Category Biopic

What is the life story of Abhijit Banerjee?

By now you may be familiar with the name, Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee. An Indian-American economist, he became the ninth Indian to win the Nobel Prize (jointly with Esther Dufi and Michael Kremer) in 2019. But did you know Banerjee spent his childhood in Kolkata? Or that he actually wanted to study Mathematics instead of Economics? Read on to learn more about him…

Economics in his blood

Born on February 21, 1961, Banerjee grew up in Kolkata, West Bengal. Observing the disparity between the rich and the poor from close quarters helped him gain insights into economics and poverty. Both his parents, Nirmala and Dipak, were eminent economists.

From Maths to Economics

However, Banerjee was more interested in Mathematics than Economics. He chose to study the subject at the prestigious Indian Statistical Institute. However, he quit within a week because he disliked the long commute from home to the institute. That’s how he switched over to Economics at Presidency College, which was closer home. It also happens to be the alma mater of another Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. A close friend of the family. Sen also mentored Banerjee.

Spreading his wings

After graduation, Banerjee went on to pursue his masters in Economics from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. Once during a student protest over the expulsion of the president of the student union, he was arrested along with hundreds of other students for ‘gheraoing’ the vice-chancellors house. He spent 10 days in the notorious Tihar jail and was later released on bail. Subsequently, the charges were dropped against the students.

He earned a Ph.D from Harvard University in the U.S. in 1988. Later, he moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked with his co-researcher and second wife Duflo. The two co authored the book “Poor Economics” after working 15 years in five continents to find practical solutions to poverty. They broke down large social problems into smaller pieces and then conducted randomised controlled trials to learn from the behaviour of people and understand where welfare policies may be failing them. For instance, they sought answers to questions such as ‘Does having lots of children actually make you poorer? and ‘Why would a man in Morocco who doesn’t have enough to eat buy a television’?

Their work earned them the nickname the Randomistas. The duo also co-founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab with fellow economist Sendhil Mullainathan. Started in June 2003, the lab today is the hub of scientific research and it comes up with innovative solutions to economic problems.

Nobel honour

Their work made the study of poverty alleviation more scientific and saved countless lives. “As a direct result of one of their studies, more than 5 million Indian children have benefited from effective programs of remedial tutoring in schools.” The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said while announcing the Nobel Prize on October 14, 2019.


  • Abhijit Banerjee’s CV is 17-pages long.
  • He received the Infosys Prize 2009 in the social sciences category of economics.
  • In 2014, Banerjee received the Bernhard Harms-Prize from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  • He is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He had also taught at Harvard University and Princeton University.
  • Popular works: “Good Economics for Hard Times”, “Poor Economics”, and “What the Economy Needs Now”.


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What is the life story of author Laura Ingalls Wilder?

With its endless grasslands and a slow pace of life, it may appear like nothing much happens in the prairies, the golden wheat-covered land in the middle of the U.S. But reading author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House on the Prairie” reveals that there is more to this heartland than what catches the eye.

Her semi-autobiographical books set in the period between 1870 and 1894, capture the life of the pioneers, the first people to settle in the frontiers of North America.

Who were the pioneers?

Many of the pioneers were farmers, who embarked on a long and arduous journey (of about 3,200 km) to take advantage of the U.S. government’s offer to homestead land in the Midwest. Homesteading was a scheme launched to develop millions of acres of tribal land.

People left behind their family and friends as they made their way to the Midwest. Days and even years were spent on the road, travelling the length and breadth of the country in tiny wagon carts. Often the pioneers were attacked by Native Americans, who were upset about losing their land.

Wilder belonged to one such pioneer family. And though life was hard, Wilder and her family found happiness in little things such as making homemade toys and treats for Christmas, going on their first trip to town, and bringing in the harvest.

Fear of eviction, a bad harvest and ruined crops often forced the family to change towns. They moved from Wisconsin to Kansas and then to Minnesota and lowa, before finally settling down in De Smet in South Dakota.

Despite all the hardship, Wilder and her sisters felt safe and warm in their little house. And years later, Wilder drew upon these happy childhood memories to paint a beautiful portrayal of the American frontier.

