Art’s Summer Exhibition: this is world’s largest open-entrance art event

Rainmaking Festivals: also known as Bank Holidays

Crufts: the world’s most famous canine show; the world’s first dog show, though, was in Newcastle in 1859

Notting Hill Carnival: this is Europe’s biggest street festival

Glastonbury Festival: this is the world’s largest ‘greenfield’ music and performing arts festival

[see Chelsea Flower Show]


Ballet: It is a curiosity of cultural history that Britain invented modern ballet as an independent art form

'The first Ballet to rely on mime and gestures to the exclusion of either speech or song was John Weever's The Loves of Mars and Venus, presented at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on 22 March 1717...Weaver was the first to liberate ballet from opera and give it an independent existence as an art form. Although it may appear an anomaly that England, which won little distinction in the world of dance until the present century, should have been the birthplace of the classic ballet d'action, there are some sound historical reasons for this early development. England had established a tradition of popular dramatic entertainment earlier than most continental countries. Dance in England, too, had a wider currency in the Court entertainments of the 16th and 17th centuries than was general in Europe, though it must be said that ballet in its primitive form, as an interlude in operas and masques, saw its earliest flowering in France and Italy.' [Source: Robertson/Shell]

Britain's classical ballet tradition, lyrical and refined, includes the world famous Royal Ballet, which built its reputation in the 20th century on prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn and choreographer Frederick Ashton; there have also been multiple ballroom dancing world champions; a forerunner of modern tap dancing is English clog dancing

Founded in 1922; the British Broadcasting Corporation was the world’s first national broadcaster and a pioneer of broadcasting technology; the BBC was also the first large-scale international broadcasting network and the world’s first regular high-definition television service, 1936, from Alexandra Palace; it remains the world’s most famous broadcaster and the biggest producer of television programmes; the BBC boasts multitudes of awards and firsts (e.g. first game show, 1938, first situation comedy, 1946; Source: Robertson); BBC World Service radio; the BBC’s founding principle is ‘Nation shall speak peace unto nation’; great programmes include the 1967 adaptation of John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga, Life Story (1987), a drama-documentary of Watson & Crick's unravelling of the structure of DNA, and Andrew Davies's adaptation in 1995 of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Cultural inventions

Club: 'The first club on record founded for social intercourse was a London dining society called La Court de Bone Compagnie, which is known to have been in existence in 1413.' [Source: Robertson]

Valentine’s Day card: the world’s oldest surviving example is British and dates from February 1477

Children's book: 'The first children's book printed (other than schoolbooks) was The book of Curtesye, issued by England's first printer and publisher, William Caxton, at Westminster in London in either 1477 or 1478. Addressed to "little John," it is a book about good manners...The earliest known book designed to entertain children rather than improve them was...printed by Alexander Lacy, London, 1563...The first publishers to specialize in children's books were both based in London [1740s]...' [Source: Robertson; see William Caxton]

Change ringing of church bells: this activity was invented by the patron saint of bell ringers, Fabian Stedman, in 1650; tunes rely on swinging bells, unlike chimes which use static bells; the famous chimes of Big Ben in London are from Handel’s Messiah

Public museum: first was Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, in 1683; since it is still in existence it is the world’s oldest public museum; it was founded by Elias Ashmole, based on the collection of John Tradescant

Lonely-hearts ad: ‘In July 1695 a London rag called “A Collection for Improvement of Husbandry and Trade” launched an industry that would make fortunes, break hearts and change relations between the sexes for ever. Flanked by advertisements for an Arabian stallion and a cobbler’s apprentice, a short item read: “A Gentleman about 30 Years of Age, that says he a Very Good Estate, would willingly Match himself to some Good Young Gentlewoman that has a fortune of £3,000” ...John Houghton, the publisher, quickly spotted the commercial possibilities… By 1710 every one of the 53 newspapers registered in England carried lonely-hearts ads….’ (The Economist, 12 February 2010)

