Angus Trumble
Master of the Rolls

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Marie Curie won the first of her two Nobel Prizes, on this occasion for Physics — jointly with Pierre Curie and Antoine-Henri Becquerel — for their discovery of radiation. Giacomo Puccini wrote the score of Madama Butterfly. The Hohner accordion workshop opened in Klingenthal, Germany. The hôtelier César Ritz had a nervous breakdown, partly caused, it was rumoured, by the cancellation of King Edward VII’s coronation dinner. Claude Debussy began La Mer.

In Russia the penalty for sodomy was reduced from four to five years’ exile in Siberia to imprisonment for at least three months. New York Police raided a Turkish bath, the Ariston on West 55th Street, and arrested twenty-six of the seventy-eight male patrons; twelve were brought to trial for sodomy, of whom seven were convicted and received sentences of between four and twenty years in prison. Meanwhile the Royal York Baths in York Terrace near Baker Street in London offered gentlemen visitors Turkish, Russian, Electric, Sulphur and all kinds of other medicated baths without any hint of scandal.

H.M.S. Hindustan, a 16,350-ton pre-Dreadnought King Edward VII class battleship, was launched. At a maximum speed of eighteen knots, her many guns and torpedoes were highly intimidating, but not very accurate. Meanwhile in Belfast, at Harland & Wolff’s shipyard, the White Star Line launched the largest vessel afloat, the 24,000-ton Baltic. Douglas Haig was appointed Inspector-General of Cavalry in India, not a particularly senior post.

Pablo Picasso painted his blue-period The blind man’s meal (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art). Igor Stravinsky became the pupil of Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov. Henry James’s The Ambassadors and W. B. Yeats’s Ideas of Good and Evil were published. George Bernard Shaw included among his Maxims for Revolutionists in Man and Superman the following Golden Rule: "Do not do unto others as you would they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same."

Joseph Chamberlain resigned as British Colonial Secretary. Lord Lamington succeeded Lord Northcote as Governor of Bombay; Lord Tennyson, Governor of South Australia, succeeded the Earl of Hopetoun as second Governor-General of Australia; other notable Colonial Office movements produced a domino effect that brought chaos to many branch governments throughout the British Empire.

The Fifth Biennale di Venezia took place, and included the work of Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, Alfred Sisley, among other French Old Masters. Monet painted in London, producing numerous views of the Waterloo Bridge. Louis I. Sullivan designed the Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. Building in Chicago. Frank Lloyd Wright built the Larkin Building in Buffalo, New York.

August Strindberg’s third marriage (to Harriet Bosse) broke down. Number 1 of Pamela Colman Smith’s shortlived artistic monthly The Green Sheaf, Joseph Conrad’s Typhoon and other Stories, Bertrand Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics, Erskine Childers’s The Riddle of the Sands (one of the first espionage—mystery novels), Charles Webster Leadbeater’s Clairvoyance, Beatrix Potter’s Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester, George Gissing’s The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (a mock autobiography) and Jack London’s The Call of the Wild (in which a pet dog goes back to nature, and eventually leads a pack of wolves) were published.

Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh, a novel of four generations, was also published — posthumously (as was Émile Zola’s Vérité in Paris) — to much acclaim. G. A. Henty’s With Kitchener in the Soudan and John Buchan’s 400-page The African Colony, a sophisticated analysis of the social and political future of South Africa, were published too. So were Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life and Rudyard Kipling’s Five Nations, a collection of poems many of which "were cabled across the seas and discussed as events of international significance."

Rivista d’arte started up in Florence. The Burlington Magazine started up in Bloomsbury. La Revue blanche folded in Paris, as did the American journal Art Amateur. Frederick Delius began writing Sea Drift (to words by Walt Whitman). Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell were born. So were Claire Booth Luce, Ceri Richards, Eleanor Lambert, Cyril Connolly, A. L. Rowse, Lennox Berkeley, Theodor Adorno, Mark Rothko, Bob Hope, Georges Simenon and Barbara Hepworth.

The centenaries of the birth of Hector Berlioz and Sir Joseph Paxton, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat, the "Eroica," the Louisiana Purchase, and the commencement of Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery were celebrated, as was the bicentenary of St. Petersburg. The Tariff Reform League was established in London. Reginald Brabazon, twelfth Earl of Meath, invented Empire Day, a clever way of continuing to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday each year on May 24.

The first twentieth-century pogrom against Russian Jews resulted from the murder on Easter Eve of a Christian boy in the town of Kishinev in Bessarabia. Viciously manipulating the prejudices of ignorant townsfolk, the imperial government falsely claimed that the boy’s flesh was used to make Passover matzoh; twelve died, 250 Jewish houses were destroyed and thirty-six survivors were unjustly prosecuted as a result of the conspiracy.

Meeting in Basel, the Sixth Zionist Congress considered a British proposal to turn Uganda into a temporary refuge for the Jews of all nations. The Turks massacred many innocent Bulgarian women and children while putting down rebellions in the Balkans. At a meeting in London, the Russian Socialist Party split into two factions, the Bolsheviks (led by V. I. Lenin) and the Mensheviks (led by Julius Martov).

In London, 22,000 telephones were in use, from which approximately 13.5 million calls were made (including exchange connections). These figures were positively backward compared with France (203 million calls from 109,000 telephones) and Germany (far more talkative, with 927 million calls from 470,000 telephones). It was found that 133 members of the House of Commons not only did not give a speech, but did not even ask a question.