A feminist

At a time when there were not many job opportunities for women, she broke the glass ceiling by taking up multiple jobs, including in traditionally male-dominated fields. To help her family make ends meet, Wilder worked as a teacher, dressmaker, and even in a financial institution that lent money to the farmers.

Her writing career started when she took on the position of a columnist and editor for a local publication, the Missouri Ruralist. Her column, “As a Farm Woman Thinks” made her a favourite among the local farmers. She wrote on diverse topics from home and family to current affairs and travel.

“Little House on the Prairie” books

In the 1930s as America descended into the Great Depression, Wilder wrote “Little Big Woods”, the first of her “Little House on the Prairie” books. But did you know that her first manuscript was rejected by every publisher she approached? In fact she was even told that writing for children was a waste of time. But she did not give up and boldly continued writing. The “Little House on the Prairie” series consists of eight books based on Wilder’s childhood experiences. Some of the best books in the series are “Little Big Woods”, “Little House on the Prairie”, and “On the Banks of Plum Creek”.

“Little Big Woods” is about four-year-old Laura who lives in a log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Adventures of Laura and her family continue in the third book “Little House on the Prairie” as they travel to Kansas in their covered wagon until they find the best spot to build their little house on the prairie. In “On the Banks of Plum Creek”, the family is forced to leave their prairie house and settle in a little house made of sod on the banks of beautiful Plum Creek.

Popular adaptations

The “Little House on the Prairie” series appealed to different generations of readers around the world.

  • TV show: In 1974, the series was adapted into a television series by NBC. It ran for nine seasons until 1983. It bagged 17 Emmy and three Golden Globe nominations along with two People’s Choice Awards. It even won two Western Heritage Awards.
  • Mini-series: The series was adapted into a mini-series by Disney in 2005. Directed by David Cunningham, the television series is a faithful adaptation of Wilder’s semi-autobiographical novels.


  • Wilder is related to the former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and astronaut Alan Shephard.
  • Wilder’s daughter Rose convinced her to write the “Little House on the Prairie” books and even helped edit them.
  • Wilder was 65 when the first book in the “Little House on the Prairie” series was published.
  • The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honours children’s authors and illustrators. Maurice Sendak and Dr. Seuss are among its recipients.


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What is the life story of Margery Williams Bianco?

The author who brought toys to life

Toys, whether it is a doll, a car, or a stuffed animal, are our childhood companions. Do you remember hugging and cuddling them and hosting imaginary tea parties for them or perhaps even confiding your deepest secrets into their inanimate ears? As we grow up, however, newer toys and gizmos replace them. And so, a quintessential children’s classic, “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams Bianco chronicles a stuffed rabbit’s quest to become ‘real’ and relevant to its owner.

Writing: A legacy from her father

Born on July 22, 1881 in London, Margery became a professional writer at the age of 19. Her father Robert, who was a distinguished scholar and barrister, inculcated a love for reading in her and honed her imagination. He would often regale her with stories, making it a point to vividly describe the characters and the world they inhabited. Life struck a cruel blow when Margery at the age of seven lost her beloved father. His demise had a profound impact on Margery and her writing. Most of her work revolved around the themes of death and loss. And even though she faced criticism for the sad undertones in her children’s books, Margery maintained that these sentiments were an undeniable part of the growing up process.

Getting published

Margery published her first novel, “The Late Returning” in 1902. It was aimed at an adult audience, but it did not do well. Her subsequent novels too failed to make a mark. In 1904, Margery married Francesco Bianco and changed her name to Margery Williams Bianco. After marriage, she moved to Turin, Italy. It was only at the age of 44 that she wrote “The Velveteen Rabbit”, which gained her fame and recognition.

“The Velveteen Rabbit”

Inspired by the innocence and playful imagination of her children, Margery wrote “The Velveteen Rabbit” after the end of World War I. The book was first publishes in 1922 and has been republished many times since.

In the story, a little boy receives a stuffed rabbit as a Christmas gift. The toy lives in the cupboard of the boy’s nursery, where it is looked down upon by the fancier toys who claim to be ‘real’. “What is real?” the rabbit asks another toy, the skin horse. The horse, who always speaks the truth, tells him that toys become ‘real’ through the love of their owner. “Does it hurt?” asks the Velveteen Rabbit. “Sometimes. When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt,” says the horse.