Copyright: St Columba (AD 521-97) is reckoned to have argued the first copyright case; he had made an illicit copy of a holy book and wouldn’t yield it to the book’s owner; the world’s first copyright statute was enacted in England in 1709; a common law ‘perpetual’ copyright was ended in 1774; there was a blooming thereafter of anthologies – literally ‘a collection of flowers’ – and the emergence of the idea of a literary canon; the abolition of pre-publication censorship in 1695 had similarly led publications to flourish

'Two centuries after Gutenberg invented movable type in the mid-1400s there were plenty of books around, but they were expensive and poorly made. In Britain a cartel had a lock on classic works such as Shakespeare’s and Milton’s. The first copyright law, enacted in the early 1700s in the Bard’s home country, was designed to free knowledge by putting books in the public domain after a short period of exclusivity, around 14 years.' (The Economist, 27 February 2010)

National public museum: British Museum, London, 1759; innumerable treasures including Elgin marbles, King Ashurbanipals’s carved lion-hunt from Syria, head of Rameses II from Egypt, turquoise-inlaid skulls from Aztecs; George Smith brought to light the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh at the British Museum in 1872, one of mankind’s oldest stories; more, and more varied, artefacts are to be found in the British Museum than in any other museum in world

Circus: this was invented in its modern form by Philip Astley in 1769; a trick-riding show evolved with the addition of a strong man, clown, acrobats and so on [Source: Robertson]

Political cartoon: this was invented in Britain in the 1700s, key exponents being Hogarth, Gilray, Richardson etc; the word ‘cartoon’ itself was only used in the modern sense in 1843, in the magazine Punch


'The first advertising agency of which records survives was established in London in 1786 by William Taylor...The first advertising copywriter known by name was the essayist Charles Lamb who wrote lottery advertisements for the London ad agency James White as early as 1809...The first advertising endorsement: The practice of quoting testimonials in advertising is first noted in 1752, the issue of London's General Advertiser for 19 January...Press advertisement with a photograph: The earliest known was placed by the Harrison Patent Knitting Machine Co. of Manchester, England, in the 11 November 1887 issue of the Parrot, a locally produced humorous periodical...' [Source: Robertson]

What deserves to be the most famous advertisement ever is that of 1711 describing Christopher Holtum's 'Chariot in which a Man may travel without Horses', i.e. the first car; at the very least it is the first car ad [see First motor cars]

Greetings card: 'The first greeting card known, for birthdays and other occasions, ws designed by W.Harvey and engraved by John Thompson of London in 1829.' [Source: Robertson]

Book dust jacket: 'The first book dust jacket was issued with The Keepsake, 1833, an annual publication by Longman in London in November1832. It was pale buff...The first pictorial dust wrapper was issued with an edition of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress published by Longman in 1860.' [Source: Robertson]

White Christmas: the celebration as we know it arrived with Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol in 1843, with its ideal of a picturesquely snowy Christmastide; in that tale Dickens furnished the cynical misanthrope with the perfect riposte to “Merry Christmas!” when he has the miser Scrooge say “Bah! Humbug!”, now simply rendered as "Bah humbug!"; Henry Cole invented the Christmas card in the same year [Source: Robertson]

'...the extraordinary Henry Cole, who had been the editor of the Journal of Design and Manufactures between 1849 and 1852, and had produced the first commercial Christmas cards and the first sets of children’s building blocks.' (Simon Schama, A History of Britain 3: 1776-2000, The Fate of Empire, 2002, p114)

The earliest known charity Christmas card, of 1914, was in aid of British service families [Source: Robertson]; the Christmas cracker was invented by London baker Tom Smith in 1847

[see also Christmas]

Library service: invented in Britain; the first free public lending library was in Manchester, 1852; the British Library has the best library collection in the world; its Boston Spa outpost is the base for the world’s largest inter-library loan service

