Portraits of Notables and Sportsmen

Burns - 73
Burns - 73

Robert Burns was born near Ayr, Scotland, 25th of January, 1759. He was the son of William Burnes, or Burness, at the time of the poet's birth a nurseryman on the banks of the Doon in Ayrshire. His father, though always extremely poor, attempted to give his children a fair education, and Robert, who was the eldest, went to school for three years in a neighboring village, and later, for shorter periods, to three other schools in the vicinity.

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Robert Burns - 74
Robert Burns - 74

But it was to his father and to his own reading that he owed the more important part of his education; and by the time that he had reached manhood he had a good knowledge of English, a reading knowledge of French, and a fairly wide acquaintance with the masterpieces of English literature from the time of Shakespeare to his own day. In 1766 William Burness rented on borrowed money the farm of Mount Oliphant, and in taking his share in the effort to make this undertaking succeed, the future poet seems to have seriously overstrained his physique. In 1771 the family move to Lochlea, and Burns went to the neighboring town of Irvine to learn flax-dressing. The only result of this experiment, however, was the formation of an acquaintance with a dissipated sailor, whom he afterward blamed as the prompter of his first licentious adventures.

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W. G. (Grace) - 75
W. G. (Grace) - 75

The "Doctor" or the "Champion" or most commonly just "WG" was without doubt the greatest batsman in England for 20 or so years, during which time he was worth a place in any side in the world as a bowler. He bowled slow-medium, near round-arm, and relied on flight and deception to take his wickets. He was also a brilliant fielder (capable of throwing well over 100 yards), a top class athlete, and a great racquets and tennis player. He was if not actually the inventor of modern batting (play straight, foot to the pitch bat close to the pads, balance between back-foot and front foot play) certainly its greatest early exponent and the example by which the rest of the world learned how to play. He scored the first two triple centuries in first class cricket and made his last first-class century almost 40 years after his first (a double century). His was the first century in tests for England. He carried his bat 17 times. He scored 3 hundreds in a row 5 times. As a bowler he took 8 or more in an innings 16 times including a ten for, and a 9 and an 8 in the same game and 14 times he scored a century in a game in which he took ten or more wickets.

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Shakespeare and Views of Stratford - 77b - small font
Shakespeare and Views of Stratford - 77b - small font

1564–1616, English dramatist and poet, b. Stratford-on-Avon. He is considered the greatest playwright who ever lived.

His father, John Shakespeare, was successful in the leather business during Shakespeare’s early childhood but later met with financial difficulties. During his prosperous years his father was also involved in municipal affairs, holding the offices of alderman and bailiff during the 1560s. While little is known of Shakespeare’s boyhood, he probably attended the grammar school in Stratford, where he would have been educated in the classics, particularly Latin grammar and literature. Whatever the veracity of Ben Jonson’s famous comment that Shakespeare had “small Latine, and less Greeke,” much of his work clearly depends on a knowledge of Roman comedy, ancient history, and classical mythology. 2 In 1582 Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior and pregnant at the time of the marriage. They had three children: Susanna, born in 1583, and twins, Hamnet and Judith, born in 1585. Nothing is known of the period between the birth of the twins and Shakespeare’s emergence as a playwright in London (c.1592). However, various suggestions have been made regarding this time, including those that he fled Stratford to avoid prosecution for stealing deer, that he joined a group of traveling players, and that he was a country schoolteacher. The last suggestion is given some credence by the academic style of his early plays; The Comedy of Errors, for example, is an adaptation of two plays by Plautus. 3 In 1594 Shakespeare became an actor and playwright for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the company that later became the King’s Men under James I. Until the end of his London career Shakespeare remained with the company; it is thought that as an actor he played old men’s roles, such as the ghost in Hamlet and Old Adam in As You Like It. In 1596 he obtained a coat of arms, and by 1597 he was prosperous enough to buy New Place in Stratford, which later was the home of his retirement years. In 1599 he became a partner in the ownership of the Globe theatre, and in 1608 he was part owner of the Blackfriars theatre. Shakespeare retired and returned to Stratford c.1613. He undoubtedly enjoyed a comfortable living throughout his career and in retirement, although he was never a wealthy man.

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H M Stanley - 78
H M Stanley - 78

Sir Henry Morton (1841-1904), Anglo-American journalist and explorer; one of the leading figures in the exploration and colonization of Africa.

Originally named John Rowlands, Stanley was born on January 28, 1841, at Denbigh, Wales. At the age of 18 he sailed as a cabin boy to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he gained employment under an American merchant named Henry Morton Stanley, whose name he adopted. During the American Civil War he served in the Confederate army and in 1862 was captured at the Battle of Shiloh. He transferred to the federal service but was discharged, ostensibly because of ill health. In 1867 he became a special correspondent for the New York Herald, and in that capacity in 1868 he accompanied the British punitive expedition led by the British army officer Robert Cornelis Napier against the Ethiopian king Theodore II and was the first to relay the news of the fall of Magdala, then the capital of Ethiopia.

