Saturday, September 16, 2017

People on the Sgt Pepper Cover: Aubrey Beardsley, Sir Robert Peel, Aldous Huxley, Dylan Thomas



Aubrey Beardsley:

· Aubrey Beardsley (1872 – 1898) was an English illustrator and author. 

· His drawings in black ink, influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. 

· Beardsley was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James A. McNeill Whistler. 

· Beardsley's contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant, despite the brevity of his career before his early death at age 25 from tuberculosis.

Some Beardsley works:


Sir Robert Peel:

· Sir Robert Peel (1788 – 1850) was a British statesman and member of the Conservative Party who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1834–1835 and 1841–1846) and twice as Home Secretary.

· He is regarded as the father of modern British policing and as one of the founders of the modern Conservative Party.

· The son of a wealthy textile-manufacturer and politician, he was the first Prime Minister from an industrial business background.

· In 1829, as Home Secretary, Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force for London based at Scotland Yard. The 1,000 constables employed were affectionately nicknamed 'bobbies' or, somewhat less affectionately, 'peelers'. Although unpopular at first, they proved very successful in cutting crime in London, and by 1857 all cities in the UK were obliged to form their own police forces. Known as the father of modern policing, Peel developed the Peelian Principles which defined the ethical requirements police officers must follow to be effective. In 1829, when setting forth the principles of policing a democracy, Sir Robert Peel declared: "The police are the public and the public are the police."

· Peel also reformed the criminal law, reducing the number of crimes punishable by death, and simplified it by repealing a large number of criminal statutes and consolidating their provisions into what are known as Peel's Acts. He reformed the gaol system, introducing payment for gaolers and education for the inmates.

· In 1843 Peel was the target of a failed assassination attempt; a Scottish wood turner named Daniel M'Naghten (also McNaughten) who suffered from paranoid delusions stalked him for several days before accidentally killing Peel's personal secretary Edward Drummond instead. Through his trial and its aftermath, M’Naghten has given his name to the legal test of criminal insanity in England and other common law jurisdictions, known as the M'Naghten Rules. (The test: that at the time the person was suffering from a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong." As my criminal law lecturer put it when I was at Lw School, it was not enough to be mad, one had to be M’Naghten mad).

· He was later considered to be an enemy to his own Conservative party when he went against his own political interest to repeal the Corn Laws to help alleviate the effects of the Irish Famine in the 1840s.

· Peel was thrown from his horse while riding in 1850. The horse stumbled on top of him, and he died three days later at the age of 62 due to a clavicular fracture rupturing his subclavian vessels

One of Peel’s early police officers.


Aldous Huxley:

· Aldous Huxley (1894 – 1963) was an English writer, novelist and philosopher. 

· The author of nearly fifty books, he was best known for his novels including Brave New World, set in a dystopian future; for non-fiction works, such as The Doors of Perception, which recalls experiences when taking a psychedelic drug; and a wide-ranging output of essays.

· Brave New World is set in London in the year AD 2540 (632 A.F.—"After Ford"—in the book). The novel anticipates developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning that are combined to make a profound change in society. The novel opens in the World State city of London, where citizens are engineered through artificial wombs and childhood indoctrination programs into predetermined classes (or castes) based on intelligence and labour.

· Jim Morrison took the name for the Doors from the title of Huxley’s book, ‘The Doors of Perception.’

· He later became interested in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism, in particular universalism.

· Media coverage on Huxley’s death on 22 November 1963 — as with that of the author C. S. Lewis – was overshadowed by the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on the same day.


Dylan Thomas:

· Dylan Thomas (1914 – 1953) was a Welsh poet and writer whose works include the poems "Do not go gentle into that good night" and "And death shall have no dominion"; the 'play for voices' Under Milk Wood; and stories and radio broadcasts such as A Child's Christmas in Wales and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. 

· He became widely popular in his lifetime and remained so after his premature death at the age of 39 in New York City. 

· By then he had acquired a reputation, which he had encouraged, as a "roistering, drunken and doomed poet".

· Born in Wales in 1914, he made frequent trips to the U.S. in the ‘50s, and died in New York from pneumonia exacerbated by his severe addiction to alcohol.

“I am sure that the main influence on both [Bob] Dylan and John [Lennon] was Dylan Thomas. That’s why Bob’s not Bob Zimmerman. We all used to like Dylan Thomas. I read him a lot. I think that John started writing because of him.” – Paul McCartney

“I knew a man, his brain so small
He couldn't think of nothing at all
Not the same as you and me
He doesn't dig poetry
He's so unhip when you say Dylan, he thinks you're talking about Dylan Thomas
Whoever he was
The man ain't got no culture
But it's alright, Ma
Everybody must get stoned.”
- Simon and Garfunkel, 
“A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into Submission)”

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
- Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas's writing shed in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire

Thomas's writing shed has remained largely untouched since his death

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