‘The world’s earliest complete survival of a dated printed book is the Buddhist Diamond Sutra, published in 868, discovered a century ago in a cave at Dunhuang, western China, on the Silk Road. It is now in the British Library in London.’ (Nature, 501, 491, 2013)

Theme park: the world’s first was Crystal Palace Park, which in the mid-1800s featured the first-ever life-sized dinosaur models; Britons were the first to describe dinosaurs [see Dinosaurs]

Blue plaques: first erected in London in 1866 to commemorate eminent past residents regardless of nationality, with each building telling its own and the capital’s story; the blue plaque idea has since been emulated by cities around the world

Character merchandising:

'The first character merchandising began in or before 1888 with the production of goods based on Ally Soper, a comic character originally created for the London cartoon weekly Judy in 1867 and featured in Ally Sloper's Half-Holiday from 1884 to 1916.' [Source: Robertson]

Heritage protection: founded in 1895, The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty is known as the ‘Mother Trust’ within the International National Trusts Organisation, INTO, which itself was founded in 2007 and is based in London [see National Trust];

English Heritage looks after the estate of the Crown [see Built heritage]

Fan club: the first known was founded by fans of actor-manager Lewis Waller in 1900 or shortly afterwards; it was the Keen Order of Wallerites [Source: Robertson]

Crossword puzzle: Arthur Wynn, 1913

Standard Book Numbering System: this was pioneered by W H Smith in 1966, based on the recommedations of Gordon Foster and is now used worldwide, with ‘I’ for international (ISBN)

The Open University: founded in 1969 this was the world’s first virtual university for distance learning; it was engendered by Labour prime minister Harold Wilson; by its 40th anniversary in August 2009 it had educated over 2m graduates; the OU has become Europe’s largest university; there are now reckoned to be at least 50 similar institutions worldwide

Other cultural contributions

Architects & architecture: Inigo Jones (Britain’s first classical architect; Mansion House, London), Christopher Wren (St Paul’s Cathedral, the greatest building of the age), Robert Adam & John Vanbrugh etc (country houses); in the present day Norman Foster & Richard Rogers

'The first woman architect to design buildings without input from male associates was Sarah Losh of Wreay, near Carlisle...' [Source: Robertson; Losh was active from the 1820s-40s]

Besides stately homes, Britain is also noted for its suburban villas and urban terraced houses; another feature is architectural follies, defined here as 'pointless buildings put up for piquant decorative effect', which dot the island landscape; most of the towers, temples, ruined castle walls and so on were built in the period 1750-1910; Britain has the greatest number of follies in the world

Furniture, furnishings, fixtures & fittings: Thomas Chippendale (most famous furniture maker in the world; his catalogue was pioneering), George Hepplewhite, Thomas Sheraton, the Arts and Crafts Movement of William Morris (the nineteenth century’s most influential designer), Christopher Dresser (Victorian Britain’s other ‘brand’ designer, along with William Morris), Charles Rennie Mackintosh

'The textiles of William Morris were one of the first global brands. His densely patterned floral papers and chintzes have graced bourgeois interiors since the 1860s; they remain instantly recognisable signs of taste and wealth today.' (The Economist, 22 September, 2012)

Famous artists: Nicholas Hilliard (first great English painter, a miniaturist, after Hans Holbein, a German who was court artist to Henry VIII; Hilliard’s rakish self-portrait is an exquisite gem); Gainsborough (golden age of British painting); Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97, dramatic painter of scientific and industrial scenes); Thomas Bewick (illustrator and master engraver; a species of swan is named after him); William Hogarth (a superb portraitest as well as satirical cartoonest; the most distinctive artist Britain has ever produced); Joshua Reynolds; George Stubbs (the greatest horse painter of all time); Edwin Landseer (animal paintings and lions in Trafalgar Square); John Constable; J M W Turner (1775-1851; born on St George’s Day, arguably Britain’s greatest painter); William Blake; Pre-Raphaelites; Stanley Spencer; Henry Moore; Lucian Freud ("Astonish, disturb, seduce, convince"); Damien Hirst; Anthony Gormley

