" Flattery is the worst and falsest way of showing our esteem. "
Jonathan Swift

Back in the day


Thomas Edison Patents the Phonograph

Though his formal schooling was limited to just three months of instruction before he was ten years old, Edison was one of the most prolific inventors of his time. His work in improving telegraph technology—particularly his discovery of a method for recording telegraph messages—led Edison to suspect he could do similar things with sound. Within months, the first working model of his phonograph was ready. Why, according to Edison, was he "taken aback" when his invention worked on the first try?



Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo is an archaeological site containing Anglo-Saxon burial mounds from the 6th and 7th centuries. In 1939, the remains of an approximately 90-ft (27-m) burial ship were found there, with gold and silver treasures fit for a king—but no body. The artifacts displayed both pagan and Christian features and immediately drew comparisons with Swedish finds and the world described in the heroic poem Beowulf. Who is thought to have been buried in the ship, and what happened to his remains?

Born on a day like today


Amy Tan

Born in Oakland, California, to Chinese immigrants, Tan is an award-winning author whose novels focus on the lives of Asian-Americans and the complexities of intergenerational relationships, particularly those of mothers and daughters. Her best-selling novel The Joy Luck Club was based on the tragic experiences of her mother, who had years earlier fled an abusive marriage, though it meant leaving her three daughters behind in Shanghai. When did Tan finally meet her half-sisters?

Last updated on Monday, 20th February 2012

More sponsors