Gradually, the bond between the Velveteen Rabbit and the boy grows stronger, and so does the Rabbit’s desire to become real so that he could be with his owner forever.

Although it’s a children’s story, the tale has undercurrents of poignancy and sentimentality, which are some of the trademarks of the author. It also ponders on deeper questions about existence and the meaning of life. Margery was influenced by mysticism while writing the story.

Margery also wrote many other novels and short stories in which she continued the theme of toys coming to life, conferring upon them the ability to express human emotions and feelings.


In her final years, Margery wrote books for young adults as well. Her most significant book for young adults, “Winterbound” tells the story of two teenage girls who are suddenly thrust with responsibilities of raising their younger siblings. The book was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal in 1937, and won the Newbery Honor, a prestigious literary citation, in 1971.

With England joining World War II, Margery began writing books on patriotism as well. Her last book “Forward Commandos!” is an inspirational wartime story, acknowledging the contribution of African-Americans to the war effort. However, Margery died before the war came to an end. As the book went on sale, she breathed her last on September 4, 1944 in New York.


  • Margery’s book for young adults “Winterbound” was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal in 1937, and won the Newbery Honor, a prestigious literary citation, in 1971.
  • Her daughter Pamela illustrated many of her works including “The Skin Horse” and “The Little Wooden Doll”.
  • In 1914, Margery wrote a horror novel “The Thing in the Woods”. The book, about a werewolf in Pennsylvania in the U.S., is believed to have inspired future works on werewolves, including the renowned “The Dunwich Horror” by pulp fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft.
  • Margery was inspired by Walter de la Mare, a poet, she regarded as her spiritual mentor.

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What are the lesser-known facets of Anton Chekhov?

Russian author Anton Chekhov regaled generations with his short stories, which subtly blended humour and pain. His life was even more dramatic than his stories. Read on to find out..

Chekhov was born in 1860, in Taganrog, a provincial town on the shore of the Sea of Azov in Russia. The city often serves as a backdrop in his stories.

One day. Chekhov’s father, Pavel, who was running a grocery store, fled the country to escape bankruptcy, leaving behind his of six children in extreme poverty.

Chekhov, who had inherited his mother, Yevgeniya’s love for storytelling, started writing during this time to earn a living for his family and to pay for kiss nude studies. Making time between doses medical at the University of Moscow, he penned dramas with humorous and skits for theatres, along with short stories that he sold to magazines. In 1880, he published his first piece and treated his family to a cake bought with his earnings. By 1884, he had published 300 stories, sketches, jokes, and articles while also completing medical school.

A man of science

After graduating, he began to practise medicine in rural areas Dedicated towards working for poor families (as he had experienced poverty first hand), he did not take money from his needy patients. He even volunteered in public hospitals during epidemics. His love for the medical profession is evident from the fact that the central characters in many of his stories and plays are doctors. He often joked that “Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress.


On one of his notable scientific excursions, he traversed 5,000 miles of the vast Siberian wasteland to conduct a census of the exiled prisoners on the remote island of Sakhalin. He used a buggy, a horse and even a boat to reach the island. His observations throwing light on the deplorable conditions of the inmates as regarded as important works of science even today.

Changing the literary landscape

While the large volume of his work made Chekhov a popular name, he was unhappy with the quality of his early works. “Oh with what trash I began he is known to have remarked. Thus began a second stage in his writing, in which he wrote with increased seriousness.

He privately printed his first book of short stories. “Tales of Melpomene in 1884, but it went unnoticed because it was mistakenly shelved in the children’s section. His next work, “Montley Stories” secured his reputation as a major Russian writer, and his short story collection “In The Twilight” won him the prestigious Pushkin Prize in 1888.

Chekhov’s Gun

Chekhov’s genius was not limited to his plays and stories. He was a prolific letter writer. Through his letters, he offered pieces of advice to other writers. Today. his advice has come to be widely regarded as important principles of writing. One of the most famous principles is what is known as Chekhov’s Gun. He defined it in a letter to his co-writer Lazarev-Gruzinsky in November 1889: “One should not put a loaded rifle onto the stage if no one is thinking of firing it. If in the first act you have long a pistol on the wall, then in the following one, it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.