Wallace Collection: a collection in London of decorative and fine art from 15th to 19th centuries; it is the most valuable single gift ever made by an individual to any nation

National Portrait Gallery: in London, this is the largest collection of portraits in the world; the hardest thing to paint well is a face

London’s South Bank Centre: the world’s biggest cultural quarter [see London]

Matthew Arnold: 1822-1888; poet and critic

'Culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world.' [Preface to Culture and Anarchy, 1869]

John Ruskin: 1819-1900; writer on culture who created a new aesthetic of art and architecture; prophet of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; greatest influence on Mahatma Gandhi; the motto on Ruskin’s coat of arms was ‘Today, Today, Today’; Ruskin wrote that

'Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts – the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art.'

What Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has on her walls: the world’s finest art collection in private hands, that’s what; with other assets, this makes Her Majesty one of the world’s richest people, albeit illiquidly so

Trousers & suits: modern full-length trousers and the man’s business suit of which they are a part were invented in London in the 1800s; they have conquered the world; the modern wool-fabric suit arose around 1860, courtesy of tailors in the Savile Row area of London, the full-length trouser appearing somewhat earlier; George “Beau” Brummel (1778-1840)

'...is credited in some quarters with inventing modern trousers, a garment more widespread than the suit and with a provenance equally hard to pin down… The tailors who still work in and around London’s Savile Row are experts at disentangling the military, medical and sporting threads that form the modern business suit… If the precise moment of inception is vague the point of victory of the lounge suit over its forerunners as the standard battledress of the office worker is clearer… the tailed morning coat finally gave up to the lounge suit with the rise of American business culture at the end of the 19th century. By 1890 the American office worker wanted both the informality of the lounge suit, with its sporting heritage, and a snappy, modern and efficient look that its military antecedents gave it… Useful and malleable, after 150 years the suit is still holding its ground in the battle for wardrobe space.' (The Economist, 18 December 2010)

Fashion: Top hat and bowler hat of Victorian Britain [see below]; Harris Tweed cloth; trousers & Savile Row suit [see previous item]; a long tradition of rainwear, fashionable and otherwise [see Rainwear]; the father of international haute couture was Charles Frederick Worth, in Paris in the mid-1800s; he was the first couterier (i.e. male designer of women’s high fashion) and his French wife Marie Worth  is reckoned to have been the first fashion model, at the couteriers Maison Gagelin et Opigez, Paris, where she began modeling the dresses designed by her husband in 1853 [Source: Robertson/Shell]

'The first fashion show was mounted in 1899 by the couturier Lucile (Mrs. James Wallace)...at the Maison Lucile, 17 Hanover Square, London.' [Source: Robertson

Chronology of developments relevant to this notice: [Source: mainly Robertson/Shell]

1684 – Cuff-links; the first recorded are diamond-studded links mentioned in London Gazette

1797 – Top hat; first worn by haberdasher John Hetherington of London

1849 – Bowler hat, created in London for Edward Coke

1860 – Press-stud fastener by John Newnham

1927 – Kirbygrips manufactured by Kirby, Beard & Co., for the bobbed hair and Eton Crop market

1932 - ‘Coat shirt’ of Cecil Gee (i.e. fully buttoned shirt that is put on like coat, not pulled over the head)

1947 - The first false eyelashes for sale were those of David & Eric Aylott, starting in 1947, under the brand name Eyelure [Source: Robertson]

1960s - mini skirt of Mary Quant; Mary Quant also introduced the concept of designer jeans, in 1963 [Source: Robertson]

1970s onwards - in the late 1970s Vivienne Westwood was the ‘high priestess of punk’; since then her designs have often been idiosyncratic interpretations of traditional styles; other big names in the present era are Paul Smith & Stella McCartney; London Fashion Week is one of the 'big four’ such events worldwide

[See ScholarshipInternet]

© The National CV Group 2013
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