Of the numerous British army officers qualified as foreign language interpreters, 121 claimed to speak Russian, thirteen Arabic, four Chinese, three Portuguese and two Swedish. Not surprisingly, given the close proximity of the Boer War, only two officers were prepared to speak Cape Dutch (Afrikaans).

The Paris to Madrid Motor Race was wrecked by numerous accidents involving competitors and spectators along the route. An English entrant was burned to death when his Wolseley overturned at a level crossing near Bonneval. Another car hit and killed a pedestrian at Ablis. Deaths also occurred at Sillac, Arveyres and Angoulême, including a number of mécaniciens. Louis Rénault achieved a speed of 143 kph at La Bourdinière; The Hon. C. S. Rolls pulled out of the race just before the French government called it off.

Edwin S. Porter’s motion picture The Great Train Robbery was shot on various locations in New Jersey. Henri Matisse, André Derain and others saw the Gauguin retrospective at the 1st Salon d’automne in Paris; as a result their colours got hotter, their brushwork bolder. Before long the critic Louis Vauxcelles called them, thrillingly, "wild beasts" (fauves). Barbiturates were synthesized in Germany, and entered commercial production.

Benedetto Croce started up La critica. Giacomo Balla met Umberto Boccioni and Gino Severini; Italian Futurism would later result. The U.S. Immigration Act added polygamists, anarchists and political radicals to the exclusion list, responding in part to the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley by a Polish—American lunatic.

The Electronic Palace, the first theatre in Japan to offer a regular program of motion pictures, opened in Asakusa, Tokyo; it was the 36th year of the Meiji era. The World Series baseball competition was inaugurated; the Boston Red Sox beat the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sir James Miller’s colt Rock Sand won the Derby at Epsom Downs. Following the death of Pope Leo XIII, the cardinals elected Pope Pius X; he went on to become a saint.

Henry Ford began selling the first "Model A" automobile for $850, quite a lot of money. King Alexander I and Queen Draga of Serbia (Yugoslavia) were assassinated by a gang of army officers in Belgrade. César Garin won the inaugural Tour de France. Charles Rennie Mackintosh began work on the interior of Kate Cranston’s Willow Tea Rooms in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra paid an official visit to Ireland. Panama, with the direct support of President Theodore ("Teddy") Roosevelt (R), seceded from Colombia. President Roosevelt transmitted from San Francisco to Manila the first message on the Pacific cable. For the first time a natural source of Helium was discovered (at Daxter, Kansas).

A cartoon by Clifford Berryman in the Washington Post, showing President Roosevelt refusing to shoot a defenceless bear cub while hunting big game in Mississippi, led to the production of the first "Teddy" bear by the Ideal Toy Corporation. The British Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, presided over a magnificent Coronation Durbar at Delhi in which a procession of veterans of the Indian Mutiny of 1857 (all races) produced powerful vibrations.

James McNeill Whistler died. The 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, three times British Prime Minister, also died at 73. Paul Gauguin, Hugo Wolf, Phil May and George Gissing died too. So did the drefusard journalist Bernard Lazare, shortly before General Louis-Joseph-Nicolas André, the French minister of war, announced the results of an investigation into the notorious retrial at Rennes in 1899 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Captain Dreyfus sought a second retrial.

British forces subdued Northern Nigeria following the capture of the mud-walled city of Kano. Christabel Pankhurst persuaded her mother Emmeline Pankhurst to form the Women’s Social and Political Union. Charles Booth’s Life and Labour of the People of London was published. Laurie ("Little Do") Doherty won the singles (and, with his brother Reggie, the doubles) finals at Wimbledon, and for the first time (also with Reggie) won the Davis Cup for Britain.

Anna Pavlova graduated to the rôle of Giselle in the Russian Imperial Ballet; it took her another three years to achieve the official status of ballerina. The Dutch botanist Hugo de Vries discovered mutations in plants. Winston Churchill, Member of Parliament for Oldham in Lancashire, contended "that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."

In France, Georges Clémenceau became Senator for the Var. After working in the house of Worth, the young couturier Paul Poiret opened a small shop in Paris. Joseph Hoffmann and Koloman Moser set up the Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna; the Wiener Sezession XVI exhibition was devoted to the origins and development of Impressionism.

Under the leadership of Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach, Krupp, the firm of German armaments manufacturers, became a public company. Somewhat indelicately, "Big Bertha," their large mobile howitzer, was named after his wife. Nellie Melba completed her triumphant home-coming tour of Australia and New Zealand, then returned to Europe.

W. E. B. Du Bois wrote The Souls of Black Folk, in which he predicted that "the problem of the Twentieth Century" would be "the problem of the color-line." Under the terms of the Treaty of Petrópolis, Brazil purchased from Bolivia for ₤2 million the territory known as Acre, a large swath of jungle in the Upper Amazon Basin.

Christmas in London saw 1,600 infants accidentally killed by ‘overlaying,’ "the slaughterer powerless under the weight of drink." Randall Davidson, Bishop of Winchester, was nominated 96th Archbishop of Canterbury. In Vienna Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor was performed for the first time. Orville & Wilbur Wright achieved mechanically propelled flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Francis Younghusband led a British military expedition from the north of India to Tibet. On reaching Lhasa he was astonished to discover a Rover Safety Bicycle unaccountably leaning against the wall of the Potala Palace. A. A. Milne graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in Mathematics. Oscar Hammerstein built the Manhattan Opera House in New York. Florence Nightingale turned 83. Thousands were surprised to learn she was still alive.