  • Compared to other writers of his time, Chekhov had an extremely short career. He wrote only four major plays – “The Seagull”, “Uncle Vanya”, “Three Sisters” and The Cherry Orchard”, but 800-odd short stories.
  • Chekhov once crossed 5,000 miles of Siberian wasteland on a buggy and horse to conduct a census of the exiled prisoners on the remote Sakhalin island.
  • He renounced the theatre following negative reviews to his play, “The Seagull” in 1896.
  • “The Lady with the Dog” is regarded as the greatest short story ever written.
  • Like the character Vanya in “A Classical Student”. Chekhov too failed an ancient Greek exam in school and had to repeat the year.
  • Failing health

In 1886, Chekhov experienced lung trouble, an early symptom of tuberculosis that would eventually kill him. He continued to practise medicine until 1898 although he could now support his family and himself on his writing. As his health deteriorated, Chekhov spent much of his time recuperating in health resorts in Germany. In 1904, he died at the age of 44 in Badenweiler. Chekhov left a lasting impact on Russian literature.


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What is Jack London most famous for?

“Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well- And staying true to his words, John Griffith Chaney, aka Jack London, did exactly that. Overcoming extreme poverty and hardship, London went on to pen timeless classics that made him one of the first highest paid American authors.

From his first book The Son of the Wolf Tales of the Far North to his bestsellers “The Call of the Wild and “White Fang”. London wrote about characters – human and canine struggling to survive in a cold, hard world, something he had closely experienced.

Like the characters in his books. London had a tough life. With his family under constant financial strain, he started working in the docks at a young age. In the proximity of the sea and listening to the sailors talk about their sea-faring adventures. London yearned for some adventures of his own.

Dropping out of school at the age of 14, he bought a small boat and went to San Francisco Bay. On the way, he tried his hand at oyster fishing and even worked for the government fish patrol to capture poachers who fished illegally.

At the end of the voyage, however, real life awaited him. The Great Depression had left thousands unemployed. And London joined them in their desperate search for jobs. Ferrying illegally on freight trains, he travelled the length and breadth of the country, but did not find employment. Instead, he discovered his calling as a writer.

The write start

Unable to find a job even after graduation, London took up writing as a full-time profession. He drew up a daily timetable to write sonnets, ballads and adventure stories, and increased his pace steadily. His first book, “The Son of the Wolf Tales of the Far North” was published in 1900. The stories of his Alaskan adventures won praise for their fresh subject matter and force.

In 1897, he embarked upon another adventure: this time to the gold mines of Yukon in Canada to experience the life of the workers in the Klondike Gold Rush. His experiences became the basis of his book “The Call of the Wild”. It made him a bestselling author.

From the trenches

A few years later, in 1904, London began to work as a war correspondent. This marked the beginning of yet another chapter in his exploits. As a war correspondent during the Russo-Japanese war, London defied the Japanese and risked his life to get to the front lines in Korea. Instead of reporting from Japan, London hired a boat and risked his life to crossed the Yellow Sea in the middle of a storm to reach the Korean coast. However, his adventure came to an end as soon as he reached the front lines. He was arrested by the Korean police and later released.

Writing from experience

London’s writing was based on things he had experienced. To write on a particular subject, he would completely immerse himself into it. For instance, once to expose the adverse conditions of Europe’s working class population, he posed as an American sailor stranded there. For nearly seven weeks, he wandered the streets to get a firsthand experience of how people felt. He slept in doss houses (cheap lodging for homeless people) and even lived in London’s slums. He wrote about his experiences in one of his most important works “The People of the Abyss.” His adventures set him apart from other writers. And on November 22, 1916, he died in his home on a ranch in California. His legac lives on.

Oh, really?

  • In addition to his writings. Jack London was a prolific photographer. His photographs of east London’s slums highlighted the abject poverty in which many of the Londoners were forced to live even as Great Britain was expanding its empire overseas.
  • As a war correspondent in Asia, London attempted to sail around the world on his own boat, but the journey ended abruptly in Australia.

Popular works

Published in 1903, ” The Call of the Wild” is about a pet dog named Buck, who is abducted from his home and forced to work as a sled dog in Alaska. Buck has to fight to survive and dominate other dogs, and eventually embrace his wild ancestry. “The White Fang (1906) is a companion novel to “The Call of the Wild”. Both the novels explore the world of humans from the point of view of animals. The books also explore complex themes, including morality and redemption.