Search For Livingstone In 1869 the American newspaper publisher James Gordon Bennett of the Herald dispatched Stanley to find the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone from whom little had been heard while he was searching for the source of the Nile. After being delayed by other assignments, Stanley reached the island of Zanzibar off the eastern coast of Africa on January 6, 1871. He crossed over to the mainland and left for the interior on March 21, with about 2000 men. On November 10 he met the ailing Livingstone at Ujiji, a town on Lake Tanganyika, and is said to have greeted him with the famous remark, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" After nursing Livingstone back to health, Stanley and he explored the northern end of Lake Tanganyika. Stanley returned to Europe in 1872, and the following year was sent by the Herald to West Africa to report on the British campaign against the Ashanti of what is now Ghana.

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George Stephenson The Pioneer of Railways - 79
George Stephenson The Pioneer of Railways - 79

George Stephenson was born on June 9, 1781, in Wylam, near Newcastle-on-Tyne. His father Robert worked in the Wylam Colliery as a fireman, and the family's cottage was right beside the Wylam Wagonway. This wooden track took wagons from the colliery to the Tyne river for transport.

George was fascinated by machines from an early age. He took evening classes in reading and writing, even after he joined his father as a colliery worker. In 1802 George Stephenson became an engineman, and soon after he married Frances Henderson. Together they had one child, Robert, but Frances suffered from consumption and died in 1806. Stephenson later married twice more.

Stephenson moved to Killingworth Colliery as an engineman, but his fascination with machines continued, and in his spare time he took apart the colliery engines to discover how they worked. So swiftly did he learn that he was appointed enginewright by the colliery in 1812.

Stephenson developed a new safety lamp that would not explode when used near the highly flammable gasses found in the mines.

He also convinced the mine manager to experiment with steam locomotion. By 1814 he developed the Blutcher, which was capable of pulling 30 tons up a grade at 4 miles per hour. His design was the first to successfully use flanged wheels running on rails.

Over the next several years Stephenson built a further 16 engines at Killingworth. The mine owners were so impressed with his accomplishments that they put him to work building an 8 mile railway from Hetton to Sunderland.

Stephenson was hired by the Stockton and Darlington railway to help build the line linking collieries at West Durham and Darlington with the River Tees. With his son Robert Stephenson he formed Robert Stephenson & Company, the first locomotive building company in the world, headquartered in Newcastle. The first locomotive engine produced by the new company, called Locomotion, was finished in the fall of 1825.

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Jake Kilrain - 80
Jake Kilrain - 80

The last bare-knuckle heavyweight champion was the American John L. Sullivan, who fought and won the last sanctioned bare-knuckle fight in 1889, against Jake Kilrain. Fighting with gloves under the Queensberry rules, the popular Sullivan lost the world heavyweight boxing championship to James J. Corbett in New Orleans, Louisiana, on September 7, 1892. The Queensberry rules have remained the code governing the conduct of professional boxing. The accompanying table lists heavyweight championship bouts, fought under Queensberry rules, in which the title changed hands

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C Mitchell - 81
C Mitchell - 81

Although he was 5ft. 9in. and never weighed more than 150 pounds, the game fighter routinely fought bigger competition.

Born in Birmingham, England, Mitchell was a skillful boxer who packed a sharp punch. He fought during the transition between the bare knuckle and the gloved eras. In 1883, Mitchell challenged John L. Sullivan, dropping "The Boston Strong Boy" in the first round before the police halted the contest in the third round. He battled Sullivan to a draw over 39 rounds during an 1888 rematch in Chantilly, France.

Mitchell challenged new heavyweight champion Jim Corbett in 1894, and was KO'd in the third. Mitchell boxed standouts such as William Sheriff, Jake Kilrain, Billy Edwards, and Jem Mace before retiring in 1894.

He died April 3, 1918 in Brighton, England.

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Jem Smith - 82
Jem Smith - 82

Jem Smith (1863-1931)

Jem Smith, a boxer, is identified as the "Champion of England" on this cabinet card by W & A. H. Fry of 68 East Street in Brighton, England. Smith who is shown here in his boxing stance once fought a 106 round draw with Jake Kilrain in a bareknuckle match.

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John L Sullivan - 83
John L Sullivan - 83

John L. Sullivan (the "Boston Strong Boy") Sullivan was a boxing immortal, the link between bare knuckles and glove fighting, and the first great American sports idol. He was powerful, quick, could hit with either hand but had exceptional strength in his right, and could take punishment; He is considered still by some to be one of the best heavyweights ever. Sullivan was elected to the Intl. Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990

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