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What did Tim Berner Lee do?

Early life

His parents worked on the world’s first commercially-built computer, Ferranti Mark-I. After graduating from school, Berners-Lee opted to study Science at Oxford University. He thought it might be more practical to study Science as it combined his interests in Electronics and Maths. In fact, it turned out to be more than just a pragmatic choice as it opened up a world of knowledge for him.

A love for trains

When he was 1, Berners-Lee went to a school located between two railway tracks. He used to encounter a lot of trains on his way, and he started trainspotting, an activity of watching trains and writing down the numbers each engine has. When he was in college, he even made a computer out of an old television set. He bought the set from a repair shop. And assembling the computer cost him only five pounds (approximately Rs 500.)

Bringing the world closer

While working at the European Laboratory for Particle-Physics (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, a 25-year-old Berners-Lee began tinkering with a software programme to connect the world. He worked with Belgian systems engineer Robert Cailliau to refine the proposal for a hypertext system, which eventually led to the creation of the World Wide Web. He also created the first web browser and editor. The world’s first website,, was launched on August 6, 1991. It explained the World Wide Web concept and gave users an introduction to getting started with their own websites. Right from the start, Berners-Lee recognized that the Web could either be a boon or bane. According to his website, Berners-Lee hopes that the web can be used as a communication tool and can help people understand each other.

The future is Solid

Over the last few years however, there have been many instances of big tech companies using the Internet to infringe upon the privacy of their uses. Disappointed by this, in November 2020, Berners-Lee announced his comeback with a project to decentralize the Internet and secure the users’ privacy. His new project, Solid, aims to restore the control of the Internet to its users and “redirect” the Web to his original vision of a democractic and equal network of information. He stated on his website that the current web had became “a driver of inequality and division”. He doesn’t like the fact that his invention is now being ruled by a handful of tech giants who demand personal information from users in exchange for their services.

Oh really?

  • Burners-Lee was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004.
  • In college, Berners-Lee built a computer out of an old television set.
  • The first website was, hosted by CERN, on Tim’s desktop computer.
  • It is estimated today that just under 40% of the world’s population has Internet access.
  • Berners-Lee worked as a teacher at MIT in Boston.


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Who is Hans Christian?

From “The Little Mermaid” and The Ugly Duckling” to “The Emperor and his New Clothes and “The Steadfast Tin Soldier, fairytales written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen have been our childhood companions. But did you know that Andersen’s life too was no less than a fairy tale? Read on to know more…

Early life

Born in 1805 in Odense, Denmark, Andersen came from an extremely poor family. His father worked as a shoemaker and mother was a washerwoman. Thanks to his father, Andersen had a rich imagination and a love for storytelling. Tragedy struck when Andersen lost his father at the age of 11.

After his father’s death, Andersen moved to Copenhagen, hoping to become an actor. He was gifted with an exceptional voice. However, his voice soon lost its special quality and a disappointed Andersen was about to return home empty-handed when he met Jonas Collin, director of the Royal Danish Theatre. Collin funded Andersen’s education after seeing his talent for spinning stories and realising he needed to go to school.

However, school tuned out to be a bitter experience for Andersen. He was much older than the other students, and the schoolmaster found endless ways to make fun of him. Finally, Andersen completed his schooling with the help of a private tutor. He later attended and graduated from Copenhagen University. Andersen spent many years travelling and writing poems, books, and plays, which met with some success. In 1835, he published his first novel, “The Improvisatore”, and the same year, he published his first collection of fairy tales, known as “Fairy Tales Told for Children”, but was later renamed “New Fairy Tales and Stories”.

Fairy tale ending

Andersen put many pieces of his own life into his fairy tales. For instance, “The Little Mermaid” features the mermaid moving from one world to another something Andersen experienced when he rose from poverty. Similarly, he drew upon his mother’s past to write “The Little Match Girl”, a story full of compassion for the underprivileged. His personal experiences are also reflected in “The Ugly Duckling”, which points out that sometimes the qualities that make you feel lonely, different and out of place are the very qualities that, when properly used, can make you shine.

In 1867, he returned to Odense, and the last of his fairy tales was published in 1872. After a long illness, he died in Copenhagen on August 4, 1875. In honour of his legacy, a Hans Christian Andersen statue along with the Little Mermaid was erected in 1913. Another statue of the author is in New York City’s Central Park.

Oh really?

  • The Little Mermaid” and “The Snow Queen” stories are actually tragedies, they had unhappy endings. But the tone of the stories was made lighter when they were adapted into films by Disney.
  • Two museums, H.C. Andersen Hus and H.C. Andersens Barndomshjem, are dedicated to the author in his hometown of Odense. In addition, there’s a statue in Central Park, New York, commemorating Andersen and his story, “The Ugly Duckling”
  • Andersen’s fairy tales have been translated into more than 125 languages.

Legacy continues

The Hans Christian Andersen Awards are bestowed upon a children’s writer and an illustrator for their “lasting contribution to children’s literature”. The writing award was inaugurated in 1956, the illustration award in 1966. The writing award is also called the “Nobel Prize for children’s literature”.


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Who is creator of comic strip “Peanuts”?

Who was Charles M. Schulz?

Charles Schulz was a cartoonist from the U.S., who created the “Peanuts” comic strip that ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 26, 1922, Schulz grew up reading the comics section of the newspaper.

Inspired by these black and white figures, Schulz started drawing pictures of his favorite cartoon characters from a young age. One of his drawings, Spike, the family dog even got published in a national newspaper. Schulz was so proud of this moment that he made up his mind to become a cartoonist when he grew up.

Getting published

Schulz’s first group of regular cartoons, a weekly series of one-panel jokes called “Lil’ Folks”, was published from June 1947 to January 1950 in the “St Paul Pioneer Press”. It drew the attention of the United Feature Syndicate of New York which decided to publish Schulz’s new comic strip. However, the syndicate wanted to change the name of the strip because the name “Li’l Folks” resembled two other comics of the time. So, to avoid confusion, the syndicate settled on the name “Peanuts”. But Schulz always disliked the title. Even though he didn’t like the name, Schulz couldn’t deny the fact that the strip was successful. The cartoon began appearing in seven newspapers with the characters Charlie Brown, Shermy, Patty and Snoopy. Within a year, the strip appeared in 35 papers, and by 1956, it was in over a hundred. At one time, it was read by 355 million people all over the world.

What made it special?

The cartoon was centred on the simple and touching figures of a boy and his dog. Snoopy. Adults were never seen in the panels, and the action involved ordinary, everyday happenings. The comical defects of humanity were reflected through Schulz’s gentle humour, which made the cartoon strip appealing Schulz always insisted that only he would draw the characters and not allow others to do the draftsmanship. As the strip became more popular, new characters were added. Schulz received the Reuben Award twice from the National Cartoonists Society in 1955 and 1964.


  • “Peanuts” appeared in 2,300 newspapers in over 19 languages. Reruns and specials continue even today
  • Schulz is credited with coining the phrase “Good Grief
  • He wrote a book, Why, Charlie Brown. Why? to help children understand the subject of cancer.
  • Schulz was a huge supporter of the space programme. The 1969 Apollo 10 command module was named Charlie Brown and a lunar module was named Snoopy.


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What is the life story of Sir Winston Churchill?

Painting as a pastime

Popularly known as ‘The Man Who Saved Europe’ for his role in the victory of the Allied Forces in WWII, Churchill is considered to be Britain’s greatest warhero and one of the best-known statesmen of the 20th Century.

While he devoted his life to public service, he picked up the brush at the age of 40 and became one of the world’s best-known amateur painters. He was so enthusiastic about painting that he even wrote a book about it at the age of 74.

Churchill describes the joy of painting in his book “Painting as a Pastime”, published in 1948. “Happy are the painters – for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep company to the end, or almost to the end, of the day.”

Churchill wielded the brush for the first time when he was at a low point in his career. He had just resigned from the government because he was demoted from his position as the First Lord of the Admiralty for attacking Gallipoli, Turkey, during WWI.

Consumed with anxiety, he took up an unexpected hobby painting. Painting helped him clear his head and relieve the stress of an highly challenging career.

He eventually created over 550 paintings, crediting the practice with helping him “to hone his observation and memory skills. The pastime continued to flourish, as he progressed in his career as a world-renowned writer, orator, and political leader.

As a writer

After he left the Army, Churchill worked as a war correspondent for several years. He covered important historic events such as the Cuban War of Independence, the Siege of Malakand in British India, the Mahdist War in Sudan and the Second Boer War in southern Africa. He wrote his reports under the pen name Winston S. Churchill.

He penned down the experiences in India’s Northwest Frontier Provinces in his first book, “The Story of the Malakand Field Force.”

After he was elected a Member of Parliament in the U.K., over 130 of his speeches or parliamentary answers were published as pamphlets or booklets; many were subsequently published as anthologies.

In 1953, Churchill received the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”.

The rare painting

On November 17, 2020, a rare painting by Churchill was auctioned for a whopping £9,83.000. The wartime leader created the still life work, titled “Jug with Bottles”, in the 1930s at his country house Chartwell, in Kent, southeast England.

Whenever time permitted, he would escape to Chartwell, set up his easel outdoors and start capturing the beautiful countryside. Chartwell has now been turned into a museum which houses Churchill’s painting studio.

Promoting science

Churchill was the first British prime minister to appoint a scientific advisor. He had regular meetings with scientists such as Bernard Lovell, the father of radio astronomy. He promoted scientific research, and used public funds towards laboratories where some of the most significant developments of the postwar period first came to light, from molecular genetics to crystallography using X-rays. During the war itself, the decisive British support for research, encouraged by him, led to the development of radar and cryptography, and played a crucial role in the success of military operations.

Did you know?

Queen Elizabeth made Churchill a knight of the Order of the Garter, the highest honour in Britain, two years before his retirement
Churchill became the Prime Minister of the U.K. twice. First time from 1940 to 1945, when he led the country to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955.


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What is the life story of Stephen Hawking?

The genius in the wheelchair

When Stephen Hawking was 21, he was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. Undaunted, Hawking made breakthroughs in quantum physics and cosmology with his “The Theory of Everything” and his work on black holes. Although a number of biographies have been written about the genius, a new memoir gives an affectionate account of Hawking and his indomitable spirit.

Written by Leonard Mlodinow, who worked closely with Hawking for nearly 11 years and co-authored two bestselling books with him (“A Briefer History of Time” and “The Grand Design”), “Stephen Hawking – A Memoir of Physics and Friendship gives fresh insights into Hawking’s character and his famous sense of adventure and fun.

A daredevil

Hawking was born on January 8, 1942 in Oxford. At 17, he won a scholarship to study at University College, Oxford. Despite his brilliance in academics, Hawking hated studying. According to his own estimates, he studied for only 1,000 hours during his three undergraduate years at Oxford. Once he even joined the college boat dub. But earned himself a daredevil reputation as he steered his crew on risky courses that often damaged boats.

Living with a rare disease

After being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease known as ALS, Hawking sunk into depression. Though the disease progressed slowly, it began to interfere with his daily activities, and his condition worsened in 1985 during a trip to Cern. Hawking underwent a tracheotomy, which saved his life but destroyed his voice. He started using a voice synthesiser.

The early diagnosis of the terminal disease ignited a sense of purpose in Hawking and he embarked on his career in earnest. He pursued his work with black holes and relativity with new zest. In 1988, Hawking published “A Brief History of Time, which turned him into an instant icon.

Writing for children

Hawking and his daughter Lucy came up with a series of illustrated books to explain the “secret keys to the universe” to young readers. The books deal with complex topics, including the Big Bang, black holes, atoms. planets and their moons, in the form of space adventures embarked on by junior astronaut George and his best friend Annie. The series helped simplify cosmology for children.

Love for adventures

Hawking enjoyed his fame, taking many opportunities to travel and to have unusual experiences such as going down a mine shaft visiting the south pole and undergoing the zero-gravity of free fall, and to meet other distinguished people.


Hawking died at his home in Cambridge on March 14, 2018, at the age of 76. In the same year in June, Hawking’s words, set to music by Greek composer Vangelis, were beamed into space from a European Space Agency satellite dish in Spain with the aim of reaching the nearest black hole 1A 0620-00.


Picture Credit : Google